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Ford Focus and Fiesta owners have long reported issues with the automaker’s PowerShift transmission. According to Car and Driver, up to two million consumers may be eligible for payments from a class action lawsuit currently pending in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Car owners have described the problem as a “shuddering feeling while accelerating from a stop.” The sensation is followed by vibration throughout the vehicle on the upshift. Drivers also note more frequent, extensive repairs that involve replacing entire transmissions and having to come back for software updates. Despite taking these steps, problems with the PowerShift transmissions often return only a short time later.

Possible transmission problems

The Detroit Free Press reports that poorly-operating transmissions have caused these cars to randomly lose power on the interstate or charge through intersections unexpectedly. While no deaths have been attributed to the faulty transmissions, numerous injuries have been reported to federal safety officials.

The issue in question occurs in 2011-2016 Fiesta and 2012-2016 Focus models. It seems that Ford has known about the transmission problems for more than 10 years, which was when the automaker first introduced the PowerShift in European markets. In fact, the company has issued over 20 technical service bulletins discussing specific issues with the PowerShift transmission.

Internal documents uncovered by the Detroit Free Press also reveal that Ford went ahead with production despite safety warnings from its development engineers. Rather than scrapping the prototype, Ford came up with talking points for its dealers. The automaker asked dealerships to reassure customers that the cars were safe when they actually knew of many safety issues.

Ford also attempted to make light of the operating issues caused by its PowerShift transmission. For example, the company acknowledged that having the transmission slip out of gear while driving could make it necessary to stop alongside the road. Even if this did happen, Ford claimed motorists would not encounter a safety hazard because other features like the brakes would still work.

Ford’s attempt to fix the problem

Instead of halting production, Ford began working on solutions to the PowerShift issues as soon as the vehicles in question were rolled off the assembly line. The first modifications came in 2012, with significant changes being implemented on 2016 and later models. The 2016 changes have not completely eliminated the problem. But the “fixes” did make the issue less noticeable.

Recognizing that their PowerShift transmission required more repairs than traditional ones, Ford also increased its powertrain warranty on select Focus and Fiesta vehicles. Anyone buying those autos would be eligible for a seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty rather than the standard five-year, 60,000-mile one previously offered.

Ford’s class action lawsuit

Currently, a class action lawsuit is pending in California that could result in Ford paying anywhere from $35 million to $5 billion. Anyone who owned or leased one of the vehicles in question is already a part of the class action lawsuit unless he or she opted out before September 5, 2017. Those individuals will still need to file a claim if they are to receive any payout from the settlement. Those who did opt out may be eligible to join a Michigan lawsuit, which currently covers more than 20,000 owners. 

Anyone who thought they were experiencing transmission problems with a Ford Focus or Fiesta were likely not imagining it. Information has recently been uncovered that shows Ford not only knew about these issues, but attempted to sweep them under the rug. If you’ve been affected, you could be entitled to recover damages from one of the ongoing lawsuits.