7/12/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Report: Ford Hid Transmission Flaws for Years

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Ford Motor Co. struggled to resolve worsening performance issues with a new dual-clutch automatic transmission before introducing it in the U.S. in 2010 anyway, the Detroit Free Press reports.

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Ford Motor Co. struggled to resolve worsening performance issues with a new dual-clutch automatic transmission before introducing it in the U.S. in 2010 anyway, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Since then, the balky gearboxes have spawned thousands of customer complaints and class-action lawsuits worldwide, including one in Los Angeles on behalf of some 1.9 million current and former Fiesta and Focus small-car owners, the newspaper says.

The lengthy report concludes that Ford could face as much as $4 billion in liabilities related to its so-called DPS6 PowerShift transmission. Owners say the gearbox can launch unevenly from a stop, hesitate during acceleration and shift out of gear unexpectedly once under way. The report says Ford test engineers experienced the same behavior.

Ford touted the dual-clutch design as a boon to fuel economy. Relatively common in Europe, such gearboxes combine the simplicity and efficiency of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic.

But extensive internal Ford documents obtained by the Free Press show Ford engineers were still stumped about how to overcome major drivability issues only six months before the transmission went into production.

A high-level internal review two years later acknowledged that a compressed product development schedule contributed to the shortcomings of the gearbox. The Free Press says Ford opted over five years to tweak the system’s clutches and oil seals.

In the meantime, the company insisted publicly that the transmission’s shortcomings did not constitute a safety issue, even though internal reports and memos suggested otherwise, the report asserts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied the DPS6 transmission’s performance issues in 2014 but took no action.

The transmission has spawned several lawsuits worldwide, including several class-action cases in the U.S. The Free Press says Ford has offered settlements great than $75,000 to individual plaintiffs in California and paid settlement worth $8 million in Australia and $746,000 in Thailand.