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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 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.

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