Bad transmission, balky manufacturer

Our 2005 Ford Taurus (which we bought used in 2007) began having sporadic but serious transmission problems while still under the bumper-to-bumper warranty. At highway speeds, the automatic transmission would occasionally suddenly downshift for no apparent reason, causing the RPMs to red-line. At other times, the car would only creep forward at less than a walking pace after being stopped at a red light?even with the gas pedal floored. Our family has nearly gotten creamed when this has happened to us in fast traffic. In each case, when the ignition was shut off and the car was restarted, the transmission would function perfectly normally again, sometimes for hundreds of miles, until the next malfunction. Over a period of months, after each episode of malfunctioning, a Ford dealer tried to diagnose and correct the problem under the warranty, replacing a range sensor, and later the valve body assembly. The bumper-to-bumper warranty recently expired, and the transmission has again malfunctioned. Ford is balking at making any further repair attempt. What do we do now?

Do you have your original warranty complaint and repairs on paper? If so, Ford must continue to try to solve the problem for free. Since you brought the problem to their attention under warranty, they must resolve the problem for free, whether the warranty has expired or not.

We do have full documentation, including that the problem began before the warranty expired and continued afterward, and that Ford did do repair work under the warranty. Despite that, the dealer now tells us that Ford will not authorize them to work any further on the car unless they can re-create the problem at the shop or during a test drive by the mechanic. This is hard to do, because it happens once every few hundred miles on average. The dealer acknowledges that the “codes” they have pulled show something continues to be wrong with the shifting. Even so, they charged us $65. We are starting to think we will have to file a small-claims lawsuit against Ford to get the problem corrected.

This is called an “Ongoing Warranty Issue”. It means if you bring a vehicle with a problem that’s covered under warranty, but the problem isn’t resolved after the warranty expires, the dealer is still responsible to honor the warranty for the problem. Take it back and bring up the fact that this is an ongoing warranty issue.