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Ford dual-clutch transmission issues well-known before launch, report reveals

Focus and Fiesta transmission was rushed, continued production despite a lack of a fix

The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission Ford launched in the U.S. with the Fiesta and Focus has had a seriously troubled life from early drivability and reliability problems that eventually led to lawsuits. But as bad as the transmission situation was on the surface, an in-depth report from Detroit Free Press reveals things were far worse behind the scenes.

The news outlet reveals that the company was well aware of issues with the transmission even before its release in the Fiesta in 2011 and the Focus in 2012. Among the problems that led to the transmission issues were the late decision to use the dual-clutch design, and the fact that Ford hadn't made such a transmission for the U.S. market before. The report reveals that right up to the launch of both cars, engineers were warning that the transmissions weren't ready, but Ford went ahead with the release, and simply planned to have a complete fix to offer later.

After launch, complaints rapidly increased with issues including rough acceleration and occasionally a loss of propulsion after the transmission went into neutral unexpectedly. Detroit Free Press counted at least 4,300 complaints sent to NHTSA regarding the transmission. Apparently Ford had considered at one point switching to a completely different transmission, but scrapped the plan in part because of high costs in low-profit cars and because fuel economy would possibly drop.

These are just a handful of the highlights from the Detroit Free Press's complete report. Check it out for testimonies from former Ford engineers, personal experiences from owners, and even more detail about how Ford continued offering the troubled transmission and why it never was recalled.


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