Pennsylvania owners of Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus cars could receive thousands of dollars in compensation for faulty transmissions in the vehicles. On March 5, a federal judge approved a class-action settlement that orders Ford Motor Co. to repurchase some of the affected vehicles for up to $22,000.
According to an attorney with nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, which represented consumers in the lawsuit, the settlement agreement could cost Ford up to $500 million. In the lawsuit, Ford owners claimed that their 2011-2016 Fiesta and 2012-2016 Focus cars with dual-clutch “Powershift” transmissions were prone to “shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking” and other problems, including premature internal wear and sudden acceleration. A July 2019 investigation by the Detroit Free Press found that the automaker knew the transmissions were faulty from the beginning but sold them anyway, leaving consumers to foot the bill for expensive repairs.
Ford will now be responsible for notifying owners of their settlement options. Up to 2 million car owners could be affected by the settlement although experts estimate that only 100,000 vehicles have had enough problems to qualify for a buyback offer of up to $2,300 in cash or up to $4,300 in discounts toward a new car purchase. Other owners could qualify for cash payments of between $30 and $250. Consumers will have a minimum of seven months to file a claim. Prior to the settlement agreement, Ford voluntarily spent $47 million to buy back 2,666 affected vehicles.
Consumers who purchase defective vehicles might find relief by contacting a consumer protection attorney for assistance. The attorney may review the details of the case and determine if the purchase is covered under Pennsylvania’s Automobile Lemon Law. If so, the consumer might be owed compensation in the form of a vehicle replacement or a buyback offer. Under certain circumstances, legal counsel may recommend filing a civil lawsuit against the dealer or manufacturer, which might result in a financial settlement.