A proposed class action alleges the PowerShift transmission in certain model year Ford Fiesta and Focus vehicles can cause a variety of potentially dangerous problems and eventually fail catastrophically, well before the end of its reasonably expected lifespan.
The 84-page lawsuit says that defendant Ford Motor Company touted its PowerShift transmission as a more advanced, fuel-efficient alternative to a traditional manual or automatic transmission.
Although the “automated manual” PowerShift transmission, in theory, should afford drivers the convenience of an automatic transmission without sacrificing the fuel efficiency and shift speed offered by its manual counterpart, it has been “plagued by numerous problems and safety concerns,” the case states, alleging the automaker rushed the new transmission to market despite knowing that it was riddled with issues.
In particular, the PowerShift transmission found in 2017-2019 Ford Fiesta and 2017-2018 Ford Focus models can cause a vehicle to slip, buck, kick, jerk, lurch forward or otherwise engage harshly, the case claims. Further, the apparent problems with the PowerShift transmission can also lead to premature internal wear, sudden or delayed acceleration, a delay in downshifts, difficulty stopping and eventually catastrophic failure, according to the complaint.
“These conditions present a safety hazard because they severely affect the driver’s ability to control the car’s speed, acceleration, and deceleration. For example, these conditions make it difficult to safely merge into traffic. Even 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 intersections at red lights due to the failure of their braking efforts to stop the car.”
The lawsuit pins the alleged PowerShift problems on the transmission’s “dry” clutches system, which, according to the case, can cause a vehicle’s clutches to overheat and fail, and damage other transmission components. Per the case, the issue may also be exacerbated by improper programming of a Fiesta or Focus’ transmission control module (TCM), the computer responsible for automatic shifting.
According to the complaint, Ford has never publicly acknowledged the PowerShift transmission problems and has instead actively concealed their existence, including by telling drivers that the symptoms they experienced were “normal driving conditions.” The case says that despite a prior settlement and press coverage of the PowerShift issues, Ford has nevertheless continued to sell and lease affected Fiesta and Focus models without informing consumers of the apparent defect or the lack of a permanent repair.
“None of the publicly available information that discussed the Transmission Defect disclosed, fully or at all, the material facts known only to Ford, including that the PowerShift Transmission had serious problems since its early development that Ford simply was unable to fix and that rendered the Class Vehicles unsafe to drive,” the complaint alleges. “The PowerShift Transmission was a new technology to Ford that Ford rushed to the market without disclosing the problems described above so that Plaintiffs and the Class could make informed purchasing decisions.”
In lieu of a permanent solution, Ford has, according to the case, rolled out temporary stop-gap remedies such as reprogramming a vehicle’s TCM, which the suit says merely resets a PowerShift transmission’s software and does not prevent the defect from occurring. In other cases, the suit says, Ford may replace a transmission with a similarly defective one.
The lawsuit looks to cover all persons and entities in the United States who bought or leased a 2017-2019 Ford Fiesta or 2017-2018 Ford Focus.
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