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The Brief History Of Ford Focus Transmission Problems

The Ford Focus transmission problems hit the vehicles marketed between 2010 and 2016. All the affected cars belonged to Focus, Fiesta, and EcoSport models equipped with a Powershift automatic transmission.

The issue became so serious that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took the Ford Australia to the federal court in 2017. Legal actions were also taken in the United States and Canada. Also, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) protected the owners of these models purchased after 1st January 2011, with an extended manufacturer warranty. Ford is bound to repair or replace their car has any transmission issue surfaced after the expiration of the warranty.

How Many Vehicles Faced The Ford Focus Transmission Problems?

The problems specifically occurred in the Powershift transmission of Ford Fiesta (from 2011-2016) and Ford Focus (from 2012- 2016).

The number of vehicles in Australia suffered the problems was around 68,000. Ford Australia claimed to address the concerns of the majority of the customers that had faced issues with the Powershift transmission of 2010-16 petrol Focus, Fiesta, and EcoSport.

Ford Focus transmission issues
Fiesta, Focus, and EcoSport – All models had these issues.

The company acknowledged that the customers had a poor experience when the problems first occurred and they failed to anticipate the scale it could escalate. They revealed that the issues started to escalate in 2015 but the cars with diesel engines and manual transmission were not affected.

What Is A Powershift Transmission?

The Ford Motor Company started using the Powershift transmission in 2010. It is a six-speed dual clutch semi-automatic transmission that acts like a manual but operated by the car’s computer.

The ‘dual clutch’ transmission works similarly to two conventional manual gearboxes. Ford’s Powershift has two clutches that can function in parallel and alternating shifts. As it has a six-speed shifting mechanism, one clutch engages the first, third, and fifth gear while the other acts on the second, fourth, and sixth gear.

These transmissions use a ‘dry clutch’ instead of a ‘wet clutch’, which means that oil does not flow into the shifting mechanism. Wet clutch transmissions also use hydraulic actuation but the dry clutch units rely on electric motor/solenoid actuation.

From the very start, Ford’s Powershift transmission experienced rough starts and bumpy shifting. Without making public announcements, Ford continuously released software and firmware upgrades to solve these issues. However, these were just temporary fixes that ultimately led to bigger problems.

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Ford Focus Transmission Problems

The main issue with these Ford vehicles was the shuddering of the clutch during light acceleration. Why does this happen?

The company’s mechanics diagnosed it to be the result of the clutch contamination with the fluid leaking through the transmission input shaft seals. Continuous oil leaking degrades the shift quality over time.

The fixes for the leaky seals and sometimes replacing the gearbox did not work in some cases. The problems came back within a short period of time and some customers even complained about dry shudder. The vibration, which occurs during acceleration when the car shifts to the second from the first gear, was unrelated to the Powershift transmission, according to Ford.

The company’s technicians linked it to the extreme heat buildup in the clutch friction material. It offered a new clutch material to reduce the friction and improve the shift quality. The jerky shifting can also be the result of a cracked chip in the transmission control module (TCM).

The Ford Focus transmission problems are dangerous because they are not just related to driving convenience. These issues affect a vehicle’s acceleration and deceleration abilities, which could lead to road accidents.

Think of a situation when you need to speed up into an intersection, how lethal a delay in the gear-shifting can be. Also, a glitch with the downshifting can make a car lunge forward, creating a safety hassle.

What Were Ford’s Responses To the Transmission Troubles?

The company tried to solve the Ford Focus transmission problems by offering repairs and fixes. They requested the customers to bring their affected cars to their near authorized dealership for a diagnosis. Depending on the assessments, the solutions could be the replacement of TCM, recalibration of the TCM, changing the input shaft seals, or replacing the entire transmission.

Ford Focus transmission problems
Ford settled for extending the warranty and buyback in some cases.

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The Australian Federal Court slapped Ford Australia with an AUD$10,000,000 fine. The reasons were ignoring the problems for too long and poorly handling the complaints of the customers. The company extended the warranty on the transmission software calibration, clutch, and the input shaft seals of the transmission. Under the Australian Consumer Law, the company is also obliged to respond to and assess all the replacement and refund requests.

The Ford USA agreed to a conditional settlement on April 25, 2017, following a lawsuit. The company extended the warranty to 100,000 miles or 7 years depending on the car’s model year to solve the Ford Focus transmission issues.

The Ford Brazil also extended the warranty to 240,000km or 10 years. The Ford Thailand took a step further and agreed to purchase back approximately 200 cars with faulty Powershift transmission.

6 Comments
  1. lee says

    i have 2014 focus that is at the ford dealer getting the transmission relplaced becasue it was slipping and jerking when it started form dead stop, ford need to recall the transmission problems and replace them with the 2017 2018 and 2019 transmissions. I hop that i dont have anymore problems when it fixed

    1. Doug says

      It will happen again, the Ford transmission person told me so and said to expect to bring it back. There is no permanent fix. If possible, sell it before it goes over 100k miles. I’d estimate $1500-2k to fix out of pocket. For a car that’s maybe worth 5k.

  2. Tonya says

    My car is currently at the shop as well for the same issues. Hope i get a rental car at no charge as this is sooo inconvient!! Also hope the issue is FIXED FIXED.. highly unsafe!!

  3. Pat Lerner says

    My clutch and transmission were just replaced. The car 2012 Ford Focus still drives like a manual shift transmission particularly when taking your foot off the gas. Is anyone aware of a fix for this issue? Seems likely that the TCM failure to shift or sense car glide and leave the transmission in a braking situation lower gear than it should be, would contribute to excessive wear and failure of the transmission long term. It would seem appropriate for Ford engineers to have improved the TCM to adapt to this control issue. Technically acting like in Sport Mode when it should be in ECO mode.

  4. Rosemary Treloar says

    I bought my Focus with very low mileage of 15,500 Kms and noticed this problem increasingly until the clutch was replaced at 27,000 Kms. It has now started doing it again, some 35,000 Kms later. I’m hoping that Ford will come to the party because I hadn’t intended selling it just yet but can’t even do that unless it is fixed.

  5. Christopher O'Rourke says

    Have just booked the wife’s car in to have the TCM Replaced as drove the other day and the shuddering from 1st to second then third was terrible , will this replacement TCM fix the problem.

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