Complaints from Ford Focus, Fiesta owners to Transport Canada double in 2 weeks

The number of complaints about the transmission in some Ford Focus and Fiesta models has more than doubled in the past two weeks, says Transport Canada.

2014 Ford Focus owner in Stoney Point, Ont., drives with stickers of lemons plastered on her car

Trisha Glabb and her sons of Stoney Point, Ont., stand beside her 2014 Focus. She is so upset with Ford's response to her transmission problems that she's covered her car with bright yellow lemon stickers. (Trisha Glabb)

The number of complaints about the transmission in some Ford Focus and Fiesta models has more than doubled in the past two weeks, as more and more Canadians express concerns about the safety of the vehicles.

As of Nov. 3, Transport Canada had received 322 complaints about 2011-16 Ford Fiesta and 2012-16 Ford Focus vehicles. The number of complaints was 128 as of Oct. 20.

More than three dozen car owners contacted CBC News after a report earlier this week on a "defect investigation" launched by the federal department. It's looking at complaints about the transmission in some of those vehicles.

The cars in question have a dual clutch standard transmission with a computer that controls the clutch and shifting.

Stalled on highway

Matt Kennett, of Cambridge, Ont., said he was shaken last month after the dashboard on his 2013 Ford Focus lit up and his car stalled on Highway 401 — Canada's busiest highway.

Matt Kennett's 2013 Ford Focus lost power on the busy 401 last month, leaving him shaken. He's waiting for his fifth transmission and/or clutch replacement. (Matt Kennett)

"I was in the fast lane doing about 100 kilometres an hour," he said.

He managed to change lanes and coast to the shoulder of the highway.

"At that point I just got out of the car and took a deep breath and walked off to the side a little bit because I was pretty scared," he said.

Kennett said his car has had a clutch and a transmission control module replaced, as well as three software updates. When he took it to the dealership after the highway incident, the car was returned to him without any repair work because "they could not replicate the problem."

Concerned about safety

"I 100 per cent do not feel safe in my car anymore," he told CBC News. "I'm at a situation, though, where I have to commute to work. I can't afford to not go to my job and I can't afford to buy a new vehicle."

Kennett refuses to drive his family in the vehicle.

"I have three small children and a wife, so I feel like I'm taking a risk just putting myself in it every single time I get into the car now, especially since they tell me they literally don't know what the answer is."

Multiple clutch replacements

Taryn Day of Port Coquitlam, B.C., said she's waiting for a fourth clutch replacement for her 2013 Fiesta.

B.C. resident Taryn Day just wants a clutch replacement that actually works for her 2013 Ford Fiesta. She worries about her safety while driving it. (Taryn Day)

"I am constantly told [by Ford] it's not dangerous, but the fact that my car will not move when I press the gas and then shoots forward is very dangerous in my opinion," she said.

"I'm just asking for a clutch that actually works."

'This car is a lemon'

Trisha Glabb, of Stoney Point, Ont., is so upset about her 2014 Focus "lunging forward for no apparent reason" that she has plastered it with stickers of lemons. She's had the clutch replaced twice and there have been several updates to the car's computer.

"I just think Ford needs to take this car back," she said. "When people are having these kinds of issues and they don't feel safe in a vehicle, they shouldn't be forced to drive it.

"This car is a lemon."

Trisha Glabb was so upset with Ford's response to her transmission problems that she covered her car with bright yellow lemon stickers and a message that says, "THIS CAR IS A LEMON". She has since traded the car after a frightening experience on the 401. (Trisha Glabb)

'I am so tired and fed up'

Amanda Revell, of Oakville, Ont., has nothing good to say about her 2012 Ford Fiesta.

"I just had my fifth transmission fitted — three this year alone," she said, adding she just got the vehicle back about a month ago and the problems have started again. "I am so tired and fed up with the issue."

Amanda Revell of Oakville, Ont is on her fifth transmission in her 2012 Fiesta, three of them this year alone. (Amanda Revell)

Some of those who contacted CBC News were given temporary replacement vehicles after expressing safety concerns as they waited for repairs.​

Ford extends warranty

Ford Canada spokeswoman Michelle Lee-Gracey said in an email that the company has customer service programs which extend the warranty on certain parts of the affected vehicles "to as much as 10 years of service or 240,000 kilometres from the warranty start date of the vehicle."

She recommended customers experiencing issues either see their dealership service adviser or call Ford's customer relationship centre.

In response to a question about whether Ford is considering a recall, Lee-Gracey said Ford is confident in their "current methods for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues," adding their decisions are driven by the data available.

"When the data indicates a safety recall is needed, we move quickly on behalf of our customers," she said.

About the Author

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days, she's focused on helping consumers get the most bang for their bucks and avoid being ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca.

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