Update 10/19: The settlement has been approved.
As anyone who has ever driven one knows, the dual-clutch transmission in many Ford products has issues. The cars often slam into gear or feel like they are slipping. Repeated trips to the service department of the Ford dealer can result in nothing more than a reflash of the transmission control, which has little or no effect on the transmission’s performance.
The good news is that a class action suit which is nearing completion offers what appears to be some pretty good relief for current and former owners of these cars. First, “these cars” refers to 2012 – 2016 Ford Focus and 2011 – 2016 Ford Fiestas equipped with the “PowerShift” dual clutch transmissions. If you own or have owned one of these cars, you may have already received a notice in the mail of the pending class action settlement.
The proposed settlement is 148 pages long so this will, by necessity, only cover the highlights of the agreement. But those highlights are impressive.
For example, one of the biggest complaints owners had about these cars was that the dealers kept reflashing the transmission controls without any noticeable improvement. If your vehicle’s transmission was reflashed more than twice, this settlement will get you paid for your inconvenience. Anywhere from $50 to $600 will be given to you simply to compensate you for that inconvenience.
Did the Ford dealer replace a bunch of parts on your transmission to no avail? You may be entitled to as much as $2,325 simply for the trouble you went through. Did you pay for any of these repairs yourself? Ford may reimburse you for those repairs as well.
The proposed settlement also includes a provision for an arbitration process for those who feel their PowerShift cars are lemons. And while arbitration is not always a preferable venue for consumers, this process specifically allows for the payment of attorney’s fees should you choose to hire an attorney to walk you through the process.
And if your car does not qualify under your state’s lemon laws specifically, the arbitrators will be empowered to order the buybacks of some of these vehicles so long as the transmission remains defective. This notion is quite valuable: I cannot tell you how many times people have called my office complaining of vehicles with transmission failures which were simply timed badly. They did not happen soon enough or often enough to qualify under the lemon law. And while lawsuits were still possible for these consumers under other legal theories, those can be much harder to pursue. That Ford has agreed to this particular remedy for consumers is telling.
As I mentioned above, there is more – much more – to this settlement and I urge you to study it before making any decisions. But you need to do a few things. First, watch your mailbox and read all notices you get about this. If you are a member of the class and you do nothing, you will remain in the class and the case will lock in your legal rights and remedies without your input. If you want to opt out, you can do that but it requires you to be proactive. And remember that this applies to former owners of these cars as well. You got rid of the car because of all the trouble with the transmission? You may still be entitled to compensation.
For more information, visit the website set up for the settlement. . You can also call (844) 540-6011.
Whatever you do, do not call the court. And the settlement is not final yet. There is a hearing set for October 2, 2017. If all goes according to plan, the settlement will be finalized and blessed by the court. After that is when you can finally get compensated for having put up with that transmission for all those years.
Steve Lehto is a writer and from Michigan. He specializes in Lemon Law and frequently writes about cars and the law. His most recent books include Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow, and Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird: Design, Development, Production and Competition. He also has a where he talks about these things.