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Woes blamed on less than stellar DCT shifting and MyFord touch

After years of being ranked as one of the most reliable automakers in the industry, Ford’s recent use of in-car infotainment systems have caused it to plummet in quality rankings. Consumer Reports indicates that only a couple years ago Ford was in the top 10 among brands in its predicted reliability scores with over 90% of its models being average or better. However, in the most recent Consumer Reports reliability scores, Ford has dropped to number 27 out of 28 in the survey. Studies from JD Power have also noted a drop in Ford’s ranking.

Japanese automakers are taking advantage of Ford's decline with Scion, Toyota, and Lexus sweeping the top three spots. Those three Toyota brands were followed by Mazda, Subaru, Honda, and Acura with all models produced by the top seven brands offering average or better reliability.

Multiple factors contributed to Ford's significant decline in Consumer Reports rankings. Consumer Reports has shown no love for Ford's MyFord Touch technology and its survey participants obviously agree. Several of Ford's new vehicles -- including the Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus -- had more problems than normal according to Consumer Reports. Another significant contributing factor to Ford's decline in the rankings is three of its historically reliable models, the Escape, Fusion, and Lincoln MKZ are not included in the current analysis because they were all redesigned for 2013.


MyFord Touch

Consumer Reports director of testing Jake Fisher notes that despite attempts to improve MyFord Touch, the system, which is featured in many Ford vehicles, continues to confuse customers. Fisher also says that customers continue to complain about rough shifting on Ford six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift transmissions.

“They’ve put out some updates to try to address some of those problems for both the transmissions and the infotainment controls, but it doesn’t seem to be enough,” Fisher said.

Despite Ford plummeting in the Consumer Reports reliability rankings, the company posted a massive profit for Q3 2012. Ford racked up $1.63 billion in profit during the quarter, marking a slight decline from $1.65 billion earned the same quarter of 2011. Ford had a pre-tax operating profit $2.2 billion amounting to $.40 per share. Analysts had anticipated a gain of $.30 per share.

"The Ford team delivered a best-ever third quarter, driven by record results in North America and the continued strength of Ford Credit," said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO, in a statement. "While we are facing near-term challenges in Europe, we are fully committed to transforming our business in Europe by moving decisively to match production to demand, improve revenue through new products and grow a stronger brand, improve our cost efficiencies and take advantage of opportunities to profitably grow our business."

However, things don't look is rosy for Ford in Europe with the company reporting a loss of $460 million during the quarter marking a loss of about $1 billion in Europe this year alone. Ford has previously announced that it expects to lose about $1.5 billion in Europe during 2012 and 2013. The automaker plans to restructure its European operations and shed workers.

Sources: Consumer Reports, Free Press, Detroit News, Detroit News



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RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/30/2012 11:02:52 AM , Rating: 2
Well, there have been numerous reports of MyFord Touch failing while driving, meaning that you lose access to secondary controls that are controlled through the touch screen (radio, climate control, GPS, etc). Sometimes, it requires you to park the vehicle, turn it off, and restart.

All the jokes of a Microsoft-powered car BSOD'ing on you are coming to life ;)

As for the DCT, there were some early teething problems and failures there on the Fiesta/Focus from what I've been reading. But most of the complaints seem to be centered around lethargic response and herky/jerky motions at low-speeds.

I guess it depends on your definition of reliability. A touchscreen system that controls most secondary functions failing while driving is not "reliable" IMHO. A transmission that performs like crap and jerks you around at low speeds probably isn't a reliability issue, but it sure isn't a something that a driver should have to put up with.


RE: Define "reliability"
By marvdmartian on 10/30/2012 11:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
Well, at least they don't have this problem....yet!!

quote:
Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Turn on the stereo, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and your wife were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the house against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I'll pull the fuse and disconnect you.
HAL: While you're driving, Dave? You're going to find that rather difficult.
Dave Bowman: HAL, I won't argue with you anymore! Turn it on!!
HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Trisped on 10/30/2012 12:01:29 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Well, there have been numerous reports of MyFord Touch failing while driving, meaning that you lose access to secondary controls that are controlled through the touch screen (radio, climate control, GPS, etc). Sometimes, it requires you to park the vehicle, turn it off, and restart.
If that is the reason why MyFord Touch is being down rated, why isn't it in the article?

It is my understanding that Ford fixed a large number of the crashes. Not to mention, I have seen crashes/locks in both the Toyota Camry and Mazada (do not remember the model). Both of these models crashed 90% of the time I was in the vehicle. With out more accurate reporting it just sounds like these review companies have a grudge against Ford.

It is not as important that they are downgraded as much as why they were downgraded.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Reclaimer77 on 10/30/2012 12:47:03 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly that's why I'm calling this into question and looking for some clarification. It all seems very arbitrary and we know Consumer Reports doesn't like MyTouch personally. And they are using the opinion of people surveyed to call into question vehicle "reliability", which should be based on hard statistics.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Spuke on 10/30/2012 12:56:00 PM , Rating: 1
I find that all car review outlets hate infotainment tech of ANY type. Car and Driver bitched for years about BMW's iDrive. When I had the opportunity to use it in a friends 335i, the first thing out of his mouth was that if you can use a mouse, you can use iDrive. And he was correct, iDrive is so easy to use you'd HAVE to be an idiot to not be able to use it. I honestly think these rags are reviewed/written by old men that either just generally don't like or can't figure out tech and place that bias on every car with advanced features.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Spuke on 10/30/2012 2:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I find that all car review outlets hate infotainment tech of ANY type. Car and Driver b!tched for years about BMW's iDrive. When I had the opportunity to use it in a friends 335i, the first thing out of his mouth was that if you can use a mouse, you can use iDrive. And he was correct, iDrive is so easy to use you'd HAVE to be an idiot to not be able to use it. I honestly think these rags are reviewed/written by old men that either just generally don't like or can't figure out tech and place that bias on every car with advanced features.
Nothing I said wasn't true.


RE: Define "reliability"
By ipay on 10/31/2012 4:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
There were 6 years between the first iDrive in the 7 series and the introduction of the 335i. Many changes were made to iDrive within those years and beyond -- even the underlying OS changed. You're argument it didn't suck for years, because you used a modern, updated variation that didn't suck, is silly.


RE: Define "reliability"
By jRaskell on 11/1/2012 4:47:07 PM , Rating: 2
I used the iDrive in a buddies X3 once, and even as a passenger it was quite annoying to navigate the interface. As a driver, it was virtually impossible.

I have no idea what model year his X3 was. BMWs are not my thing.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/30/2012 12:56:25 PM , Rating: 1
You make it seem as though CR is some new kid on the block ;)

Consumer Reports has been around for decades and their testing methodology is still pretty much the same. It's a well respected publication that reviews everything from toasters to washing machine detergent.

When Ford was near the top of quality ratings, no one batted an eye. Now that they are near the bottom, people call CR into question.


RE: Define "reliability"
By SPOOFE on 10/30/2012 1:13:29 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
You make it seem as though CR is some new kid on the block

CR is old hat reviewing new tech; that is reason enough to maintain a certain slight suspicion about their opinion. A hundred years ago the prevailing "review" entities (such as they were) were still expecting the automobile to go away and everyone to stick with the horse and buggy... should their opinion have been revered because they had been around for a while, too?


RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/30/2012 1:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that they BUY everything they test on their own and don't take money/handouts from companies, I'd say that they are pretty much one of the few you can actually trust.

Car Mags like Motor Trend, Automobile, Road and Track are hardly impartial on these matters.


RE: Define "reliability"
By SPOOFE on 10/30/2012 1:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say they can't be trusted, I'm just saying that "being old" is not necessarily synonymous with "knows what's going on". I think it's absolutely a valid observation that we may be witnessing an effect of Consumer Report's - and CR's readership's - bias on the issue.

quote:
Car Mags like Motor Trend, Automobile, Road and Track are hardly impartial on these matters.

I'm hardly holding them up as examples of impartiality.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Performance Fanboi on 10/31/2012 3:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
CR's subscriber method is no longer valid as a way to rate things like infotainment systems. I don't want a bunch of stodgy old farts that still don't know how to set the clock in their cars or add a radio preset judging modern tech.


RE: Define "reliability"
By wallijonn on 11/2/2012 10:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't want a bunch of stodgy old farts that still don't know how to set the clock in their cars or add a radio preset judging modern tech.


Says the driver who textes and drives at the same time? Or who takes their eyes off the road while punching in phone numbers?

Just because it's modern tech doesn't make it safer to use while driving. The more complex the tech the more likelyhood that the driver will be distracted.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Performance Fanboi on 11/4/2012 4:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Are you retarded? Not wanting a group of people who fail to understand modern tech review it means I text while driving? This has to be the dumbest comment ever made on this site.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Richard875yh5 on 10/31/2012 9:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
The way Consumer Reports rates cars is very flawed. Having subscribers rate cars is not like having auto experts rating cars. All in all, CR sucks and many auto enthusiast like myself will tell you that.


RE: Define "reliability"
By rdhood on 11/1/2012 11:45:23 AM , Rating: 2
After MANY years of using CR to find good used cars, and comparing cars I know vs. CR ratings, I'd say they are pretty darned accurate. Every car I know that had particular failings all showed up in CR ratings of used cars. All used cars that I bought on CR recommendations of used cars have been great. If I were buying a television, or camera, I give them a pass as there are much better places to look for accurate evaluations and review. But they, evidently, have enough members/users with those cars so as to present a big enough sample to be accurate. As long as members/users accurately evaluate the systems of the cars that they own, and as long as the sample is big enough, then their ratings hold up well.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/30/2012 12:54:32 PM , Rating: 2
The source article does state that Ford has put out updates (which we have reported on), but they still haven't fixed the problems:

“They’ve put out some updates to try to address some of those problems for both the transmissions and the infotainment controls, but it doesn’t seem to be enough,” Fisher said.

We even did a big story on the major MyFord Touch update and the "crashing" that it was supposed to fix:

http://www.dailytech.com/Major+MyFord+Touch+Update...

Also, JD Power has picked up on the exact same problems in their quality surveys. So it's not just CR.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Reclaimer77 on 10/30/2012 12:59:14 PM , Rating: 3
Yes but "quality" and "reliability" are two entirely different metrics.

I just don't like that CR's has impugned Fords reliability because of their dislike of MyTouch.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/30/2012 1:11:12 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I just don't like that CR's has impugned Fords reliability because of their dislike of MyTouch.


You're conflating two different issues:

1) Consumer Reports has said that they don't like MyFord Touch because it's distracting, hard to use, and can be a safety hazard.
2) The actual rankings that this article is about has nothing to do with what Consumer Reports editors think: this information comes from their surveyed readers. This is the way it's ALWAYS been done.

So the "outrage" over Consumer Reports on these rankings is lost on me.


RE: Define "reliability"
By SPOOFE on 10/30/2012 1:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
this information comes from their surveyed readers.

... Which are generally going to fall in line with the attitudes of the CR editorship; if people didn't like what CR has to say, they wouldn't follow CR, and certainly wouldn't be respondents in their surveys.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/30/2012 1:23:57 PM , Rating: 2
That is assuming that everyone that subscribes to Consumer Reports subscribes to hear what they have to say about vehicles.

Take me for example, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about vehicles to an extent, but I don't know **** about dishwashers or oven/ranges. I wouldn't necessarily subscribe to CR for advice on cars, but I would pay attention to their rankings on appliances since I have no clue whatsoever.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Reclaimer77 on 10/30/2012 11:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
Look I don't know what I'm conflating, but when a car buyer hears that a brand has poor reliability, it invokes images of being stranded on the side of the road or always having a car in the shop for one problem or another. Am I alone in thinking this?

So to say MyTouch issues, or a transmission that isn't as smooth as one would prefer, should give a poor reliability score...well I just don't agree with that. Especially when these are optional equipment. If you liked MyTouch and the DCT transmission when you test drove the car enough to purchase it, why is it suddenly an issue later?

There's no outrage here, I'm just looking for more clarification. And yes, I question their methodology here. Consumer Reports isn't some perfect beyond-reproach organization.


RE: Define "reliability"
By rdhood on 11/1/2012 3:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Look I don't know what I'm conflating, but when a car buyer hears that a brand has poor reliability, it invokes images of being stranded on the side of the road or always having a car in the shop for one problem or another. Am I alone in thinking this?


That is how I define reliability.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Trisped on 10/30/2012 5:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the reply Brandon.

What I am trying to ask for is more information on these issues, how many (what %) people complain about the clutch issue, how noticeable is it? What makes the MyFord Touch difficult to use? How are its menus laid out? How many total buyers are unsatisfied with it?

The big ones are "If I bought the car, how noticeable is the clutch issue?" and "If I bought the car, how many times would MyFord Touch crash?" Having the screen map (indicating what options are on what screens and which screens link to which others) I think would also be nice as it would give me an idea of how backwards their layout is and also provide a way for owners to quickly and easily find an option they are having trouble with.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Samus on 10/30/2012 3:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny that almost everyone complains about DCT performance but some manufactures continue to push them onto customers.

Talk to your avereage Audi owner about what they don't like on their car, and I'm sure the first thing to come up is the jerky motion of the transmission, especially in stop-and-go traffic.

What's really aggrivating is the lack of features taken advantage of by DCT implementation. Almost no stop-go technology is implemented. No mild-hybrid applications. So no realistic MPG improvement over a traditional slushbox. As an engineer I realize this technology is in its infancy (even though its 25 years old) but it isn't realistically suited for your average vehicle. Torque convertor-based automatics have improved in efficiency, reliability and weight savings tremendously since the says of the Ford AOD and the GM 4T40E (both disasterously unreliable transmissions from the 80's-90's.) The majority of slushbox failures can be prevented with an adequate transmission cooler (hence ALWAYS get a tow-package with a truck purchase) and bi-annual fluid exchanges, generally under $100.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Alexvrb on 11/5/2012 12:11:44 AM , Rating: 2
Some AODs were lemons. I've even heard that some that didn't quite make the QC cut were still put into vehicles when push came to shove.

The 4T40E? I've seen those transmissions pile on miles with no problems. I've got a friend who still drives a '97 Sunfire to work every day, and that's got a 4T40E. 230K miles, original transmission. Gets decent mileage too for what it is, coupled with the very reliable pushrod 2.2L. The 4T40E was used in a crapload of cars you probably didn't know it was used in, and it did just fine. Heck, I don't even think the earliest 4T40E showed up until mid 90s, and they used them fairly recently in Saturns without issue.

Perhaps you were thinking of the 3T40, which not only fits your timeframe better, but was only so-so. Mileage wasn't that great (it's not bad for 3 gears though), and the TCC lockup solenoid was notorious for failure. That was an easy fix though.

You totally skipped Chrysler FWD automatics of the same era, too.


RE: Define "reliability"
By Argon18 on 10/30/2012 6:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
What do you mean "jokes aside"? That's the whole point!! All those jokes back in the late 1990's about how awful a car would be if it were made by Microsoft. Now we actually have a car where the electronics are powered by Microsoft and wait for it .... it's really awful. Truly a case of life imitating art! Hahahaha!


RE: Define "reliability"
By bill4 on 10/31/2012 1:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
hows apple stock going these days argon? speaking of "hahahaha!"


RE: Define "reliability"
By bill4 on 10/31/2012 1:17:37 PM , Rating: 2
ahh so there it is, more tech editors who couldn't wait to take a shot at microsoft are the real reason for this article. what a surprise.

hows your apple stock doing lately, brandon? looks like its tanking from my end


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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