Ford's allegedly flawed transmissions may be in for more scrutiny. The NHTSA said Wednesday it will to review all information involving the potentially faulty transmissions, including customer complaints.
The Detroit Free Press reported on the latest action from the government agency after the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions found in the Ford Fiesta and Focus small cars have once again stolen the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The Free Press' own investigation found Ford knowingly sold both cars while aware of issues with the transmission. The gearbox can slip into neutral at various speeds, which can cause loss of acceleration. Ford quietly released a bulletin to dealers earlier this month to provide free fixes but hasn't supplied additional information since then. The automaker was, reportedly, supposed to update dealers on the situation July 19.
Three U.S. Senators and Congressmen have asked for the NHTSA to immediately begin a review of the potentially faulty transmissions. A spokesman for Ford told The Car Connection, "We regularly engage with regulators about our products and welcome any chance to do so. There is no higher priority here than earning and keeping the trust of customers and assuring they are safe. We acknowledged post-launch quality issues a long time ago and since then have been determined in addressing them: understanding their causes, alerting dealers and consumers, recommending and making repairs, and extending warranties. Resolving the problems took longer than we expected. That frustrated and was inconvenient for customers, which we regret. In the meantime, automobiles using the DPS6 transmission were and remain safe to drive."
2016 Ford Focus
The problem affects 2011-2017 Fiesta and Focus models after Ford worked to fix the problem via service bulletins for years. An increased number of complaints to the NHTSA has stirred fresh scrutiny and the possibility of a mandated recall. Safety recalls are put in place only when a defect may potentially threaten the safety of the driver and passengers. More than 4,000 consumer complaints are available on the transmission, including reports of injuries.
Aside from the potential NHTSA probe, Ford also faces lawsuits over the transmission found in its two small cars no longer in production. A previous lawsuit provided a $35 million settlement, but a non-profit firm has taken up the task of arguing a new case to undo the settlement. The firm, Public Citizen, argued Ford received a sweetheart deal with the small sum and hopes to squeeze $4 billion from the automaker for consumer troubles with the cars.