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Ford Freestyle CVT Transmissions

steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
If you have a shift question or a problem with your Freestyle transmission, get advice here.

Steve, Host


  • sb93lx50sb93lx50 Member Posts: 4
    As a mechanic for FORD I can tell you that sometimes the problem is not always at the dealership level, in more cases than not the dealership is the fall guy for FORD. I had a Five Hundred in for a CVT repair, we had to do a complete teardown to properly diagnose the problem, after which we were not able to get the parts for the customer for nearly six weeks...and that was on emergency order.....It is typically up to the service writers to keep the customer happy and at times tell them what ever it is they need to haer to maintain Ford's image and the dealerships as a representative of Ford. I seriously doubt they sent a broken part 5 times. It sounds more like a poor attempt by the service writer to pacify the customer to cover up a completely different issue. I know for a fact there was a severe lack of training on the CVT's but it is up to Ford to provide the training for the mechanics and the dealership to send them. They recently had a big push to get all the transmission techs to the CVT school. These classes are not taught on premises and are typically 2-4 hours away for the techs. It is also time lost when the tech is away in school for other repairs. It's not always just as easy as some may think from within the dealship.I am a CVT certified transmission technician now, but I wasn't on the first one we had to do. I was able to repair it properly but I am a very competent technician. We are obligated repair the vehicle for the customer, what would you suggest, that we turn the customer away and send them to the next Ford dealeship 50 miles away which is probably in the same situation?
  • fordwrenchfordwrench Member Posts: 70
    As a fellow Ford tech I am in full agreement with sb931x50. The Freestyle is a great product but the factory support can sometimes be alot to be desired. There have been times when a trans replacement is the only proper repair only to be scrutinized by someone at Ford that really doesn't know the inner workings of that trans. They are only doing their jobs by keeping costs down but actually cause more trouble by not allowing us techs to do what is right. Ford is not as rich as they used to be so they are watching everything very closely. The other problem is there just aren't many rebuilt transmissions available for the Freestyle. I personally don't see nearly the troubles on the Freestyle as I have in past new vehicles that Ford has brought out. Mine is ordered right now if I can unload my Explorer! If Ford would only get the word out on this product there would be alot more Freestyles out there.
  • volfangaryvolfangary Member Posts: 105
    WOW, your a Ford mechanic and you have given up on Ford. A previous posting of yours said,

    "feel your pain, we just traded our FS in on a used Suburban. We had started the process for the buyback with the BBB but Ford flat out said they would send it to another dealer to have it repaired before they bought it back....our complaints were a bad bearing in the CVT making a LOUD noise, seems to be common now, there is a TSB for it... our engine would surge under certain conditions, 6 repair attempts and still not fixed."

    Doesn't sound good if you couldn't work with Ford in getting yours fixed and you work for a Ford dealer. Would they not let you repair your own FS since you are a certified CVT technician, or could you not even fix it? I just thought if it was a loud bearing, that you could have fixed it. :confuse: Just curious??
  • sb93lx50sb93lx50 Member Posts: 4
    That's a good point that you bring up and I will be more than happy to discuss. We paid cash for the Freestyle, meaning we owned it good or was bought with the intention of being the vehicle for my wife to get around in with the kids and being able to deal with the winter weather here. At 5,000 miles we began to have problems with the engine as stated above, at 10,000 miles the transmission started to make the noise I described which I noticed before my wife. At this time we also noticed the paint beginning to wear away in the locations I had described earlier. As a mechanic I know exactly how to fix the transmission, that was never an issue. I worked directly with Ford's Field Service Engineer's to try to correct the engine problem with no luck. It's not like I'm just some shade tree guy turning wrenches...Explain to my wife however that her brand new car not only needs a transmission overhaul, an engine problem that we can't isolate with even Ford's best engineers but a new paint job down the side of her vehicle after just one winter season here. She lost all of her confidence in that vehicle being a reliable means of transportation for her and our kids. My family comes first and I am looking out for my wifes best interest regardless of how minor Ford my deem my problems with my vehicle. The paint erosion is that bad. That was my primary complaint , not the mechanical side. I held off on doing the other repairs until they (FORD) made a decision on the paint issue. We had no intention of keeping the vehicle if they were not going to stand behind it. "Just a loud bearing" is a complete teardown of the transmission with unknown parts availability, Murphy4 had issues getting their vehicle back, I guarantee it was because of parts availability, not damaged parts. I am not about to rip the transmission out of ours just to let it sit for the next six weeks and wait on parts. Once you tear it out of the vehicle the customer, i.e. my wife, does not perceive the vehicle the same anymore....Just because I work for Ford it does not mean that I am obligated to be a happy customer......
  • volfangaryvolfangary Member Posts: 105
    Great information. Thanks for the reply!
  • murphy4murphy4 Member Posts: 92
    We finally were able to meet with the VP of our Ford Dealer on Monday (07/03). Without any hesitation he said apologized and said he will be contacting Ford about a buyback on our behalf.

    We just heard from him again today and he confirm that the paperwork should be coming through by Friday. It has been 35 days since we dropped off our car and it looks like it will be finally over.

    Good luck to others who are having issues. The CVT is causing Ford problems because dealers are not up to speed on them and parts are not available. Beware.
  • vicenacvicenac Member Posts: 229
    Good news everybody!
    After all kind of weird things with my car I averaged 11.7 MPG - city driving. The CVT is defective, but runs. At the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal the car jolts into motion and feels zippy. I filled the tank and headed off to Big Bear Lake. I drove an 2005 4 cyl Accord behind our FWD FS driven by my wife. The road goes uphill and it is very twisty.
    I could barely keep up with my wife in this Accord. I watched my FS going into turns very fast and barely tilt while the Accord, at the same speed, complained and threatened to go off the road!!! At one point after a quick stop I watched my FS going away while the accord struggled at 6.000 RPM to keep up but did not succeed.
    At the end of the climb my wife looked like a happy kid at the end of rollercoaster ride. She said - "this car is glued to the road! And I barely touched the accelerator".
    At the end of the downhill trip the combined MPG was 18.6.

    I called the dealership and they said that the buy back process has begun. It looks like they are going to buy back to avoid a law suit. In the sunny California there is no arbitration process. If the car meets some conditions – it’s a buyback! They said it is going to take about 2 months, at which point they'll give me a 2007.
  • buckwheatbuckwheat Member Posts: 396
    From the last paragraph of 7/31/06 Automotive News:

    "Ford is dropping the continuously variable transmission offered in the Ford Freestyle, Five Hundred and Mercury Montego at the end of the 2007 model year."
  • saabturboidsaabturboid Member Posts: 178
    That is very sad news. Nissan is expanding their CVT models and advertising which is creating a greater awareness of the benefits of the CVT transmission. Ford should also be doing this rather than jumping ship.

    I find it a dumb move by Ford that just as awareness of the CVT is gaining momentum with the general public they decide to drop it. They really need to re-think the closing of the Batavia transmission plant. It seems they are tripping over dollars to save pennies.

    - Chad
  • rwolsonnrwolsonn Member Posts: 4
    Definitely sad news. I considered purchasing a new FS to replace my Explorer, but decided not to make the purchase because I had read about the plant closing. I didn't want to buy a car and run into problems getting parts.

    BTW, second Explorer and no problems. I'll turn 60k in a couple of weeks. I wanted to FS because I do a lot of kayaking and frankly, tired of lifting boats onto a higher roof line.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
    The development of the CVT at Ford was begun in the late 90's during the Jac Nasser era at Ford. Mr. Nasser was shown the door in Oct. 2001. The CVT he was responsible for developing didn't actually make it into any vehicles here in America until the fall of "04 when it appeared in the Freestyle and Ford 500. Despite it's technical superiority over a conventional automatic transmission, it's future was sealed by it's cost of production. It's a luxury item that Ford simply cannot afford any longer. The new 6-speed trany that was co-developed by Ford and GM is going to be the future at Ford for the forseeable future. I'm sure we'll see it in the '08 Freestyle. None of this takes anything away from the CVT itself. It's a wondrous transmission in my book.. and I will miss it greatly when I buy/lease my Fire-Engine red '08 Freestyle.
  • buckwheatbuckwheat Member Posts: 396
    Fords CVT is made here in the US in Batavia, Ohio. Production started about 3 yrs ago originally via joint venture with ZF Friedchshafen that goes back about 7+ yrs ago and which was bought out by Ford in late Feb. 2004.
    That makes Ford the sole maker of the current CVT known as the CFT30 found in the Freestyle/Five Hundred/Montego. Multiple manufacturing delays caused the project to be delayed they originally intended to ship there first CVT in 2001. The problem with the CVT is as engines produce more HP and torque (primarily torque) that is where the problems arise. At present the 3.0L produces @207 lbs of torque. The 3.5L produces @250 lbs of torque. The current CVT can not handle an increase in torque and is made to operate under 258lbs. anything approaching that number would be operating at its max and therfore not conducive to longevity. Does that mean Ford can't make a CVT to handle the torque, from what I have read yes they can, but that brings on a whole slew of other considerations including additional expense, weight, the current CVT weighs about 7 lbs. more than an auto tranny. Ford has had some problems with the CVT and from what I have read they believe their new 6 speed Auto tranny joint venture with GM is the way forward. The Nissan Murano is probably one of the better known CVT operated but it also is not without problems.

    The full Autmotive News article can be found here;
    buckwheat, "What about the future of Ford Inc??" #1625, 31 Jul 2006 9:36 am
  • blue05blue05 Member Posts: 42
    You said that the CVT was made in the U.S. I'm wandering why my parts content information sheet on my 05 stated that the transmission was made in Germany . It also noted that part contents does not include final assembly . Are the 06 CVT's made in the U.S ?
  • buckwheatbuckwheat Member Posts: 396
    It is possible that in the early days of the joint venture some parts made for the CFT30 by ZF Friedchshafen were made in Germany but ZF's contribution was mainly CVT technology & design. What I said is "Fords CVT is made here in the US." That particular joint venture with ZF Friedchshafen has been dissolved, but Ford maintains other ventures with them.. My uderstanding is Fords Batavia plant, which is scheduled to close in 2008, is the maker of current Ford CVT's.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
    As far as I know, all CVT transmissions for the Freestyle/500 since day one have been assembled in Batavia, Ohio. Some of it's parts, however, come from Germany. The stainless steel belt (by far the most expensive single part) comes from Germany . If 51% of the content cost comes from Germany.. then they gotta say it's from Germany. But it's made in the Buckeye state.
  • jackijjackij Member Posts: 1
    We recently bought a brand new 05 Freestyle. Soon after, the "wrench light" indicating a problem with the transmission started coming on sporadically. When it comes on, you get no acceleration. We have taken it back to the dealership 4 times, each time they say it's fixed, but each time the same thing happens. They even tried to blame it on a cell phone or garage door opener signal interfering with the car's computer. Has anyone else experienced this problem?
  • stmssstmss Member Posts: 206
    The light has come on a number of times on my 06. Usually when accelerating (moderately hard) to merge. Sometimes you get a lurch from the car. Only once at a stop light did I get a momentary loss of acceleration. Light does not come back on after I restart the car.

    They diagnosed it (after 2nd visit) as a faulty mechatronic unit (code 2765-20, if that means anything). It is being replaced next week.
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Member Posts: 468
    Regarding the CVT transmission, my service advisor told me that they replaced a transmission on Freestyle and the warranty bill to Ford was $5,200. Of course, I have no way of knowing if that is true.
  • vicenacvicenac Member Posts: 229
    Get rid of it! I f they had four times to fix it and the problem it's still there, then your car is a lemon.
    Also the problem seems to be a bad oil pump in the transmission. To be properly diagnosed they have to have it when it does not work.
  • jessealanjessealan Member Posts: 11
    My dealer said ford is still going to be using the cvt in the freestyle. DOes he know what he is talking about.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
    Wanna have some fun then? Why don't you ask your dealer where Ford is going to get the CVT tranny's from after they shut down the factory that makes them next year.

    Dealerships are clueless about this sort of thing. All they know for sure is that they have a lot of product on the lot and they'll say absolutely anything in order to move it.
  • captndpcaptndp Member Posts: 3
    My 2005 fwd sel Freestyle has 40,000 miles on it. at the 30,000 mile service the transmission was flushed. Last Thursday I was driving and the "Check Transmission" message and light came on. The car stopped. I ran the systems check (with engine and check light still on. I receievd a "Transmission OK" result. I called the dealership and spoke to the service agent. They advised to drive the car to the dealership. I turned the car off, then re-started it. No error messages on the systems check and the check transmission light did not come on. I drove about 50 yards, the car started jerking and then stalled. I had to have the car towed (well carried on a truck) to the dealership. They called me the next day and said the transmission is "toast", to use their term. However they also said Ford want to tear down the transmission to find out why it failed. Of course my 36,000 mile warranty is out, however I do not see why a sealed unit transmission should fail after 40,000 miles when the systems check says it is still fine.
    I foresee a lot of shouting about take place in order that I get the transmission replaced.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    That's another reason why you shouldn't perform unnecessary maintenance on a component. The CVT fluid should be changed at 60,000 miles according to the maintenance manual, but dealers will always try to get you to come in early. Maybe some inexperienced tech (and what tech has experience with a CVT??) screwed something up.

    Also, the CVT transmission was the reason I paid $1450 for a 7 year, 100,000 mile, zero deductable, extended warranty.
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "Ford want to tear down the transmission to find out why it failed. Of course my 36,000 mile warranty is out, however I do not see why a sealed unit transmission should fail after 40,000 miles when the systems check says it is still fine."

    I thought the engine and transmission warranty was 50K?
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    Ford is not going to use the CVT anymore due to the fact that it is only capable of handling up to 258hp. The new 3.5L V6 makes 265hp in the new Edge and could make even more with direct injection and other valve-train goodies. They probably will continue to use a CVT for the Escape Hybrid though.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
    "Ford is not going to use the CVT anymore due to the fact that it is only capable of handling up to 258hp."

    What is the source of your info? And why should a CVT care about hp? All a transmission really cares about is how much torque is being applied. Horsepower is simply a term used to sell cars.
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    Sorry, it's 258 lb. ft. of torque. The new motor is at 249 lb. ft. in the Edge. That's dangerously close to the 258 lb. ft. limit, especially with all the competition in the segment. If ZF-Batavia goes back to the drawing board, I'm sure they could come up with a design that is capable of handling more torque, but it won't be as cheap to manufacture as the 6-speed automatic.

    Ford CVT :P
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    I read the same thing that the CVT cannot handle the torque of the new engine, so they're going with a joint GM/Ford build 6sp auto transmission, which actually should be pretty good.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
    What new engine? You're kind of jumpin' the gun there a little bit aren't you bobw3? Nobody from Ford has ever said anything about putting the 3.5L in the Freestyle.
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Member Posts: 877
    The 3.5L V6 will be used in 2008 Freestyles with the same Ford Edge 6-speed tranny. The ZF CVT will be gone. Maybe it will come back. I hope so, I love the CVT.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
  • northlakesnorthlakes Member Posts: 368
    Agreed about unnecessary maintenance. In addition, it is possible that the dealer put in the wrong fluid. Early on in these Forums, people saw red fluid on the garage floor, and assumed the transmission had a problem. The CVT fluid is blue-green. :shades:
  • northlakesnorthlakes Member Posts: 368
    There is nothing stopping Ford from using the CVT in the Focus, Fusion, Escape, or its European vehicles. :shades:
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "There is nothing stopping Ford from using the CVT in the Focus, Fusion, Escape, or its European vehicles. "

    There is also nothing stopping Ford from de-tuning the 3.5L engine to the point that it will work with the CVT. But I don't think they want to do that. First, the engine would be putting out less than it is capable of, and second, I think Ford wants to standardize on the 6 speed.
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    The Freestyle is going to be gone in a couple of years anyway. The current plan is to replace the Freestyle and the Freestar with the D471 (Fairlane). Because of their dire financial straits, the will probably push that transmission on most of their vehicles. Development and production costs were very low on that transmission due to the partnership with GM.

    Not that TCC is a great source (2008 Freestyle), but there has been alot of speculation that the Freestyle would go out in style with the 3.5L V6 in 2008.

    When the 3.5L engine first debuted, there was talk about a 3.0L based off of the 3.5L, but it wouldn't go into the Freestyle anyway. The competition, even Mazda, is offering more room, more power, and better styling (also more expensive though). My guess is that when the D471 comes out it will get the 3.5L w/ direct injection to set it apart from Edge.
  • passat_2002passat_2002 Member Posts: 468
    "The current plan is to replace the Freestyle and the Freestar with the D471 (Fairlane)."

    How could you possibly know what is planned? Do you work in the Ford Product Planning department or something?
  • saabturboidsaabturboid Member Posts: 178
    I find it amusing that so many people here claim to know what is going to happen with the Freestyle. They know when it will be discontinued, when it will get a new engine, when it will get a new transmission, and what will happen to our beloved CVT. All of these statements are made as if the message poster was Bill Ford himself.

    Let me just say this. Until there is an official announcement from Ford on any of this IT IS ALL SPECULATION!
    Even if something leaked from Ford about certain plans, with the dire financial straights they are in plans can and likely will change as time goes on. Ford has a new CEO, and just because 6 months ago a leak mentioned that the CVT will be gone (not saying this happened, just an example), there is nothing to prevent Ford from changing course. I fully expect there to be changes, that is why Bill Ford hired a new CEO.

    So may I request that unless there is some sort of official announcement from Ford, please made certain that you mention your source or say it is your opinion about any statements you make about the future of the Freestyle.
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    The most current edition of Motor Trend is stating that the Ford D471 and the Lincoln D472 will come in and run parallel with the Freestyle for 1 year. Then the Freestyle will be discontinued. The current CVT is not capable (see link in previous post) of handling higher levels of torque. The biggest criticism of the Freestyle, other than styling, is that it does not have enough power. Ford is using the 3.5L V6 (Cyclone) to remedy the situation for that criticism. The 3.5L V6 is going in the Ford Five Hundred for next year.

    Unless they start working on a new CVT design, the current CVT will be reduced to smaller applications, probably 4-cyl or small V6 (less than 3.0L) The 6-speed automatic, which was developed with GM, is bound to be cheaper to mass produce because of the numerous applications across all the different product lines.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    With your attitude, 90% of the posts would be gone :P
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Oh, I bet most of these posts are 400 times as accurate as a French doping lab's paperwork on Tour de France winners. :shades:
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    But if it's on the Internet, it must be true. :P

    Even if we had a Ford source, they probably couldn't offer us that much proof yet, and even if they could offer us proof, they must not like their job that much... 'cause they'd be fired pretty quick.
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Member Posts: 468
    They are going to shut the plant that makes the CVT. Where are the new ones going to come from? Germany? The future of the Freestyle may be in question, but the CVT will be gone. Too bad, I like it.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    I like it too, but if they use the 6spd auto that get's at least the same MPG and keeps the RPMs low on the highway then I'd be satisfied.
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    I'm betting that mpg numbers will drop to abou 18/25, like the Edge, rather than 20/27, unless they add some valve train (VVT) and fuel system (direct or forced injection) improvements . On the positive side, it would have quicker acceleration, more towing, and more mechanics would be familiar with the technology.
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "I'm betting that mpg numbers will drop to abou 18/25, like the Edge, rather than 20/27, unless they add some valve train (VVT) and fuel system (direct or forced injection) improvements ."

    The Edge is heavier than the FS by about 500 lbs (FWD), which would account for the difference in MPG, even with the 6 speed (well, that plus the extra 1/2 liter larger engine).

    I think a FS with 6 speed would get similar or better MPG than the 3.0L and CVT.
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    You are right about the Edge being heavier, but it is not by 500lbs and the motor itself is not really much heavier than the 3.0L V6. The FWD Edge weighs in at 4073lbs. while the FWD Freestyle weighs 3959lbs. The engine was created to be a direct replacement for the 3.0L V6 and has nearly the exact same dimensions (lwh). I hope the don't make the D471 too much heavier than the Edge.
  • captndpcaptndp Member Posts: 3
    Update on my busted transmission.

    Took Ford Dearship 2 days to remove the transmission. They have offered to pay for 80% of the costs of replacement (about $5,100). CAnnot give me any cause or reason why the transmission failed and yet the systems check still says "transmission OK".
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    Ford hasn't published the Edge specs on their website, but a review I saw indicated the Edge AWD at 4528 pounds (the weight was their biggest complaint on the vehicle). I think that the AWD FS weighs about 4100 lbs. So that's 400 lbs heavier for the Edge. The review was for the AWD, and I find it hard to believe that there would be a 500 lb difference between the Edge FWD and AWD.

    But I stand by my statement about MPG. Often a larger engine will get similar or better MPG than a smaller engine. Witness the Toyota RAV4, with only 1 MPG separating the two engines at highway speeds... :surprise:
  • arumagearumage Member Posts: 922
    Everywehre else I've seen lists the AWD Edge's weight at 4282 lbs, which is still too heavy. Was that review in Motor Trend, perhaps? I think the typo-ed when they release the article.

    I think there is a mpg "sweet spot" where smaller engines are overcome by the weight of the vehicle and start to get less gas mileage. If an engine is to large for the vehicle, you'll get less mpg, and it won't be giving you too many advantages either, other than making the vehicle faster.
  • bobw3bobw3 Member Posts: 2,989
    What is the MPG difference at city speeds? Cruising along the highway doesn't require much power for any engine, and if the gearing is different, then you'll get different MPG too. Maybe the RAV4's big engine is running at 1500 RPM on the highway while the smaller engine is pushing 3000 RPM? It funny how in my Freestyle I'll get 26mpg on the highway, while some mid sized sedans that are a lot smaller can't even get that, but I guess there's a lot of more variables affecting MPG other than engine size.
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