Ford workers break their silence on faulty transmissions: ‘Everybody knew’

Jason Levine, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety in Washington, D.C., said the federal regulatory agency has traditionally been, and remains, an underfunded and understaffed safety agency. “Even in the best of times, this limits their ability to identify hard to find defects. And these aren’t the best of times.”

NHTSA has been criticized for its failure to quickly identify defects that led to fatalities from defective General Motors ignition switches, exploding Takata air bag canisters and unintended acceleration in Toyotas.

Levine added: “Manufacturers have a long history of bending over backward to avoid reporting potential problems as opposed to addressing the issue head on and standing behind their product. The reason that car companies prefer secret settlements is to hide the existence of a potential pattern of defects from the public. While it is difficult to know, whenever there is a secret settlement it is very likely that are other similar settlements because that is the usual course of business when defects result in serious injuries or fatalities.”

They knew the truth and kept quiet.

Their secret wasn’t a secret at all in engineering, product development, research, design or manufacturing within Ford Motor Co., say seven current and former employees who worked to develop and launch the Fiesta and Focus cars that would become known for defective automatic transmissions.

You think of the gentleman who stood up for the space shuttle Challenger, saying if they launched that with the ice on it that it’s going to blow up. Well, these kinds of really horrific technical errors seemed to pass right through at Ford on this project.

“My hands are dirty. I feel horrible,” said an engineer who played a key role in developing the popular compact cars.

“You think of the gentleman who stood up for the space shuttle Challenger, saying if they launched that with the ice on it that it’s going to blow up. Well, these kinds of really horrific technical errors seemed to pass right through at Ford on this project,” the engineer said.

Asked whether the company ignored early warnings from its experts, Ford said the “vehicles were safe when they were introduced after rigorous testing during development, and remain so today after more than a decade on the road and billions of miles accumulated by customers around the globe.” 

Click here to read the full article from the Detroit Free Press.