The Ford Focus/Fiesta PowerShift Transmission: The Worst of Both Worlds

In 2011, Ford Motor Company launched the redesigned Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta, both available with the highly anticipated PowerShift 6-speed transmission. According to Ford, “you get the performance of a manual. From an automatic. It delivers seamless gear changes for amazing responsiveness.” Ford has claimed that the PowerShift transmission is the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, none of this was true and these vehicles have been a source of distress for their owners. As thousands of consumers who have purchased or leased a defective 2011-2015 Ford Fiesta or 2012-2015 Ford Focus have discovered, their transmissions and clutch assembly may contain a defect that causes, among other problems, transmission shuddering, slips, bucking, kicking, jerking, harsh engagement, premature internal wear, sudden acceleration, delay in downshifts, delayed acceleration, and difficulty stopping the vehicle. Eventually, the transmission can fail, leaving consumers stranded away from home or without power on the highway.

In response, rather than recall the faulty transmissions or even warn its customers that the Focuss and Fiestas have safety defects, Ford has only extended the warranty on the transmission to up to 10 years/150,000 miles. This seemingly generous gesture is in truth useless. If Ford cannot fix the problem, an extended warranty has no value.

To compound the futility of the extended warranty, the clutches for the PowerShift transmission are on national backorder, because Ford cannot keep up with the massive demand. In addition, many consumers who have taken their Focus or Fiestas in for transmission repair under the warranty, are told that there is nothing wrong with the car, that the transmission is “European,” or that the PowerShift Transmission is adapting to the consumers’ driving patterns. And when repairs are performed, the defects can come back very quickly. As explained by one Ford dealership’s service manager, about fifty percent of these transmission that he sees cannot be fixed.

Luckily, many consumers have found recourse with the court system and their states’ lemon laws. These transmission defects have resulted in thousands of lawsuits against Ford across the United States. Today, in California alone, there are at least 800 current individual lawsuits against Ford Motor Company for issues with the PowerShift Transmissions on the 2011-2015 Ford Fiesta and 2012-2015 Ford Focus. And, many proposed class action lawsuits have been filed across the country.

These lawsuits claim that the defects with the PowerShift Transmission are a tremendous safety concern. According to the allegations in the proposed class action, Klipfel et al. v. Ford Motor Co., case number 2:15-cv-02140, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, “These conditions present a safety hazard because they severly affect the driver’s ability to control the car’s speed, acceleration and deceleration.” And, “[e]ven more troubling, the transmission defect can cause the vehicle to fail to downshift and decelerate when the brakes are depressed. As a result, plaintiffs and class members have experienced their cars lurching forward into intersection at red lights due to the failure of their braking efforts to stop the car.”

For California buyers and lessees, many of these vehicles may qualify for repurchased under California’s Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly known as the “lemon law.”

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