By on March 23, 2017

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, Image: Ford

Calling the blistering Shelby GT350 Mustang “track-ready” has led to unexpected consequences for Ford Motor Company. As of late yesterday, the automaker finds itself the subject of a class-action lawsuit.

Owners of 2016 models are turning up the heat on the Blue Oval after their vehicles’ transmissions and differentials overheated, forcing the cars into performance-sapping (but component-saving) “limp mode.” Certain GT350s — base and Tech Package variants, to be exact — came from the factory without transmission and differential coolers. While fast, the models created headaches for some owners. Many drivers suddenly found themselves stuck in limp mode mid-race, or on the road.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Florida by law firms Hagens Berman and Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen, claims Ford’s declaration of track-readiness, coupled with the lack of cooling systems, isn’t safe. Power and speed loss can occur within 15 minutes of the start of a race, the suit states. The plaintiffs claim the sudden loss of power can prove disorienting, increasing the odds of a crash. (You can watch a video of a limp mode intervention here.)

Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said owners paid over $50,000 for a product that didn’t live up to expectations.

“We believe that Ford induced purchasers with its ‘track-ready’ marketing, when in fact it knew that this defect would ultimately bar these Mustangs from ever being the hotrod consumers paid for,” he said in a media release. “Ford’s only answer to owners has effectively been, ‘pay for a fix on your own dime.'”

The suit demands Ford reimburse owners for the purchase cost of the vehicle, as well as punitive damages and depreciation costs.

While Ford has since installed transmission and differential coolers as standard equipment on all 2017 Shelby GT350 models, it doesn’t help owners of 2016 vehicles. The full performance potential of those models could only be unlocked by ordering a $6,500 Track Package. Not surprisingly, complaints about the earlier model’s limited endurance cropped up quickly. Many owners took to online forums to air their frustrations.

One Utah owner posting on last October claimed the Ford salesman who sold him the Mustang said his Tech Package model came equipped with the proper cooling systems.

“As you can expect, I’m not very happy to find out that my car doesn’t have the diff and trans coolers it needs to even last a 20 min track session without going into limp mode,” the poster wrote. Other forums revealed similar gripes. While many owners claim that even base-model GT350s should be capable of handling the rigors of a track, other claim they simply should have known to buy the Track Package.

Ford has so far not responded to the lawsuit.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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25 Comments on “Overheating Shelby GT350 Mustangs Spark Class-action Lawsuit...”

  • avatar

    Bet on plaintiffs’ lawyers to argue that Ford essentially admitted to these charges when they made the coolers standard equipment on the ’17s.

    Still, why wouldn’t Ford settle the claims by agreeing to retrofit the relevant coolers onto the ’16MY cars?

    • 0 avatar

      Easy enough on the differential but the transmission housing is not designed to accept the cooler provisions on the non-track pack cars ergo if Ford is required to install the cooler package they will have to swap the transmissions as well on about 1500 cars.

      I was ready to jump on board but a few months into the rollout of the GT350 but somebody (Mustang 6g IIRC) produced a copy of the dealer’s 2017 info and it showed the 2017 cars getting the track pack as standard so if anybody ordered or picked up a 2016 car late in the process they just didn’t bother looking or ignored the information out there.

      IMO much of it is sour grapes given the ADMs people have paid on them. Some of these guys have paid upwards and over 100k (I’d assume for the R but I’ve been told different on a few occasions) and they are going to take a beating on the base and tech pack cars if they want to upgrade to the 2017 cars.

      That said I have been critical of Ford’s rollout of the S550 Mustang and its GT350 variant many of their product choices have been laughable – GT350 Track Pack not standard until 2017, cannot get the Performance Pack on automatic equipped Mustang GTs, Rental spec only V6, incredibly short-sighted decision to forego offering safety systems on the euro spec cars and probably one or two more I’m forgetting but this seems like a case where due diligence is the order of the day.

  • avatar

    Maybe “Track Ready” meant it was ready for you to BUY the track package. Trans coolers indicate automatics to me, and I assume most track guys would have picked the manual. Regardless Ford should step up here and just install the cooling modifications.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think these were available with automatics. Manuals have lubrication too and they get hot… I don’t think a trans cooler is unreasonable for a manual, though I’ve honestly never heard of such a thing and wonder if its need is indicative of poor transmission design.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      One thing to consider was that picking the Track pack locked you out from picking other packages too, it wasn’t as simple as “why didn’t you opt for the Track Pack” it was also “you needed to forego GPS or whatever in order to get adequate cooling.”

      • 0 avatar

        Which is what kept me on the fence about it until the 2017 model.

        I wanted Recaros and a decent stereo, wasn’t possible in 2016. The 2017s all have cooling, and you can get the upgraded stereo with your choice of thrones.

        Honestly though, and maybe I’m being a bit of a fanboy, but I don’t see how this case has any legs. The cars aren’t breaking (limp mode is to prevent that), Ford doesn’t warranty track performance, the manual specifically says you should install coolers for track use, and in 2015/2016 the advertising was clear as to what each package included.

        Limp mode lowers your redline until temperatures come down, but at 4500 RPM it’s enough to drive safely.

        Is the Tech Pack disappointing on track? Sure. But down that way goes having to ensure that brakes don’t fade, no heat soak, tire temperature management…fact is that the more street oriented you are the less the car will hold up on repeated track laps.

  • avatar

    Clearly Ford is sick of the endless free publicity that GM, VW, and FCA are getting with their respective crises, and it’s figured out how to get its own piece of that sweet legal-crisis action.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a sales force knowledge issue rather than a deliberate mis-giving from the manufacturer.

  • avatar

    This is the way Detroit deals with problems. Deny, Deny and stall. No wonder the asians have done so well selling their products here.

    • 0 avatar

      The Chinese will have a built-in protection from such lawsuits – “Of course it broke! You knew it was Made in China! What did you expect?! Now throw it away and go buy a new one!”

      (Buick will have that one on standby, ready to use for the Envision.)

  • avatar

    The superior rear visibility must be handy for spotting the other cars lapping you. :P

  • avatar

    The problem is that Ford expected the buyers of this model to fit the Corvette demographic – 60+ year old males that spend much more time polishing their rides than driving.

    • 0 avatar

      That is a rather unfair comment. I’m nowhere near 60, pound on my car from time to time, and yes, keep it clean. But at least the Mustang now can match the Zo6 – they’re both one lap wonders. Chevy eventually fixed the Zo6, at least for manual cars. No consolation for those who bought their cars for the track. Design engineer Tadge was on camera and stated that the Zo6 was track ready “as it sits” and it came with a 100K drive train warranty. I’d say the buyers have the best legal evidence for their case yet I’ve never heard of any settlements. So, good luck Mustang fans…

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah sure the tech and base GT350s but the track pack, GT350R, and 2017 plus cars can go more than “one lap” – you can pound on them for your typical 30 minute session or two with no problem (cant say past two 30 minute sessions with just enough time to swap seats)

    • 0 avatar

      And the problem with 60+ year old males who like to shine their cars is….?

  • avatar

    Is this the same issue that the Australian New South Wales police had when it evaluated a mustang for pursuit duties?

  • avatar

    Ford and extremely deceptive marketing go hand and hand.

    This is very similar to Ford showing the Raptor doing insane jumps in their marketing for it yet when people went out and did the same or similar, they broke their frame (Built Ford Tough for ya!)

  • avatar

    Surely this will draw the same amount of ire and mockery of Ford on this site that GM got for the overheating Z06 Corvettes…

    >15 comments all day

    I am absolutely SHOCKED.

  • avatar

    I’ve been torn, since the GT350 is the closest car available today to my ideal, but it is also a Ford. Thanks for revealing it to be a Ford with a seductive spec sheet.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not an issue for the 2017+ model years, as all of them include all requisite track package options as standard.

      MSRP increased accordingly, however.

  • avatar

    “Track ready” does not equal “race ready”. This is just another frivolous lawsuit by money-hungry attorneys. Complete B.S.

  • avatar

    I’m sure what makes it worse , is “most” of the early cars had a (little) markup on them. You think for 80K+ they can run a few laps.

    • 0 avatar

      So the manufacturer should anticipate dealer mark-up when they design a car and how it performs? In that case I wonder how one of the first buyers of the Plymouth Prowler felt when he paid 90k for his V6 Hot Rod only to have it soundly beaten by a much less expensive Camaro and Firebird at the time?

      What about he 911R? It was selling for a substantial increase over the GT2 should it have offered half a million dollars in performance since that is what some dealers were charging for it.

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