What You Need to Know about Ford's PowerShift Transmission Problems (2024)

  • The 2011–2016 Ford Fiesta and the 2012–2016 Focus have a dual-clutch automatic transmission that is the subject of a class-action lawsuit and many individual lawsuits.
  • Nearly two million people who have owned or leased one of the cars with the PowerShift transmission stand to get at least some repayment for their trouble.
  • The settlement is currently being appealed in federal court.

UPDATE 7/11/19: According to internal documents, as reported today by the Detroit Free Press, Ford knew of the PowerShift transmission's inherent problems before production started but went ahead with it, telling dealers "to tell customers that the cars operated normally" when it knew they were problematic. The paper published an email sent in August 2010 by a product development engineer to his supervisors and colleagues in which he said that testers could not "achieve a drivable calibration that will get us to production. The clutch torque delivery MUST BE IMPROVED!" That was six months before the 2012 Focus went on the market, the paper noted.

By now it is a well-publicized issue that Ford's PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission has caused problems for owners of several model years of its Fiesta and Focus cars. Now, nearly two million customers stand to get repayment for their trouble in a class-action lawsuit settlement currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals, and it could cost Ford in the billions.

The Ford PowerShift transmission in question is found in 2011–2016 Fiesta and 2012–2016 Focus cars. As described by owners of the vehicles, the primary, recurrent issues are a shuddering feeling while accelerating from a stop—like someone who can't feather the clutch properly on a stick shift—followed by a rough 1-2 upshift that again sends a vibration throughout the vehicle. Owners have reported replacing clutches, output shafts, and entire transmissions. They've come back for software updates. More often than not, as described by owners we've spoken to and on forums across the internet, the problems reappear even after service technicians claim the transmission is within normal factory limits.

What's the Problem?

In place of a conventional automatic's torque converter, this dual-clutch six-speed transmission uses two clutch packs to couple the engine to the transmission—one that's engaged when an odd gear is selected, the other for evens. Dual-clutch gearboxes typically deliver improved fuel economy and faster shifts than a traditional automatic. But these transmissions also tend to slip the clutch like a manual when getting off the line and can shift rougher than a torque-converter automatic. Exacerbating these undesirable traits, the Ford uses dry clutches in the interest of efficiency. Wet clutches, which bathe the friction discs in hydraulic fluid, offer smoother engagement. It's no coincidence that the better dual-clutch transmissions—such as those used by Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen—use wet clutches. In the case of the Ford transmission, many owners simply weren’t used to dual-clutch transmission feel. But in the U.S. and across the world, this transmission’s history of needing frequent repairs has been well documented.

What Has Ford Done about It?

Since its European introduction 10 years ago, Ford has issued more than 20 technical service bulletins addressing problems with the PowerShift, code-named DPS6.

In 2014, Ford extended the powertrain warranty on affected Fiesta and Focus models by an extra two years or 40,000 miles, to seven years or 100,000 miles total.

Ford first modified the PowerShift transmission in 2012 after the automaker's scores in J.D. Power and Consumer Reports surveys dropped. But these issues didn't go away until Ford began getting sued in 2017. According to then Ford Australia president Graeme Whickman, speaking to CarAdvice in July 2017, Ford made several improvements to the PowerShift transmission on vehicles after the 2016 model year. That's not to say customers have never since reported a similar issue, but by and large, it hasn't affected a dramatic spread of owners as did earlier models.

Legal Action

With $35 million involved in the pending class-action settlement in California, that's not much money in the pipeline for the estimated 1.6 million current and 400,000 former owners of these cars in the United States, many of whose vehicles have needed multiple service visits and sometimes, multiple new transmissions. Most owners affected by these transmission problems might get a few hundred dollars and a coupon toward the purchase of a new Ford. The public interest group Public Citizen argued that the proposed $35 million figure is too low, representing a "sweet deal" for the automaker. However, the maximum $4 billion liability Ford faces from this lawsuit is theoretical—every owner would have to file, and each of their cars would have had to be repaired eight times to be eligible for the maximum cash payment, which is capped at $2325 per class-action suit member.

That's why a Michigan firm is suing Ford individually for roughly 20,000 owners who opted out of that original class-action lawsuit. The firm, Stern Law, has based its suits on consumer protection legislation, including state lemon laws and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and claims it will deliver more money per person than the class-action suit. The cases are pending. Individuals have indeed sued Ford for the PowerShift transmission, as reported by the Free Press, and have won settlements of amounts of three times or more what their cars were worth brand new. The majority of these individual state lawsuits have been transferred to the California class action as part of multi-district litigation rulings.

The automaker failed to overturn a class-action lawsuit in Thailand in September 2018—reportedly the first class-action suit against a foreign company in Thai history—that paid nearly 300 owners a combined $730,000 for defective Focus and Fiesta transmissions. Ford also issued a formal apology for "the inconvenience caused by the PowerShift transmission problems" and promised to "work earnestly to take responsibility for fixing them according to our customer service procedures," according to the Detroit News.

Earlier in 2018, Ford was fined $7.5 million by Australia's consumer protection division for "unconscionable and misleading or deceptive conduct" relating to repairs for the PowerShift. When the case was filed in 2017, Whickman admitted to CarAdvice that the company didn't help its customers the way it should have. "We don’t set out to give [a] poor experience to our customers," he said.

What Owners Can Do

It's too late to join the Michigan lawsuit unless you had already elected to opt out of the pending Ford class-action settlement before September 5, 2017. By default, everyone named in a class-action lawsuit is assumed to accept all of the terms, with or without their knowledge, so once a settlement is paid an owner cannot later sue individually for the same allegations. Any individual suit at this point is likely to be transferred to the class-action suit.

However, regardless of whether you had warranty service done or you paid out of pocket, the class-action suit will award between $200 and $2375 per person and between $400 and $4650 in discounts toward the price of a new Ford, depending on how many service visits the car needed for parts replacements within the transmission. For software updates only, the settlement will pay $50 for each service visit up to $600. Ford will also buy back certain cars if the settlement arbitrator approves the claim, although it will not buy back cars older than six years.

If you own or lease (or ever owned or leased) one of the subject vehicles, you need to file a claim, as you are automatically part of the class if you have not previously opted out.

What You Need to Know about Ford's PowerShift Transmission Problems (1)

Clifford Atiyeh

Contributing Editor

Clifford Atiyeh is a reporter and photographer for Car and Driver, specializing in business, government, and litigation news. He is vice president of the New England Motor Press Association and committed to saving both manuals and old Volvos.

What You Need to Know about Ford's PowerShift Transmission Problems (2024)


What You Need to Know about Ford's PowerShift Transmission Problems? ›

As described by owners of the vehicles, the primary, recurrent issues are a shuddering feeling while accelerating from a stop—like someone who can't feather the clutch properly on a stick shift—followed by a rough 1-2 upshift that again sends a vibration throughout the vehicle.

What you need to know about Ford's Powershift transmission problems? ›

When it comes to Powershift faults, the sensors inside the transmission are often to blame. If the magnets that relay information to the sensors become dirty, the readings they pick up can confuse the control module. This can often be fixed by dismantling and cleaning the sensors and changing the oil.

Can the Ford Powershift transmission be fixed? ›

If you own a Ford Powershift vehicle, you likely know that there are Ford Powershift problems. It's a commonly known issue and while you may not be able to fix the problem or join the recall at this point, you can still repair your Ford Powershift gearbox.

Is there a class action lawsuit against Ford for transmission? ›

Ford Motor Company faces a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of owners of certain Ford Expedition, Mustang, Ranger, F-150 and Lincoln Navigators vehicles, which are equipped with an 10R80 10-speed transmission, which may be prone to harsh and erratic gear shifts, as well as a sudden loss of power.

Why did Ford stop using Powershift? ›

Faulty operation. The use of cheaper, lighter and simpler dry clutch packs in lower-end models of the transmission ultimately led to the demise of the PowerShift name. The gearboxes with dry clutch packs were used in the Fiesta, Focus and EcoSport.

How often should Ford PowerShift be serviced? ›

The oil and filter of the Powershift need changing every three years or 38,000 miles whichever comes first or the transmission might fail. How often should the gearbox oil be changed on a Powershift automatic?

What are the problems with the PowerShift? ›

Problems with the Ford Powershift Transmission

Banging and difficult transitions into 1 st gear and reverse. Slowed movement into 1 st and reverse gears. Lack of acceleration. Jerking and jumping when gears are changed.

What is the lifespan of the Ford PowerShift? ›

Some owners have experienced problems with shuddering, slipping, or rough shifting, which can indicate a potential issue with the gearbox. If a PowerShift gearbox is well-maintained and driven under normal conditions, it should last several years and thousands of miles without major problems.

Does Ford fix transmissions for free? ›

Ford to repair problematic PowerShift transmissions for free

Ford has instructed its U.S. dealers to repair troublesome Fiesta and Focus PowerShift dual-clutch transmissions for free, if any owners notify them of problems.

Is Ford fixing transmission problems? ›

No, Ford hasn't fixed its transmission problems. Ford refuses to repair or replace the 10-speed transmissions. What Ford tells consumers contradicts what Ford tells its dealerships. Drivers have reported that Ford told them the unusual gear shifting is “normal” for their vehicle models.

Is there a recall on Ford transmission issue? ›

Due to an issue with its 10 speed automatic transmission, Ford has issued a recall on the 2022 to 2023 Model Year (MY) truck along with the Explorer, Bronco, Mustang and the 2023 Lincoln Aviator. This is just the latest in a series of setbacks that current CEO, Jim Farley, talked about during a 2022 Q4 earnings call.

What is the biggest lawsuit against Ford? ›

Over the summer, a Georgia judge ordered Ford Motor Company to pay the largest sums in the state's history, $1.7 billion. The suit is the culmination of nearly 20 years of lawsuits—at issue was the safety of the roof of the Super Duty pickup.

What models are affected by Ford PowerShift? ›

Ford's PowerShift dual clutch transmission was used in 2010. Vehicles impacted are the Ford Fiesta (model years 2011-2016) and the Ford Focus (model years 2012-2016) equipped with a PowerShift transmission.

What year is the bad Ford transmission? ›

As thousands of consumers who have purchased or leased a defective 2011-2015 Ford Fiesta or 2012-2015 Ford Focus have discovered, their transmissions and clutch assembly may contain a defect that causes, among other problems, transmission shuddering, slips, bucking, kicking, jerking, harsh engagement, premature ...

What are the two types of PowerShift transmission? ›

There are two types of PST such as the partial and full PST. The partial PST deals two or more speeds without a clutch, although it must have clutched to shift gears, and a full PST means the users can shift all gears without clutching.

How long does PowerShift last? ›

If a PowerShift gearbox is well-maintained and driven under normal conditions, it should last several years and thousands of miles without major problems.

Is the Ford Galaxy PowerShift reliable? ›

The high torque wet clutch Powershift in the Mondeo, Galaxy and S-MAX is reasonably reliable. But, like a wet clutch DSG, absolutely has to have a change of fluid and filter every three years or 38k miles, whichever comes first, or it is prone to failure.

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