Ford responds to 'misleading' report on transmission problems

"Resolving the problems took longer than we expected," the company admits.

Ford has fired back at the Detroit Free Press over a recent story accusing the company of selling Focus and Fiesta cars with a transmission defect that was never addressed via a safety recall.

The Freep report claims 2010-2011 vehicles equipped with the DPS6 transmission randomly lost power on highways and "unexpectedly bolted into intersections." Ford allegedly ignored a development engineers warning that the "car's weren't roadworthy," then declined to "make an expensive change" to the transmission technology.

In its lengthy response, Ford admitted that the transmissions experience "a degree of vibration, or shudder" but that the vibration is "effectively a tradeoff for the higher level of fuel efficiency" and there was no negative effect on durability or safety.

The company also admits that "on a much smaller scale, a potential for the transmission to default to neutral ... developed only after several years of real-world use" and the issue was eventually traced to a faulty control module.

Addressing the claim of sudden acceleration, Ford says it has "not seen that occur with the DPS6" and there is no engineering cause-and-effect basis for the allegation.

"Ford has been persistent in addressing these quality problems," the company said. "We have gone to great lengths investigating the issues, alerting dealers and consumers, recommending and making repairs, and extending warranties. Resolving the problems took longer than we expected. We regret the frustration and inconvenience this has caused."

The automaker claims the Free Press declined an invitation to talk with engineers and wrote a story based on information "shopped to reporters by attorneys attempting to call attention to an old topic."

The transmission problems are at the center of a class-action lawsuit that is due to be settled.

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