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Ford Motor Co. Message Board

  • Questinator Questinator Oct 25, 2011 11:34 PM Flag

    For those not familiar with Ford's Powershift transmission..

    Manual transmissions get better fuel mileage because there are mechanical gears which mesh with each other (actually at all times) which are connected to the output shaft through "synchronizers," which are what you actually move with the shifter and internal rods.

    Also, the clutch that connects the engine to the transmission does not have slip in it like a torque converter on your automatic trans does.

    All this means a more mechanical connection between the intput shaft (driven by the engine) and the output shaft (which drives the wheels).

    An automatic transmission shifts with hydraulic fluid performing the gear changes, actually "clutch packs," as well as providing an "automatic-like-clutch" operation in the torque converter. The torque converter has two parts inside. The impeller and the turbine are what makes the torque converter work. The impeller is driven by the engine and it pressurizes the hydraulic fluid inside. When the fluid gets moving fast enough it causes the turbine to start turning the transmission. Here is a real good article on this....

    Automatic transmissions are sometimes controlled to give the smoothest driving experience possible with extra "slip" programmed in just to make very smooth shifts. Luxury cars have the most. Other cars might have more of a performance feel and shift more harshly to limit the amount of time that the transmission slips.

    To state it simply, automatic tranmissions have slip in them. Not as much as they used to, but it is not a solid, mechanical connection.

    Ford's Powershift transmission is basically a manual tranmission that is automatically shifted. The inside of the transmission has mechanical gears just like any manual transmission. It also has not just one clutch but two clutches. This is the beauty of the design. One clutch has all of the odd gears on it and the other clutch has all of the even gears on it. Basically, when it shifts from first to second/second to third/etc., there is a rapid disengagement/engagement of the two clutches. This would be like pushing in the clutch pedal to disengage the clutch, shift the transmission, and let off the clutch pedal to engage the clutch again. Well, with 2 clutches it happens many times faster than any human would be able to shift a transmission. This equates to fuel mileage savings.

    This is a transmission like no American (unless has travelled to Europe and experienced this) has ever driven before. As such, it is an experience like never before. Because of this many people have reported problems with the transmission when it is merely something they have never encountered before and they therefore believe something is wrong with it.

    I built my wife a 1966 Mustang with a 331 stroker engine and any 20 year old driving it would think something is wrong with it. No matter where you are at in the gas pedal travel, however much more you push on the pedal the car goes just that much faster. 20-somethings are used to a pedal that goes about 1/3 of the way and then after that no matter how much you push on it the car doesn't go any faster. Because of this they think something is wrong with my wife's car, not understanding that they have just never diven a car with that much power before.

    So I hope I am able to shine some light on this subject as there is a lot going around. People who think they are getting a Fiesta or Focus with "just another automatic transmission" are just not going to have that experience. They are driving a car with a manual tranmission that shifts automatically, has dual clutches for a nearly instantaneous shift with minimal slippage, if any, and more power sent to the wheels a greater percentage of the time, thereby saving fuel.


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    • Thanks for all the specifics, Gomek. Good information.


    • Hey, very good analogy! Yes, that grinding noise scared the heck out of me. I believe the anti-lock modules cycle without that noise anymore.


    • Remember the first time you used the brakes and the anti-lock came on?? Wow I thought that I broke something. Now it is no biggie.....

    • Apparently since August 12, cars have been coming off the production lines with the PowerShift transmission issues RESOLVED. It is the vehicles that were produced earlier that will still exhibit characteristcs that some drivers found problematic. But those issues can be addressed by a service call to your local Ford dealership.

      <<In a technical service bulletin dated Sept. 13, the automaker informed dealers that some 2012 Focuses “may exhibit various automatic transmission and engine driveability concerns.”

      It went on to instruct the dealers how to reprogram the power train control module for “smoother accelerations, reduced hesitation, better low-speed driveability and improved shift scheduling.”

      That bulletin addressed models built before Aug. 12. Richard Truett, a Ford spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that Ford had made the change to all new Focus models starting on that date, and that the alterations would not change the car’s Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy ratings.

      Another bulletin dated Sept. 2 advised dealers to reprogram the module on the 2011 Fiesta if consumers complained about “hesitation when accelerating from a low speed after coast down, harsh or late 1-2 upshift, harsh shifting during low-speed tip-in or tip-out maneuvers and/or engine r.p.m. flare when coasting to a stop.”>>


    • The early power shift transmissions that we worked with were shifted manually with a shift lever. Then some went to electronic controled shifting and a failure of the electronics could allow the transmission to shift into two gears at once which of course resulted in instant destruction of either the transmission or another part of the drive train.

    • thanks quest. appreciate it. You are right. The salesman should make sure they understand what they are getting and why it performs that way.

    • According to Mulally it is just a software adjustment.

      A few months ago there was an internal article saying that the Powershift transmission was not meeting the customers expectations. From the way it was written I understood it to mean that since it is built completely different from an automatic transmission, and it's shift execution is performed completely differently, customers feel there is something wrong with the transmission.

      I understood the article to say that they were reprogramming how the transmission shifts in order for the customer to experience something closer to what they are used to with an automatic transmission.

      Personally, I feel that it needs to be stressed with the customer that this is NOT an automatic tranmission like they have always driven. It is, in effect, a MANUAL transmission that is electronically shifted for the driver. This was done to improve fuel mileage and reduce emissions.

      The customer has to understand this. If they do then they know not to expect what they always experienced with an automatic transmission. They have NEVER driven a car with a transmission like this before, so they should not expect the same experience.

      Don't people take cars for a test drive anymore? I would think they would ask the salesman about the way the car shifts when they drive it.

      So, yes, a car already on the road, made previous to the new programming, should be able to be returned top the dealer for reprogramming.

      I'll tell you what. I will work on contacting someone within the company to verify this and get back to you in here.


    • I started another post where Mulally talks about customer perception on this transmission and what the company has done to improve driver experience. It's the one titled Mulally: Reliability Problems Definately Fixed Now.


    • hey, poindexer, you know what you can do with that ford transmission, don't you. ford has always had the crapiest transmission in the world, next to dodge. face it ford as usuall sucks.

    • Something IMHO is obvious here. The general public is NOT ready for a dual clutch in a mass market vehicle. The accustomed transmission is automatic, and that's what's expected. Dual clutch simply is NOT an automatic transmission as the general public expects.

      Ford's taking a huge beating here. A 6 speed REAL automatic solves the entire problem for customers.


      Just wait. Chrysler's got a 9 speed automatic transaxle in development. No dual clutch or CVT.

      • 2 Replies to greatday43
      • Chrysler's 9 speed (didn't know about a 9 speed, I have heard about an 8 speed) is going to co$t $ome $erious buck$$$$$.

        I agree, the public wants an automatic to be like an automatic. Change is hard to deal with for some reason. This tranny saves gas, period. You would think people would want that.

        I don't know if the Powershift transmission is explained to the customers or not, or if the customers only here "auotmatic" and ignore the rest of what is said, discounting it as not important or maybe too mechanical for them to comprehend. I would like to ask owners about that out of my own curiosity.


      • Good point about the general public not being ready for dual clutch, but wonder if it's relevant. Suspect a lot of drivers have not got a clue what they are driving and only care that they go forward when they shift into "D." And if Ford is giving them better mechanicals, well that's all for the good.

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