If you are one of the two million car owners who bought or leased a 2012-2o16 Ford Focus or a 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta you might want to check your mailbox. There could be a potentially big payday in there.
That’s because Ford has finally settled a 2012 class action lawsuit brought by owners of Ford’s formerly most-affordable vehicles. In-depth reporting from the Detroit Free Press shows internal memos indicating Ford knew about the issues as early as 2012, yet continued to sell the cars with faulty dry-clutch DPS6 transmission. The filing claimed defective transmissions were prone to “shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration.” Once these cars aged out of their warranties, it was up to the owners to pay for repairs on recurrent issues, though Ford eventually extended the warranties on some 600,000 vehicles.
If you bought or leased one of these cars and feel like you might be entitled to the settlement, here’s how it works, according to Tarek Zohdy, senior council handling the lawsuit:
“There’s a notice period, where you tell Ford you intend to arbitrate and they have 10 days to resolve the situation. If they don’t resolve it, you may go to arbitration, which Ford pays for,” Zohdy said. “The bar is not high. All you need is to collect your repair orders and your purchase contract and submit a letter to Ford. We will help people do that.”
Some people who filed the arbitration claim before the settlement went into effect, when Ford voluntarily honored the program the settlement created, have recovered more than $20,000, according to lawyers who crafted the agreement.
If a Focus or Fiesta owner didn’t opt out of the lawsuit, they are eligible for compensation ranging from $20 to a total buyback of the vehicle, possibly exceeding $20,000. Owners will be notified via postcard of their involvement in the settlement. The class-action lawsuit could end up costing Ford in the hundreds of millions, or even perhaps billions. The Freep continues:
The Free Press investigation revealed a 2016 Ford internal report Ford that projected costs through 2020 and said, “Total quality related spending for DPS6 could reach $3 billion.”
At least 1.5 million of the vehicles remain on the road today, according to U.S. vehicle registration data.
The final settlement includes a minimum $30 million in cash payments from Ford to customers that are separate from the buyback program.
These cheap little cars might end up costing Ford quite a lot. No wonder the company gave up on building them.