PowerShift promised the fuel efficiency of a manual with the ease of an automatic transmission. What owners got instead was a lurching, surging, and shuddering ride that has been the focus of multiple lawsuits and one settlement to date.
Ford introduced their 6-speed dual-clutch PowerShift transmission in 2010. To get the best gas mileage, PowerShift is essentially a manual transmission. However, instead of the driver controlling the gears with a shifter and clutch pedal, the transmission is controlled electronically to offer the ease of an automatic.
Ford marketed this as a “best of both worlds” scenario. But that lofty expectation fell flat on its face almost immediately.
Common PowerShift Complaints
The system’s dual-clutches are supposed to work in harmony to create an efficient, smooth ride. However poor design and manufacturing defects have created one of the most complained about problems on the road.
Jerking its way through gears
The transmission is notorious for slipping, jerking, and shuddering its way through gears. Ford dealers have tried to convince owners that it’s just the way a manual transmission feels. Really? I guess if you’re driving with someone who’s never driven stick before that would make sense.
”I understand that it doesn’t act like a normal automatic transmission, and that’s fine. But when the performance affects whether the car is usable or not, it is not a ‘difference’ that can just be shrugged off as a byproduct of the difference in transmissions and that the customer is not ‘used to’ it.” – 2014 Fiesta owner in ID
Dangerous hesitations while accelerating
Issues with the transmission control module create dangerous hesitations while accelerating. The delay between when the driver steps on the accelerator and the car actually responds can be the difference in avoiding accidents.
”Over the past 1 1/2 years, on three separate occasions, I really needed to accelerate to avoid peril. Guess what happened. Absolutely nothing when I stepped on the accelerator. I thought I was going to get in an accident each and every time.” – 2014 Focus owner in MD
Unable to downshift properly
The transmission has trouble with downshifting and keeps the car in higher gear as it slows down. In addition to excess noise and heat, this can also lead to the vehicle lunging forward as the owners hit the brakes.
”The gears slip when upshifting and they jerk REALLY HARD when downshifting. It feels dangerous driving in the city, because I’ll try to slow down behind someone and it jerks forward and revs really hard and forces me to apply the brakes very hard to stop it from slamming into them.” – 2011 Fiesta owner in NY
Resale value destroyed
The once reliable car has taken a massive hit to its resale value. From Steven Lang on TheDrive.com:
”Despite Ford’s willingness to extend the warranties on these transmissions to 7 years / 100,000 miles, this hasn’t stopped the model from becoming a common site at the dealer auctions with transmission woes way out of whack with their historical average.”
Technical Service Bulletins and Customer Satisfaction Campaigns
As complaints began to mount, Ford issued more than 20 Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) regarding transmission-related problems.
In August of 2014 they released customer satisfaction program 14M01 to address the transmission shuddering during light acceleration.
The automaker says the shuddering was the result of fluid contamination of the dry clutches due to leaking transmission seals. Ford went with two dry clutches and skipped the oil pumps and other components of more traditional wet automated manual transmissions when the designing the PowerShift. While you’d never want transmission fluid leaking onto the clutch, perhaps going with a dry system expedited the problem.
Warranty extensions were offered to Fiesta and Focus cars manufactured prior to June 5, 2013 for the transmission’s input shafts, clutch, and software calibration.
In February 2015, Ford issues “customer satisfaction program 14M02” to address complaints about a lack of power, trouble with engagement of the transmission, and issues with starting the vehicles.
Ford believed these problems were the result of problems in the transmission control module, and extended the module’s warranty to 10 years or 150,000 miles. This warranty extension only applied to the 2011-2015 Fiesta and 2012-2016 Focus.
Ford settled a PowerShift class-action lawsuit in late March of 2017.
Involving nearly 1.5 million model year 2011-2016 Fiesta and 2012-2016 Focus cars, the settlement offers owners options:
- Take cash payments and reimbursements for repairs and future problems, up to $2,325.
- Have Ford buyback the car through an arbitration process in exchange for credits towards the purchase of new vehicles1, worth $4,650.
Affected owners who have had at least three software flashes performed by Ford dealers will receive $50 starting with the third software flash, with an additional $50 for each subsequent software flash, up to $600.
Owners who believe they were either improperly charged for repairs or denied repairs under Ford’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty are offered a way to pursue these warranty claims in a more limited arbitration.
Ford says they will cover the cost of arbitration and the arbitrator is authorized to award an owner reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs and complimentary repairs or warranty extensions by Ford.
The settlement is from one of a series of lawsuits
The settled case was one of the first lawsuits filed against Ford for PowerShift problems way back in January of 2015. The suit, Vargas et. al. vs. Ford Motor Company, mentioned transmission problems in the 2011-2013 Fiesta and 2012-2013 Focus.
Additional lawsuits have been filed in the years that followed:
- February 2016 – A 2014 Fiesta owner in Illinois sued Ford for concealing issues with the PowerShift transmission.
- March 2017 – A Texas lawsuit expanded the scope of previous lawsuits to include all 2011–present Fiesta, Focus, and EcoSport. The lawsuit says the dual-clutch DPS6 PowerShift transmissions shudder, slip, jerk, hesitate and suffer from multiple other problems. The lawsuit claims Ford has replaced possibly tens of thousands of DPS6 transmissions that are offered as an option on Focus and Fiesta cars, each transmission costing about $1,100.
- March 2018 – Ford’s motion to centralize lawsuits is granted by the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation. The consolidated lawsuit consists of 110 actions in California and 5 related federal actions.
- September 2018 – Another lawsuit is filed and moved to the California Southern District Court.
Claims for the buyback option can be submitted for up to six years from the date of the original sale. ↩