Ford took some heat after reports emerged that it was well aware of the issues plaguing the PowerShift transmission found in third-gen Focuses and sixth-gen Fiestas. While the automaker has issued numerous recalls on the vehicles in question, the transmission was never officially included. Instead, Ford provided impacted owners with extended warranties on the problematic DSP6 tranny and issued a software update.
Hoping to quell public outrage, the manufacturer said on Wednesday that it will stretch the warranty on certain 2014-16 model year Focus and Fiesta vehicles by two years and 40,000 miles. It also announced that software updates are incoming for customers who found the six-speed dual clutch a nonstop headache. While not quite a recall, it puts Ford on the hook for transmission repairs some customers had to pay for out of pocket.
Unfortunately, we know of several individuals who got burned by Ford’s last warranty extension. In 2014, the company pulled the same move for 2011-2013 model year vehicles — extending transmission warranties from five years/60,000 miles to seven years/100,000. Meanwhile, transmission control modules are covered up to 10 years/150,000 miles with the factory saying it’ll go six months beyond if one goes on the fritz. However, it was not unheard-of for customers to see their gearboxes simply implode immediately after the 100,000-mile cutoff.
The same may be true here. Still, Ford claims the software updates have improved issues associated with the troubled transmission dramatically, especially in vehicles produced after the start of 2015. “Based on internal and external data, Focus and Fiesta vehicles with automatic transmissions built since the second half of 2015 — and earlier models that have received component and software updates — perform well and have competitive levels of satisfaction,” said Dave Filipe, Vice President of Ford’s Powertrain Engineering, in a statement.
“Ford understands and regrets that many customers have been inconvenienced and frustrated by the performance of the DPS6 transmission. Earning and keeping the trust of customers is vital to everything we do. That is why Ford and its dealers have gone to great lengths to improve the performance of the transmission.”
After issuing nearly two-dozen technical service bulletins related to the DSP6 since 2010, a recall wouldn’t have been out of the question. Yet Ford’s been just proactive enough to get away with this. If it can keep customers happy and put some distance between itself and these aging models, it might avoid having to pay out more than it already has.
Ford is currently involved in litigation with Focus/Fiesta consumers hoping to be reimbursed. The proposed settlement is presently pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. Meanwhile, the company is on the hook for 165,000 additional vehicles (16 percent of the U.S. total) that need their software updated and a couple more years worth of repairs. Estimates as to how much this will impact Ford’s bottom line should be reflected in its next quarterly report.
Filipe capped off his remarks by reiterating how Ford regrets any inconvenience caused to affected customers while also mentioning that DSP6-equipped vehicles “always were and remain safe to drive.”