Home / Business / Transmission problem: report claims Ford Knew Focus / Fiesta DSP6 was defective

Transmission problem: report claims Ford Knew Focus / Fiesta DSP6 was defective

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To make a mistake while trying to remedy an earlier mistake is part of the routine of the human condition. We are imperfect creatures and sometimes the simplest solution after a series of mistakes is to sweep something under the carpet and hope that no one cares to look there – even if it will probably. Incredibly, this logic can extend to an entire organization and with about the same efficiency.

Earlier this week, Ford released a safety reminder for some Focuss manufactured in the last decade (1.5 million had been recalled earlier). But not before being the subject of a scathing report from the Detroit Free Press claiming that the builder knew that the cars had superimposed transmissions and was doing everything in his power to keep this secret so that he could continue to sell them.

The report is brutal and includes internal support documents, court records, and corporate communications resulting from a lengthy investigation. The culprit of this drama is the Ford PowerShift transmission (DPS6 / Getrag 6DCT250) found in the third-generation Focus (MY 2011-2018) and in the sixth-generation Fiestas (2011-2019). You may remember that both cars have been the subject of class action around the world and routine complaints at home about their dumb clutch transmissions.

While Ford has issued some recalls on vehicles, including the most recent, the transmission has never been officially part of it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even considered the issue in 2014, but Ford seemed to convince that the issue was due to wear and not to a manufacturing flaw. However, customers complained of power losses, cars passing randomly to neutral and a sudden acceleration immediately after the two vehicles went on sale.

Apparently Ford was fully aware of the problem and was even working clandestinely to find a way to solve it. But the cars were sold and remained on sale, although the company was discouraged by its engineers and legal counsel.

Of Detroit Free Press:

The automaker rejected the first safety issues raised by the company's lawyers and warned an experienced development engineer that the cars were not in good working order, as evidenced by e-mails and internal documents. Ford then refused, after the depth of the problem became evident, to make an expensive change in transmission technology.

Instead, the company continued to try to find a solution to the faulty transmission for five years, while the complaints and costs piled up. In the meantime, Ford representatives have set up discussion points with the dealers to let them know that the cars were working normally when, in fact, the internal documents are riddled with security concerns and descriptions of defects. .

Some of the older ones date back to 2008, when Ford's lawyers told engineers they were worried about the safety of double-clutch technology, which had already caused serious headaches for Volkswagen. But cars were developed in the middle of the recession, discouraging Ford from making a costly, last-minute change. Instead, the automaker has openly proclaimed the DPS6 as a breakthrough in terms of performance and economy.

That same year, Johann Kirchhoffer, quality supervisor at Ford, told lawyers that a transmission that went to neutral was not a big deal in itself. "We have evidence that VW has remembered a number of transmissions with a potential" unexpected neutral "occurring with low volumes," he wrote in an email. "We are pursuing every effort to reduce the occurrence of an unexpected" neutral "event to a level known as" widely acceptable "."

The back and forth continued, bringing more votes, but the Fiesta was still on sale with the transmission. At the time, we did not really know what had been done to remedy the problem. However, the problem came back when the time came to install the transmission in the Focus.

In 2010, the product development engineer, Tom Langeland, told supervisors that something was absolutely wrong with the car. He criticized the vehicle for its "nasty launch rampage" and its excessive vibrations. "We also can not do a controllable calibration that will take us to production," he said. "The delivery of the clutch torque MUST BE ENHANCED."

One month before Focus was sent to dealerships, Craig Renneker, then Acting Director of Transmission and Transmission, sent an email to Richard Bonifas, customer service manager at Ford's assembly plant in Michigan. Wayne. "Focus 2012 vehicles equipped with the DPS6 transmission may shake on start-up or slow down sharply … pass vehicles to dealerships with the level of thrill we currently have and continue our efforts for a permanent resolution," Renneker wrote in February 2011. " It is only my opinion and it is not popular. "

The problems were even more prevalent on the Focus than the Fiesta, sending customers back to the dealership in large numbers. Tired of no solution on the part of the factory, the service centers were quick to express their frustrations.

"I'm tired of looking like the villain who has repaired all those DPS6 transmissions, while in truth, it's Ford, the villain here," reads in a 2013 email from D & # 39; 39, a dealer in Jacksonville, Florida. "Let's be honest, Ford makes a horrible product and we transgender people are angry, my warranty manager thinks I'm crazy and it's like tearing your teeth to get paid for all the work we have to do in this area.The input shaft seals work well only about 10,000 km.And replacing them as well as the clutch, the car will only come back again and again.I do it 4 or 5 per week on average … I would like to know how Ford intends to fix it. "

These are just the juiciest pieces. The full report presents many more examples of Ford's internal conflicts around the gearbox and we encourage you to read them. They include examples of how the builder has tried to deal with the financial issues associated with DPS6, test protocols, warranty extensions, lawsuits, regulatory oversight and many internal disputes.

Ford's official response to history was that it handled the issue responsibly and ensured that a good product was on the market – while maintaining the safety of DSP6-equipped cars. He also issued a statement to the Free Press concerning Wednesday's investigation:

In 2011 and 2012, Ford was excited and proud to introduce a brand new, innovative transmission that delivers superior fuel efficiency and a reduced environmental footprint. The development of transmission presented common challenges to new and innovative technologies. These challenges were raised during normal exchanges within Ford and with Getrag, the manufacturer of the transmission.

After rigorous testing during development, we had confidence in the transmission and our ability to solve the quality problems that can arise with the new technology. Some consumers, familiar with traditional automatic transmissions, found the changing pattern of the new fuel-efficient automatic gearbox unusual and asked their dealers questions. By design, the new transmission, also automatic, has evolved further like a manual transmission. Where manual transmissions were even more common, consumer inquiries were much less numerous.

Once the new transmission started, other problems arose. We acted quickly and decisively to investigate problems, alert dealers, recommend and pay for repairs, and extend warranties. Although we eventually resolved the quality issues, the solutions were more complex and took longer than expected. We regret the inconvenience and frustration that some consumers have caused.

Along the way, we have identified and discussed a series of possible solutions, including the transition to a completely different transmission. We felt that the decisions we made at different times to correct the problems were the best for consumers. Although we solved the quality issues related to the transmission, the vehicles in which it was installed were and remain safe.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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