— A Ford PowerShift dual-clutch transmission lawsuit settlement should be rejected, at least according to some Fiesta and Focus owners involved in the case of Omar Vargas, et al. v. Ford Motor Company.
Five consumers stepped forward and told the judge the settlement terms are good for attorneys and the lead plaintiffs, but the majority of 1.5 million U.S. Ford owners and lessees will be left with an inadequate deal.
The dual-clutch transmission class-action lawsuit alleges the $1,095 PowerShift transmission is marketed as an advanced automatic transmission offering the fuel economy of a manual transmission with the easy operation of an automatic transmission.
However, Focus and Fiesta owners complain about vehicles that lurch forward, experience delayed acceleration and delayed downshifting. According to complaints over the years, the transmissions are prone to lunging or jerking forward when attempting to decelerate, and hesitation and jerking when attempting to accelerate.
Ford has been in court for years because of the PowerShift dual-clutch transmissions and the automaker says there is nothing wrong with the systems, but will settle the lawsuit to end the litigation and get out of court.
Based on the proposed settlement terms, owners and lessees with three or more service visits for a replacement of one of the primary transmission parts will receive $200 for the third service visit, with increasing payments for each additional visit. Instead of cash, an owner may receive a discount certificate toward the purchase of a Ford vehicle for twice the cash value.
Anyone who had at least three software flashes performed by Ford dealers will receive $50 starting with the third software flash, with an additional $50 for each subsequent software flash, up to $600.
Owners who replaced a third clutch after having had two clutches replaced within the 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty will receive a replacement clutch with a 2-year warranty.
The settlement also provides owners and lessees a way for Ford to repurchase or replace their defective Fiesta or Focus cars through arbitration, and will allegedly resolve the claims of each qualifying owner based on his or her state’s lemon law.
The settlement further provides owners who believe they were either improperly charged for repairs or denied repairs that should have been covered under Ford’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty a way to pursue these warranty claims through limited arbitration.
The five consumers who objected told the court the settlement forces everyone into an arbitration program without taking into consideration individual claims, and the arbitrator can, at the most, approve that Ford repurchase the car.
The objectors say this leaves owners and lessees at the mercy of state lemon laws, taking away the ability for class members to receive relief they deserve for dealing with the transmission problems.
The objectors also claim Ford Focus and Fiesta owners and lessees will need to surrender their claims to file lawsuits while the attorneys for the plaintiffs will receive nearly $9 million.
The five consumers told the judge there is no way for the 1.5 million Fiesta and Focus owners to know the value of the settlement even though owners and lessees will surrender their rights to file individual claims.
While the judge will rule on conditions of the settlement, a separate "mass-action" lawsuit was filed by Ford Focus and Fiesta owners and lessees who say the settlement terms are lousy.
The Ford PowerShift dual-clutch transmission lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California - Omar Vargas, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.