— A Ford Transit driveshaft recall did nothing to help van owners, according to a lawsuit that alleges the flexible couplings (flex discs) crack and fail.
The plaintiff says a broken driveshaft causes damage to the transmission, brake and fuel lines and other parts of the van. In addition, owners report paying thousands of dollars for repairs that Ford allegedly should have fixed as part of a recall.
In June 2017, Ford issued a Transit driveshaft recall involving the flexible couplings where Ford said:
“continuing to operate a vehicle with a cracked flexible coupling may cause separation of the driveshaft, resulting in a loss of motive power while driving or unintended vehicle movement in park without the parking brake applied.”
In addition, Transit recall documents say that “separation of the driveshaft from the transmission can result in secondary damage to surrounding components, including brake and fuel lines.”
As part of the driveshaft recall, Ford requires van owners to replace the flexible couplings “every 30,000 miles” until a permanent remedy becomes available. The plaintiff says this is clearly Ford's way of admitting the flex discs fail quickly and repeatedly and Ford has no idea how to permanently fix the problem.
The plaintiff also notes the recall notice doesn't mention anything about Ford reimbursing owners for past repairs or damage caused by the driveshaft flexible coupling defect. The automaker also didn't offer to reimburse business owners for lost business due to the vans out of service.
The driveshaft flexible coupling is a type of “universal joint” positioned between the transmission and the driveshaft and used to transmit torque generated by the engine to the driveshaft. The flex disc is made of flexible rubber material and is designed to allow some angular misalignment while reducing vibration.
A triangular flange connecting the flexible coupling to the transmission is bolted to one side of the flex disc, and a similar triangular flange connecting the flex disc to the driveshaft is bolted to the other side of the flex disc.
The plaintiff says when the coupling fails, it fails completely and causes the driveshaft to violently tear away from the transmission, mangling everything nearby.
Further, the forward end of the driveshaft disconnecting from the transmission creates the risk the driveshaft will catch on the road and force the driveshaft upwards which can pierce into the passenger cabin and cause the Transit van to catapult into the air.
Plaintiff A. Blair Enterprises owns 11 Ford Transit vans purchased at a dealership in Kentucky. Two vans suffered from failed driveshaft flexible couplings that damaged the vans and required expensive repairs the plaintiff had to pay out-of-pocket.
On one Transit van, the driveshaft fell to the highway while driving and allegedly destroyed the transmission, fuel tank strap, parking brake cable and other parts, causing the plaintiff to pay more than $10,600.
Another Transit van experienced the flexible coupling problem and dropped the driveshaft to the road, requiring the replacement of the transmission, brake lines, fuel lines and other parts. That invoice totaled $10,100 to get the van running again.
After these two driveshaft failures, Blair Enterprises had the flex discs in its nine other Transit vans checked by Ford dealers and the couplings allegedly showed signs of impending doom, including cracking and breaking. The plaintiff says the nine vans were repaired at $390 per van.
When asked for help in covering the cost, Ford allegedly said it would cover only part of the replacement costs, but only after the plaintiff kept complaining. However, the automaker allegedly refused to cover all the replacement costs or pay for repairs needed after the vans were damaged.
The lawsuit alleges Ford knew about the driveshaft problems before the vans were first offered for sale, and once the vans were on the streets, the automaker allegedly must have known about the problems based on customer complaints.
The proposed class-action lawsuit includes Kentucky consumers who purchased 2015-2017 Ford Transit vans. Although this action is for Kentucky only, it's possible other states could eventually be affected by Transit driveshaft lawsuits. A similar lawsuit was filed for California van owners in July 2017.
The Ford Transit van driveshaft lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division - A. Blair Enterprises, Inc., et al., v. Ford Motor Company.