Part 2: how to drive your Powershift equipped Focus to reduce low speed jerkiness, and general poor driving. I am listing here a number of guidelines to help folks in getting a better experience out of their Powershift transmission. I owned a Powershift equipped Focus for three years, and was quite good at making it behave. Do realize that due to the nature of it's design, it will never be as smooth as an automatic. Also be aware that some transmissions do have issues, and these guidelines will not fix that.
- At low speeds, be very deliberate with the throttle and avoid being on and off it too much. Smooth, deliberate throttle motions will equate to smooth driving at any speed. What happens with erratic throttle input is that the gearbox is trying to do too many things at once. It may have just upshifted into a higher gear, but now you are giving it more throttle so it wants to downshift again, then if you lift off the throttle while it's doing that it's now in the middle of a shift and has to put you back into a gear and release the clutch at the appropriate RPM so it doesn't buck and jerk. What ultimately happens is that the computer cannot keep up with erratic throttle inputs. Plan ahead only give it throttle when you know you won't have to come off it right away.
- Realize that at low speeds, the clutch will always be engaged (that is, connecting the engine and transmission) until very low RPMs, generally around 1000 or so it will disengage. This means that when you release the throttle after just having accelerated, you are still in gear and are engine braking. The vehicle will generally try and upshift as much as possible to smooth this out, so it's not felt as much by the driver. Try to avoid changing speed too much at very low speeds (under 5-10 mph) as the transmission will generally not be able to keep up quickly enough, and it may get caught between shifts.
- In heavy traffic, don't let the car "creep" forward by just letting your foot off the brake too much. It's OK in small doses, but can overheat the clutch if you do it too much. The clutch overheating can cause a warning to appear, and can cause the gearbox to not operate correctly until it has cooled. Additionally, in heavy traffic like this try and keep a bit more distance between you and the vehicle in front, so you can accelerate steadily, which can help with clutch temperatures and will also be a bit smoother for you.
- If equipped, try using SelectShift to shift at lower speeds. This will keep the transmission locked in the gear of your choosing. I used this very often at low speeds as it keeps the gearbox from shifting too much. Do note that, as stated above, this uses a clutch so when engine braking you will feel the engine slowing you down much more then you would with an automatic. If you keep it in too low of a gear it can still be quite jerky (again, very smooth throttle inputs will help). It's easy to notice this if you keep the gearbox in first, and accelerate to 5-10 mph. Let your foot off the throttle and notice how much the car slows, then give it more throttle again and it'll be pretty jerky. It's best to try and upshift into second pretty quick.
- At any speed, commit to your throttle inputs. Complaints of the transmission "banging into gear" are usually just the clutch being engaged when the RPMs aren't matched well. This will cause a sudden surge as the engine is suddenly changing RPM. This often happens because the accelerator is pressed enough to cause the transmission to downshift, then the throttle is lifted for whatever reason, then it is pressed in again, all before the transmission can shift into a gear. Try to avoid this.
**The biggest thing for any Powershift equipped Focus driver to realize is that this is NOT an automatic transmission, and cannot be driven like one. Once that is realized many folks have a easier time driving it. It may take some time to adapt to how it operates, but once you do you will generally have a better experience with it.
Hatch Nation #29