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Ford Freestyle CVT Transmissions



  • drewmimidrewmimi Posts: 9
    Fortunately for me the problems began early. My dealer knew there were problems, but had to do what FMC wanted. They tried numerous fixes and ended up replacing the tranny with new. Ford had problems with 2005, 2006.
    Don't give up, make the dealer go to bat for you, mine did and it runs like a champ. Too bad you didn't pay for the extended warranty.
  • mike_nycmike_nyc Posts: 1
    Here is my tale of woe:

    The dealership tells me my 2006 Freestyle with only 23,000k miles, which started making a loud buzzing noice (like a 2 stroke motorcycle), and which is just 4 months past the 3 year warranty, needs a new transmission at a cost of $5,200. I am LIVID and they seem unwilling to do anything, even though this is the second new vehicle Ive bought from them.

    Any ideas or suggestions?

    How can a tranny with only 23k miles just go unless its defective?

    This is insane!
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    How can a tranny with only 23k miles just go unless its defective?

    I don't have any suggestions but the fact that your mileage is very substantially lower than the average for a car of that age is a pretty good indication that you haven't abused the vehicle. That makes it all the more astonishing that you would have such troubles.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    When I got my '05 Freestyle back in '05, I noticed Ford did not have a 100,000 mile powertrain warranty like GM and some other manufacturers did. The 3-year 36,000 mile warranty is all they offered. (Except for some emissions-related components covered out to 50,000 miles by order of the EPA.) See your warranty booklet. I got a third-party extended warranty out to 72,000 miles, and haven't had to use it yet at 51,000 miles now. In fact, my Freestyle has been almost perfect to date. Consumer Reports surveyed thousands of owners and concluded the transmission is less likely to fail than the average of all cars of all makes sold. That said, I know transmissions can be a big problem. Actually, I doubt if Ford will budge on this one. You can contact the Ford zone office and argue that the transmission's internal chain or something wore down too soon, and finally gave way just past the 3-year point.

    One point to argue with Ford is that maybe it was a little low on transmission fluid, and they make the thing so hard to check the level, its unreasonable for Ford to expect a customer or mechanic to see that in time to top it off. A slightly low level might starve the chain for lube enough to slowly wear it down. Check the transmission fluid level (a mechanic has to do it, as it depends on temperature and a special dipstick, etc. )and complain loudly to Ford that they failed to put enough fluid in it, if it proves to be low.

    I guess you can say there was premature, accelerated wear inside the transmission, possibly caused by the chain or similar part in there slightly off the ideal measurement specs.
  • sully320sully320 Posts: 4
    Check your warranty. Ford dealers and FMC "customer service" reps are often not aware that some model years come with a 60,000 mile power train warranty. That's what happened with ours. We had to tell the dealer what was included in the warranty. Let me know how you make out.

    Sully 320
  • coldcrankercoldcranker Posts: 877
    The warranty booklet for a particular model year says it all. I did hear that '07 model years got a longer powertrain warranty, if memory serves me, something Ford did to assuage fears of CVT risk from buyers. My '05 only had a 3-year one, but don't know about '06 models that mike_nyc has.

    Warranty booklets for model years 2005-2006-2007 Freestyles are available at: Warranty Booklets in PDF downloadable format -- click here. .. I noticed the longer powertrain (engine/tranny) warranty was introduced in the '07, but not '05-'06 as I'd thought.
  • It should not cost you $ 6,300 to replace the transmission. I just had mine replaced for a flat fee of $ 5,000.00. One dealer told me that the cost including labor, parts and of course let's not forget the oil is $ 5,550.00. Another dealer would do it for $ 5,150.00. Who can you trust these days. I contacted Ford in order to get some input on price and they instructed me that the I just contact an authorized dealer. When talking to the two dealers they tell me that the quoted price is according to "the book" from Frod. Mind you I have purchased (12) Lincoln Mercuries over the past 18 years and Ford could care less. I can assure you this is my last Ford purchase which stands for Fix-Or-Replair-Daily. I hear that Honda & Toyota, even if you are out of warranty will replace the tranny at no charge! Good luck on your repair efforts. The only consolation is that the rebuilt transmissio they will put into our car will come with a 100,000 mile warranty.
  • Hi,

    I went through this October, 05 Freestyle SEL. The saving grace for me came when I needed to renew my auto insurance policy. I noticed (in February!) I had something called "mechanical breakdown" coverage with a $200.00 deductible. I did look over my policy at the time of the breakdown but somehow I over looked it - possibly because I didn't really know what I was looking for. The repair had already been made - incidentally the original quote was about $5200.00 and when I balked I was put on hold and then told it would cost me $4800.00 out the door. The happy ending for me was even though i filed a claim after the repair was made my insurance company (Geico) reimbursed me - and didn't even take the $200 deductible.

    Check your auto policy - there may be some relief there.

    Good Luck
  • Just some additional fuel to the fire...

    We're three payments away from being out of car debt on a 2006 Freestyle. It is almost four years old with 59,000 miles. We have gotten the "idiot" wrench and check engine lights to come on. This has happened not more than ten times. The warning lights go away once the car is turned off, which made it difficult to follow up on. The last few times the car's CVT seemed to slip into neutral when travelling at 60-70 mph. RPMs soar and vehicle cannot keep speed. This caught our attention.

    Took it into dealer... One hour later, we get the good news bad news. Good news is that the whole transmission does not have to be replaced for $5000. Bad news is that it will be $1700. This was delivered as if we needed a $30 oil change.

    Decided to take it to another dealer to get a 2nd opinion. This dealer is where we have bought cars for last 30 years (probably 25+ cars), but now has new ownership. After three hours, same diagnosis, but delivered better from service department. So, I decide to talk to sales to see what I could get on a trade in. I told sales about the CVT diagnosis and to make me a great offer (as this could be the last Ford that I ever buy brand new). Sales came back with $2500 (net of my last three payments). Needless to say, I blew a gasket! I looked the sales guy in the eye and said why should I buy another Ford product? After four years of paying off my Freestyle, I am left with $2500. There was a long period of silence. He said that I should have bought the extended warranty! Ya think...

    Keeping my fingers crossed, but car has driven well since. Any advice out there?
  • Quick correction: "Megatronic" should be spelled "mechatronic". Also, keep in mind that the wrench light, also called "MFIL" or "engine light" by some, saves the malfunction codes inside the car's internal engine computer when you turn the car off, so a history is available to your mechanic even though the light might not appear any more.

    My vote: Keep the car. Fix it for $1700. Cars do break. Consumer Reports says our Freestyles fail less often than the average. The $2500 offer for your car was intended to be a starting negotiation for your car, since the sales team is in business to make as much money as possible. The actual worth of your Freestyle is somewhere around $13,000, U.S. dollars.
  • Thanks. I should negotiate the most miles/years with the CVT fix. One dealership offered one year/12,000 miles. Do you think that I could get more one the warranty of their work? Do you think that when I pay off the car, Ford may send me an extended warranty offer that I should buy?

    Thanks again.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,992
    If I were you I'd just pay the $1700 and then if you otherwise satisfied with the car then keep it. If not, you should be able to sell it privately for about $10,000. You'll always get ripped off during a trade.

    Also, I'm not sure what you paid for the Freestyle initially, but if you paid $28,000 you can think of the $1700 as an initial cost, so would it have been worth $29,700 for the car?

    And if you paid $1200 for an extended warranty to get the repair for free, you're still only out the difference or about $500.

    Not that this will help much, but something to think about. My case is just the opposite.
  • pam39pam39 Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 freestyle FWD - Year 1, replace tires, replace rear brakes - all special order! Now, i need a new transmission - $5,600, out of warranty. I will never buy another Ford again.
  • i have a 2005 awd freestyle. I had the transmission fluid changed at 106,000 miles. Turns out the shop that did it used mercron 5 fluid not the "special fluid" that the dealer now tells me they should have used. now my transmission is slipping and i am being told i need a new transmission. The shop that did the flush says the fluid they used is correct. The dealer says only the kind specially made for cvt can be used. who is correct?
  • bdymentbdyment Posts: 569
    It looks like the dealer is correct. CVT takes a very specific Ford recommended fluid.
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Posts: 468
    The CVT uses only Ford fluid and should not be flushed. If your dealer can certify that the shop used the wrong fluid, you should have some recourse.,
  • Only a Ford dealership should do a CVT service. Its every 60,000 miles regardless of time. Even then, you might have to "remind" them that they should only change the FT-178 filter, and not the pan filter. And, no flushing is ever done on the CVT. Special fluid only, never Mercon or Dexron, thats for sure.

    I wonder if the transmission shop will own up to their mistake, since a new transmission CVT is about $5,000.
  • I am looking for anyone who would be willing to take ford on, this cvt issue needs to be addressed and I want to see how many people actually have an issue with this. I am willing to take this to an investigative reporter.

    I bought my car brand new 34,000 the tranny goes, 2 years later AGAIN! They say this is not a saftey issue, but that is ridiculous! I was going to pull out on the highway and my car would not go...then I got out and had to stop on the highway and I went to go and had my foot all the way to the floor and it crept along! What if? I crept out on the highway with my whole family in the car and a mack truck was coming?! How is that not a saftey issue!

    They took the CVT out of the newer models...obviously it is an issue and for those of us who bought a freestyle with the CVT in it are paying the price..

    I want to be compenstated for this, I don't think I should have to put a USED tranny in my vehicle...I had a brand new one and look where that has gotten me! Whose to say this is not going to happen time I might not be so lucky!
  • HI,

    Same thing happened to me in October '08. Luckily I was on the entrance ramp and was able to pull over. They put in a new tranny for $4300. I have a three year warranty on it. But you are right - it happened once and there was no good explanation for why it failed and it could easily happen again. This is the car I drive my kids to school in everyday.

    Good Luck
  • It could most definetly happen again and it could happen to anyone else who has a vehicle with a CVT in it, that is why we ALL have to join together and take a stand! This needs to be a recall...IT IS A SAFETY ISSUE! You were on your way onto the highway...WHAT IF?! I can't believe this happened once in a brand new vehicle...BUT TWICE! I bought this car so I would have it for a long time...and we DID NOT pay peanuts for it...they should HONOR there vehicles!

    Does anyone know how to actually start a post, I want to this to really be noticed and try to get as many people on the post as possible, I want to show the news reporter that this is a BIG problem!
  • nutabug, There will only be a recall if a high enough percentage of CVT Freestyle transmissions are failing. So far, that appears not to be the case. For the record, I had a transmission go out on me when merging on to a freeway a few years ago, and it was a conventional (non-CVT) automatic tranny in a Mitsubishi Galant. Also, my parent's '91 Ford Taurus had the tranny go out on them, and it was not a CVT. From these experiences we could all conclude that "All '91 Taurus transmissions and all Galant transmissions will strand you.", but we are smarter than that. Percentages are all that matter. My '05 F150 and '05 Freestyle have been nearly flawless, BTW.
  • The Freestyle/Five Hundred is not a rare beast at all so why not avoid the $6300 reaming and consider buying a used CVT transmission from a recycler for $800-1000? Most recyclers even offer a short warantee so you can see if the unit works well. I ran a search and there were dozens of used low-mileage CVTs available.
  • sindersinder Posts: 37
    I was crossing a busy intersection yesterday when my 06 Freestyle simply stopped. A semi is heading towards me and I feel my heart rate triple (at the very least). I turned the car off, quickly restarted in, threw it in gear and consider myselft MOST fortunate that it BOLTED across the street. Otherwise, there was really NOTHING that semi could have done to prevent what would have certainly been an awful accident. The engine light came on, as well as the wrench light. I made it back to my office and did some quick research on what these symbols were an indicator for....I thought to way can it be transmission. Hell, I've all ready had to replace the rear brakes (odd for a front wheel drive vehicle).

    I took it to a local repair shop near my work because where I purchased it is 45 miles away and the vehicle was in "safe" mode. I did call the dealer where I bought it and spoke to the Supvervisor of Repairs. I'm sooooo glad I called there otherwise I would never have known that the reason there are so many repair shops across the US is because cars break down. A TRUE genius right there !!!!!

    Diagnosis.....The transmission is completely shot ! I're all shocked. ;)
    $5600 to buy a new one....2900 to buy a re-manned one ( from FORD) natually. 3600 for the remanned, installed. This decision to move forward came ONLY after I called every tranmission shop listed to see if they would work on it....The second you say these three letter C-V-T, they immediately lose any interest. That says it all !!!

    Seeing how FORD stopped using these in 07 I hold FORD accountable for my near miss and for everyone on this post who has been in the same position. There is a right and wrong and people ought to know the difference.

    I will push this as far as I possibly can.
  • sindersinder Posts: 37
    I'm with you on this one, nutabug. I just sent an email directly to the FORD headquarters regarding this issue. ( as my 06 Freestyle sits in the repair shop waiting 4-5 days for a remanned transmission (from FORD) to arrive. I did receive confirmation that I should hear back from them in 2 business days.
    I will post their response.

    They should be accountable for thier product - PERIOD ! There is a right and a wrong and people just ought to know the difference.

    A :lemon: is a :lemon: .
  • I guess both of my cars are worthless pieces of junk!! Let me explain......

    First of all, the CVT transmission is very similar to what a snow-mobile uses, or a hydrostatic transmission on a lawnmower - couple belts/chains sliding around to what the driver desires for speed. This is nothing new in terms of technology........

    Ford's CVT was designed in part by ZF, a respected German company, to be manufactured in the United States. This transmission is very similar to what Audi has used in the past.

    This transmission, like any modern transmissions is expensive. Ford had sourced an Aisin, which builds Toyota and many other transmission brands, for the other D3 FWD models. This model is very expensive to replace as well. After Ford had the JV transmission with GM, the Aisin was no longer needed, and dropped as a result. Ford terminated this transmission for two main reasons: cost and a new engine. This transmission is very unique, rare and costly to produce (dis-economies of scale). Ford also came out with a new generation of Duratec engines that would not tolerate the transmission because of the torque they produced.

    Ford renamed the Freestyle the Taurus X after Alan came over and took the helm; he wanted the Taurus name back because of the strong brand name that had been built, and destroyed in the name of cost cutting.

    As an owner of a 05 Freestyle SE and 05 Five Hundred SE (both with CVT), and another family member who owns a 05 Five Hundred with 200,000 + miles , I can attest that this transmission in terms of ownership, is no diferent than my previous vehicles that required 30,000 mile service.

    Yes, the valve body (Mechatronic unit) was replaced on my 500 and the one with 200k (at 185k), at a cost of ZERO dollars to me because of a warranty, and a cost of 1300 dollars to a car with 185k on it, that was a little expensive for a valve body. Pretty low cost of ownership I'd say........

    The key to a long lasting transmission is to change the fluid, filters at or before the suggested interval. Problems do happen, but the ZF CVT is no more or less reliable than any other of its peers.....If something does happen to any modern (sorry, the good old GM Hydramatic that is still used today doesn't count!) transmission, its going to cost the owner some money. The good thing is that these happen few and far between; and the tradeoff is long life.

    I just wanted to set the record straight :)
  • 01taurussel, I agree. I had heard the CVT is no longer in production because Ford didn't like the cost to make it compared to the cheaper 6-speed tranny they shared the development costs with GM to put in almost all their vehicles. Economics. And, notice that Consumer Reports has surveyed thousands of people over the last few years and found that the CVT breaks down less often than the average of all automatic transmissions out there.

    Thats not to say that I don't sympathize with those who have had a CVT fail. Its just that we need to have the perspective to understand that ALL automatic transmissions (of any design) can fail suddenly for any reason, and a certain percentage do! Its kind of like tires on cars: Michelin and Goodyear, for example, know that a certain percentage of their tires will blow up on the road. As engineering companies, they know they can't keep 100% of their tires from blowing out, so they won't really investigate hard if only 0.1% or so of their tires out there blow out for unknown reasons. Now if that 0.1% number rises to, say, 1%, then Michelin or Goodyear will take notice and investigate, finding the root cause and doing something about it. Also, the NHTSA is there to do something when those companies might try to cover a high failure rate up or make excuses. Even the NHTSA doesn't really care if the failure rate of those tires is low enough!
  • had our 2005 FS in for the 60k service on Friday at the dealer we bought it from and which has done all services so far. When i picked it up i expected a heavy bill but not so. I didn't find the CVT fluid change on the list.

    I asked and the service manager told me that transmission is a sealed unit ("it doesn't even have a dip stick") and it does not require a fluid change. I told him i knew it different and even pointed out that it's mentioned in the maintenance booklet. He insisted that it's just a generic maintenance booklet and that this particular transmission does not require the fluid to be changed. Never - unless something goes wrong.

    He even put that statement and his name on the bill so i am covered in case something goes wrong. I did not discuss it further, seemed to be useless. Although i must say that i'm a bit puzzled now by this very strong statement.

    This is a major Ford dealer in Houston and i am sure they have sold plenty of FS and 500 with the CVT. This experience just tells me that they still don't know much about the CVT. Lack of training or interest?

    Now imagine how much they can do wrong if they do work on it. I still want the fluid to be changed and i'll try to find a dealer who can handle it. Any suggestions from other Houstonians?
  • sindersinder Posts: 37
    People WON the class action lawsuit against Saturn for the very same transmission.

    I just spoke to the top rated transmission specialists in the State of Florida and even HE will not touch it. He actually suggested the law suit.

    FORD has a monopoly on everything. You want to replace your CVT ? You have to go through FORD ! You want to get a re-manned one ? Go through Ford ! You want ANY work done on the CVT......SURPRIZE !!! Must go through FORD. I will be posting the response I got from FORD addressing this issue.

    Oh, and they attached a link so that I can view and get a good deal on a new FORD. Are they F*&%! kidding me ? :lemon:
  • sindersinder Posts: 37
    It definitely has a dip stick. Why would they NOT check it ? The CVT transmission has had sooooooo many problems, I believe it was a lack of knowledge OR more likely, a lack of interest!

    NOBODY wants to work on the CVT. Saturn lost a class action lawsuit over this very trasmission.

    My 06 Freestyle is sitting in the shop waiting for a remanned transmission from, guess who??? FORD !!! They've got the market cornered. !

    That's REALLY bad when a DEALER doesn't even want to work on one ! :lemon:

    Not happy in Florida !
  • sinder, Wrong you are. That Saturn (GM) CVT is NOT the same CVT that our Fords have. Our Fords have the German ZF brand CVT, also found in MiniCoopers and Audi cars. GM's CVT was their own design, and it was failing in large enough percentages to create a problem.

    Also, there are a few maintenance points about the CVT to remember:

    1. The Ford CVT should never be flushed, only drained.

    2. It needs a part number FT-178 Motorcraft filter/o-ring "high-pressure filter kit" installed at 60,000 miles. (Note this is not the pan filter, which is another filter lower in the unit.)

    3. Ford says never replace the pan filter, although I might do it at 150,000 miles or so.

    4. The CVT fluid is unique, and most can be simply drained out of it, but you can't get to the fluid stuck in the torque convertor part of the unit, so just be satisfied with draining as much as will come out, and the dealer will replace the drained fluid with fresh fluid at 60,000 mile intervals. That is good enough for this CVT.

    5. The 60,000 mile CVT service costs anywhere from $290 to $400, depending on which Ford dealership you go to.

    6. Tranny shops like AAMCO, etc., for example, make a living off of "normal" automatic transmissions and don't usually know much about our unique Ford/ZF/MiniCooper/Audi CVT. They might know about the Jatco CVTs found on Nissans and Chryslers (maybe Mitsubishi, not sure...) since there are now so many out there, but most mechanics at independent shops are only trained on the old-style geared automatic "slush-boxes".

    7. I have found Ford service advisors to not be very knowledgeable about the CVT, so don't be suprised if you have to take my list here and walk your Ford service advisor through it, although the mechanics have usually had special Ford training on it and know what to do (usually!).

    8. Most, if not all, of the CVTs don't have dipsticks, as you have to remove a plug and then get a special dipstick part we don't have to check the level. Don't check the level. Just make sure you aren't leaking any on your driveway/garage floor and you'll be fine.
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