7/17/2019

Senators Urge Probe of Ford Dual-Clutch Transmissions

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Two U.S. senators are urging a safety probe into allegations that some Ford Motor Co. transmissions jerk and/or drop out of gear.

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Two U.S. senators are urging a safety probe into allegations that some Ford Motor Co. transmissions jerk and/or drop out of gear.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) have asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to probe what they describe as Ford’s “systematic efforts to hide transmission safety defects.”

The issue is Ford’s European-style “DPS6” dual-clutch automatic gearbox that was installed in 2011-2016 model Fiesta and 2012-2016 model Focus small cars.

The transmission blends the responsiveness of a manual with the ease of an automatic. But a lengthy report by the Detroit Free Press last week asserts that Ford put the DPS6 into production even though engineers were aware of and vocal about its shortcomings.

The report suggests that defective seals and uneven performance of clutches within the transmission, which was supplied by Getrag, could make the gearbox hesitate, shudder and/or lurch when starting up, then shift out of gear unexpectedly once under way.

The Free Press says Ford internally attributed the drivability problems to a rushed development schedule. The company has insisted publicly that the behavior of the gearbox isn’t a safety issue and says it has worked diligently to correct quality and performance issues.