By on November 8, 2016

2015-Ford-Focus-15

The problematic dual-clutch transmission that owners love to hate has made enemies around the globe, and yet another country is ready to send its PowerShift anger Ford’s way.

Canadian Ford owners are poised to join the U.S. and Australia in leveling a class-action lawsuit against the automaker over the balky automated manual transmission, which many claim is unsafe. Meanwhile, the Great White North’s transportation regulator has the Blue Oval in its sights, and a future recall isn’t off the table.

While known for their politeness, nothing gets a Canuck peeved like multiple tranny swaps. 

Much like in the U.S., PowerShift anger has percolated north of the border since the launch of the 2011 Focus and Fiesta. Complains rolled in almost immediately over vehicles bucking, surging and stalling, and drivers of traditional automatics certainly weren’t accustomed to smelling a burnt clutch after hard acceleration.

A hastily prepared software update designed to smooth the unit’s schizophrenic shifting hasn’t erased the issue. Neither has numerous technical service bulletins and expanded warranty coverage for certain parts.

According to CBC, one Halifax, Nova Scotia man is cooling his heels as he awaits his third transmission or clutch replacement. There’s only 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles) on his 2013 Focus.

“It would go from bumping to, all of a sudden, the car would jerk forward five or seven feet,” said Jordan Bonaparte. “The biggest issue at first was my fear of hitting the car in front of me or slowing down and having the car behind me hit me.”

Bonaparte’s vehicle would sometimes roll backwards on hill as he tried to accelerate from a stop. Of course, these complaints aren’t new to owners in the U.S. or Australia. Still, when multiple trips to the dealer fails to fix the issue, customers inevitably look to the automaker for a solution. (Or compensation.)

In an email to TTAC, Ford spokeswoman Michelle Lee-Gracey said, “We currently have customer service programs active which extend the warranty on certain parts to as much as 10 years of service or 240,000 kilometres from the warranty start date of the vehicle, whichever occurs first.”

Lee-Gracey said the company encourages owners who experience transmission problems to see their dealership service adviser “to discuss their options” or to call Ford Canada’s Customer Relations Center.

Transport Canada has already opened a “defect investigation” into 2011-2016 Fiesta and 2012-2016 Focus models equipped with PowerShift transmissions. It takes a safety hazard to prompt a recall, so those complaints must be weeded out from ones related to driveability. Some complaints, like loss of power, could be one and the same.

While some owners head to dealers in search of a fix, others have chosen a different route. A class-action lawsuit prepared by Ted Charney of Toronto law firm Charney Lawyers has now grown to about 1,000 names. Charney claims some owners he’s spoken with are on their seventh transmission.

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54 Comments on “Like Its Transmissions, Ford’s Powershift Woes are Surging...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    All these angry Canadians should purchase manual transmission Veranos instead to eliminate all their woes.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    What did Ford screw up that others got right? Their supplier is Getrag. Do all Getrag DCTs misbehave?

    Fortunately for us, our Focus SE has the 5-speed manual. We like it well enough to recommend it to others but with the warning to avoid the DCT.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Those looking for a “Focus” without either a DCT or a stick should look at a C-Max or Escape.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      If you trust consumer reports’ used car reports, the problems are mostly isolated to the 2012 and 2013 models – transmission complaints drop off to a perfectly average level from the 2014 model year on.

      So the solution is to give everyone a 2014+ transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        2014 have these issues as well, I sold my friend his ’14 and it is definitely not isolated to 2012-13’s. Ford told employees that the issues were fixed for 2015…

        I moved his car out of the driveway to the street a few weeks and I felt the car surging into traffic. He said he received a recent transmission recall for his Focus from Ford Canada

        • 0 avatar
          Silent Ricochet

          My buddy owns a 2015 Focus with the DCT and it is God awful compared to the DCT in my ’13. I’m not sure why, considering his car has the same amount of miles on it that mine does, but his is a stutter machine when starting from a dead stop. I thought maybe it has something to do with the amount of traffic he’s been in, as I’m sure he’s unaware of the fact that you’re not supposed to let these things crawl in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It could also have something to do with the clutch version, which I think they’re on Clutch Version F at this point.

          Ford messed up by stating it’s an automatic. People treat it like an automatic and expect it to behave like one. I recently bought a tune for my 2013 and while the tuning process is still ongoing, shifting has improved dramatically in all situations. According to the tuner, the answer is in the software for the most part, but there isn’t a universal fix due to each transmission having a unique “strategy”.

          My problem is, why did Ford decide to stick with this transmission? These problems must have arose during testing. Did they have too much money sunk in it at that point?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That particular DCT uses dry clutches with an electric motor/solenoid type of clutch activator. The others use a wet clutch with hydraulic activation.

      I would have thought Ford would have ditched this in favor of a CVT by now.

    • 0 avatar
      larrystew

      No DCT owner should have the shuddering and grinding. I had it, but the dealer determined it was a mechanical fault and replaced the clutchpack. Now it drives like what (I assume) it’s supposed to drive like. I’ve read that Getrag has ditched this dry clutch version (6DCT250) and will be producing only wet clutch transmissions from now on. Can anyone confirm this? I’m hoping that what Ford will do is start replacing these dry clutch versions with the new wet one, which will hopefully have better smoothness, heat dissipation, and durability.

  • avatar
    yamahog

    I understand the draw of the extra mpg you can eek out of a DCT over a conventional automatic. But consumer expectations (esp. in Canada and America) make it very tough to make a palatable DCT or CVT. And good luck getting customers to understand they shouldn’t do things like creep in traffic every 10 seconds to move 8 inches or try to creep uphill.

    Replacing one transmission in a low margin car is all it takes to eviscerate any chance of making money off the transaction. Up until 2016, Toyota still offers the 4 speed automatic (from 1992?) in the Corolla – the low margin cars are where you have to play it safest, they have the lowest margin for error.

    Knowing what they know now – the cost of servicing the transmissions in the field, I wonder if they could have found a better place to eek out the mileage? It seems like specing eco tires and/or specing lower viscosity oil and higher tire pressures might have been ‘good enough’ or making a spare tire a very cheap dealer installed accessory might have been a better way to hit their fuel economy targets.

    Or heck, finding something in the fleet that would be easier to change. Why not throw a 4 cylinder in the Taurus? (Other than low volumes.)

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Much wisdom in this comments. All automated manuals, both single- and dual-clutch, require some awareness to get good results. That’s why they should be in enthusiast cars only. A CVT is a much better choice to eke the last bit of mileage out of appliance cars.

    • 0 avatar
      segxr7

      A friend of mine has a 2014 Focus, she has a steep gravel driveway, so she has no choice but to creep uphill every day. It jerks and shudders horribly, and generally behaves like someone who’s in the early stages of learning how to drive a manual. It’s a huge downgrade from her 2002 Focus, or just about any automatic made in the 60+ years that they’ve been around.

      It’s probably passable in the Midwest, but with the hills here in Pittsburgh, the Powershift is totally unacceptable. It’s the sole reason why I didn’t even consider a Focus when I was shopping for a car recently. I’m happy with the CVT in the Civic I bought instead. It’s unobtrusive and does a nice quick simulated kickdown, rather than always hanging onto the highest gear no matter what. Hopefully Ford will end up following suit or figuring out how to make a viable DCT.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    And here I thought my rental Focus had simply been abused.

    The transmission performance at 22k miles was appalling, such that it felt like the car had a broken engine mount and bad torque converter (I didn’t know it was a DCT).

    The passable 2.0 engine had a terrible dance partner. Even my wife noticed within a few seconds; GO and STOP are usually her only requirements.

    This transmission is bound to cost Ford Billions in rework/recalls.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    How is the durability on the manuals?

    I happened to take an Uber ride yesterday. Very oddly, the (female, which is also unusual) driver had a Focus with a manual transmission. It had ~70k miles. While we were accelerating up a typical steep Seattle hill in second gear, the clutch slipped. The driver got wide-eyed and said “That’s the first time that’s happened. I guess I need a new clutch.”

    That’s significantly less life than I’d expect from non-abusive treatment, and she didn’t seem abusive.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Hmm. I had a Mk 1 focus, sold it with 130,000 miles on the clock, the original clutch was perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Clutch life depends on how it’s used. An Uber driver in Seattle is just about the worst-case scenario for a clutch: stop-and-go city driving with lots of steep hills, carrying at least one passenger. I think 70K sounds reasonable.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      179k on mine mk1. Plenty of hypermiling abuse (5th into neutral and back into the gear) and once I finished my commute jamming in gears because the master cylinder pin broke off the clutch pedal (nothing says quality more than single “spit” weld on the pin). Loaned it the other year to new to it drivers (one had some racing/track history) for a cross country trip (the car saw hills of LA and San Francisco) and it keeps going (if it slips it’s not so bad to notice/bother me). Rust is bigger issue, clutch can be done cheaply at some “indie” shop (or even in garage if one had a 2nd car during the project). BTW, I really like that transmission and clutch, so easy to drive.
      Stick shift or die;)

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Y’know, the DPS6 is used across almost the entire Ford lineup in Europe; it’s offered in the Fiesta, B-Max, Ecosport, Focus, Kuga, C-Max, Mondeo, S-Max, and Galaxy. Basically only the Edge and Mustang have “normal” automatic transmissions on offer.

    So why aren’t people chucking the dual-clutch trans over there?

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, I guess the jerky DSG in my VW is no where near as bad as the Ford transmissions. The DSG doesn’t lurch ahead or stall (at least not yet).

    Seems like the Focus and Fiesta were not the models to dump that transmission into.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Wet clutch vs dry clutch. Vw’s dry clutch isn’t as good as its wet clutch either (jetta hybrid)

      Wet clutch dct = best feel, capable of handling real power, highest service cost
      Dry clutch dct = worst feel, no power capability, low service cost
      Cvt = 2nd worst feel, unlovable but not dry dct broken feeling
      Torque converter = a transmission that out feels cvt’s and dry dct’s, loses a touch of mileage vs all others.

      I’d take the torque converter or wet dct personally.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I’ve never had a problem with either of my two VW DSG dual clutch trannys. How can that be when posters keep telling me VW is the poster child for vehicular problems ;)

  • avatar
    ajla

    Ford should remind people that the transmission is *designed* to shift like garbage.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Jordan Bonaparte?? Did his transmission meet its Waterloo?

  • avatar
    Nooly

    I’m so sick of manufacturers not knowing how to build and properly program transmissions. They hesitate, buck, flair shift, hunt, and are all together horrible to drive. It’s not a small percentage affected, either. It’s a majority of the 6 and 8+ speeds on the market today.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Why did Ford use such a risky and unproven technology over something tried and true?

    Because CAFE. Gotta eek out those few tenths of mpgs for the rest of the fleet so they can sell more F-150s.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      No, it’s because the Fiesta and Focus, and the DCT were all designed out of Europe. Ford of Europe offers the DPS6 across pretty much all of the passenger car and MPV lineup.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Next up:

    Hyundai’s 7 speed EcoShift.

    False Neutrals. Overheating Warnings. Shuddering.

  • avatar
    Mathias

    My dad bought a [German] 2008 C-Max — based on the 2nd gen Focus — and it has a turbo diesel as well as the DCT. I told him to get something else but he doesn’t listen.
    For all my skepticism, it’s fantastic to drive, and my home town is densely populated, hilly, and with narrow streets. And so far it’s been stout, and it’s GREAT to drive. I was really surprised.

    I recently rented a 2016 Focus, and the DCT was very competent and pleasant. I’d still prefer a stick, and I’d be scared to buy one of these for the long haul, but it’s a remarkable piece of engineering. It’s hard to see why they aren’t all the same.

  • avatar
    SP

    The DCT problem is really sad, and it is the #1 reason that I am not driving a Focus today. (Number 2 reason would be the sad gauge cluster.)

    I read that one of several problems with the dry clutch DCT Ford used is that it turns the transmission seal (and possibly the engine rear main seal) into a critical item. The clutches don’t work too well with oil on them. And the durability of these seals appears to be very questionable. Cars with moderately high mileage are leaking oil, which makes the clutches slip, which hastens the demise of a transmission.

  • avatar
    Driver7

    While Ford is making a number of good cars, it’s puzzling that it has done so little to fix this problem. Even if Ford needs to keep using the DCT to keep the fuel economy of the Focus up, it would seem like common sense to provide a better version.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Ford should have replaced this transmission 2-3 years ago. A friend of mine has a Focus and that thing hesitates and is virtually unpredictable. Twice at dealer for updates to transmission and still dangerous. Perhaps if Ford focused on replacing that transmission to drive up sales, instead of cost reduction by planning move to Mexico, they wouldn’t have to move production to a third world country. With President Trump soon in office, I hope Ford has a change of heart and fixes this garbage transmission instead of more American outsourcing of jobs.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    Now I have an old country song running through my head. Thanks a lot!

    …Waterloo, Waterloo,
    Where will you
    Meet your Waterloo?

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Another great example of Big Al’s “profits now, recalls later” business model.

  • avatar
    theoldguard

    In 2012 I bought two PowerShud-d-d-ers and both have had to be rebuilt. It’s a sad story, made even sadder by the fact that apart from the transmissions, the Fiesta and Focus are good in their class. What I don’t get is that five years later Ford is still producing them. They know they will be replacing a lot of them, and man hours it is costing has to erase any profit they had made. Has there been a worse automotive transmission in recent history, or ever?

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