I was discussing Malcolm's Ford Focus problem with his Ford Focus transmission on air on Radio 2HD in Newcastle while, unbeknown to be, a listener named Joe took a special interest. The two cases have marked similarity.
Hi John. Let me start off by saying that I enjoy your segment on 2HD and whenever possible I listen to you on radio 2UE as well. Now, I am having very similar problems as Malcolm with the Ford Focus.
I was wondering if you have any feedback from the bigwigs at Ford?
I have had my car in three times regarding this issue & only once they replaced one clutch motor but the problem is still there. Cessnock Ford have told me they have never come across this problem before... What crap. The engine light comes on at least once a week but Ford just say that there is a loose earth wire or some other crap.
I guess what I am really asking for is some help or any assistance you can spare. It would be appreciated greatly. This is the first Ford I have ever purchased & I guarantee it will be the last!!
I would dearly love to get the i30 but after purchasing the Ford Focus I am no longer in a position to change cars.
So I tried to help Joe out. Here's what I told him:
"Thanks very much for listening on Newcastle’s 2HD and Sydney’s 2UE. It’s great to hear from you, but very unfortunate and frustrating that you have this problem.
"In my view you need to do two things:
- Get that useless dealer in Cessnock to fix the problem. It needs to be resolved - because you didn’t pay the big bucks for a defective car that can’t be fixed, apparently.
- Figure out a workable disposal strategy for the Focus.
"I will contact a senior executive at Ford on your behalf. (I did this for Malcolm yesterday, and the bloke I contacted got back to me straight away. So this looks positive initially - but it remains to be seen whether the problem actually gets resolved.) They will contact you, so please try to be as contactable by telephone as possible.
"Dealership service departments are notorious, outrageous liars when it comes to these kinds of issues - they often just don’t want to know - and Ford (like Holden and Volkswagen) is anything but a shining beacon of customer service excellence, in an industry that’s second-rate on this stuff overall. The fact is, that dual-clutch transmission is a lemon. Dual-clutch transmissions are great on racetracks, and useless in traffic, plus there has never been one that even comes close to a mediocre automatic on the durability front. It’s disgraceful - and automotive marketing departments still have the audacity to talk them up like they’re some kind of advantage...
"I appreciate the financial constraint of being locked in to a particular car, and how utterly demoralising it is when the car proves to be a lemon. However, I think you should talk to an independent car finance professional about your options. It may be easier and less painful than you think to bail out now and get yourself into a more reliable car. I’ll get a trusted contact in that area to call you ASAP - it won’t hurt to have the chat, even if it only confirms your initial assessment. Watch my video on the top six small cars to short-list here >>
"I hope this helps you see some light at the end of the tunnel, and thanks once again for listening on the radio."
So, once again I passed this matter to Ford's brand communications manager, Neil McDonald, who dutifully passed Joe's complaint on to their customer response team. And here's Joe's initial response to actually getting followed up:
"WOW.... Now that’s impressive! I didn’t expect to hear back from you so quickly, Thank you heaps. At the very least you have made me feel a bit better & you have also given me a little hope. Thank you. Kindest regards, Joe"
Here's what ultimately happened, according to Joe:
"Hi John, Just giving you an update on my Ford Focus. I have been contacted by Patricia from Ford and now she has left so now I believe the new contact name I have is Lisa Marie. I had the car in at Cessnock Ford for its 75,000km service yesterday and told them all the problems I am having with the transmission.
"The story has changed now. Now they are telling me that there is no problem with the Focus transmission and that Ford Australia tell them that with all the faults that show up it is within the guidelines as 'acceptable'. Like I stated earlier, the car was checked out yesterday. Lo and behold, they found nothing wrong with the transmission...
"They took it on an 8km test run (according to my trip meter) and they seem to think it’s fine. I came to an almost stop a few days ago then took off again and the car just revved like it was in neutral. I let the engine revs decrease then it was okay again.
"They seriously need to do something about this problem but I’m no one special so they won’t go out of their way to rectify this. I’m not blaming Cessnock Ford entirely now as they told me that Ford Aust make all the decisions on what to fix & what not to fix. I don’t know where to go from here as I’m back where I started. Any of your expert advice would be appreciated.
"Incidentally, I was given the Ford Focus Courtesy car yesterday and it was fine but I assume it was a 2014 model as it only had 10,000km on the clock & they had fixed the Transmission up a little since my 2012 model.
The most worrying thing about this is the similarity of both Joe's and Malcolm's independent accounts in relation to the problems they've experienced and in the responses they have received from Ford.
Short of involving lawyers, which is bound to get expensive fast, I'm at a loss as to where these chaps can go next. For everyone else, these incidents are big neon warning signs saying 'DON'T BUY A FOCUS'. Here's a car that seems highly likely to present significant, long-term problems, and when it does it seems that instead of fixing the issue you'll be met instead with a kind of institutionalised bastardry.
You really have to ask yourself: Is it worth the risk, especially when a Mazda3 is an objectively superior car?