The consumer watchdog has launched legal action against Ford, alleging the car giant has engaged in misleading and unconscionable conduct.
- ACCC claims about 70,000 Ford vehicles fitted with faulty dual-clutch automatic gearbox
- Ford also accused of re-selling surrendered vehicles
- Manufacturer rejects allegations and will challenge them
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has claimed that about 70,000 Ford vehicles sold in Australia were fitted with a faulty dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
About half of the Ford Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport vehicles with a PowerShift transmission sold between 2011 and 2016 have required at least one significant repair.
Ford’s PowerShift transmission is meant to improve fuel efficiency and provide smoother gear shifts when driving.
But thousands of customers have complained that their cars shudder and jerk when accelerating, suddenly lose power or make a lot of noise.
“The ACCC alleges that Ford misrepresented to customers who made complaints that the issues with their vehicles were caused by the way the driver handled the vehicle, even though Ford was aware of systemic issues with the vehicles from at least 2013,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
Some customers took their cars in for repairs up to seven times, but Ford allegedly refused to provide a refund or replacement.
Those drivers who wanted a replacement vehicle were often required to make a payment of about $7,000.
In what Mr Sims described as the most serious allegation, Ford is accused of taking the surrendered vehicles, and re-selling them to unsuspecting new buyers without disclosing the car’s transmission issues.
“The ACCC is alarmed about the level of non-compliance with the Australian consumer law in the new car industry,” he said.
“Cars are the second-most expensive purchase most consumers will ever make and if they fail to meet a consumer guarantee, people are automatically entitled to a remedy.”
Ford vows to fight ACCC’s case
The chief executive of Ford Motor Company Australia, Graeme Whickman, said the manufacturer “strongly” rejected the allegations and would challenge them.
“We acknowledge that some customers had a poor experience when the clutch shudder issues on the PowerShift transmission first came to light and we are sorry for this,” Mr Whickman said in a statement.
However, the car giant has insisted it provided refunds and replacements in accordance with Australian consumer law.
“We’ve continued to improve our response times to customers and have been repairing vehicles, compensating customers, and depending on the circumstances, providing full refunds and providing replacement vehicles,” Mr Whickman said.
Customers urged to contact Ford
Ford said more than 12,000 customers vehicles had already been upgraded, and the company was continuing to reach out to affected drivers.
Mr Whickman said any customer who has concerns about their vehicle should contact their dealer or Ford Australia directly.
“In light of today’s litigation I would encourage consumers to go back to Ford and see if they can get satisfaction,” Mr Sims said.
“But if they can’t, they should refer the matter to us.”