Today’s post is meant to shine some light on the topic of some concern lately for some owners of 2011-2014 Ford Focus and Fiesta non-ST models equipped with an “automatic” transmission that are complaining of a transmission shudder on acceleration. I say “automatic,” because it really is a dry dual clutch manual transmission that is shifted automatically.
The complaint that people are describing, is a shudder or chattering while accelerating. Another complaint I’ve heard of, is a very delayed downshift when attempting to pass other vehicles.
At 10:20 of the following video, this guy gives explanation of how this dual clutch system works:
In my opinion, it’s a pretty neat design by Getrag, yet poorly executed, though Ford is doing their part to help fix it. This setup shares two input shafts together, and one clutch operates gears 1, 3, and 5, while the other clutch operates gears 2, 4, 6, and reverse. As that video explains, two gears will be simultaneously engaged but only have power to the current gear being used. For example, gears 1 and 2 will both be engaged with power only to gear 1, and when it’s ready to shift into gear 2, the clutch for the even gears will engage gear 2, while the other clutch releases gear 1.
I’ve heard of different reasons for the chatter/shudder, and the most common answer is a software problem, but I’ve also read that it can be contamination due to a bad input seal, or a bad throwout bearing.
Thankfully for these consumers, Ford does have a few different “fixes” for this problem. They’ve announced a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) for a TCM (Transmission Control Module) flash (reprogram) which is a warrantiable item within Ford’s powertrain warranty. In the event that this doesn’t fix it, the next step is generally to replace the clutch pressure plates. As a final fix, the transmission will be replaced. With any luck, if you own one of these cars, your symptoms will occur within the powertrain warranty and Ford should be able to take care of it at no cost to you.