By on June 22, 2011

Ford’s President of the Americas Mark “MKF” Fields (sorry, the joke is just too funny to let go of) is responding to recent allegations of slipping quality by Consumer Reports and JD Power, by telling Bloomberg that

We’re largely back on track on some of these early issues

He’s referring specifically to issues with the MyFordTouch system that has been the central issue in the recent quality flap, and the fix for that isn’t particularly complicated.

Ford has reworked software on MyFordTouch to prevent random rebooting that had afflicted the system, said Sue Cischke, vice president of environmental and safety engineering. The touch controls also have been recalibrated to respond more quickly to a driver’s touch, she said.

Ford is encouraging dealers to spend as much as 40 minutes training drivers to use the system.

“If you’re trying to figure it out as you’re driving, obviously that’s not a good thing to do,” Cischke said.

Ford’s problem, it turns out, isn’t so much a product quality problem as a customer quality problem… because why would consumers need 40 minutes of training on a system Ford insists they are “demanding” (despite, it must be pointed out, the government’s murmured objections)? Unfortunately for Ford, Michael Karesh argues convincingly that Ford’s quality problems go beyond the MyFordTouch issues… but because its quality was so weak before Mulally took over, at least Ford (and the “PR friendly” auto media) can continue to claim “improvement.”

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28 Comments on “Ford’s Quality Fix Is In...”

  • avatar

    From my understanding a lot of the issues with the Fiesta were related to the Powershift transmission and a faulty fuel gauge. Wasn’t this an initial teething issue, or does it continue to plague current builds?

    As far as MyTouch is concerned it seemed pretty responsive in the Focus that I recently test drove…..and it is by far not the most cumbersome system out there.

  • avatar

    How about the Chinese stick shift transmissions in the Mustang and the powershift units in the Fiesta?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Most likely, those transmissions were built *exactly* to Ford spec, whereas Ford intended them to be overbuilt.

      That’s the one thing with Chinese suppliers – they generally give you *exactly* what you pay them to, and not a hair more. Unlike American and European suppliers, they don’t raise objections that cutting cost / materials has a negative impact – if you say to do it, they assume that you actually know what you’re doing.

      The problem with American and other OEMs is that they no longer do as much detailed engineering design work in-house, having shifted a lot of that work to their suppliers.

      So, when Ford says, make a transmission that that can handle 150 hp with 150 ft-lb torque, the Americans and Europeans and Chinese all go at it very differently. The Chinese transmission can handle the specified power & torque, and does so at the best price to Ford. It can’t handle more power or torque, nor “shock” loads that probably weren’t specified (but were implied) by Ford.

      OTOH, if Ford were to pay them the same price that they would for an American / European-built trans, the Chinese can probably build a practically bulletproof trans for the money…

      Don’t blame the supplier when the fault lies with the OEM.

      • 0 avatar

        SVX from your comments I don’t think you’ve ever seen a Ford VDS, SDS, ES, MS, HTX-8, or the like.

        Ford has substantial in-house transmisson engineering resources, and in some cases, Ford JV’s with major transmission manufacturers like ZF, Tremco, Getrag … and the supply sources are not generic “chinese”, but facilities owned to some extent by Ford or one of its global ABF supplier partners (and in any case, run by western managers.)

        But,in any case, you are right, the OEM is responsible for picking the supplier,and approving the design, the testing, component dimensional measurements, assy processes, andto a certain-extent the sub-suppliers, processes and logistics chain… so unless the suppliers resourced a sub-component, or changed a dimension or process setting somewhere, by cheating, then OEM (here Ford) is ultimately responsible.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Robert, you’re completely right that Ford still retains some internal capability. But it’s nothing like what they had on staff back when they in-sourced *everything*, which is where I was trying to focus.

        With Ford (and others, esp Toyota & VW) constantly “de-contenting” for a lower cost, and shifting design to suppliers, things like this this are bound to occur.

        I think, 5-10 years from now, we’ll see stronger OEM engineering, simply to verify that supplier designs actually *do* meet spec, *before* they go into production and reach Customer hands.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think it’s a fault with the design spec, as most of the manual transmissions are fine. The amount of noise you hear on the Mustang forums makes it sound like every other transmission is failing, but it’s really just a very small chunk of people being very loud, as enthusiasts tend to be.

        The problem rate is still too high, I agree, but most of the MT82s are working exactly as they should, and the fluid change solution does fix the problem in most cases where one arises.

        It seems to be a QC problem at the factory where some of the units aren’t build to the fairly exacting specifications they need to be to work properly. That problem lies with the factory, for building some shoddy parts, Getrag, for letting some of the transmissions be built that way, and Ford, for giving Getrag the contract without overseeing the QC better.

  • avatar

    Ford should just stick to software and let Microsoft engineer the cars themselves.

  • avatar

    Owner satisfaction regarding transmission is not a strong point for Ford. It’s not just the Mustang. Their problematic roll out of their 6 speed automatic transmissions has lead to reoccurring posts on vehicle specific forums.

    Transmission problems are a real world concern, because to replace one is not cheap. Ford might lose their shirts on warranty costs, but a no ifs and buts 100 K drive train coverage would go far to mitigate these concerns.

    That said, there is nothing like getting the job done right before the vehicle goes on sale.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford has a long tradition of having it roadtesting done by the customer, old Henry started it with the flathead V8

      • 0 avatar

        About 5 y ago, Ford used to have 3&36 on the Fords, 4/60 on the Lincolns … IIRC, the warranty on the Lincolns was reduced to 3/36, just about the time Hyundai was increasing theirs to 100,000… haven’t followed warrenty lately, so all this might have changed in the interum…

      • 0 avatar

        Ford’s warranty is currently 3/36 bumper to bumper 5/60 powertrain. Lincoln is 4/50 bumper to bumper with scheduled maintenance gratis, 6/70 powertrain. The Powerstroke diesels get a 5/100 warranty, and hybrids get 8/100 on batteries and select hybrid parts, 10/150 (I think, it might be 10/125) in CA emissions states.

  • avatar

    Best. Photo. Ever.
    It kind of makes MKF (the handle is irresistible and goes so well with Mark’s rugged good looks) the poster-boy for the latest chapter in Motor City Mismanagement.

    • 0 avatar

      Is Mark Fields the only Fortune 500 President to sport a mullet?

      I can’t figure out if that shows courage, really bad taste, or that he has nobody around him brave enough to say “Dude, time to go to Great Clips.”

  • avatar

    I’m not denying that Ford has had some problems with the new transmissions they’ve introduced recently, but I get the sense that the problems have been somewhat exaggerated. All we know is that a few people have experienced problems with the Fiesta, and the Mustang, but we don’t really have any idea exactly how many, or really even the nature of those problems. There are just a bunch of anecdotal accounts floating around (which may or may not be true) regarding various kinds of transmission issues. That’s not enough evidence to make an assessment about overall quality. My general rule is that for every legitimate Ford quality complaint that surfaces on the internet, there is another one that is attributable to user error and 3 that are simply lies made up by fans of rival manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar

      PintoFan – at heart I remain a Ford fanboy (I’ve owned 13 Fords), but it’s hard to stay enthusiastic when you read about the real problems real owners are having.
      Fixing a piece of software with an update is nice and cheap. Fixing a real problem is expensive, and Ford seem to be doing their usual “Ignore it until it gets really big” with the MT82 Mustang transmission. These transmission problems aren’t anecdotal, they are real, and considering the sheer number of owners of 2011 ‘Stangs turning up on various Ford forums complaining of the same problem, you’d think Ford would work on fixing it. Instead they issue a TSB telling dealers to “swap out the tranny fluid and it’ll be fine”, whilst when the transmission actually does break, the only solution Ford seem to have is to swap in another new MT82.
      Incidentally a Mustang was on my ‘to buy’ list next year, but until Ford actually sort this out – I’m not going near one.

    • 0 avatar

      I`m wondering if I should apply your standard to the posters here. We know that there are a few dealers or manufacturer`s reps out in the open who post quite a lot.

  • avatar

    it’s always dangerous to generalize personal experiences, but the last two rentals I had seemed to have identical rear view cameras. the Chrysler T&C one worked fine. The Ford Edge one worked some times, and other times froze on the first image. I also couldn’t get the track name to come up from my iphone music through sync. Nice crisp graphics on the IP but that’s the sizzle, not the steak.

  • avatar

    MKF is proud to be the shepherd of this herd of sharks.

  • avatar

    I’ve refrained from commenting on Ford thus far, generally speaking.

    However, what I’ve personally witnessed, by driving particular ‘new’ Ford models, speaking to friends or family that own them, or just doing basic inquiry here and there, is that Ford’s quality seems to be greatly exaggerated, their claim that they took no bailout money seems to have had a very pronounced and outsized positive impact on their public perception, and their dealers and Ford itself have made quite the leap in terms of pricing their products in what are, IMHO, unreasonable levels compared to many competitors.

    I am not saying Ford isn’t competitive, nor that their offerings are poor choices, overall, but I am saying that they’re nowhere near as competitive as they’d like many to believe, their products are run of the mill, for the most part, and most damning of all, their products are not competitively priced.

    As an added insult, if you happen to live in Michigan, their print ads (run by dealers, to be fair to Ford) are across the board deceptive, as their dealers always advertise the price of their cars, whether on a lease or a purchase basis, assuming one is a direct employee of Ford and qualifies for the employee pricing.

  • avatar

    Great, now fix the piece of junk transmission in my Mustang. And make SYNC less worthless with my iPhone 4.

    • 0 avatar

      What issues are you having with your phone and Sync? I’ve had good luck with iPhones and compatibility with the system, the only thing they don’t do is text over bluetooth (and that’s Apple’s fault, not Ford’s). I have an iPhone 3GS running the latest iOS update and I’ve never had an issue with the phone functions or bluetooth media streaming.

  • avatar

    Edward imples a long history of piss poor quality, but I have to disagree. My Sable station car is 19 years old and spent its entire life outside. Only now is there a hint of rust over the right rear wheel. Sure, I have had some repairs, including a rusted engine subframe. But the engine and trans are still original, as is much of the car, including the engine driven accessories, wheel bearings, ECU, etc. Now one car is not a sample size, but like German reliability issues, I believe Ford’s reliability issues have always been exaggerated. My LSC was great, too. No Malaise era stuff here.

    I did not like the MyFordTouch user interface. Ok, it was a rental, but I did not feel it was intuitive. I did get the feeling that with practice it would become much easier, but I had to ask myself what is wrong with regular controls…and I’m not a Luddite.

  • avatar

    4500 miles on my 2011 GT with no problems other than gear whine, which the guys at evolution performance tell me is not uncommon on the mt82. I have done my share of first and second gear smokies. BTW I changed the fluid just because at 3000 miles. Nullo, any TSB on the gear whine? I changed the rear fluid too. So far its been a real good car.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not an expert in using the service system to track TSBs, but I through my rudimentary efforts I didn’t see anything beyond the known ‘change the transmission fluid’ directive.

      Just because there is no TSB doesn’t mean that you should be complacent if you think there’s a problem. If you think the noise level is outside of what would be considered normal, take it in and have your concern addressed. There doesn’t need to be a TSB for a dealer to take action under warranty if a part isn’t performing the way it should.

  • avatar

    We have a good dealer here in South Jersey(Holman) where I bought it. Guess it couldnt hurt. Thanks.

  • avatar

    that’s what happen when you hire microsoft to design your software…

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