In case you are shopping for a late model Ford Focus I am here to urge you to reconsider. The car looks good inside and out and given the popularity of the previous Focus model and a reasonable price you may be tempted to buy one, but you will be making a costly mistake, unless you know exactly what you are getting into. For some reason Ford decided to install a poorly-designed transmission on this vehicle which is not only annoying but is unsafe as well. A quick search pulls up thousands of complaints, and while your local dealer will not deny that there is a problem, they don’t have a fix for it and there is not much hope that it will be coming in the future. Below is the copy of the letter I mailed to the CEO of Ford Corporation with only my personal information and VIN redacted.
CEO, Ford Motor Company
One American Road
Dearborn, Michigan 48126
Dear Mr. Fields,
Does your car decide when to go and at what speed? Does it hesitate when you need to make a left turn, cross a street or merge in traffic? Does it make you wonder what will happen when you press the gas pedal and do you feel like you are gambling every time you want your car to move?
Mine does and I do.
I own a 2014 Ford Focus, a car with transmission so complicated that even your own engineers can’t seem to figure it out. Every time I take it to the dealer I get an explanation that this is the normal behavior for the manual-automatic feat of engineering you installed on my car or get a control module “reprogrammed” without any improvement. Well, I disagree about the normality of the intermittent operation of the transmission, shudder, hesitation, mechanical noises and unpredictability. I know that you are aware of the problem as well, since Ford is quietly extending warranties for transmission-related issues.
An owner of a new car shouldn’t be in the shop more than once in the first year and that should be only for routine maintenance. I know that because previously to this model I owned a 2003 Focus for 10 years and 206,000 miles with hardly any issues during the first 5 years. That was the reason I didn’t hesitate buying a new one.
Despite my disappointment I am willing to give the Focus another try. I would trade my car for a 2015 Focus under the following conditions:
- It should be sold to me at the lowest price, my previous car was sold to me at the X-Plan price, all the rebates and incentives should apply.
- Ford should compensate me 80% of the sales tax and licensing fees, since I will be losing that amount due to trade-in.
- I should get a 0% 60-month loan.
- I should get a fair and acceptable offer for the 2014 model I will be trading in.
I would like to hear back from Ford by July 1st, 2015.
If I don’t hear back from Ford with a satisfactory offer by July 1st, 2015 I will do the following.
- Post a copy of this letter on my website and share it on social media.
- Create a Facebook page dedicated to this issue.
- Send a copy of this letter to every local media outlet, including print, TV and radio.
- Send a copy of this letter to Better Business Bureau, Kansas Attorney General and FTC.
- Trade the car in for another brand.
I realize that one person doesn’t have a clout comparable to a corporation but with the right amount of social media experience and postage I am sure I can make my voice heard.
I don’t feel safe in my car and if I get into an accident due to the shudder and transmission hesitation, I will present a copy of this letter and a certified mail receipt and not a sheet of paper the dealership showed me trying to convince that this a normally functioning transmission.
*name, address and VIN redacted.
In response to my letter a low-level regional manager called me and told me that I can go to my local dealer again to have a technician drive with me and see if there is a problem they can identify. She also repeated the line about the shudder, hesitation and noises being perfectly normal for this type of transmission. I expressed my disagreement and pointed out that I already exhausted the amount of time I think an owner of a new car should spend at the shop. Ford’s response letter is shown below with my personal information edited out.
After some thought I will be trading this car in probably within the next month, but as I promised in my letter I will be making this information available to prospective buyers as a warning to stay away from this poorly designed vehicle and the company that will not stand behind it.