He purchased a faulty Ford Focus — and needed to drive it dwelling in reverse


Mark DaGraca had 5 clutch replacements on his 2016 Ford Focus and eventually gave up.

Mark DaGraca has replaced the clutch on his 2016 Ford Focus five times. Now he has a new car loan payment he had hoped to avoid.
Mark DaGraca has changed the clutch on his 2016 Ford Focus 5 occasions. Now he has a brand new automotive mortgage cost he had hoped to keep away from.
Mark DaGraca

Now he has a much bigger month-to-month cost on a automotive mortgage that has ballooned in measurement.

“I in the end needed to commerce the automotive in as a result of it was not secure,” he stated Dec. 9. “Simply wished to let that once I received my Focus, the dealership in Haverhill, Massachusetts, informed me Ford was having a deal on Focus vehicles — a 1.9% rate of interest on these vehicles solely, no matter credit score. So, due to that, we purchased the automotive. Inside 16,000 miles, my automotive wanted a brand new transmission. Each try with Ford to get this automotive taken again or made proper was met with, ‘You don’t qualify for something.’ Lastly, I purchased a brand new Ford Escape final month as a result of I needed to drive (the Focus a number of blocks) dwelling sooner or later in reverse as a result of it could not drive ahead.”

DaGraca added, “They knew they made a poor product then pushed to promote it with engaging finance charges.”

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The 41-year-old video convention engineer from Marlborough, Massachusetts, is one among dozens of Focus and Fiesta house owners who contacted the Free Press to say the vehicles’ transmission issues outlasted their guarantee protection, they really feel trapped with a faulty automotive that has misplaced worth or Ford is pushing them to commerce dangerous Focus and Fiesta automobiles for brand new automobiles, taking over contemporary, larger loans.  

Ford spokesman Stated Deep stated Monday, “Incomes and retaining the belief of consumers is important to every part we do. That’s the reason Ford and its sellers went to nice lengths to face behind and enhance the efficiency of the DPS6 transmission. Autos with this transmission constructed because the second half of 2015 — and earlier ones with vital updates — carry out nicely and have aggressive ranges of buyer satisfaction.”

Mark DaGraca owned a 2016 Ford Focus that required five clutch replacements. He ended up with a new car loan and higher payments when trading the defective car for a Ford Escape. The dealer wrote,
Mark DaGraca owned a 2016 Ford Focus that required 5 clutch replacements. He ended up with a brand new automotive mortgage and better funds when buying and selling the faulty automotive for a Ford Escape. The vendor wrote, “I’m simply attempting to get you out of that automotive.”
Mark DaGraca

Taking over a brand new mortgage is a monetary burden for a lot of clients who personal the troubled Focus and Fiesta automobiles offered this decade with faulty dual-clutch automated transmissions which can be the topic of huge litigation and a federal probe. The vehicles, discontinued in 2018-19 mannequin years, had been low-cost automobiles focused at patrons on a good price range.

A Free Press investigation revealed in July discovered that Ford knew the transmission was faulty earlier than placing it available on the market and in 2011 rejected a plan to cease utilizing it. Ford whistleblowers later described to the Free Press a fearful environment throughout the firm that led to silence through the transmission’s improvement and, in a single case, downgrading the danger evaluation of the clutch and management unit “because of political causes.” 

“Belief me, I didn’t wish to do it however the automotive was not secure and the dealership informed me, ‘They’re instructed to not take any extra Focuses to work on.’ I used to be informed to drive the automotive regardless that it was an unsafe automotive and that the half was on nationwide again order,” stated DaGraca, who famous that his spouse is a particular training trainer and the brand new mortgage is taking a toll. “I now have a $30,873 automotive mortgage.”

 The larger stability displays merging the previous and new loans into one. He nonetheless owed $11,500 on his Focus mortgage. The brand new car required borrowing a further $19,000.

His new funds are $450 month, up from $350. And so they’ll final for six years.

“We by no means deliberate on getting one other new automotive. That was the automotive that we thought would final one other 5 years, simply,” DaGraca stated Wednesday.

Readers from everywhere in the nation have reported that sellers are beginning to decline restore orders on the automobiles. Ford in 2014 prolonged the drivetrain guarantee on the vehicles constructed via mid-2013, prolonged the guarantee on the management unit in 2016 and, a month after publication of the Free Press’ Out of Gear investigation, prolonged the drivetrain guarantee on greater than half one million of the vehicles not coated by the 2014 motion.

Flint girl troubled with Ford Fiesta

Michelle Hughes of Flint discusses her frustration with transmission issues on 2012 Ford Fiesta.

Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

Making an attempt to assist

Scott Popkin, normal supervisor of AutoFair Ford of Haverhill, wrote in an electronic mail to DaGraca dated Nov. 13, 2019, “I’m taking your automotive to public sale and I’m going to lose cash there. I’m simply attempting to get you out of that automotive.”

Mark DaGraca said he pleaded for relief from Ford Motor because his 2016 Focus had a defective DPS6 dual-clutch "PowerShift" transmission. Ford's DPS6 dispute resolution specialist/legal analyst denied DaGraca's claim.
Mark DaGraca stated he pleaded for aid from Ford Motor as a result of his 2016 Focus had a faulty DPS6 dual-clutch “PowerShift” transmission. Ford’s DPS6 dispute decision specialist/authorized analyst denied DaGraca’s declare.
Mark DaGraca

Trying again, DaGraca stated Popkin tried to do every part he might however Ford created an inconceivable scenario.

“Due to them, Scott and his group was by no means going to satisfy my true wants,” DaGraca stated. “Scott gave us good worth, however my challenge is — I ought to by no means needed to get one other automotive three years after shopping for a model new Ford.”

He defined, “We introduced our automotive in when it had round 15,000 miles to get the transmission mounted. The dealership informed us that the repair would ‘repair’ the problem for good. However as , it by no means did. After we tried to succeed in out to the Ford dispute middle, we had been informed there may be nothing they will do as a result of we didn’t qualify for help. I consider they lied to us so the guarantee would expire after which we couldn’t fall again on the lemon legislation.”

Homeowners from throughout the USA have contacted the Free Press with paperwork and pleas for assist. They stated they’re on a regular basis People who purchased merchandise in good religion and pay their payments and do the best factor and face monetary hardship due to Ford’s dealing with of the flawed automobiles. Most of the households embrace Ford retirees.

‘It’s madness’

Darlene Burns, 60, a bookkeeper who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, stated her 2015 Focus, in the case of a cease signal or slows all the way down to make a flip, “unexpectedly simply jerks. You depress the automotive pedal and the automotive doesn’t transfer, goes nowhere.”

A local of Livonia, Burns’ father retired from Ford as an engineer in Dearborn.

“I’ve owned Fords all my life,” she stated. “I’ve by no means had a automotive do that. It’s madness. I’ve had issues since I’ve owned this automotive. Security considerations greater than something. Merging onto I-65 or altering lanes and the automotive simply doesn’t transfer. Gears don’t have interaction although it revs the RPMs. Whenever you hit the fuel, the automotive ought to transfer. It’s awfully horrifying. Now my gear clutch meeting has to go in for a second time.”

Among the automobiles shudder, typically violently, and may shift erratically, speed up inconsistently and lurch unpredictably. The transmissions are designed to default to impartial when sure issues happen, which causes drivers to lose drive energy. Ford says the vehicles are secure, and federal regulators have regarded on the challenge in 2014 and once more after publication of the Free Press investigation and agree with Ford, regardless of 1000’s of client complaints that embrace experiences of fifty accidents. 

The dealership requested Burns to contemplate buying and selling the automotive as lately as Dec. 19 “as a result of they’re totally conscious of the issues and the vehicles being introduced in for clutch assemblies,” she stated. Burns is fearful throughout her buying journeys to Walmart together with her granddaughter Ivy. However she stated she will be able to’t get the truthful worth of the automotive and doesn’t wish to begin a brand new, costlier mortgage.

Darlene Burns, whose father retired from Ford, said she fears for her safety when driving her granddaughter in a 2015 Focus because the car is so erratic. But she can’t afford to heed the advice of Ford dealers who, in response to her transmission repair visits, have encouraged her to trade in the defective vehicle for a new car. Burns expects another invoice in January. This image has had identifying information redacted.
Darlene Burns, whose father retired from Ford, stated she fears for her security when driving her granddaughter in a 2015 Focus as a result of the automotive is so erratic. However she will be able to’t afford to heed the recommendation of Ford sellers who, in response to her transmission restore visits, have inspired her to commerce within the faulty car for a brand new automotive. Burns expects one other bill in January. This picture has had figuring out info redacted.
Darlene Burns

“I paid, I believe, $12,000 and I owe $9,400,” Burns stated. “All of the issues different individuals are experiencing — shuddering, jerking, the default factor to enter impartial. The automotive not going anyplace for two or 5 seconds while you’re attempting to enter transferring site visitors, is simply essentially the most horrifying factor. Vehicles coming at you and your automotive is sitting there like a duck. Like a sitting duck. It’s horrifying.”

She wrote in an electronic mail, “I’m most involved when the automotive DOESN’T MOVE though the accelerator pedal is depressed!!”

The Focus is scheduled for transmission restore Jan. 2, 2020. Burns stated it is going to be her second since buying the car in 2017.

Getting $19,728 

Phil Kovacs, 70, a retired human sources marketing consultant from Northville, didn’t surrender. He fought again. 

His spouse’s 2012 Focus had 79,000 miles and went in for its sixth transmission — the fifth substitute.

“The primary 4 replacements had been paid for by Ford Motor Firm, however with the final, which was performed in early October, Ford refused to cowl the $1,400 restore price, regardless of it failing mere days after the 12-month restore guarantee expired,” he wrote.

“I contacted the Ford customer support line solely to be informed there was nothing Ford would do to help with the restore price. I shared with them the truth that I’ve bought and pushed at the very least 24 Ford automobiles since 1969. In reality, after we took supply of the 2012 Focus from Hines Park Ford, it was a part of a three-vehicle buy we made.”

Phil Kovacs of Northville, Michigan, took his wife's 2012 Ford Focus to the shop for five transmission replacements. When Ford billed them $1,400 for the last repair due to warranty expiration, he paid and then found a lawyer who negotiated a buyback with Ford in December. This photo was taken in December 2016 in a New Orleans restaurant.
Phil Kovacs of Northville, Michigan, took his spouse’s 2012 Ford Focus to the store for 5 transmission replacements. When Ford billed them $1,400 for the final restore because of guarantee expiration, he paid after which discovered a lawyer who negotiated a buyback with Ford in December. This picture was taken in December 2016 in a New Orleans restaurant.
Supplied by Phil Kovacs

Not solely is the faulty transmission an costly inconvenience, it is usually a security hazard “since it may buck, stall or refuse to interact,” Kovacs stated. It shuddered in low gear, had “delayed acceleration,” rolled backward at stops and lurched.

“The Ford service technicians informed us it was supposed to do this,” he stated.

Kovacs discovered a lawyer in Michigan who makes a speciality of lemon legislation circumstances and negotiated a cope with Ford. The corporate purchased again the automotive on Dec. 10 for $19,728.18. The lawyer earned a $3,000 payment. Kovacs stated he had been loyal to Ford since childhood. His father labored as a machine repairman journeyman on the Ford Rouge plant and retired from the corporate after 41 years.

Stranded in Texas

However the story of Robert Craft, 45, a mechanic from Newton, Texas, is extra typical.

He stated he should depend upon his 1995 Mazda pickup as a result of his 2015 Focus doesn’t work.

“However there’s not room for all three of us in that itty-bitty truck,” Craft stated, explaining that he and his spouse, who works at a Walmart deli, take their particular wants son 70 miles for medical appointments 3 times every week. 

“Whenever you go to take off, you truly really feel the automotive shake and vibrate. The motor type of runs free after which it lastly hits the gear. I believe it’s a security challenge as a result of it may go away you on the aspect of the highway,” he stated. “I’ve taken it in two occasions for the transmission. The primary time, they stated there was nothing flawed, simply drive it more durable. The second time, it was doing the identical factor on a visit to Las Vegas. It might simply stall.” 

From left, Joseph Craft, Janett Craft and Robert Craft, Sr.  in Orlando, Florida, on May 20, 2019. The Texas family was hit with a $1,600 repair on their 2015 Ford Focus after the warranty ran out. They need the car for medical appointments and the transmission is defective.
From left, Joseph Craft, Janett Craft and Robert Craft, Sr. in Orlando, Florida, on Could 20, 2019. The Texas household was hit with a $1,600 restore on their 2015 Ford Focus after the guarantee ran out. They want the automotive for medical appointments and the transmission is flawed. “No person needs to the touch this automotive,” Craft stated.
Craft Household

He stated Ford charged him to diagnose the issue after which wished to cost him $1,600 for restore, an quantity reported by house owners all through the nation when repairs had been wanted previous guarantee. He, like others, stated native Ford restore retailers have even declined to take the automotive. “No person needs to the touch it.” 

Lastly, “Ford stated it could make the guarantee good. They stated I’ve till February till the guarantee is gone once more. I simply can’t get no person to assist us out. I’ve a disabled son and we’ve got to run backwards and forwards from our hometown to Beaumont, Texas. It’s three hours spherical journey 3 times every week. It’s anxious having to fret about this automotive laying down on us at any time.” 

‘We remorse …’

The Ford spokesman informed the Free Press, “Whereas these automobiles at all times had been and stay secure to drive, we remorse the inconvenience our clients have skilled.”

Austin Hornyak, 40, of Shelburne, Vermont, is an ordained United Methodist pastor working as a social employee transporting individuals with developmental disabilities. He stated he’s ready to listen to from the Ford vendor about his 2013 Ford Focus, which was left with a Burlington vendor on Dec. 19.

“I’ve actual security considerations,” Hornyak stated. “The clutch has been changed twice below guarantee. They reprogrammed the transmission management module at about 34,000 miles, reprogrammed the transmission management module once more and changed the clutch and seals at about 40,000 miles, and changed the clutch a second time at about 71,000 miles.  It is now at about 112,000 miles and in want of restore once more. I am hoping it is going to be coated by the 150,000-mile transmission management module prolonged guarantee.”

He paid $13,400 and nonetheless owes $3,500.

“The automotive began having issue shifting between gears at round 30,000 miles,” Hornyak defined in an electronic mail. “Particularly when ranging from a stopped place and biking via the gears, there’s regularly a lag when transitioning from one gear to the subsequent. When the gear catches, the automotive jerks ahead. Every clutch substitute mounted the issue quickly, however the jerkiness ultimately returned once more.”

He stated Monday, “Final week, a warning gentle got here on saying to service the transmission instantly. The transmission appeared to be going into impartial. It wasn’t jerking; it simply wasn’t participating with any gears for durations of some seconds at a time. Once I hit the fuel, the engine would rev however the automotive didn’t speed up. After a number of seconds of drifting, it could catch a gear and begin accelerating.”

Nonetheless unhappy in Flint

Michelle Hughes, 44, a hospital employee from Flint, stated she makes use of her 2012 Fiesta solely to get to work. She stated that is as a result of nothing a lot has modified since Christopher Kwasniewicz, Ford’s North American powertrain government high quality supervisor, visited her at dwelling in August to accompany her to an area dealership and repair her transmission points after they had been highlighted by the Free Press.

Now, 4 months later, the pink Fiesta nonetheless shudders.

“You’ll be able to really feel it shake,” Hughes stated. “It shudders typically, prefer it had performed earlier than. They’ve designed a automotive that’s not dependable.”

When the Free Press interviewed engineers for an article in early December, many requested whether or not Hughes’ automotive was mounted. They predicted any enchancment could be quick time period, as a result of there is no such thing as a repair.

Now, at the very least as soon as a month, Hughes will get a letter from Ford asking her to commerce her automotive for a brand new one.

“I can’t afford a brand new automotive cost,” she stated. “They need to be ashamed of themselves. I perceive it was an affordable automotive, however individuals have to have dependable transportation.”

Annoyed, Hughes stated the go to from the Ford government was a “canine and pony present” in an effort to make Ford look responsive. “I don’t know in the event that they had been simply attempting to close me up.”

One household’s in depth restore file for a 2012 Ford Focus:

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-222-6512 or phoward@freepress.com. Observe her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Learn extra on autos and join our autos publication.



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