By on June 29, 2017

2015 Ford Transit, Image: Ford Motor Company

There’s a problem underneath 2015-2017 Ford Transit models and, until the Blue Oval figures out a long-term fix, owners and operators of all Transit variants can expect a new driveshaft flexible coupling every 30,000 miles.

The automaker has announced a safety recall for 402,462 Transits sold in North America in order to prevent instances of driveshaft separation caused by a faulty flexible coupling. Ford seems to have become aware of a looming problem with each vehicle’s driveline, which apparently isn’t nearly as robust as the automaker had hoped.

Ford claims it isn’t aware of any accidents or injuries stemming from driveshaft separation. However, it wouldn’t know of the problem if it hadn’t already happened. While the vehicles involved in the recall aren’t old, potential failure of the flexible coupling might not be far off for many of them.

“Based on the field data, Ford does not expect the current flexible couplings to deteriorate sufficiently to result in driveline separation in vehicles with less than 30,000 mile,” the automaker said in a statement.

It describes the risk potential as such:

In the affected vehicles, continuing to operate a vehicle with a cracked flexible coupling may cause separation of the driveshaft, resulting in a loss of motive power while driving or unintended vehicle movement in park without the parking brake applied. In addition, separation of the driveshaft from the transmission can result in secondary damage to surrounding components, including brake and fuel lines. A driveshaft separation may increase the risk of injury or crash.

As a permanent fix isn’t yet available, Ford has issued owners a game plan. If your Transit has less than 30,000 miles on it, simply wait until it reaches that point, after which a Ford dealer will happily install a new flexible coupling free of charge. Should your Transit already have a recently replaced driveshaft or flexible coupling, wait until the components rack up 30,000 miles.

As for owners of Transit with more than 30,000 miles on the odometer, get thee to a Ford dealer for a replacement immediately. The automaker claims “the interim repair will consist of replacing the driveshaft flexible coupling every 30,000 miles until the final repair is available and completed.”

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing uncovered by USA Today shows the recall will set Ford back a cool $142 million. That’s certainly the last thing the automaker needs. Ford has blamed a series of recalls for a steep drop in first-quarter 2017 earnings.

Of the recalled vehicles, 370,630 were sold in the U.S. and 26,254 were shipped to Canada. Another 2,361 Transits found their way to federalized territories, with 3,217 shipped to Mexico. The issue affects medium, long, and extended wheelbases of Transit vans and buses, as well as medium-wheelbase chassis cabs and cutaways.

Soon, Ford must choose between two permanent solutions. The automaker claims it could install “either a redesigned flexible coupling with a modified driveshaft bracket and shield or a revised driveshaft equipped with a universal joint.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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37 Comments on “Ford to Fling Driveshaft Repairs at Transit Owners Until It Figures Out a Solution...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Oops. Ford announces relocation of Transit production to Shanghai in order to prevent future assembly issues.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      if it’s a parts quality issue, what does it matter where final assembly is?

      • 0 avatar
        YeOldeMobile

        Would the components be made by a third-party manufacturer these days? Ford probably thinks it can’t afford too switch of this is their solution.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Ford, with more vehicles and parts fabricated in China and Mexico, where QUALITY IS JOB #1!

      #MAGA!

      #BaruthBrosOrgasmWhenTheySeeMAGA

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Focus on/in China!

        Fiesta down in Mexico!

        Hermasillo Fusion’s the MKZ & MKZ Hybrid; what a town!

        Nanchang, China MT-82 Mustang Boogaloo!

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          DW,
          Hey, my MT82 went for around 18 000 miles! It was a Chinese one.

          But, a big but. The replacement seems to be really good. Its Chinese.

          The UK built MT82s used in Land Rover Defenders has the same problems as our Chinese ones. So, whatever the problem it was resolved. I’d say a design flaw, which lends itself to EU (Germany?) or US/NA.

          So, I think it might have been more than just a built in China issue.

          The EU RWD Transits don’t have the coupling problem. So, I would assume FoMoCo Detroit is procuring the couplings from a different manufacturer or factory.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford job list
        Become mobility company job 1
        Tech company style stock valuation job 2
        .
        Off shore production job 5
        .
        Profitablity job 10
        ..

        Quality job 38 and falling fast

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Sounds like a design issue

  • avatar
    sirwired

    This problem is unfortunate, but give Ford props for just buckling down and agreeing to proactively perform these periodic replacements until they figure out a long-term solution. They could have very well tried the “bring it in for inspection” form of recall “repair”.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The rubber of center support bearing in my GTO’s drive shaft started separating at about 42k miles. Of course, it was 8 years old at that point. But it still seems rather premature for something handling that much load to wear out. It started as a light thud under heavy acceleration and developed into a loud rhythmic rumble that you could feel inside the car.

    It was an easy enough fix – if not cheap – as I put in a solid driveshaft. It’s unclear to me why it didn’t come that way from the factory as there is plenty of room. I’m sure there are plenty of logical reasons I’m just not aware of.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Haven’t these vehicles been available for years worldwide? Why would only North America examples be affected, and why now?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      a lot of the Transits in other regions are front-wheel drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Ummm …………. not really.

        They are actually the same FWD or RWD as in the US for given models.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          that doesn’t contradict what I said.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Ummm ………. Jimmi,
            No.

            Your writing suggests (infers) a lot of Transits are front wheel drive outside of the US. But, the US is in the same boat with FWD Transits.

            This makes your comment of no value, unless your inference is what I stated originally.

            The difference is the US Transit, like many other vehicles has been “Americanized”. Cheapened.

            The Nissan Patrol, Colorado, MB Sprinter, etc all have been degraded. Even the Ford Focus is done up cheaper than a Thai Focus.

            I would think it is the 3.5 EB’s causing the problem.

            I wish TTAC would do a little investigative research with these types of articles.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            we don’t have any FWD Transits in North America. They’re all rear wheel drive.

            “I wish TTAC would do a little investigative research with these types of articles.”

            you repeatedly make outlandish, unsupported claims (including outright lies) so I don’t think you have any standing to say such a thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Jimmy,
            The reason is the global Transits have a 2.2 diesel, to be replaced with a 2 litre diesel.

            They just don’t produce the torque of a 3.5 EB or 3.2 turbo diesel.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Al-

            You don’t know a darned thing about the development of the current Transit. It wasn’t cheapened for the US. It was made more robust for the US because it has to replace E-Series vans that have been the backbone of fleets for decades.

            The 3.5EB isn’t causing the problem. The recall affects all US Transits. Like Jim said, there are no FWD Transits in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Adam,
            I am talking RWD Transits. The global market HAS RWD Transits and lots of them.

            I really don’t think there are huge diffeences between the global and US RWD Transits.

            For starters ‘EU’ Transits WERE used for the eval, design and development of the US Transits. They ARE the basis of design for the US Transits, hence the vert similar looks and dimensions.

            Again, somewhere in the process (read USA) the part changes were “cheapened”.

            Maybe the Ford UK are designing better Fords.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I’m not having this discussion with you anymore, Al. It’s not worth it.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Adam,
            I’m using a computer again and not my Smart phone so here’s something to read.

            I’m not disputing that there are FWD Transit on the global market, but the comment INFERS the reason for no Transit global issue is due to the FWD Transit.

            This is not to challenging. So please stop twisting to suit your Pro Ford line.

            ——————————————-

            The fourth generation of the Transit was officially launched in January 2013 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

            A OneFord globally developed vehicle, the new-generation Transit was designed by Ford of Europe and co-developed with Ford in North America. In a break from the previous generation of the Transit, there are two distinct body forms:
            Mid-size front wheel drive: now a distinct model, branded Transit/Tourneo Custom. It is intended to compete with vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz Vito/Viano and Volkswagen Transporter T5.
            Full size rear wheel drive: a full size version, to enable Transit to better replace the outgoing 40-year-old Econoline/E-Series in the North American market. While the front-wheel drive V347 Transit was sold alongside the E-Series in Mexico starting in 2007 (replacing the Freestar minivan), this generation of the Transit is the first to be officially sold in the United States and Canada. As part of the development cycle, Ford loaned examples of the previous-generation (V347/348) Transit to high-mileage drivers in the United States for evaluation purposes and durability testing.

            Both versions external design look evolved from the New Edge styling used from the previous-generation model to the Kinetic design adopted by the OneFord global models since 2010; the interior drew cues from the third generation Ford Focus.

            Model configuration

            The new Transit is available in cargo van and chassis/cutaway cab configurations. In a significant departure from the E-Series, but standard for existing rest of world versions, Transit vans/wagons come in three different roof heights; extended-wheelbase vans are available with dual rear wheels. It was released in North America in the summer of 2014, released as a 2015 model. As with the much smaller Transit Connect, passenger versions are marketed under a singular Transit nameplate rather than the Tourneo name seen globally.

            Outside of North America, much of the Transit engine lineup and drivetrain configurations are retained from the previous generation. For the United States and Canada, the four cylinder engines and manual transmission are not offered; in these markets only the 180-hp 3.2L Duratorq I5 diesel (branded as a PowerStroke) is shared with global-market models. For North America, the standard engine is a 275-hp 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 (shared with the F-Series and Police Interceptor version of the Ford Explorer) and an optional 320-hp 3.5L EcoBoost V6 shared with the F-150 and D3-platform vehicles. All versions in North America are specified with a 6-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drivetrain. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 can be converted to run on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas with an optional Gaseous Engine Prep Package. In North America, 4×4 conversions are done through factory-supported third party installers.

            Production

            Worldwide production of Ford Transits takes place in two facilities; all European Transit production is from Ford Otosan in Kocaeli Province, Turkey; this factory will also provide a percentage of global exports. In February 2015, Ford announced a new Transit production center in Valencia, Spain, to serve growing export markets. North American production is primarily sourced from Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Missouri on the lines used for the previous generation Ford Escape; production at the Kansas City Assembly Plant began on 30 April 2014.

        • 0 avatar
          cramerica

          This is a RWD problem, it involves the propshaft coupling.

          Euro forums are complaining about this as well.

          Problem is not as significant possibly because US engines are stronger and automatic transmission output torque is higher. 95% of EU transits are manuals.

          Notion of US Transits being ‘cheaper’ is nonsense.

          Issue seems to point to an underdesigned part…likely due to cost pressure

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            cramerica,
            I think you are very wrong.

            Can you provide a link?

            It is common to see issue in one vehicle and not another similar or the same vehicles globally.

            I’d would think the coupling is from a different source than the EU, Turkish or Spainish made Transits.

            I’ll do a little more research.

            But, I’ve found squat on any drivetrain coupling issues on global Transits.

            Nice try.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Figure out a way to use the driveshaft from an F250 and problem solved.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It’s good to see Ford getting on board to rectify the problem. By the sounds of it the current fix might be expensive or there is a lack of parts due to the 30k limit on repairs.

    I would like to know what engine/drivetrain configurations are affected. Is the 3.5EB, 3.2 diesel or the V6?

  • avatar
    rcx141

    It’s amazing that Ford shoot themselves in the foot like this. After all these decades doesn’t the industry know how to make a reliable drive shaft?

    Not to knock Ford particularly, but in the UK with the EcoBoost engines, there is a plastic degas pipe which fails and lets all the water out, resulting in total engine failure. They really should be more careful about where they choose to save a few pennies.

  • avatar
    Garak

    This is what happens when you just slap a bigger engine in a typical penny-pinched flimsy Euro van. The speed at which these vehicles disintegrate with only a 130 horse engine is stunning, and when you put in a “powerful” V6, you see stuff like this happening.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    Are those rubber pancake joints supposed to act as constant velocity joints or approximations thereof? If so, a double cardan. x-groove or even rzeppa joint is going to be difficult to engineer into place.

    Fixing a problem caused by going cheap and light is not easy. With the current design, about all you can do is tinker with the material/compound.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Could it be a heat-related thing? I owned three Toyota Previas, and they use flexible couplings (known to Previa owners as “revolvers”, because they look like the revolver on a pistol) on both ends of the SADS (Separated Accessory Drive System) shaft that drives the accessories mounted under the hood, from the engine under the van.

    In cooler climates like the Northeast and Northwest, and in Canada, the revolvers can last a long time, but in places where it gets hot, like here in Texas, the rubber can break down in less than 100,000 miles. I had to replace a couple of sets over the years, and nowadays people are using modified BMW guibos to replace them, in addition to using the myriad third-party revolvers (Chinese/Indian/whatever) available out there.

    Of course knowing Ford, these could be Chinese parts.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Excuse the ignorance.. Would an EV Transit not have this issue? I mean because of fewer components. I know there’d be other issues like battery life and range anxiety.

  • avatar
    TR4

    If the propeller shaft can’t take the torque from Americans’ bigger engines/automatic transmissions I wonder about the rear axle.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    cramerica and Adam and others,

    Read;
    “In addition, separation of the driveshaft from the transmission can result in secondary damage to surrounding components, including brake and fuel lines. A driveshaft separation may increase the risk of injury or crash.”

    The affected Fort Transit vehicles were build in the USA assembly plant from Jan 2014 to Jun 2017.

    For vehicles affected with more than 30,000 miles on the clock an interim repair will be undertaken.


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