A class action against Ford over faulty Powershift dual-clutch automatic transmissions has reached the High Court of Australia, with owners seeking greater compensation.

In Australia, more than 70,000 Ford vehicles across the Focus, Fiesta, and EcoSport model lines were fitted with the Powershift six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission between January 2011 and November 2018.

Shortly after the vehicles entered production it was discovered the gearbox’s input shaft seals, clutch lining, and control module were susceptible to failure, leading to hesitation upon shifting gears, unexpected deceleration, and sometimes a complete loss of drive.

Despite Ford Australia extending the warranty period of approximately 47,000 examples of the affected vehicles in 2014, the carmaker soon drew the ire of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In 2016, the consumer watchdog and Ford reached a settlement which resulted in the carmaker paying a $10 million fine for failing to correctly handle Powershift-related complaints between May 2015 and February 2016.

A class action lawsuit was subsequently filed against the carmaker in Australia by Biljana Capic – the owner of a 2012 Ford Focus – in 2016.

The lawsuit alleged the carmaker had failed “to comply with the statutory guarantee as set out by Australian Consumer Law” by providing a vehicle with component and design deficiencies.

The Federal Court agreed with this assessment in June 2021, ordering Ford to pay Ms Capic a total of $17,248.19 in damages.

In 2022, Ford appealed the judgements for Ms Capic and other class action group members to be awarded damages. The judgement was subsequently upheld in November 2023 when the Full Court (a panel of three or more Federal Court judges) found the affected cars were not of an acceptable quality.

Though the Full Court said the affected cars had a “superadded propensity to experience troubling vehicle behaviours”, it also found certain factors were not considered when determining the damages Ford would have to pay to Ms Capic.

A final figure for damages incurred by both Ms Capic and the wider class action group members is yet to be determined.

“Ford is the respondent in the appeal before the High Court,” a Ford Australia spokesperson told CarExpert.

“In the appeal, the High Court has been asked to consider the correct interpretation of a section of Australian consumer law that relates to damages payable in cases where there has been a breach of acceptable quality.”

The High Court’s hearing for Ford and those engaged in the class action is due to take place tomorrow (April 11) following today’s hearing on a lawsuit against Toyota Australia.

The Toyota class action is related to the circa-260,000 HiLux, Prado, and Fortuner vehicles fitted with faulty diesel particulate filters, with the car giant attempting to have the lawsuit dropped while owners of the affected vehicles want greater compensation.

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