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Ford knew Focus, Fiesta models had flawed transmission, sold them anyway

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News


Fourteen months later, a Saginaw driver in a 2012 Focus that had been driven only 500 miles reported this to federal safety authorities: "I was stopped at a parking lot exit waiting to enter a thoroughfare, engine idling, with my foot lightly on the brake. Suddenly, the car accelerated forward, into the traffic lane, as though someone had pressed the accelerator pedal to the floor. I took a 45 mph T-bone on my driver's side door."

The driver reported that his "elderly wife suffered a severe heart bruising from the seat belt" and that he figured he was saved by the air bag.

Dozens of owners from throughout the country reached out to the Free Press to share their experiences:

"What is it going to take? Does someone have to die before they get these cars fixed?" asked Carrie Armstrong, 42, of Hendersonville, Tennessee. "When I am on the interstate and almost get hit by a diesel truck just because my car will not accelerate and get into gear? I put my life in danger every day I get behind the wheel of this car just to go to work."

She said she has taken her 2015 Focus to the dealership 10 times for repair. "I bought it new and it started acting up on me two months after I bought it. I thought, 'I shouldn't be having these transmission issues right now.' "

She added: "I've got a $5,000 car note left. It's almost paid off. I've owned a Ford Escort, a Ford Explorer, a Ford Fusion and several Mustangs. I've put my trust in this company."

Armstrong's repeated repairs are a common experience: Ford's internal 2016 DPS6 update, marked "SECRET" on each page, notes that 350,000 of the cars "have already reached 3+ repairs in US."

Lillian Karamanian, a retired clothing store owner from Troy, got rid of her 2011 Fiesta shortly after taking it for a repair. "I wanted to know if I would notice a difference on the surging, hesitation and lack of power. The response was that it would take at least 500 miles of aggressive driving in order to break in the fix and be able to notice a difference. I did everything I was supposed to do and nothing changed. It never got fixed. I kept thinking 'this is crazy.'"

Kyle McIlmurray, 30, a journalist from Grand Rapids, said his family has always been loyal to Ford. He bought his 2015 Focus new and started seeing transmission symptoms immediately. "I'm pressing on the gas, it's not going. It's sputtering. Eventually, it will catch for a rather rough acceleration. Thankfully, I've had no serious issues on the road. Sometimes it feels like the car isn't gonna go, (or) the car is accelerating way faster than I want it to go."


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