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Ford Freestyle CVT Transmissions

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  • Ford has decided to replace the transmission.

    Apparently the 2005 & 2006 CVT had issues, where the later versions seem to be holding up. Anxiously awaiting a "fixed" car!!
  • vrmvrm Posts: 301
    Folks,
    I am in the market to buy a 2006 Limited AWD. I browsed this forum and am concerned about all the CVT questions/issues.

    Do the 2006 models suffer from any known CVT issues? Did Ford make any changes to the 2007 model?

    Thanks!
  • My Ford Dealer was finally given permission to replace my CVT with a new transmission. I have an AWD 2006 SEL.

    It appears that there may be a dirty little secret about the CVT-you either have a great transmission or get one like I had. Thank goodness I still had warranty and my dealer was persistent.
  • vrm said "I browsed this forum and am concerned about all the CVT questions/issues. "

    The CVT is more reliable than the average of all automatic transmissions out there in the same model years, according to surveys done by Consumer Reports over thousands of owners. A fewer percentage of all Freestyle CVTs go bad than the average automatic transmission on the road for the '05 to '07 model years. My '05 Freestyle has had zero problems, but thats just one case. Thats the important point: A statistical sample of one is no good, but a big survey tells the whole story regarding your chance of failure.
  • dremimi said: ...."secret about the CVT-you either have a great transmission or get one like I had. "

    Yes, either one will break or it won't. Thats the way it always goes with all cars on the road. The Freestyle with CVT is no exception. Cars carry a certain risk. The risk of failure for a Freestyle CVT is less than other automatic transmissions according to a survey.
  • vrmvrm Posts: 301
    Thanks for your response.

    1) Did Ford make any changes to the 2007 model? In terms of reliability, am I better off buying a 2007 vs. 2006?

    2) What type of transmission does the 2008 Taurus X use? Is there any data to indicate this is better than the CVT used in the 05 to 07 models?
  • In response to vrm's message above: I don't know if Ford changed much if anything in the ZF-designed CVT transmission during its 3-year Freestyle run. The '08 TaurusX uses a 6-speed transmission jointly developed with General Motors. GM is known for good transmissions, and I've heard good things about the 6-speed. The data is too new to really get a good reading yet (not enough survey responses yet). That 6-speed is good, essentially the same one used in the GMC Acadia, Chevy Traverse, Ford Edge, and Ford Flex, among others. The 6-speed is smoothe, and doesn't require the 60,000 mile maintenance stop that the CVT does, as you don't have to change the fluid in the 6-speed until 100,000 miles.

    One problem I have with the '08 TaurusX with the newer more powerful V6 and 6-speed transmission is that fuel economy is worse than in my '05 Freestyle with the CVT. Another reason I like the CVT Freestyle better is that it effectively is an infinite speed transmission, always choosing the optimal ratio for best fuel economy and power demand. Fantastic up and down mountains/hills. The 6-speed approximates that task pretty well, but you can still feel the shifts and relative mechanical violence inside the 6-speed compared to the CVT. Nissan (Murano, Altima, Maxima, etc.) uses a CVT and advertises the absence of jerkiness, called "shift shock" in the parlance. The Freestyle CVT, made by ZF, is similar to the CVTs found in MiniCoopers and Audis.
  • I own an 05 FS Limited FWD since August 05 (47k miles, no real problems so far) and drove a rental 2008 TX for 2.5 weeks and 2000mls during the summer holiday from San Fran to Seattle. I would always prefer the CVT over the 6-spd. I didn't like how the 6spd permanently shifts up and down and i did not feel any of the additional power the 3.5l engine has. I had the impression it was all soaked up by the 6-spd transmission. Fuel economy was indeed worse but of course i don't have a direct comparison. I also didn't like the softer suspension set-up of the TX. Still a great car though but i really missed the CVT.

    Carsten
  • vrmvrm Posts: 301
    After reviewing all the responses (this and other threads) in this forum, here are the pros and cons of CVT vs. 6 speed transmission. Feel free to add or correct any facts:

    FS with CVT
    Pros
    -Better fuel mileage
    -Smoother transmission

    Cons:
    -Requires 60K maint. which can cost $400+ at the dealer
    -CVT not being used in other Ford vehicles i.e. discontinued part
    -Unclear how long the spares will be available for CVT. Does Ford provide a end-of-life date?

    TX with 6 speed
    Pros:
    -Transmission being used in multiple product lines
    -Trackrecord indicates good reliability
    -Does not require 60K maint.

    Cons:
    -Fuel economy not as good as CVT
  • Responding to vrm's post immediately above: I think thats a great summary.

    I did think the 60,000 mile CVT (filter + fluid) service is $300, though. I bought the FT-178 part number filter myself from rockauto.com for about $40, and the special unique fluid for the CVT you can only get from a Ford dealer for about $100 in fluid alone. Then its about 2 hours labor, which puts the total at $300. (It is true that a 6-speed transmission only needs a service stop every 100,000 miles.)

    Actually, the fuel economy of a 6-speed is about the same as with a CVT. In fact, in the Ford500 / Montego, which is the sedan version of the Freestyle, the Aisin-brand 6-speed gets better MPG than the CVT version in that same car. (Freestyle only gets the CVT, though.) The drop in fuel economy of a TaurusX vs. the Freestyle is largely due to the bigger 3.5L V6 in the TaurusX, not the lack of a CVT.

    On another forum a while back, somebody took a look at how many Ford Freestyle/500/Montego CVT-equipped cars were sold 2005-2007, and the figure turned out to be about 300,000. I don't know when parts will no longer be produced, but there is a pool of spares for old Freestyles in 7+ years. Ford technicians might be the only people out there specifically trained on this CVT, although Audi and MiniCooper technicians are accustomed to a variation on Ford's CVT (all made by the German ZF company).
  • I just realized that it should be possible to put the Ford500 / Montego 6-speed Aisin transmission into a Freestyle. The Freestyle is the station wagon version of those cars. Everything is the same in them. However, you might have to re-flash (load the Ford500 / Montego software) the engine controller microprocessor on the Freestyle that you put the 6-speed in. A thought for the future if your CVT ever goes down.
  • Bought a 2006 Freestle SEL new from local dealership. No major issues except brake recall. We hit 25,000 miles and one day we started the car and the wrench, engine light, and traction control (car swerving light) all came on and the car road really rough. Got home, shut it off and the next time it was fine. Two days later it did the same thing except it started jumping forward when I accelerated and stopped. Took it straight to the dealership and it was a "wire". They couldn't explain why the car did didn't run fine. So out the door we went. 8 days later, it started again except worse. The car wouldn't accelerate and when I was up to 40 or 50 mph it would suck back like I downshifted and drop me to 20 mph which was great for the cars behind me. I took it straight to the dealership and the man looked at it and said, "Yep, it's the transmission". After a week, they still had no idea what it was and told me they were contacting their "master mechanic" and he would come out 24-48 hours after the call was placed. The NEXT morning they called me to pick up the car....and they replaced the throttle body. My Husband picked it up and drove it about 50 miles and put it in the garage for the night. The next morning I went to start it and the car lurched forward in park!! Then the rpms were almost to the red zone while it was idling. Turned it back off and restarted it....fine. Came home let it sit in the garage for about 2 hours and when I started it, it did the same thing. As I was driving BACK to the dealership, my blinker was going crazy and my power door locks kept locking and unlocking. When I arrive the "nice" man told me he has NEVER heard of a car lurching/jumping forward in park...apparently it mechanically can't happen. He told me that if it doesn't do it to him, there is nothing else we can do.

    So that is where we are at....I'm aware of the Lemon law but it's 2 days short of being in for 15 days and we were told the car had to be in three times for the same problem. It was the same problem on our end but ford turned it into a different problem everytime--I don't think they even mentioned the word transmission.

    We did pay extra for the extended warranty and even went into the dealership to have them buyback the car and put us into another ford or my same car without the CVT and after they ran the numbers, we would have been screwed.

    I know this is long, BUT I called another Ford dealership to see if they would offer me more than our local dealership for a buy back and after I gave him the info and VIN he told me my car is a liability and he could only auction it off, not resell it on his lot.

    So my question is, do I have any other recourse? For us, this is a safety issue. I drive my children around (all under 9) and I cringe everytime I get into the car. The dealership claims the've "never heard of these problems".

    I owe $20,000 on the car (bought it new for $32,000). I'm not asking for everything back....I did drive the car for two years before this started. However, I need to get out of this car for our safety but can't do so with the $20g hanging over our head.

    Any ideas?? :confuse:

    Thanks!!
  • vrmvrm Posts: 301
    Let me begin by offering my sympathies. This is every car owners worst nightmare.
    If I were in your shoes, I would go ballistic.

    Your car still appears to be under the basic 3/36000 warranty? I believe the Powertrain warranty for Freestyle is even longer. If this is true you have a very strong case to aks the dealership to change the transmission. Do you have any written documentation from the dealership. It is important that you get an receipt/inovice/evaluation every time you visit.

    I would do the following:
    -Get the name of the Service Manager or the top guy at this dealership.

    -Write a one page letter stating the symptoms and the downtime you have experienced. Please stick to the facts and avoid any emotions in this letter. You should end this letter by forcefully stating that your CVT transmission should be replaced. Send a photocopy of this letter to your regional Ford Sales Manager.

    -Browse the Freestyle CVT and repair forums. Cut and paste all the CVT complaints in a Word document. Two pages worth of info is good enough. Attach this to your one page letter above.

    -Few days later, follow up with a phone call. See if the Service Manager is willing to cooperate. Be firm that the CVT must be replaced -nothing less will suffice. Remind him that this is a known problem and you have attached other FS customer complaints.

    -Do you have a small claims court in your county/state? I would try find out the max. monetary award. For example in Virginia, the small claims court can only award $1000 max. If the dealership does not cooperate, you have the option of filing a claim in small claims court. This is why you need to correspond in writing and use certified mail. Keep copies of ALL emails and letters. The Judge will want to see that you made good faith efforts to work with the dealership. Trust me - been there, done that! This will make the dealership realize that you are not going to go away.

    This is a great forum. I am sure you will get feedback from others too. Be persistent and please post an update so others can learn from your experience.
  • We have talked with the service manager--he actually took our car home last night. My Husband spoke with the owner yesterday and was told he would call back in the morning. It's 11:30 and we haven't heard back.

    I will type a letter along with the complaints. We did file the paperwork on the lemon law even though according to ford the incidences weren't transmission problems.

    We filed a complaint through BBB and the AG arbitration. I'm not sure about the small claims but I will look into that as well.

    Thanks!
  • loveourgolden,
    Thanks for sharing. Very scary. It might be the Engine Computer, which is a box that contains the computer that takes in all the sensor readings and directs the engine and transmission to react. Also, I've heard that some people have had trouble with the "throttle-by-wire" parts on the Freestyle. Ask the dealer service dept. about throttle-by-wire, and they will know what that is. Basically, its when you press the accelerator pedal, and what you produce down there with your foot is actually an electrical signal (not mechanical linkage) that will then signal the engine to go faster or slower, and that accelerator pedal electrical assembly might go bad, or the engine sensor which receives the go-faster/go-slower command from the pedal might not be listening properly to the command.
  • vrmvrm Posts: 301
    This forum is behind you.

    Your best bet is to work with the dealership. The Small Claims Court should be the last resort. Meanwhile, you need to document and save all your emails/letters in case you have to go to court.

    Send all letters via Certified Mail otherwise you have no proof it was mailed.

    Good Luck!
  • We have saved all of the invoices and even the "numbers" form to try and get us into a new car. I'm typing up a letter to the dealership now as well as the "Board of Directors". I also called the corporate office and our claim filed with them has been upgraded to their regional office...

    I mailed the defect notification form into them express mail with return recipt and every other "proof" they offered on it. Their were two options on the form, the vehicle had to be in 3x or 15 days and we have met both.
  • You can get this fixed by the dealer, but they must go to Ford. You have all the "calamities" of myself and others. Since replacing my transmission, the car runs great.

    Just remember each dealer has to go through the same order. If you can get the dealer to step up the process and tell Ford this has all the classic symptoms of a bad CVT, you will come out ahead.

    Good luck. Don't forget you can always go to another Ford dealer.
  • kid532kid532 Posts: 1
    I am having problems with the tranny in my 2006 Freestyle. Did not realize my 3yr-36000 ran out January 2009. March 2009 started hearing a strange noise in the transmission. usually when idling sometime, shift into gear and drive...no noise. took it into the dealership and realized that the warranty had expired. At 34,000 miles they told me that the problem was my transmission, something about the pump going out and that it would cost $6300.00 to replace. With this problem I figured that Ford had a recall on this transmission, no luck there. I am having a little difficulty understanding why a sealed transmission would fail at 34,000.
    Looking for guidance
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    At 34,000 miles they told me that the problem was my transmission...

    Can you document that? If the problem existed before the warranty expired there's a chance you would still be covered. Of course, the question then becomes why the repair wasn't made then.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
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