Ford Reliability: Is Quality Still ‘Job 1?’

Ford Reliability: Is Quality Still ‘Job 1?’

Six of the Top 10 Least Reliable Cars and Trucks on the road are Ford products. At least, that’s according to data provided by Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization that tests everything from toasters to homeowner’s insurance. This lopsided result has raised a lot of questions, like: Are Blue-Oval vehicles really that troublesome or is Consumer Reports’ survey methodology flawed?

As many AutoGuide readers commented on our Top 10 Unreliable Cars and Trucks post, the company’s MyFord Touch infotainment system was a major reason for their poor performance. “The reliability problems are overwhelming,” said Jake Fisher, Director of Auto Testing at Consumer Reports.


To be clear this has nothing to do with how easy or hard the system is to use. “We’re not talking about difficult to operate” Fisher said, adding, “We’re talking about failures,” outright problems that require a customer to go back to the dealer. MyFord Touch has had, “a serious impact [on] brand reliability.”

Fisher said “I think they were trying to be out front [with MyFord Touch].” He noted that Japanese automakers tend to be conservative when it comes to new features. Toyota for instance is rarely in a leadership position when it comes to technology because, “That’s the higher risk,” Fisher said.

Another issue that took wind right out of the Blue Oval’s reliability sails is their PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission; it’s offered on the Focus and Fiesta small cars. Fisher said customers weren’t just complaining about shift-quality issues, gearboxes have actually been failing. This has resulted in a “high problem rate,” he said.


According to Fisher, MyFord Touch and PowerShift are the “Two issues you can really pinpoint” for the company’s quality troubles. But there could be another reason as well.

Ford-Quality-is-Job-1Over the last couple years Ford has introduced a dizzying number of redesigned vehicles, new engines and other cutting-edge features. “I really think that’s what’s behind these reliability missteps,” Fisher said, “It’s very difficult for any manufacturer to maintain reliability when you change everything.”

For a little perspective the company launched 25 new vehicles and 31 different powertrains in 2012. That’s a monumental push for an automaker but, “We plan to keep this aggressive product cadence up,” said Wes Sherwood, quality communications manager at Ford. He also mentioned that going forward they’re going to, “double down on quality.”

And their efforts are already paying off. According to Sherwood, Ford has, “Significantly reduced issues with the new systems,” a change that has not been reflected in Consumer Reports findings at this time.

MyFord-Touch-interfaceComing to the company’s defense Fisher said, “It’s not like Ford has had a history of bad quality,” in recent years they’ve distanced themselves from their domestic competition. The previous generation Fusion sedan for instance was a leader in quality. “I don’t think it’s something they have wrong in their processes,” he said, noting that they’ve probably just been trying to do too much. “Looking at Ford’s history I would expect over the next few years the reliability would drastically improve.”

Despite issues with PowerShift and MyFord Touch the current crop of Blue Oval cars and trucks is actually extremely competitive. Fisher said, “These Fords have the fundamentals right,” with nice packaging, good ride quality and competent handling.

Consumer Reports is a valuable resource not just for new-vehicle shoppers but for automakers as well. “We constantly take in all points of input and look at that as we continue development of our vehicles,” said Sherwood. When it comes to the company’s cantankerous MyFord Touch system, they’ve already shipped a number of updates. Complaints have actually dropped 50 percent since the system launched a couple years ago.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Least Reliable Cars and Trucks

In spite of its widely publicized issues, customers are drawn to MyFord Touch. Talk about a paradox! Sherwood said, “Last year the mix was around 12 percent,” meaning a little more than one out of every 10 buyers purchased the infotainment system. But today he said a whopping 50 percent of customers opt for the technology. “People are buying more feature-rich vehicles [from us]” he said, which is good for the company’s bottom line.

2013 Ford F-150 LariatSherwood said buyers of F-150 pickups equipped with MyFord Touch are the company’s most satisfied customers. Additionally, drivers with MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles are more satisfied than motorists that don’t have it.

Technologies like MyFord Touch, inflatable seat belts and active park assist are all part of the company’s efforts to lead the industry instead of following the competition. “It’s been just a huge push for us to innovate… to have the freshest product on the market,” Sherwood said.


With all of the problems it’s faced in recent years one might expect the company to slow things down a little bit, but surprisingly that’s not the case. Ford will remain just as aggressive with its new vehicle and technology launches, but it’s going to focus on quality like never before. “I think overall it’s just really balancing the pace of innovation and product freshness” said Sherwood, adding, “We really did stretch ourselves [thin] and learned important lessons.”

The key to growth in the automotive industry is product freshness. Companies can no longer launch a vehicle and then leave it on the market for a decade without any updates. In years past Ford had a bad habit of introducing cars and trucks and then practically forgetting about them, but no more said Sherwood.

Citing Bank of America’s recently released Car Wars report he said the company is expected to have the best product-replacement rate in the industry. That means it will have one of the freshest lineups in the business, something that should attract buyers to the Blue Oval brand. Because of its aggressiveness and appealing new vehicles Bank of America projects Ford will gain one point of market share by 2017, a significant improvement in today’s highly competitive market. Hopefully they can get past the issues plaguing them right now and make Quality Job 1.

Discuss this story at
  • disqus_JyTgLKgIkp

    Here’s a newsflash…Infotainment systems and whether they function or not have absolutely NOTHING to do with reliability. Reliability is solely a question of whether the vehicle starts and runs EACH time the driver needs it to do so. Consumer Reports has a poor definition of reliability, accordingly, they should not be relied on for their opinions.

  • MistyGreen

    Yes. Correct. We’ve been trying to tell them this for years. They won’t listen.

  • Yaokay

    Not if your vehicle is left with the service department for a number of days to be fixed. That is call unreliable transportation so yes this has to do with the vehicles reliability ratings.


    If it ain’t GERMAN, it ain’t a car. simple

  • Nathan Kendall

    Yes, it does have something to do with reliability. If the system has an issue to the point where you are required to return to the dealer to have it fixed, it affects the reliability of said automobile. They aren’t talking about how easy the system is to use as they are talking about the system actually functioning. In addition to that, seeing that Consumer Reports considers this in their ratings, they are stating the MyFord Touch system is more problematic than other infotainment systems.

  • Nathan Kendall

    I also want to see how the long-term reliability is on these new engines with direct injection and turbocharging as we all know that these tactics aren’t good for an engine. I’m not putting down Ford specifically as there are quite a few auto manufactures using these tactics.


    Direct injection with the injectors in the head, not in front of the intake valve, increase mpg and performance, at the expense of not having gas across the valve to keep it clean! Physics, with every action there is an equal and opposite REACTION. Improve performance for some time and MPG, but dirty intake valves then cause running problems and reduced MPG! Without the gas across the intake valve and the additives cleaning the valves, the valves gunk up, need to pull manifold and clean, big job. Costly too.


    Modern turbos are super reliable in my VW 2.0T they are smaller, spool up FAST, work great, with synthetic oils, no more damaged bearings from cooked dino oils. 78K no problems, turbos are GREAT! And this ain’t GM, who shouldn’t be around anymore actually.

  • Kinetis

    What is making the valves dirty on the top side? The filtered air?


    One would think that. Why would the valves gunk up. It’s a problem. For real. Pull manifold off gotta use walnut shells blasted clean the valves, look it up it’s real. When the gas goes across the valves with the less efficient method of in front of valve, it keeps it clean, additives in gas. Direct injection is the best performance, with some downfalls. couple of solutions I heard is a different type of oil? Or a 5th injector to flow across all 4 cylinders inlets, just for cleaning…..we shall see.

  • Kinetis

    Interesting stuff. I’ll have to look into it some more.


    Ford has more junk on the road now than GM. Why is GM still around, is a big mystery.


    It’s a DESIGN that works. Not a tactic. Turbos are super reliable now. this isn’t GM in the 80’s. Well GM still is in the 80’s, most other legit car makers are far advanced. Direct injection, multi valve,small 4 cyls with lots of torque and HP. GM, still makes Chevy Impala, like it’s 1981, fit and finish is abysmal. Sharp edges on deck lids, horrible steering and seats.

  • Unhappy Ford Edge Owner

    I made a mistake thinking that Ford reliability had improved when I purchased a 2011 Edge Limited. Not a cheap car. Now at just over 36,000 miles I am having all kinds of front end issues with tie rods and alignment problems. Never again! NEVER again!! I learned my lesson here. Only Toyota or Honda from now on. I gave Ford a chance and they failed miserably. Oh yea, funny how everything fails just after the warranty expires! I won’t even go into the Sync system. Its great when it works, but most times its locked up, doing something its not supposed to or is rebooting. I am so done with Ford!

  • CrackHerAss

    If quality was job 1 they wouldn’t be made in Mexico. Dua !

  • Jose

    Is that because Mexicans can’t build good cars? Or because you’re a racist.

  • trainiac 1

    The Germans used to build a good car but for a long time now have been building expensive junk prone to all kinds of problems but at least they have nice interiors to sit in while waiting for the tow truck.

  • trainiac 1

    The operative word is “on the road” the fact is American cars are the best value you can get period! I have owned dozens of Ford cars and trucks putting 2 to 300k miles on them and have never had any issues. I have friends that regularly buy GM products and put 250/300k miles on them with only routine maintenance, at the same time I have friends buying German cars and only getting 100k to 130k before the repair costs outweigh the cars value and they have to get rid of them. that to me is not a good value especially when considering initial cost.


    Problem is, even with them on the road, they are horrible, sloppy steering, horrible seats, lousy handling, GARBAGE. Once you experience real cars from GERMANS, nobody can drive a GM, Ford or Chrysler shit box. If you want driving comfort, handling, performance, it ain’t GM or Ford or Chrysler garbage. Raise your standards, life is short. I’ll stick with Audi, VW etc. GTI rock steady at speeds, my last GLX VR6 Jetta only went 316,000 miles, replaced with and even BETTER current GTI 2.0T, with Eibach springs and sways, amazing agility and performance, GERMAN, or it not a car. I had plenty of GM rot for company vehicles, un driveable, back aches, lousy brakes 20,000 miles warped rotors shakes, GARBAGE, I got 100K out of my brakes always on my last 11 VW’s, same driving. GM FORD Chrysler, all JUNK


    High quality products come out of Mexico all the time. It’s this continent too! Unlike total GARBAGE sent daily out of China, which is toxic, deadly, dangerous. VW has been in Mexico since the 60’s, all HIGH QUALITY. My previous Mexican assembled Jetta VR6 GLX went 316,000 glorious fun comfortable miles! Now replaced with a GTI

  • trainiac 1

    My uncle bought a brand new Jetta, drove it to my house from the dealer to show it off and then we noticed something leaking from it, antifreeze all over the driveway, I think it had 12 miles on it, then the head warped at around 22000 miles then the trans went etc,etc what a shit box, he wised up and bought a Ford and has been driving them ever since with no problems. My dentist had always drove lincoln’s with no problems then wanted to try something different so they bought a new Audi Q7, after 2 years of PROBLEMS they got rid of it saying Never again would we buy a German car they went back to driving a Lincoln and again have no problems and love the car, another friend of mine bought a brand new BMW 7 series for like $75,000.00 right away It was at the dealer so often for electrical problems that BMW couldn’t figure out, he finally got rid of “his dream car” vowing never to buy another German car again. another friend of mine bought a Mercedes SL 600 V12 Twin turbo, paid almost $200,000.00 after 2000 miles the engine started making noise, he took it to the dealer and it was down like 4 quarts of oil the dealer filled the oil and a week later it happened again. Problems like that on a car that costs as much as a house? He finally sold the stove a year later and only got $60,000.00 for it, He won’t be buying any more over priced CRAP from Germany! I could tell more stories about these “great cars’ but I think I’ve made my point.


    You need new friends!


    Porsche is #1 RELIABLE and FUN products. Beats anything, Wonder where Porsche is from? DUH. Never had any of your experiences, ever, well into 11 or so GERMAN cars, your friends might be inept? Low on oil, who as a car low on oil, even if too dumb to pull a dipstick, new Audi doesn’t have a dipstick, it will tell you on the dash, if ya can read!

  • trainiac 1

    German cars are HIGH PRICED including Porsche, for $200,000 the car should serve you breakfast in bed, unless its normal to have to check your oil every twenty minutes, Guess you have to buy a German car to know that.

  • trainiac 1

    No, My friends just needed to wise up and stop buying over priced German CRAP!


    You have no idea what you are talking about…guess my previous Jetta GLX VR6 316,000 miles wasn’t enough? Lets see how my current GTI goes, which is even more FUN, and comfort.

  • trainiac 1

    I Guess I should expect VW to be able to make at least ONE car that worked, Ive heard of people striking it rich in Vegas too but I wouldn’t build a retirement plan around it. The GTI is a chick car!


    VW, Audi, Bugatti, Porsche,Bentley,Seat, Skoda,Man,Lamborghini, yeah guess VW doesn’t have it ALL covered.


    Not all Porsche are $200K, obviously you are out of touch

  • C-face

    looking for anybody that’s had trouble with a fiesta..I’m considering buying one

  • NoMoreFords

    I have bought 6 new Fords over the last 10 or 15yrs and never had any significant issue with any of them, until purchasing a 2013 focus. This car is utterly TERRIBLE! It lasted all of about 500 miles before turning into a complete monster. The powershift transmission slips and shudders significantly, and has prolonged LOUD grinding between the first 3 gears…enough to turn heads in parking lots and such. Squeaks and rattles are springing up faster then I can hunt them down and try correcting them. The car has died 3x in traffic so far. Both front struts clunk around over bumps, the left side loudly. At 70mph it sounds like driving thru a cat5 hurricane and makes my 11yo work truck seem like a quiet luxury car in comparison in that regard. Found rust bubbling through the paint on the lower rear quarter panel a week after delivery, and several other gripes. Everything the dealers have tried to fix only resulted in no change if not made things worse. Just a complete nightmare! I’ve had 20yr old 200k mile beaters that drove and just were all around MUCH better then this POS. Here’s another once loyal customer who will never ever EVER touch a ford product again. This car is SO bad and such poor quality, I will never chance another one no matter how much they may claim to change in the future.

  • stereodan

    The majority of MFT users that have problems have Smartphones. The number one cause of issues is phonebook content on these “Smartphones”. When MFT is reading the phonebook and encounters Emoticons, dashes, slashes, parenthesis, brackets and other characters that should not be used to spell a name or multiple entries of the same contact than it does not know how to deal with them and the system hangs. This hang is causing the entire system to be slow. The problem is aggravated when having Auto Download phonebook set to on, as at every phone connect MFT is checking the phonebook and further causing system memory issues due to phonebook read problems.
    I agree 100% that Ford needs a software fix that will not hang when encountering these issues. However Ford has no control over what users have in their phonebooks.
    The fix is to clean up your phonebook. Only have characters A thru Z and # or & or ‘. For doctor spell it out do not use “Dr.” basically keep it simple. Spell hard to pronounce names phonetically.
    After phonebook is cleaned up you must reset MFT and phone before pairing back up to MFT.
    Delete Sync pairing from phone and reboot phone or take off battery if possible.
    Power reset MFT by removing either vehicle battery cable for a minimum of 5 minutes. When System is back up after re-connecting battery cable perform a Master reset through MFT menu. Go to Settings: System, scroll to bottom of page: Master Reset, answer yes to both pop up questions. A master reset is only successful if the screen turns off then comes back on at the Home screen. Reset typically takes 2 to 5 minutes. If reset is not successful, resetting to defaults box goes away but still on same screen, than try again. If still not successful take to Dealer.
    Now pair phone to SYNC and allow phonebook download. Go to phonebook screen on MFT, when it shows phonebook download complete then go to MFT phone Settings screen: scroll to bottom: Manage Phonebook: Set Auto Download to off. You can use this same menu to delete and re-download phonebook to upload any changes.
    If you do not want to fix your phonebook than follow all other steps but do not download phonebook to MFT. MFT will work and you can make and take calls, but Voice calling by name will not work.
    If any phone with issues is paired and phonebook downloaded it can cause issues for the whole system no matter which phone is currently connected. The only way to fix it is to Power and Master reset MFT again and not download a messed up phonebook.

  • john

    Have a 2011 mustang. Nothing but trouble from the start. Transmission is junk! Been serviced 8 times for transmission issues and still not fixed. Many other problems as well. I’ll never buy another ford again! Customer service is horrible and it’s all cheap made junk! Ford sucks!

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    Just bought a brand new 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. I am a 26 year old young male professional and Ford is doing a really poor job at creating brand loyalty among those my age. First, I didn’t notice this on pick-up, but the factory in Mexico didn’t finish my door handle. It was still rough and had the wrong coat of paint on it. Three trips and calls to the dealership owner later they transplanted another door handle from another Fiesta and slapped it on my car. Ok, that was ridiculous but at least it solved the problem. Now, my driver’s seat is broken. Whenever I am driving it sounds like plastic grinding on a plastic mixed with a sort of squeaking sound. I wonder if I’m going to fall through the floor boards. I am taking it to another dealership to try and get them to replace the seat or whatever itis that is causing issues. Barely even 1,000 miles on it and this is absolutely ridiculous. I thought I would be doing myself a favor by switching from a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt to a brand new Fiest ST. Was looking forward to the fuel economy as well as the 200 horsepower on a 2780 pound car. I am extremely disappointed and this has been more of a headache than it’s worth.
    I can guarantee that had this car been manufactured in the U.S. I wouldn’t be having these problems. Instead, Ford outsources the labor has it slapped together in Mexico and then shipped by RAIL to the U.S. Unbelievable. My parents just bought a 2014 Ford Escape and they love it but, then again, that vehicle was made by quality hands and caring people in the good old U.S. of A. It’s time to rein in these greedy corporate executives and take our country back! My first car was a 1993 Ford Tempo and it ran until 300,000 miles and the fuel lines finally rusted. Boy that was a great car! The engine was still in WONDERFUL condition too! I’d rather have my Ford Tempo back!

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    I feel your pain! I bought a brand new Fiesta ST performance addition and have had nothing but problems… It wasn’t put together right. Maybe if Ford had stuff manufactured in the U.S. it would work. I would PAY more for a vehicle manufactured in the U.S. because I know that quality, UAW hands put those together!

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    oh I KNOW what you mean. Ford went from producing quality products made in America in the 90’s to producing absolute crap. They think they can get ahead by outsourcing everything, well, this is going to haunt them. At this point, thinking about trading off my brand new 2014 Ford Fiesta ST for a Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Obviously American cars are no longer American. My parents bought a 2014 Ford Escape and absolutely love it. The car is made in America. I just bought my car two weeks ago and haven’t even received the first payment invoice in the mail and I’ve already had it in the dealer’s service area 4 times!!!!

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    DO NOT buy a Fiesta. I bought a top of the line 2014 Ford Fiesta ST and have had nothing but problems with it. The door handle was not finished and was painted the wrong color, the driver’s seat clunks and squeaks, I feel like I’m about to go through the floor boards and it’s absolutely sickening. Run away!

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    Mexicans are not unionized and receive very poor wages compared to their American counterparts, that creates animosity amongst the factory workers. Quality products do not come out of Mexico. The fact that an American car is made outside the United States is absolutely sickening. Come drive my Fiesta ST and let me know how you feel.

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    I agree with you, in principal. Every car I have owned with the exception of one has been a Ford. My 1993 Tempo, LOVED it. My 2000 Mustang? LOVED IT. Never had an issue until I bought a 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. All the problems with it just make me sick.

  • InternationalRelationsXPERT

    Most people do not have the funds for a Porsche.


    CPO used price drops big time, more car less money! warrantys and cars are like new, I have had two CPO an Audi and a VW Tiguan, immaculate cars with warranty 2 years and like 24,000 miles

  • Ford owner

    The problem with Ford seems to be that if they can`t fix the problem, they tell the customer that their problem is “normal” & just refuse to do anything about it leaving the customer to either live with the problem or seek (expensive) legal help. I`m not bashing Ford, I own three of them, but their customer service has really gone down hill.

  • Ford owner

    You are kidding right? BMW builds some really expensive junk. I have two friends one of whom had a 3 series `vert & another who bought a M3. Both had nothing but problems with them. The ONLY good thing was that their customer service was better than Ford`s


    If it ain’t GERMAN, it ain’t a car. Yeah those impressive FORD interiors, of the cheapest materials found…..Ford gm Chrysler, all junk, all the time. Innovators with new ideas, are GERMAN.


    of course they did, while you sloshed along in a wallowing Ford with un supportive seats, horrible control, those pesky well fitted marvels BMW, junk, really, are you high?

  • Ford customer

    I have a 2014 Mustang GT since last September and have already replaced the shifter.The
    quality of this item was pathetic and of course Ford said it met specs. I spent $600 to replace the shifter and now the clutch chatters when depressed. This car has 700 miles on
    it and Ford’s logo that Quality is Job 1 is an auto industry joke. This company is at the
    bottom of the reliability list because they use inferior parts and pay no attention to
    customer concerns. Ford better wake-up and soon!

  • Damien

    nice interior to sit in while waiting for tow truck.. haha i thought that was funny..

  • 85ZingoGTR

    Dude. I know a guy with a CLS that needed a new shock absorber. I kid you not. $1100 for the shock absorber alone.That is NOT counting labor. All because it was a Mercedes Benz and its an air ride suspension. The ONLY good way to get a German car is by lease. During the lease they are covered under warranty and then when the lease is up you ditch it and it’s the dealer’s problem.


    UAW, Detroit, GM, are you nuts?


    My MEXICO assembled VW, went 316,000 fun reliable never stranded miles, Mexico has some of the most modern factory in the world, VW Mexico makes great stuff, GERMAN management.Ford GM Chrysler are junk from any factory, cus it’s poorly designed junk. If it ain’t GERMAN, it ain’t a car, simple


    that is one pricey shock! Best deals are CPO like a 3 year old CPO Had two VW/audi CPO 2 year 24K warranty and the big drop in value was by the first owner, cars are like new, spotless…anything worn is replaced before you buy, CPO is the way to get more car for less money


    any of them, until purchasing a 2013 focus. This car is utterly
    TERRIBLE! It lasted all of about 500 miles before turning into a
    complete monster. The powershift transmission slips and shudders
    significantly, and has prolonged LOUD grinding between the first 3
    gears…enough to turn heads in parking lots and such. Squeaks and
    rattles are springing up faster then I can hunt them down and try
    correcting them. The car has died 3x in traffic so far. Both front
    struts clunk around over bumps, the left side loudly. At 70mph it sounds
    like driving thru a cat5 hurricane and makes my 11yo work truck seem
    like a quiet luxury car in comparison in that regard. Found rust
    bubbling through the paint on the lower rear quarter panel a week after
    delivery, and several other gripes. Everything the dealers have tried to
    fix only resulted in no change if not made things worse. Just a
    complete nightmare! I’ve had 20yr old 200k mile beaters that drove and
    just were all around MUCH better then this POS. Here’s another once
    loyal customer who will never ever EVER touch a ford product again. This
    car is SO bad and such poor quality, I will never chance another one no
    matter how much they may claim to change in the future.

  • Len Dirk

    Why are YOU paying for a shifter replacement when you only have 700 miles on a brand new car?? That seems odd – I’m pretty sure their warranty goes beyond a few months and 700 miles.

  • fairlane500

    The original shifter kept jamming when going through the gears .Ford said it
    was normal but a tech suggested an MGW shifter which I purchased in 12/13 and it is fantastic. Just drove a new 2014 GT-6-speed with the same exact problem. This has been a chronic problem 2011.

  • Amen.