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Ford Freestyle Transmission Failure

bohemia1bohemia1 Posts: 33
We purchased a 2005 Ford Freestyle SE FWD on 12/31/2004. No trailer towing. 90% of the miles are highway type miles with just my wife in the vehicle. Garage kept. Dealer serviced. We find the Freestyle to be a great design and have been totally happy with it until....

At 15,000 miles the transmission has totally failed and must be replaced. As my wife left a parking lot on a green light she heard a noise that sounded like she ran over something but saw nothing in the road. About 2 miles up the road the vehicle failed to go at a green light. A red wrench idiot light came on in the dash. She managed to get off the road. She called me and the dealer, then a tow company. When I got there a stream of lubicating fluid was running down the shoulder of the higway. Freestyle has been in the Ford dealer's shop for one week waiting for the new transmission.

Dealer Service Rep. says it is the first Freestyle he has seen with a totally destroyed transmission. The force of the failure was enough to crack the housing allowing all of the fluid to leak out.

The dealer did agree to provide a rental car.

So we wait.


  • The company I work for bought a 2006 Ford Freestyle last Spring it has less than 10K miles and we have it in the shop now at local dealer for exact same thing.
  • djm2djm2 Posts: 712
    Is this an example of the quality that we can expect from an American vehicle manufacturer? I am in the market for a new vehicle, and I want to purchase an American vehicle, but I would also like quality in the product and service from the dealer! I hope that you purchased a top of the line extended Ford warranty. You are going to need this protection with this vehicle! How long will you have to wait for a new transmission? Any period of time, more that one week is TOO long! What kind of a rental vehicle did the dealer provide? ---- Best regards. --- Dwyane ;) :sick: :confuse:
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 573
    Hello Dwayne: Why don't you check out the 2007 Toyota Camry board--Camry woes--all kinds of transmission problems. Honda for the last few years has also had a ton of problems with transmissions in V6 vehicles. These are all your good old imports. I had a 2003 V6 Accord. Except for a smooth engine it was a terrible car. Everything wrong.
    The bottom line is imports have lots of problems too.
  • djm2djm2 Posts: 712
    You seem to be very angry! ---- Lets examine the facts. 1.) The American vehicle manufacturers want to win back the American vehicle buying public. In order to accomplish this task, they need to be better than the foreign vehicles. 2.) Toyota does have transmission issues now, and sludge issues in the past. They better clean up their act or they will loose their image in the marketplace. 3.) Honda had transmission issues in the V6 Accord. They also had A/C compressor issues and radio display issues in the 2003 Accord. They should also clean up their act if they want to maintain their image. Here is the all important question. The automotive world has been manufacturing automatic transmissions since the late 1940s. In those years the functions of the units were controlled by hydraulic circuits. Now we have computer command controlled units, but the job of the transmission is basically the same. Have we as a people, forgot how to design and construct an automatic transmission? I do not care what name plate in on the vehicle. The American buying public deserves a product that is well designed, tested and properly manufactured. There is no reason for massive brake, transmission or sludge problems. Don't the manufacturers test their products prior to placing them on the production line? It is not a foreign vs a domestic issue! All the vehicles have issues, but when you consider the price of a new vehicle today, we as consumers, deserve better quality for our hard earned dollars. I want to purchase an American name plate, but when I see transmission issues or brake issues on a new vehicle, why would I want to put myself into a cycle of vehicle visits to the selling dealer, and still make the high monthly payments. I am willing to do the necessary maintenance, and I understand that nothing is perfect, but I would like some quality in a new product as I drive it off the dealer's lot! This is not an attack on the American manufacturer. ----- Best regards. ----Dwayne ;) :sick: :shades:
  • Dwayne,
    From my perspective, someone who's neutral regarding this matter, I didn't see anything in bdyment's response that would indicate he is angry. He also was just stating his points as you have clearly done. Both of you are entitled to your points of view. I have read some of your other posts regarding the Freestyle and believe you have made your mind up to not buy one based on the points you have stated, which is fine for you. But other people should also be able to state their points in favor of the Freestyle and buy one if they wish. :)
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 573
    Dwayne: No, I wasn't the least bit angry. I was just stating a fact that many import name plates have problems as well. I have owned a lot of cars in my years and I have had good and bad luck with both domestic and import brands.

    I have found, however, that import owners are less likely to complain about their vehicles faults than North American drivers. This is why I take Consumer Reports with a grain of salt.

    I certainly agree with you that any manufacturer should be able to produce a long lasting smooth shifting automatic transmission. I think they are trying to eke out that last fraction of mpg. and their software is confused resulting is a rough shifting or hesitant action. This is the major complaint of the 2007 Camry V6 owners.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    Plus you have to look at "quality" or perceived quality with respect to other vehicles. So if you're not buying the Freestyle because of your concern over the transmission, that's a fair point. But what other vehicle are you comparing it too?

    You could spend a few thousand more for the Honda Pilot (for example), but then you'll have a vehicle with less interior space. Or you could buy the Freestyle and pay $1500 for an extended service plan for 7yrs/100,000 miles zero deductable like I did because like you, I was concerned possible transmission issue, but when I bought the Freestyle two years ago, it was the only vehicle out there with an adult-sized 3rd row. Today there are other options with the Mazda CX-9, Saturn Outlook, Mazda5, a new Kia, etc.

    Again, if you're not buying the Freestyle because of the transmission, what else are you looking at and what's important to you? Space, features, quality, MPG, handling, size, cost, etc....
  • rick2456rick2456 Posts: 320
    Was this transmisson the CVT or the 5 speed auto?
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Was this transmisson the CVT or the 5 speed auto?"

    The Freestyle is only sold with the CVT.
  • Steve - In 2005 the AWD had the CVT but the front wheel drives have a 5 speed automatic.
    The (job2) 2007 Freestyle with the 3.5 engine will have a six speed, no more CVT.
  • sportman said:
    "In 2005 the AWD had the CVT but the front wheel drives have a 5 speed automatic."

    I'm afaid not.

    Every Freestyle ever made has the CVT.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    Correct...up to know, the Freestyle had one transmission and one engine. The Ford Fivehundred had a 5spd and it was originally planned (from what I remember reading at the time) to make that an option for the Freestyle, but it never happened.
  • The transmission failure and repair all occurred last summer. The dealer and Ford actually treated us well. Even with the July 4 holiday the vehicle was repaired in about 7 days as I recall. The dealer provided a rental car which just happened to be a 2006 Freestyle. Ford Customer Service agreed to provide a 5 year (starts on original purchase date) or 75,000 mile warranty on the transmission. I had to call Ford to get that warranty extension.
  • As stated in other replies, all 2005 Freestyles have the CVT transmission. I believe that is true for the 2006 model year as well.
  • rick2456rick2456 Posts: 320
    Thanks for the clarification. I had assumed the FS had a choice much like the 500. I am glad I purchased the extended warranty coverage. But with 9500 miles and 11 months on my 2005 SEL AWD, so far so good. My only complaint is I wish the styling was a bit more sporty.
  • Be glad the case broke. We lost ours internally at ~12k miles last February, and Ford did a rebuild - they wouldn't pay for a new transmission because it was greater than the $5k limit they put on warranty repairs. The transmission hasn't sounded the same since. The car used to be a fair bit more quiet.

    Ford gives you a rental automatically if you have the extended warranty. Otherwise, if it is under base 36k mile warranty only they make you wait until they decide they're going to cover it under warranty, which could be up to a week.

    We're waiting for the other shoe to drop. I figure as long as the car is under the extended warranty (which I bought after that fiasco) it's ok. But at $5k a pop for a transmission, the first time it croaks past 6 years old the car is history. Needless to say I am not impressed.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "they wouldn't pay for a new transmission because it was greater than the $5k limit they put on warranty repairs."

    Something is amiss here. The manufacturer is required to make any required repairs to items covered by warranty, regardless of the amount.
  • What that statement means is: if the cost to repair the trans does not exceed $5000 then it's rebuilt. If the cost is higher than $5000 then it's replaced. I don't believe the cost cap $5000 though, I think it's $3600 for the CVT. If the case is damaged the cost cap will surely go in effect. I own an '06 and I drive plenty at work, the only whine I hear is when in reverse, the engine is audible on accel but it's not a "whine" noise at all.
  • First I heard of a limit on a factory warranty repair. Then again this is the first major warranty repair I have experienced since a 1973 Toyota Celica.
    The repair slip on our Freestyle transmission replacement shows a total cost of $3500 plus the rental vehicle. I was told the replacement transmission was factory brand new. Our dealer said that Ford would not provide a rental, so the dealer supplied one. I have no idea if Ford reimbursed them or not.
    We are really happy with the Freestyle but this early transmission failure makes you question the quality and destroys credibility in the product.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    Make sure you get your CVT fluid changed every 60,000 miles.
    also its a SPECIAL CVT ONLY fluid, you can be sure only Ford dealers will have on hand.

  • Have'05 Freestyle with 34,500 miles, only 500 miles to go to work out the last kinks. I've had all the same problems as others, such as noise with turning and going over bumps, rear brakes, and finicky CD player. This new sound starts after I've been driving a while. A whining sound starts and follows the RPMs with a 1-2 second lag. Seems like a bearing in a pump. Took it to the dealership while it was making sound. Service manager seemed to think it was transmission. Made appt. for a few days later, and of course, got the "cannot reproduce problem". Their fix was to reset computer, which of course did nothing. Could it be the oil pump in CVT? Has anyone else had same symtoms?
  • Brought a 2007 LTD Freestyle home on a Tuesday...loved it, probably one of the nicest interiors i've had. By Friday I was on the side of the road. Wrench light went on, AWD traction light went on and car would not accelerate. Fortunatly i had just gotten off the highway exit. As it was, i was in a dangerous lane and had to get over without anyone slamming into me. After4 days in repair they have the go ahead from Ford to replace the transmission. My concern is that initially the service at the dealer said it looks like it was electrical, but day 4 they didn't know what it was and send the codes to Ford. Ford doesn't know what the code means, and they are replacing the transmission. I'm so concerned. I recall now that the 2nd day that the "passenger air bag off" light was on sporadically, i just thought it was when i was starting the car. I'm concerned the transmission will lead to more problems. They are replacing it in the next day or so, and i have called Customer Care about a buyback....but the dealer won't even discuss it at this point. I'm beside myself....because if my kids had been in the car and i had been on the highway i wouldn't be here writing this. Should i trust the car if they put a brand new transmission was 3 days old!!!!?
  • As a tech at a Ford store I have heard of very early trans failures like yours. The CVT is a very good trans, they are either bullet proof.... or they fail real early on! Getting a new trans should be the end of your problems, the air bag light will come on if there is something on the pass. seat that is heavy enough to register on the seat sensor but is not belted. The two problems are not related at all.
  • That second issue isn't a problem to begin with. The light is simply an advisory that the passenger airbag has been de-activated as a safety precaution. As tkchsully said.. the system has sensed an unbelted weight in the passenger seat. I notice mine on all the time when I'm coming home from the grocery store with a bag of groceries on the right front seat.
  • deasundeasun Posts: 11
    Hello all,
    Just saw a write up on the 2008 version. Seems they are not including a CVT anymore. Any one know why ?

    Over 20K+ on her and shes running fine. Dogs love the back end :)
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    3.5 L has too much torque.

    the CVT uses an expensive chain from LUK in Europe and as the $ falls against the Euro the trans becomes to expensive.

    Ford wants to close the Factory that builds CVTs.

    Ford found that planatary gear trans like the new 6F gets similar fuel econ as a CVT but cost less to build and to own. (No fluid change every 60k)

    Some people have a negative reaction to the way a CVT feels on the test drive.

  • deasundeasun Posts: 11
    thanks for the reply.

    My wife has a mini which has a CVT and at first it was a bit weird to get used to.
    But now both of us like it quite a bit. Oh well.

    The extra power sure was needed. Tis a bit heavy for the power they gave it.
  • "Seems they are not including a CVT anymore. Any one know why ?"

    one word - Ignorance.

    Why lead when you can follow with a traditional 6spd. Seems like more manufacturer's are offering a CVT as Ford takes it away. Rather than tout it as "the way forward" they bail and take the easy route. Other manufaturer's have made the CVT work with more power, there is no reason they could not have made this work with the 3.5l. Ford wonders why they are in the spitstorm they are in, it's decision's like that one that are quite telling.
  • Ford found that planatary gear trans like the new 6F gets similar fuel econ as a CVT but cost less to build and to own. (No fluid change every 60k)

    I can't imagine going more than 60k miles on a CVT or the 6-speed automatic without changing fluid.
  • The ignorance is not on Ford's part. The problem lies with the buying public here in America who have never warmed-up to CVT transmissions. People here want to "feel" their shift-points.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    The spec is for trans fluid change every 150,000 miles. Oil changes for the 3.5L are every 7,500 miles.

  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    The ignorance is on the part of lazy Ford Sales Peeps who don't go with their customers are t-drives and explain things.

  • The problem lies with the buying public here in America who have never warmed-up to CVT transmissions. People here want to "feel" their shift-points.

    If they feel that way, they should get manuals. :P
  • The spec is for trans fluid change every 150,000 miles. Oil changes for the 3.5L are every 7,500 miles.

    I'd still be very leery of that. The last couple of cars I got were supposed to get 100k out of the radiator fluid, too. Didn't come close before it needed to be changed.
  • "If they feel that way, they should get manuals."

    Yes, they should. Not too likely though. Can you imagine having to change gears while talking on your phone and applying make-up simultaneously?
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Posts: 468
    I enjoy the CVT in my FWD. While it's slower off the line than a regular auto, it's more reponsive and smooth after that. It's an excellent hill climber and always knows what it's doing. Too bad it's going away. if the 2008 shows up with the 3.5 and 6spd, it will be faster, but not smoother or more responsive. The 6spd in the Edge needs recallibration: quick off the line and somewhat lethargic after that.
  • otis12otis12 Posts: 171
    Audi, Nissan and other manufacturers build reliable CVTs but GM and Ford have had major problems with their CVTs. It's a shame, because these mechanical problems have tainted all CVTs when the technology really offers some benefits to drivers.
  • What data are you privy to that would suggest that Ford's CVT's are any less reliable than those used by other manufacturer's?
  • What data are you privy to that would suggest that Ford's CVT's are any less reliable than those used by other manufacturer's?

    Or for that matter, more unreliable (or problematic) than other typical automatic trannys.
  • otis12otis12 Posts: 171
    First, I do like CVTs, I think the technology is first-rate, especially in Audis that I have driven. The problems that GM has had with its CVTs is well documented, I am referring to CVTs being discontinued in the Ions. As to Ford, I came across this article:
    How many CVT failures or problems have been substantiated, the article does not say. NHTSA has two service buletins related to the Ford CVTs, 10020134 and 10019914.
    If you have not had problems, thats terrific. Nissan in particular is going full speed with CVTs, as witnessed in its new Altimas and Maximas.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    GM in the Ion used a rubberized type of belt instead of a metal chain as used by Ford.

    The Metal chain in the Ford CVT is made by LUK, it is the same chain used by Audi.

    The cost of this chain is apparently the problem Ford is having as the Euro climbs against the dollar, its getting to expensive. Also GM claims that a CVT provides no real fuel econ savings vs. a 6 speed transmission. Ford must be on the same track.

    Planatary gear trans like the new Ford 6F that was codesigned with GM cost less then CVTs and cost less for the owner to maintain.

  • fordenvyfordenvy Posts: 72
    I like the real power of the 6-speeds better, besides you get better fuel economy with the 6-speed. The CVT's also have to be maintained more whereas the 6-speed will last entire life of the vehicle w/o maintenance.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    So, which one do you think Ford is going to build in the Sharonville plant? (Yahoo).
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Posts: 468
    Oh my my... fordenvy. Where do we even start with you? You say that you like the power of a six-speed over a CVT. Aside from the fact that "power" comes from an engine and not the transmission (like duh), you clearly don't understand what a CVT transmission does for a vehicle to begin with. It all comes down to efficiency, and a gearless CVT has that all over a "geared" transmission, no matter how many forward gears you put into it. In addition, the CVT will keep the engine at it's most efficient RPM all the time instead of only part of the time. All other things being equal.. the CVT is and always will be the mileage champ. If you're still a doubter, then why do all Hybrid vehicles in production today use a CVT? Huh??
  • freealfasfreealfas Posts: 652
    Not to mention fewer parts to brake over the long term. The CVT has a lot going for it in non towing situation which is most of the driving that people do with a car of this type. Ford was taking a bold move with this, unfortunately there aren't enough enlightened buyers to understand the benefits due to lack of marketing on Ford's part. They don't even know what to do with it and how they would be setting themselves apart form the crowd to the good as opposed to falling in line. They had a shot to be leaders and they blew it, it's indicative of the lunatics running the asylum. Penny wise pound foolish with dropping it as opposed to improving it to handle the 3.5l motor.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Posts: 468
    "...lunatics running the asylum."

    I think you're a little off base here. The CVT is being discontinued because of the cost of it's manufacture. At least give Ford a little credit for having tried it. But if gas was $6.00/gal. here in North America, you'd be seeing CVT's all over the place.
  • freealfasfreealfas Posts: 652
    Not off base in the least, so it cost a little more to produce. Over the long term it has less moving parts to fail, offers a superior driving experience with smooth acceleration as opposed to shifts and truly set it's CUV apart from the rest with its use. It is a perfect application for a family hauler.

    Nissan is adopting them and marketing them for a reason, they work. Ford has the first application in a CUV that matched it perfectly. Did they market it, NO. Did the salespeople know what it was/is, NO, would a little education to the benefits and the fact it wasn't like all the rest help it stand apart form the rest of the CUV's coming to the party late, yes. Ford indeed made their BOLD MOVE with the CVT and are now retreating to the safe confines of what every other late comer to the CUV party has adopted and taking the safe route like a good sheep.

    They are off course, have no clear plan to make themselves healthy again and won't be getting my money again unless they pursue similar class leading attributes with their solution to vehicles. If they marketed the FS and didn't have to discount it as much to move it the CVT could have been developed to take more power and placed in more applications taking a similar successful path as Nissan while being a Domestic.

    Another dumb move, domestic focus developed while a wonderful eurpoean focus existed first, what sense did that make, not a financial one. They have the mondeo and Smax in europe, 2 class leading efforts that would sell well here, do they? No.

    I reiterate... headed towards the rocks, taking on water, lunatics running the asylum.

    If the american buying public didn't have it's head in the sand and the government was sitting on diesel technology we be seeing diesel/CVT's all over the place much to the chagrin of big oil due to the fact we'd be using less gas, but for all our efforts to conserve and be responsible they'd be sticking us with $6/gal because "demand wasn't sufficient and we spent all our record profits." There is diesel technology that takes in smog laden air and puts cleaner emissions out the tailpipe than the the air it took in the intake for combustion. No there's no special interest at work around here but I digress.

    damned if you do and damned if you don't around here.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Posts: 468
    Feel better now?
  • freealfasfreealfas Posts: 652
    just because I could make my point and not agree with you...
  • barnstormer64barnstormer64 Posts: 1,106
    then why do all Hybrid vehicles in production today use a CVT? Huh??

    The reason for *that* is simple. The tranny has to be able to work in reverse, in order to charge up the batteries. I don't think that's possible (or involves a LOT more work) with a typical automatic transmission.
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