In­clined to roll

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Ask Smithy -

HAVE you re­ceived any complaints re­gard­ing clutch prob­lems with the 2012 Ford Fo­cus auto? Up un­til about six weeks ago my car was run­ning per­fectly but then the ‘‘Stop En­gine’’ light came on. Ford did a com­puter up­grade but that didn’t re­solve the is­sue. Two weeks later they re­placed the clutch, still to no avail. I didn’t even know it had a clutch. Last week I re­turned the ve­hi­cle to Ford and was ad­vised to do an­other 1600km and see what hap­pens! All th­ese di­rec­tives have come straight from Ford Australia. I think my ve­hi­cle is un­safe to drive and I’m putting my fam­ily and my­self at risk by driv­ing it. The faults are as fol­lows: the ve­hi­cle takes too much time to slow down; it does not drive at low speed com­fort­ably with­out shak­ing and vi­brat­ing and jerky gear changes; it only drives com­fort­ably at speeds higher than lo­cal and metro speed lim­its; it will roll back­wards in Drive if stopped on only a slight in­cline. I have no con­fi­dence in this ve­hi­cle. I re­quire a safe and re­li­able ve­hi­cle.

Lee-Ann Woods, email

Your car has a dou­ble­clutch au­to­mated man­ual gear­box, not a con­ven­tional au­to­matic that you prob­a­bly thought you were get­ting. One of the dif­fer­ences be­tween th­ese trans­mis­sions is that they roll back­wards on an in­cline if you don’t keep your foot on the brake, as you would if you were driv­ing a man­ual. Sev­eral brands use sim­i­lar trans­mis­sions, from the same maker or other pro­duc­ers. VW was one of the first to use one of the new-age au­to­mat­ics and it has been plagued with is­sues, es­sen­tially the same ones you com­plain about. The clutch packs ap­pear to be the cause of the shud­der­ing etc that you report. The elec­tron­ics can be an­other source of trou­ble. We have spo­ken to Ford and we know that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive has been in con­tact to ar­range a test drive of your car and the com­pany has ar­ranged a loan car while yours is eval­u­ated.


I have com­plained to the dealer and to Honda of a crack­ing sound when start­ing my Civic VTi-L. It does it in­ter­mit­tently, pre­dom­i­nantly on the first start-up, and on oc­ca­sions it lurches for­ward. At all times if I im­me­di­ately turn the ig­ni­tion off and restart the car, it ig­nites sweetly with no noise, as you would ex­pect. The dealer and Honda have been fairly good in try­ing to find the fault but the bloody thing has not done it when they have had the car. Un­der war­ranty they have re­placed the starter mo­tor twice and they have re­moved the trans­mis­sion, checked the drive­plate and starter and ring gear con­di­tion, found no ob­vi­ous fault but re­placed all the above parts. They started the car re­peat­edly and all was OK! That was done in March 2012 and I have not taken the car back since then, think­ing that it is my imag­i­na­tion and I would just live with it. But it is still do­ing it and it is very no­tice­able when I start it with the air­con­di­tion­ing on. The last time I spoke to the dealer they ad­vised me that Honda had said that be­fore they pro­ceed they would have to ex­pe­ri­ence the fault them­selves, al­though my mechanic of 26 years and my niece’s husband, an exfran­chisee of the NRMA, have both ex­pe­ri­enced the noise. This is a tricky one. Any sug­ges­tions as to what the fault may be?

Bill Jack­son, email You’re right, it is a tricky one, one that would be hard to di­ag­nose if you couldn’t ob­serve it your­self. That some­one else has ob­served it doesn’t re­ally help if it won’t do it while you are present. That ap­pears to be what Honda is say­ing and I would be ask­ing for a Honda rep­re­sen­ta­tive to go for a drive with you in the hope it does it for all to hear.


My 2010 Nis­san Pa­trol turbo diesel has be­gun to over­heat when tow­ing our car­a­van or when trav­el­ling up a steep hill with­out the car­a­van. I have towed the car­a­van half­way around Australia with no prob­lems un­til re­cently. I have

Cri­sis of con­fi­dence:

An owner queries the safety of her Ford Fo­cus au­to­mated


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