Mustang Owners Sue Ford Over Transmission Troubles

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford has weathered heavy criticism for moving bunk transmissions for some time. Normally, that conversation revolves around the PowerShift DSP6 (aka Getrag 6DCT250) installed in passenger cars with names beginning with the letter “F.”

The unit turned out to have a laundry list of problems and ultimately created a ruckus between management, engineers, and Ford’s legal team. Concerned that scrapping the dual-clutch automatic at the last minute would prove a costly decision in the midst of our last economic recession, the manufacturer ran with it — only to be confronted with annoyed consumers who felt the transmission wasn’t anywhere near up to par.

While the DSP6 is the unit that gets top billing for What Were They Thinking: The Movie, it wasn’t the only transmission prompting headaches in Dearborn. Another Getrag-sourced unit, the MT82 six-speed manual, is allegedly a sore sport for Mustang drivers. Owners of 2011-2019 model year Ford Mustangs are now suing the manufacturer for delivering what they claim is another faulty product.

Problems with this unit are similar to those the the DSP6, with manual Mustang transmissions being faulted for a multitude of issues after leaving behind the Tremec units that previously graced the pony car. The alleged problems were outlined in a California lawsuit filed last year.

According to Automotive News, the civil suit has since been transitioned to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and now includes direct claims that Ford knowingly obscured problems almost immediately after introducing the MT82.

“The transmission is defective in its design, manufacturing, and or materials in that, among other problems, the transmission slips, jerks, clashes gears, and harshly engages; has premature internal wear, increased shift efforts, inability to drive, and eventually suffers a catastrophic failure,” states the lawsuit. “Ford repeatedly failed to disclose and actively concealed the defect from class members and the public and continues to market the class vehicles without disclosing the transmission defect.”

From Automotive News:

The lawsuit highlights a 2011 investigation into the MT82 transmissions by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA found 364 complaints related to the gearbox but eventually closed the case after Ford took action to correct the problems, and it concluded there was “no unreasonable safety risk associated with the alleged defect.”

The plaintiffs include Brandon Lemons, who purchased a pre-owned 2014 Mustang GT in late 2018. He took the vehicle in for service in July 2019 complaining of a “grinding noise and a vibration through the shift knob.”

The problem has gone uncorrected.

The suit also states that Ford had issued seven special service messages and technical bulletins related to shifting issues and other defects. This again harkens back to the DSP6, which Ford repeatedly enacted various fixes for without ever issuing an official recall. In that case, the Blue Oval offered an extended warranty on affected models and eventually settled a class-action suit involving almost 2 million customers.

We’ve certainly heard fewer complaints regarding the Mustang, which doesn’t mean the criticisms aren’t to be taken seriously. As manuals are no longer in fashion with the general public, there are far fewer MT82 units on the road. Still, the complaints seem largely consistent — suggesting the components may be inferior and/or people don’t know how to drive stick well enough not to destroy the gearbox. With complaints streaming in as early as 2011 and Getrag parts having developed a reputation for sucking, the former seems the likely scenario. Still, there’s always a chance lawyers smelled blood/money in the water from the DSP6 and thought this was the best time to make a move.

Ford said it cannot comment on matters pending litigation.

[Image: Aisyaqilumaranas/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jun 14, 2020

    @TMA1--Yes I know the transmission is built in China but Ford is using it and is responsible for it. Manual transmissions have been on cars ever since the beginning and are not that complicated. I want to like Ford especially since they are coming out with a compact pickup in a few years and I want a compact pickup. I have owned 3 Ford products in the past with only 1 being a piece of junk and the other 2 being really good. I also realize as you brought up that it is hard to buy anything without at least has Chinese components and many are made in China. I also realize that the new Ford compact truck will most likely be made in Mexico but regardless Ford needs to own up to any defects in their own products and the same can be said for Nissan, GM, FCA, etc.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jun 14, 2020

      ..."I want to like Ford..." Forget Ford. Buy based on, or cherrypick the model, researching it up and down, or you'll find you really have to one to blame (or sue) but yourself. Using the Harbor Freight equivalent of manual transmissions was a bad call, or anything made of Chinesium that could extend your stopping distance, shorten your lifespan, or lessen the quality of life, even by just being stranded waiting for AAA. If I was really into the current MT82 Mustang GT and the price was right, I'd probably chance it. I know a lot of complaints are normally overblown and I did own a 5.7 Olds diesel and powerstroke 6.0 without any issues. Except in knew exactly what I was getting into and plenty warned me against it. The Tremec conversion is a 'thing', all it takes is money. It's a bit more noisy and notchy than the MT82, and you should starts with 3.73s or 4.10s, or add that to the bill.

  • Dividebytube Dividebytube on Jun 17, 2020

    I own/daily drive a Mustang V6 with the MT82 transmission. Isn't my favorite manual? No but it's not that bad either. No issues 2 years in but my car only had 34k miles on the clock, starting with 26k. I can engage 1st smoothly, do some really nice launches or roll out as slow as I want without any jerking. If you're really on the go pedal, however, it is sometimes hard to get into second gear. There are some aftermarket fixes available (which I haven't done) that, according to the sites I belong to, does improve the trans for better racing/performance.

  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.
  • TheEndlessEnigma A '95 in Iowa, I'm thinking significant frame and underbody rust issues.