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Old 01-11-2013, 10:59 AM   #16
Just Tom
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Join Date: Nov 2012
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What I Drive: 2013 Focus Ti (5 Dr.)

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There have been several posts made on this forum where Focus owners have lamented about problems they've experienced with their DCT. A common thread throughout all of these posts is that the vehicle in question has typically been to the dealer several times for the same issue only to be told their car is "operating as normal" or "no problem found." I share these people's frustration because I've been through it before, not necessarily with my Focus, but other vehicles I've owned. This is not an apple to oranges comparison at all as some might suggest. To compare the two cars would be ridiculous. The point I'm simply making is this. It seems that sometimes the only way manufactures take action is when they are pressed to do so, such as the case with the Pinto.

Sure every company uses cost-benefit analysis; that's just good business. Anyone who's ever managed a budget knows that you have to draw the line somewhere, so obviously some features don't make it to production. So that's not what's at issue either. As far as the value of a human life is concerned, I'm not arguing whether the government developed those numbers or an actuary at Ford did. The point here is simply that Ford used the cost-benefit analysis as part of their legal defense. This probably came up because there was testimony from Ford engineers about a modified or redesigned gas tank which had been suggested during development. The cost was estimated at $11.00 per unit. Obviously the cost-benefit analysis precluded the use of this part which is why it wasn't used during production. The fact that there were hundreds of fatalities where the car burst in to flames upon rear impact made national news. The central issue, at least in the court of public opinion and certainly on the jury stands in the civil cases was that, had Ford incorporated the $11.00 part in to the vehicle, perhaps hundreds of lives could have been spared. I think this was more of an ethical issue than anything which is why the courts ruled the way they did in the civil cases. You can argue that a rear end collision might have ended in severe injury or perhaps even death, but that's a debate for another time.

As I mentioned before, Ford had not broken any laws, and they were acquitted of criminal homicide charges. Regardless of the fact that no laws had been broken, hundreds of lives were lost in rear end collisions. That is not a myth, that is reality. That said, the NHTSA deemed the Pinto as unsafe, which is why 1.5 million cars were recalled.

This leads me to my main point. Obviously with so much coverage in the news and complaints from families of victims who lost their lives, it's foolish to think that Ford was unaware that a problem existed. Ford chose to ignore this, essentially asserting "no problem found." Sound familiar? Could Ford have done something sooner to voluntarily recall the cars and retrofit them with a modified gas tank thereby mitigating the damage to their own reputation and save possibly hundreds of lives? Absolutely, yes! Did they? No. Given the extraordinary losses that the company suffered, both financially and to their reputation, I think most would agree it would have been cheaper in the long run had Ford dealt with the issue before they became embroiled in legal battles. How does all of this relate to the Focus? As a Pinto v. Focus comparison it doesn't, except in a very broad general sense. Over time, if the DCT in the Focus doesn't hold up it could potentially become another nightmare scenario for Ford. I've read posts on this forum where some members are on their 3rd clutch or 4th clutch. For a 2012 vehicle that would be unheard of, unless of course the car has been abused in some way. If I recall correctly, I think there's a member on here that had their transmission replaced already. There have been lots of threads lately it seems where people have dumped their cars and traded-in because of the dealer’s inability to fix the problems. I've read at least two threads, by different users who said while driving their DCT had gone out of gear. One of those members narrowly avoided a rear end collision when it happened. I think we can safely assume that the first time somebody is involved in an auto accident as a direct result of someone's DCT going out of gear, you can bet that it's going to end up in the courts. This is the point that I'm making. Should Ford address the issues with the DCT now before it becomes a bigger issue? I think, yes. You might disagree, but that point can certainly be debated.
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