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Powershift transmission woes haunt Ford

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Just now, Bob Rosadini said:

Earlier today there where I  believe three articles on the this issue. I  did read  the USA article.  Just went back and USA piece is only one there.  Good thing!

I  should have said....."Three Seeking Alpha posts"

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https://jalopnik.com/ford-knew-how-defective-its-fiesta-and-focus-transmissi-1836273922

 

But today’s Freep story reveals the depth to which Ford knew about the problem, then reportedly ignored all that and sold the cars anyway. From the report:

The automaker pushed past company lawyers’ early safety questions and a veteran development engineer’s warning that the cars weren’t roadworthy, internal emails and documents show. Ford then declined, after the depth of the problem was obvious, to make an expensive change in the transmission technology.

Instead, the company kept trying to find a fix for the faulty transmission for five years while complaints and costs piled up. In the interim, Ford officials prepared talking points for dealers to tell customers that the cars operated normally when, in fact, internal documents are peppered with safety concerns and descriptions of the defects.

[...] Apart from the legal risks, “Total quality related spending for DPS6 could reach $3 billion,” read a 2016 internal report that projected the costs through 2020.

I’ll run through a few highlights. First, Ford knew about these problems early on, with one engineer in 2010 saying the gearbox “MUST BE IMPROVED” before going on sale:

A high-level, confidential analysis by Ford in 2012 acknowledged rushing the cars to production, taking shortcuts to save money and apparently compromising quality protocols instituted with fanfare by then-CEO Alan Mulally. That review, obtained by the Free Press, also said the transmissions would be phased out and a different technology used going forward, but that didn’t happen.

Even the lawyers warned about it:

Ford would be putting this transmission into low-priced, high-volume vehicles for the first time. Corporate lawyers maintained, as noted repeatedly in emails by engineers obtained by the Free Press, that the transmissions’ tendency to slip out of gear, if combined with other conditions, would result in a “Severity 10” rating. That’s the worst possible rating under global engineering protocols designed to minimize risk and comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set by the U.S. government.

Ford admitted the cars were rushed into production as it sought to take advantage of a booming sales market after the recession, and against new quality improvement protocols instituted by then-CEO Alan Mulally:

Ford’s 2012 review showed that things went south from the start. The transmission architecture was selected 12 months later than normal — “limiting up-front engineering development time, resulting in ‘open’ deliverables at key program milestones,” the report said, citing compression of program approval, prototype verification, launch readiness and mass production.

“At each early checkpoint, it became more apparent” that the transmission systems for the 2011 Fiesta program “were not capable to meet customer expectations,” the review said.

And if the cars slipped into neutral at 70 mph on the highway, Ford’s response was for people to just... pull over:

As years wore on, Ford would make the case in emails, internal documents and an affidavit that if the steering, turn signals and other power worked in the car, then the situation couldn’t be considered dangerous. In theory, people could turn on a blinker and steer to the side of the highway if the car slipped into neutral at 70 mph.

Dealers and repair shops struggled with the cars over and over again:

“I’m tired of looking like the bad guy for repairing all these DPS6 transmissions, when truthfully Ford’s the bad guy here,” said an email sent Feb. 22, 2013, from a Jacksonville, Florida, dealership. “Let’s be honest. Ford produces a horrible product and we trans guys get the wrath of it. My warranty clerk thinks I’m insane and it’s like pulling teeth to get paid for all the work we have to do on these things. The input shaft seals are only good for about 10K miles at best. And by replacing them as well as the clutch, the car’s only going to return again and again and again. I do 4 or 5 a week on average. ... I would love to know how Ford intends to fix this.”

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Said it before, but to me, seems like the intent was to promote "small cars fall apart, better off with a truck/UV" and upsell customers. Then drop the cars, saying "they are out of style", when it was "we want more money from buyers".

And auto writers are complicit going on and on about how "buyers love SUV's, get one to keep up with the neighbors! "

 

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I can understand how it got launched (not right but understandable).   What I can't figure out is why they didn't go back to the 6F35 when the Euro Focus changed?  This was after they knew it was a cluster **** yet they did nothing.    Seems penny wise, pound foolish.

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50 minutes ago, 630land said:

Said it before, but to me, seems like the intent was to promote "small cars fall apart, better off with a truck/UV" and upsell customers. Then drop the cars, saying "they are out of style", when it was "we want more money from buyers".

And auto writers are complicit going on and on about how "buyers love SUV's, get one to keep up with the neighbors! "

 

It really doesn't matter anymore--Ford is out of the car business in North America. Just trucks, trucks, trucks and a smattering of SUVs and BEVs.

Edited by PeterC6482

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58 minutes ago, akirby said:

I can understand how it got launched (not right but understandable).   What I can't figure out is why they didn't go back to the 6F35 when the Euro Focus changed?  This was after they knew it was a cluster **** yet they did nothing.    Seems penny wise, pound foolish.

Because how can they afford to give ceo a golden parachute when you spend money on products!!!! It truly pisses me off. Ford does this crap. They are such a yo-yo company. One decade they are up high. Next decade they are down low. It’s like someone with a bipolar disorder. They don’t learn. It’s next generation pinto. 

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1 hour ago, akirby said:

I can understand how it got launched (not right but understandable).   What I can't figure out is why they didn't go back to the 6F35 when the Euro Focus changed?  This was after they knew it was a cluster **** yet they did nothing.    Seems penny wise, pound foolish.

It was the same with the spitting spark plugs in the triton V8 truck engines. How the heck did that happen?

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Good job Ford! You made national news on NBC. We all predicted this would happen. Whoever got this POS trans out the door needs to be taken behind the woodshed. There are so many documents coming out from engineers saying it was a pos. Not a good look for Ford.

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2 hours ago, akirby said:

I can understand how it got launched (not right but understandable).   What I can't figure out is why they didn't go back to the 6F35 when the Euro Focus changed?  This was after they knew it was a cluster **** yet they did nothing.    Seems penny wise, pound foolish.

Agreed... that is still one of the strangest Field era product decision. Clearly Ford knew all the problem otherwise they wouldn't have switched to 6F35 in the rest of the world. And yet, somehow there was a decision made to double down on this turd in North America. There must have been some fight internally about this... wait until those documents leak.

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43 minutes ago, coupe3w said:

It was the same with the spitting spark plugs in the triton V8 truck engines. How the heck did that happen?

I don’t think those two are In the same category of problems. Granted the heads should have had more threads. However, the failure was much much lower by comparison and most of the issues were resolved with proper torque and maintenance.  However, You are correct, it was an issue that should have been resolved 1-2 model years into the design. Not left to linger on for years and let the customer deal with it. 

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I've read several of these articles. There seems to be a lot of confusion about issues and muddying of the waters between them. 

"Shudder" is a clutch issue. Shudder is annoying, and shouldn't happen, but it is not a safety or longevity issue. It won't leave you stranded or without power.

The majority of the others are related to the TCM, which is covered for 10 years or 150k miles. Of the literal hundreds of cars I have dealt with, I can count on my fingers the number of repeat TCM replacements. If a TCM needs replaced a second time, you REALLY need to check the wiring to/from it. BUT with Ford's propensity to cut labor times or bounce claims, often times they are not properly diagnosed, but rather a TCM is just replaced again.  

The final issue, which is FAR less common, is that these are not liquid proof. If the trans is submerged, it can fill the bell housing with water and rust the clutch, apply bearing and apply levers. They also can rust up from being parked for extended periods where there is high moisture content on the ground. Also, have seen several where oil or coolant leaks from the engine were allowed to progress until the clutch was damaged OR auto detailers soak the engine/trans in water/underhood shine products and contaminate the clutch. 

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5 hours ago, coupe3w said:

It was the same with the spitting spark plugs in the triton V8 truck engines. How the heck did that happen?

I have 237k on my 97 F150 5.4. and have had no problems with "spitting plugs". The Ford manual says 14 foot pounds torque and that's what it has gotten.

4 hours ago, fordtech1 said:

 Granted the heads should have had more threads. However, the failure was much much lower by comparison and most of the issues were resolved with proper torque and maintenance.  However, You are correct, it was an issue that should have been resolved 1-2 model years into the design.

Ford added the extra threads on the head in October of 2002,  Yes a bit late but better than never.  Then they started using the glow plug looking spark plugs which was even worse,

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19 hours ago, bzcat said:

Agreed... that is still one of the strangest Field era product decision. Clearly Ford knew all the problem otherwise they wouldn't have switched to 6F35 in the rest of the world. And yet, somehow there was a decision made to double down on this turd in North America. There must have been some fight internally about this... wait until those documents leak.

While the 6F35 is far from perfect, advances in mid gear lock up strategy has seen torque converter based automatics come back into view as both fuel efficient and reliable 

2.9 DI and proper 6F35 from the start and this problem never happens 

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40 minutes ago, jpd80 said:

While the 6F35 is far from perfect, advances in mid gear lock up strategy has seen torque converter based automatics come back into view as both fuel efficient and reliable 

2.9 DI and proper 6F35 from the start and this problem never happens 

You mean 2.0 DI and 6F35?

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5 hours ago, jpd80 said:

While the 6F35 is far from perfect, advances in mid gear lock up strategy has seen torque converter based automatics come back into view as both fuel efficient and reliable 

2.9 DI and proper 6F35 from the start and this problem never happens 

One of the two biggest issues with 6F35 is the converter strategy. I wouldn't be praising it all that much. 

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1 hour ago, YT90SC said:

One of the two biggest issues with 6F35 is the converter strategy. I wouldn't be praising it all that much. 

You can't honestly sit there with a straight face and say it wouldn't have been better than the PowerShift 

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8 hours ago, YT90SC said:

One of the two biggest issues with 6F35 is the converter strategy. I wouldn't be praising it all that much. 

As someone who has driven the before and after with a 2.0 DI Powershift Focus and a 1.5 EB 6F35 Focus, the difference is night an day, the 6F35 may have issues but I bet way more customers could live with it. Who knows, if Ford had doubled down on 6F35 instead of Powershift, maybe a lot of the converter issues could have been cured on the run...

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12 hours ago, PeterC6482 said:

You mean 2.0 DI and 6F35?

Fat fingers and an iphone XR don't go hand in hand

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I was watching a documentary and supposedly an $.11 item would have stopped the Pintos from blowing up.  Anyway, who designs this stuff? A college kid who just graduated?  Was it in-house?  I don't have the time to search it.  Who approved it?  Who failed to fix it?  If I didn't know better , I would say it's corporate sabotage!  Gee I guess Ford and VW DO belong together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Very sad!  By now a car company in business for over 100 years of research, engineering, experimenting, testing,  learning what hasn't worked and what HAS worked,  EVERYTHING Ford builds should be bullet proof!  Just another nail in the coffin.  VW has Ford so scared that they'll fall behind in autonomous vehicles, they've got Ford spending billions for nothing!  If I don't want to drive, I'll call a taxi or Uber!  You can run an AV in Nebraska, but not New England!  What do I need my own car for?  Electric vehicles, ok, I can see that.  But these AV's are not going to happen!  I try to be a Ford supporter and they just keep doing stupid stuff!  They should have had their own car and truck diesels and transmissions 50 years ago with the volume they had!!!!  No, they used Detroits and Cummins in their heavy trucks and used Zetrag transmissions here, and whatever there!  And now, after selling off their heavy truck line to Daimler/Freightliner for $300 million after they just retooled it in 1997. they're trying to build their medium duty truck biz and finally offering their own diesel engine and trans., but nobody trusts them!  Can you blame all those companies?  One guy here in CT bought a ton of Ford class 8 tandem tractors for years.  Then one day he finds out he can't buy a class 8 Ford, so he has to buy a Sterling!  WTF is a Sterling?  Then 10 years later, Freightliner drops Sterling, the guy almost went berserk!  Now he's buying Kenworths figuring THEY won't leave the truck biz!   Eh, it's just one thing after the other with Ford.   They dropped the farm tractor biz and heavy truck biz to build shareholder value!  Huh???!  That worked!   All I see is stupidity!  How do you like them apples?

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You’re missing the point on AVs.  The use case is small areas for deliveries and people movers where you can control the environment and just stop running in really bad weather ( amusement parks e.g).   Not individuals.  It’s a smart investment.

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3 minutes ago, akirby said:

You’re missing the point on AVs.  The use case is small areas for deliveries and people movers where you can control the environment and just stop running in really bad weather ( amusement parks e.g).   Not individuals.  It’s a smart investment.

Good points. The thing that concerns me is hackers getting control of these AVs and killing people. You know it's going to happen.

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20 minutes ago, coupe3w said:

Good points. The thing that concerns me is hackers getting control of these AVs and killing people. You know it's going to happen.

Hackers can already take control of current vehicles.

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5 hours ago, Joe771476 said:

was watching a documentary and supposedly an $.11 item would have stopped the Pintos from blowing up

All cars have design decisions that weigh cost against safety, cost against convenience, cost against luxury, etc.    Of course the pinto could have been designed to be safer... would $0.11 have "fixed' the "problem"? I am doubtful.  Maybe it was an 0.11 part, but what other design and build issues would there have been?   Design is more complicated than to simply say "an $.11 item would have stopped the Pintos from blowing up".  That doesn't sound plausible to me. 

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The one story I saw was that Ford had considered gas tanks with bladders in them for puncture resisting.  I thought the cost was closer to $5 at the time.

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