By on July 19, 2019

Following a scathing analysis from the Detroit Free Press regarding Ford’s handling of their dual-clutch transmission troubles in the Focus and Fiesta, the company has apparently ordered dealerships to fix all affected cars for free, regardless of warranty status.

Automotive News is reporting that the company sent a memo out to dealerships instructing them to fix transmissions if the customer is having issues:

In the July 12 memo, Ford says dealerships should “arrange to diagnose the vehicle and repair as necessary.” The fixes can be applied to 2011-17 models, many of which are out of warranty.

Dealerships were also told to expect another update later today.

(Read More…)

By on January 2, 2018

2013 Ford F-150, Image: Ford

In 2016, Ford Motor Company’s stable of rear-drive vehicles came under scrutiny for six-speed transmissions that couldn’t decide whether to sprint or crawl. Owners reported that their 2011-2012 F-150s, Expeditions, Mustangs, and Lincoln Navigators would, suddenly and without warning, downshifting from upper ratios to first gear, ultimately forcing the automaker to recall some 153,000 of the vehicles in the United States.

It now looks like it didn’t recall enough of them. Dangerous downshifts continue, and not just in vehicles covered by the recall. Another concern is that the problem is reappearing in supposedly “fixed” vehicles. (Read More…)

By on October 13, 2017

2004 Chrysler 300m Interior, Image: Chrysler

TTAC Commentator mopar4wd writes:

Sajeev,

So, I’ve noticed over the years that common wisdom for purchasing budget cars is all about condition and less about mileage. But other than my trusty ’88 Ramcharger, ’00 Durango, ’91 Eagle summit (Mitsubishi Mirage) and ’87 Toyota pickup, most of the vehicles I have owned all started becoming awful to own going somewhere between 150-200k miles. The list includes Fords, Subarus, Jeeps, Nissans, Chryslers, Volkswagens, Volvos, etc., since I pretty much only buy sub-$5,000 cars and have to rely on them daily. I have shifted to a little older and lower mileage (and of course well taken care of). Usually between 90-120k miles and 10 to 12 years old.

Which leads me to my question. I’m now the owner of a 2004 Chrysler 300M with 42,000 miles. The owner bought it from a Chrysler dealer locally in 2006. It’s well maintained and clean despite living its life outdoors: new tires, new battery and oil changes every 3k miles. The owner had it up for a reasonable price but everyone was low balling her — I brought a reasonable offer (about 15 percent less than asking) and picked it up.

After driving it a thousand miles a few things have popped up: cam sensor going out (a common issue that I’m DIYing today), I’ve made an appointment to have the timing belt and water pump replaced (there was no record of this work), and based on feel I think the rear struts may need a change.

Given the like-new condition of the car is there anything else I should be looking at doing (fluid changes are on the list) given that it’s closing in on 14 years old? (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

ford-shifter-main
The traditional console-mounted transmission shifter is disappearing, being replaced by buttons or rotary knobs in many models as shift-by-wire becomes the industry standard. The 2018 GMC Terrain recently debuted — and received criticism for —  pushbuttons mounted low in the center stack in order to control the transmission.

Ford is no stranger to these configurations. The Blue Oval uses buttons mounted on the left side of the center stack in the Lincoln MKZ and a console-mounted rotary knob in the Ford Fusion. Now, Ford has an idea for an even more complex shifting system — and this one comes with a bit of retro flair.

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

Shift By Wire shifters - Images: BMW, Toyota, Lincoln, Chrysler, GMC

Center-mounted in a vertical fashion, the shifter in the fifth-generation 2018 Honda Odyssey profiled yesterday by Chris Tonn requires drivers to push a rectangular button for park, pull back an indented button for reverse, push another rectangular button for neutral, or depress a square button for drive.

In the new, second-generation 2017 GMC Terrain, a low-slung horizon of shift buttons mandates pushes of a rectangle for park and a small square for neutral plus a slight pull for reverse or, farther to the right, drive.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the lengthy push-button shift mechanism in newer Lincolns, where buttons for ignition, park, reverse, neutral, drive, and sport are laid out vertically on the driver’s side of the centre stack.

Some automakers are trying out rotary knobs, or shifters with separate park buttons, or monostable shifters that have earned a bad name.

They’re here to stay. Blame technology. Hope for reliability. Don’t expect standardization. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2017

 

1930s car

DAG writes:

Why don’t automakers design front-wheel-drive cars with the transaxle in front of the engine? This moves the front wheels forward and improves weight distribution; offers better potential for aerodynamics and leaves space under the hood for pedestrian protection. With a turbo four-cylinder, the engine could have clearance from the firewall. Also, the engine and transaxle could be mounted on a pivoting subframe, hinged at the front, to drop down at the back for major maintenance; disconnect steering and exhaust to drop cradle.

The engine would sit in the space where rack and pinion generally resides; steering gear design would be a challenge for direct mechanical actuation. Perhaps traction would be reduced. Would crashworthiness also be affected? (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

 

diagnosis

Doug writes:

I have a 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550. I accidentally bought it in 2014 off eBay (long story) for about trade-in ($13,000), with 150,000 miles on the odomater. In a twist of good luck, it turned out to be a one owner car and using CarFax I was able to see and verify that it had been maintained by the selling dealer right up to a few weeks before its eBay appearance. A call to the dealer confirmed the complete service history. Even the brake pads and rotors were new, and it had a newish and very expensive set of Michelins. Almost three years later, it has been very reliable for my teen daughter and has 180,000 miles. It had a few quirks I have fixed myself (clogged charcoal canister, minor trunk leak caused by a missing rubber plug, sticking power driver seat) and only one real repair (dead stereo amp rebuilt by Becker).

Now that my daughter is off at college and content with a ZipCar, I am driving it and intend to keep doing so. I have noticed a vibration in the center console area of all places, while driving around town. You feel it through your arm resting on the console lid. It’s a deep vibration, if that makes sense — coming from under the car.

You don’t feel it in the seat, nor do you feel it in the steering wheel. You do not feel it at a standstill, just at 20-30 mph. It goes away at higher speeds, and the car is rock solid and smooth as glass at 75 mph. I am stumped as to the cause, and with the age of the car, I don’t want to set a dealership or even an indy shop loose on it without more of an idea of the cause. I was thinking maybe a motor mount, but it seems like I would feel that all the time, and especially at idle, which I don’t. I was wondering about maybe some kind of driveshaft or transmission mount or connection point, but it seems like a fault that would get worse with increasing speed instead of going away. Do you have any ideas?

(Read More…)

By on January 5, 2017

 

pt cruiser

Longtime TTAC Commentator Nate writes:

Hello Sajeev,

An acquaintance bought a PT Cruiser new in 2002 and did some minor customizing, drove the crap out of it for a few years, then the transmission failed. Apparently, they “all do that.” So here’s the deal: I was out scavenging vintage (’77~’85) Mercedes parts and ran across a rolled and totaled 2008 PT Cruiser: can its transmission be used in his 2002 model ?

He seems to think that 2002 is a one-year-only deal. He’s disabled and on a tight budget, says the car is worthless even though it’s pristine, but he’d like to fix it if possible. Unfortunately. rebuilding the current transmission is not in his budget.

Any thoughts or comments would be helpful, but no, I won’t be doing a tranny swap on this cute little car. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2016

2017 Malibu 9T50 nine-speed automatic - Image: General Motors

We moved past three on the tree. We’ve long since bid farewell to four on the floor. The ZF six-speed automatic transmission that helped to make the 2001 BMW 7 Series seem so forward-thinking at the dawn of the millennium was usurped by a seven-speed unit from Mercedes-Benz a couple of years later, and then by the Lexus LS’s eight-speed automatic in 2007.

Nine-speed automatics are all over the place: in the 2017 Acura MDX I’m driving this week, in numerous Fiat Chrysler Automobiles products, and in ten General Motors models by the end of 2017. Now the most popular line of vehicles in North America, the Ford F-Series, is arriving at dealers near you with ten-speed automatic transmissions.

But when is enough enough? How many gears is too many? Are there diminishing returns as the number of gears in an automatic transmission increases?

GM says nine is enough. Okay, ten is plenty if you insist. Ah, whatever, maybe more would be wonderful.  (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2016

2008 Ford Fusion Automatic Shifter, Image: Ford

Mike writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I bought my 2008 Ford Fusion V6 AWD about two years ago from a Ford dealer. At the time, it had about 65,000 miles. I’m now at 85,000 miles. I also bought the three-year extended warranty (one year left).

Despite my usual aversion to buying extended warranties, it’s proven to be a sound investment. I’ve had a few things (including an oil leak) fixed for free (minus deductible). The warranty has already paid for itself. The dealer I used for the warranty service (not the purchasing dealer) gave me a few free oil changes and some credit on an account, so I’ve been going there for routine oil changes/tire rotations.

At the last oil change/tire rotation, I noticed they didn’t check the transmission fluid. I asked them to do so. The technician checked the fluid: it was at the correct level, but getting dirty. I asked if I should change it and he mumbled, “If you don’t do it now, don’t ever do it. Transmissions get used to the fluid and replacing it might ruin the transmission.”

(Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

2016 chevrolet spark ls

Are you sure you want to save the manuals?

In theory, of course, you want to save the manual transmission. You enjoy driving. You enjoy enhancing the man-machine connection by synchronizing movements between your left foot, right hand, and right foot. You value the art of a perfectly timed shift, of properly holding a gear through a corner when even the most intelligent automatic would upshift. You know the corner. You know driving. You know how to get the best out of a Ford Fiesta ST half an hour before sunrise on Italy’s Stelvio Pass, even though you’ve never set foot outside Iowa, even though you drive a RAV4 Hybrid.

“What? I would’ve gotten a manual if Toyota offered one,” thou doth protest too much.

As we approach greater degrees of autonomous driving, as roads fill up and speed limits are not altered to reflect our vehicles’ huge improvements in stopping ability and safety, saving the manuals sounds like a noble campaign. Preserve that last shred of pure driving already forsaken by Ferrari, by performance-oriented Porsches, by the general populace that believes their right hands are better off holding a skinny cinnamon dolce latte than a leather-wrapped shifter.

But I’m driving proof, a $9,995* 2016 Chevrolet Spark, that we shouldn’t paint with such a broad #SaveTheManuals brush. We should save some of the manuals, but certainly not all of them. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2016

Welded-together Land Rover transmission

The saga of a welded transmission seems to have come to a somewhat happy ending.

The Reddit whistleblower at the center of this story, who is an employee of the dealership in question, provided TTAC the details on how the repair came to be. A representative from Jaguar Land Rover was also able to confirm that the incident was resolved, resulting in a satisfied Land Rover owner.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

Welded-together Land Rover transmission

The “Just Rolled Into The Shop” subreddit usually shows an array of some of the worst maintained vehicles that customers bring into shops — but a post today showed negligence isn’t solely limited to those bringing in vehicles for service or repair.

User Valkyrier posted a picture of a welded transmission and explained the circumstances: that a dealership technician dropped and damaged it during an engine replacement and was planning to reinstall it … after welding it back together … without telling the vehicle’s owner.

(Read More…)

By on May 11, 2016

The all-new 10 speed automatic transmission is the first 10 speed automatic for a volume production car.  The performance 10 speed transmission transfers power and torque with quick shifts and maintains more engine power after each shift. Image: General Motors

It’s official: the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will have more gears than a typical IROC-Z owner has teeth.

General Motors revealed today the new aluminum-cased beauty, touting 10 forward gears and upshifts quicker than a dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, will make its non-truck debut in the Camaro ZL1.

Did Camaro tell Mustang to step outside for a fuel-economy contest? Maybe not.

(Read More…)

By on April 27, 2016

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Ford Motor Company issued three recall notices today, but top billing goes to a sensor problem linked to the sudden downshifting (to first gear!) of certain vehicles.

That safety recall involves 202,000 2011-2012 Ford F-150, 2012 Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator vehicles. (Read More…)

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