Ford's Dual-Clutch Transmission Could Spell Danger For Its Future

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Lawsuits apparently do not fix broken transmissions.

It's always a gamble for an automaker to try new things. When that gamble fails it usually results in a big loss. Car companies will normally man up and take some responsibility, but not always. In 2012 Ford released a lemon, the Focus, and one option was Ford's PowerShift dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission. The models of Fiesta and Focus from 2011/2012-2015 respectively were infected with a horrible issue where the transmission would shudder while going from first to second gear, with the issue sometimes continuing into third gear.

The problems weren't widespread but also weren't singular, isolated incidents. So why did this happen? A dual-clutch transmission, as apparent in its title, has two clutches. Each one operates its own set of gears. In Ford's PowerShift transmission, one clutch operates the even numbered gears while the other clutch operates the odd numbered gears, and it all shares the same inner transmission shaft. One possible explanation for this shudder during gear changes is that the clutches could be slipping, but according to a lawsuit filed against Ford for the transmission problems, the problem may occur because of "fluid contamination of the clutch due to leaking transmission seals."

Unfortunately, the official problem has not been recognized because Ford has ignored it, as reported by many customers. This has caused consumers who have purchased a Fiesta from 2011-2015, or Focus from 2012- 2015 (with the PowerShift transmission) to file lawsuits and in some cases create petitions, one of which has over 2,000 signatures. The transmission is covered under a warranty, and Ford must have had some idea of what was going on. After all, the warranties were extended a few times up to seven years. However, many customers say bringing the car in to fix the transmission does not solve the problem. Customers have reported leaving dealerships after service with the problem still present.

Brian Vance

This shows Ford's possible blatant disregard for representing its product and upholding a contractual agreement. To be fair, on the flip side of this issue Ford's marketing may be to blame. The transmission was sold as just an automatic when it should have be defined as a manual transmission that automatically shifts. The difference is that an automated manual is a manual but with a computer that handles the shifting. An automatic transmission has lots of extra parts inside, like pumps and a torque converter and it changes gear ratios automatically. That raises some controversy. Some mechanics have been able to fix the issue, so regardless of marketing it certainly appears to be a problem.

If you don't have a problem then you don't need a solution. The future of the car's transmission seems to be set in stone, but what about Ford? Many customers are saying that they have lost faith in the brand altogether. If enough people come forward with this issue, it could be detrimental to Ford's future. Yes, the dual-clutch automatic would suffer but more importantly the reputation of the automaker's affordable compact cars could take a major hit.

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