By on May 31, 2017


Ford’s dual-clutch PowerShift transmission has made the Blue Oval a number of enemies over the past several years. Now, nearly 7,000 U.S. Ford owners are looking for a pound of flesh.

A lawsuit filed against the automaker is seeking compensation for individual damages claimed by the plaintiffs, all of whom own a 2012-2016 Ford Focus or 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta. The suit, which is just the latest of many, contains a familiar complaint about Ford’s small-car tranny. Basically, that it’s awful, and not even an exorcist can free it from its demons.

The owners cite “shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration” as the reason for their dissatisfaction, Automotive News reports. Unlike some class actions, the persons behind this suit (filed late last month) aren’t simply looking to divvy up a pile of cash. Each plaintiff wants Ford to cover exact costs.

Ford has issued numerous technical service bulletins to dealers — the suit claims 20 — since the transmission’s debut, all in a bid to stem the flow of complaints. Despite software updates designed to smooth balky shifts, the plaintiffs claim no fix has worked.

Three years ago, Ford extended the powertrain warranty on PowerShift-equipped vehicles. The warranty went from five years or 60,000 miles to seven years and 100,000 miles. While Ford offered a similar extended warranty to Australian customers, that didn’t stop a class-action lawsuit filed from Down Under.

Ford settled another PowerShift-related American class action back in March.

“Ford must be held accountable for design and manufacturing defects of the PowerShift transmission that has compromised the safety of the vehicles and cost owners significant loss in vehicle value, reliable transportation and time,” said Ken Stern, founder and principal of Stern Law PLLC, in a statement. The firm filed the most recent suit with the Wayne County Circuit Court.

Ford hasn’t commented on the latest PowerShift lawsuit, only issuing a statement regarding its commitment to delivering high-quality vehicles.

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45 Comments on “Lawsuit Targeting Ford for Faulty Transmissions Powershifts into High Gear...”

  • avatar

    Such a shame.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. The Focus is a really, really good car and deserves a transmission that doesn’t infuriate its’ owners.

      • 0 avatar

        When do you call it a day and just order a conventional transmission?

      • 0 avatar

        Mike, I couldn’t agree more. Having driven a PowerShift on two multi-state road trips, one when it was behaving, and one when it was not, there is no excuse for it.

        Yes, its borderline acceptable when it’s behaving, it can be downright dangerous when it isn’t. This Focus had 32-37k miles when I drove it. Now, the AX4N in my old car feels like it has 234k on it, but I’m not scared to pull out in traffic quickly if need be. There is no delayed reaction, it doesn’t bang or shudder while I’m looking stupid by not moving when I should be, LOL it just works.

        Why they didn’t just use the same 6 speed as in the Fusion (etc) is beyond my understanding. My brother’s 2.5L Fusion shifts just fine, doesn’t GM use it’s version in the Cruze?

        Ford laid another rotten egg, now that they finally phased out the $#¡ГГμ V-6s they had (3.8L/3.9L, 4.2L, 4.0L SOHC), then comes the PowerDelay to relegate their otherwise fine small cars to also-ran status among the bread and butter buyers (who overwhelmingly buy automatics).

  • avatar

    I think if you look back at the Taurus and Sable transmission fiasco, The Explorer transmission failure rates, you have a very stable platform with which to fight the dual clutch dragon. Ford’s history is for building nice looking cars but their transmissions are built just long enough to outlast the lease.

    • 0 avatar

      My question is, what is the starting point in your view here:

      “Ford’s history is for building nice looking cars….”

      • 0 avatar

        I owned a focus auto for the kids. 9 months in shop in a year. Working normal included: Losing 1-3-5 gears. Losing reverse. Losing all gears. Immediately pull over alerts. Ford reps told me repeatedly I should not expect the transmission to function. Repairs never lasted more than 3 days. Sold after a service visit before it could fail again with 3k left on warranty. Never again ford Nevertheless again

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The current traditional automatic transmissions Ford offers have proven to be reliable. 6F and 6R are probably the best transmissions Ford has ever built.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    And you thought Smart had a crap transmission !

  • avatar

    Maybe pull a Dodge and drop the automatic entirely? You’ll lose sales, but the customers will not be back to cost you money.

  • avatar

    My stepmother had a Focus that Ford bought back after making her jump through hoops. The transmission would randomly slip gears leaving her unable to accelerate in traffic. Its not hard to picture how this could be dangerous (merging into traffic). I feel for the other people dealing with this.

    • 0 avatar

      An elderly relative rented one of these last year when she was in town visiting my parents. The transmission’s behavior freaked her out so much that after driving it 5 or 10 miles, she turned around, brought it back to the rental agency and demanded something not a Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      In my previous job we had a sedan in government fleet spec that I drove occasionally (I actually preferred an ancient Taurus wagon). One time I was with a cooworker who was accelerating on the highway and it was like somebody threw it in neutral. Other times it herked and jerked as endlessly reported. Its a shame because they are good handling cars, and though a bit dated now, were better than many of their peers in ways other than the tranny. I’ve driven other ones in higher trim, and considered buying. I have the butt ugly 2010 version, which is pokey and homely, but the thing has been dead reliable (as a 10 year old design should be) and while the 4-speed AOD trans is ancient, it gets the job done just fine and no drama.

  • avatar

    Why not just buy them from VW or just get rid of the damn thing completely and put a traditional 6 speed transaxle in there? Oh wait, they ain’t got one, do they?

  • avatar

    And Big Al strikes again! I hope the board and the shareholders thank Big Al for this wonderful gift. Big Al cut quality to the bone and everyone applauded how much money Ford was making. They were too drunk on the profits to realize that the amazingly low quality would come back to bite them.

    “Profits now, recalls later” is never a good business plan.

  • avatar

    And yet Ford continues to get positive coverage for the Focus ST and RS, while their mainstream small cars have to do with this garbage transmission. This should have been replaced two years ago at latest. And all media are guilty for covering ST and RS while ignoring the entry that sells in larger numbers. No Focus or Fiesta should be getting good coverage while this is going on.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I think we’ve given praise to versions of the Fiesta and Focus that doesn’t have the Powershift DCT, and that’s fair. We even had an article bemoaning the death of the Focus SE hatch with the 5 speed.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree completely. I’m only interested in the ST and RS versions of these cars, so I appreciate media outlets reviewing them as standalone products.

      I don’t care if the lesser models have a transmission made of dynamite and spiders, because I’ve zero interest in buying one.

      • 0 avatar

        Bikegoesbaa and Adam Tonage, you miss the point entirely. There would be no RS or ST versions of Focus or Fiesta, without the normal versions with the automatic. There is no business case otherwise. There should be no media attention to performance versions if the normal is junk.

        It reminds me of when GM gave media Citations that were rigged and media gave lip service to those GM front wheelers. Same here. Normal version is junk and media is falling for rigged versions while mainstream public is sold junk. Shame on media and Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      We have a Focus SE hatchback, with the 5-speed manual transmission, that has been very good for us. If something were to happen to it, we would buy another. Unfortunately, that’s no longer possible because Ford has discontinued the manual in the hatchback. Ford would lose us to Mazda.

  • avatar

    Is Hyundai next for their 7 speed DCT? Hopefully so.

  • avatar

    Bought the 5-speed manual in 2012. It shifts and drives great. Even back then, the word was the auto was clunky unsatisfying lump.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised it took this long. Too many posts from folks who are forever swearing off Ford. Ford royally screwed this up too.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The rental 2015 Focus I had last year with the DCT was the absolute worst transmission I’ve ever driven – far worse than the awful ZF 9-spd auto.

    I actually thought it was going to fail, and the poor car only had 22k on it. Once I realized it was a DCT and read others’ comments on it, I retracted my blame of the previous rental drivers of this particular car. It was so rough, I opened the hood to make sure the motor mounts weren’t broken.

    Even my wife thought there was something wrong when she drove it, and she’s fairly oblivious to car issues.

  • avatar

    CAFE makes the automakers try to employ ridiculous transmissions like this in order to eek out menial fuel economy gains.

    Consumers (and Ford) would have been much happier with a conventional automatic.

  • avatar

    That transmission in our rental Focus last fall in Florida drove both of us crazy, I thought it was a bad one.

    Why in the world would a car maker put a tranny in a car that felt like it was falling apart?

    Hope Ford puts a better one in its cars that came so-equipped.

  • avatar

    Had a ’11 Fiesta with the manual. The car was junk. Had Focus rentals a couple of time. The first one my wife scolded me and told me to drive normal. I told her I don’t know how to drive an automatic.

    My son is shopping for a small car like a Focus. I told him that the auto wasn’t to be considered. I wonder if the ’17’s with the power shift is any better then in ’11 when they were still new.

    • 0 avatar

      Send him over to Mazda to look at a Mazda3. The old model, which was redesigned for 2014, was a close runner up to the 2013 5-speed Focus SE hatchback we bought.

    • 0 avatar

      Every Focus I’ve rented in Europe was a 6 speed dream to drive, diesel or gas. My wife wouldn’t drive a manual which was OK for a trip, but at home I have to drive a ’15 Herky-Jerky. It shifts OK most of the time when you don’t jiggle it and it hunts into kickdown.

      • 0 avatar

        I might also point out that I get over 40 MPG in mixed driving. Max is around 50 MPG on flat rural roads at 55 MPH. I almost bought a C-Max instead, would save very little gas for much more money.

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