The infamous PowerShift dual-clutch has been a giant thorn in Ford's side.
It's the transmission that Ford probably wishes it never made. Dubbed DPS6 internally, the manufacturer is continuing to face repercussions for its troublesome dual-clutch PowerShift transmission. In the latest case, Ford has been ordered to cough up $23,000 to owners of a 2014 Ford Focus, according to a report from The Detroit News. The official charge amounts to a violation of consumer protection laws after the PowerShift's flaws caused the owners to feel unsafe.
Salvador and Yvonne Quintero, the plaintiffs, continued making lease payments for their Focus despite choosing to stop using the vehicle. The $23k payout amounts to triple what their lease payments were worth and yet, Ford claims this amount to be less than what the manufacturer offered as a settlement over two years ago.
So, what is the issue with the PowerShift gearbox that has affected thousands of 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta and 2012-2016 Focus models and resulted in the filing of a class-action suit? Owners have described a recurring shudder when pulling away from a stop and an especially disconcerting 1-2 upshift causing a notable vibration through the vehicle. Everything from output shafts to clutches and entire transmissions has been replaced, while others have tried to remedy the issues with a software update. Unfortunately for Ford, the issues often reappear, indicating a fundamental flaw with the DPS6.
While dual-clutches are known for slipping the clutch in a similar fashion to a manual when pulling away, Ford uses a dry clutch that only adds to these undesirable traits. Premium manufacturers like Audi and Porsche make use of wet clutches and, unsurprisingly, their transmissions exhibit smoother shift quality.
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there is no evidence that Ford's dual-clutch poses a safety risk. Ford has also stated that no injury or death has been connected to the transmission, so the bigger issue is customer dissatisfaction and reduced driver confidence. Further lawsuits claimed that Ford was aware of the transmission's issues before they reached the market but so far, this hasn't been proven and the fraud claims were dismissed by a California judge in the Quintero case.
The manufacturer hasn't completely denied that a problem exists, though, and in August of this year, the clutch warranty was extended to seven years or 100,000 miles. Ford officials have expressed regret that customers were inconvenienced or frustrated and said that they acted quickly to resolve the issue.
Still, with so many of these Focus and Fiesta models still on the global market, it seems that Ford may not be out of the woods just yet. Already, the automaker has had to pay out millions for customers in Australia and Thailand who had issues with the dual-clutch. This is in addition to a $35-million settlement in the US to pay current or former owners/lessees out.
While the infamous transmission is no longer available stateside, shoppers in the used vehicle market would do well to steer clear of the affected Fiesta and Focus models.