Consumer advice: Ford transmission woes result in recall notice

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Imagine driving down the highway at 60 mph when your vehicle downshifts to low gear, placing you in danger and making it impossible for you to keep up with traffic speeding around you. For drivers of Ford’s top-selling F-150 truck and the Expedition SUV, this is really happening.

The problem is so serious that Ford is recalling nearly 1.5 million F-150s in North America because of these transmission problems. The recall covers model years 2011-2013 with six-speed automatic transmissions.

The company says there is a glitch sending a signal from the transmission speed sensor. Owners are being notified by letter.

The fix includes dealers updating the powertrain control software to correct the problem. Here’s a website that allows you to look up your vehicle by its VIN to see if it’s affected by the recall: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin

Also, Ford’s transmission woes extend to two popular car brands, the Ford Focus (model years 2012-2016) and the Fiesta (model years 2011-2016). Some owners have reported a dramatic hesitation as they accelerate. Some have also reported weird sounds or a shudder that has caught their attention.

Ford has issued more than 20 Technical Service Bulletins on these models equipped with the PowerShift Transmission to alert dealership service technicians about known mechanical issues. Even so, after customers have brought their vehicle into a dealership for repairs, the problems seem to persist. Some owners have complained that they have had to replace their transmission three or four times in as many years and the problem still is not fixed. Despite ongoing issues, Ford has not issued a recall for these vehicles.

If you drive one of these cars you should know your rights. Check out: https://bit.ly/2Fglwez

It seems that the only solution moving forward is to ensure your legal rights are protected.

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HOW TO SPOT CAR-WRAP SCAM: This scam isn’t new but it’s making a comeback. Several readers have told me they’ve received checks to get their vehicle wrapped. The ads promise easy money: Just get your car wrapped with an advertisement (from a well-known brand like Red Bull or Pepsi) and drive around like normal and make money. This sounds great but here’s how the scam works.

A check for around $1,785 is either sent via Fed Ex or mailed to the target. The target is told to keep $350 as a commission plus $50 to have the car washed prior to installation of the wrap, then wire the rest of the money to the company that will wrap the vehicle.

I did a little checking and found out that the cost of a partial wrap is around $1,800 while a full wrap is about $3,700, which can vary depending on the complexity of design and size of the vehicle. So if you’re getting a check for less than $1,800 and being told to keep $400 for your commission and a car wash, that means there isn’t enough left to professionally get even a partial wrap done on your vehicle. And in case you’re wondering, it costs several hundred dollars to “unwrap” the vehicle.

You should also know that several local companies do wrap vehicles, so there shouldn’t be a need to wire money anywhere to wrap a vehicle except this is how the scammer gets away with your money. After several weeks, the check will bounce and the money you wired will be long gone.

Whenever you’re asked to deposit a check then asked to wire money somewhere, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for this one. Do yourself a favor. Just throw the check away.

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MORE PASSWORD MANAGEMENT TIPS: Some readers really like the app www.1password.com and thought it would be worth checking out. When I wrote about password management recently, it wasn’t my intention to leave any option out, just to give you some ideas of what’s available.

And for those who don’t like the idea of a password management program, a local computer expert chimed in and said another good idea is to use a simple sentence all run together without spaces and no caps as your password. As long as the sentence fits in the space provided, this could be a good alternative, too. The idea is to make your online space safer.

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WHERE TO CHECK YOUR TITLE: After Monday’s article on Home Title Lock, I received a couple of calls asking that I let readers know how to self-monitor the title on your home. Go to the Kootenai County assessor’s website: https://bit.ly/2Y9VrGF

Click on property information but before you can access the search tool, you’ll have to agree to the terms and conditions. The website will allow you to search by parcel number, name or address. I checked my own title online and it was very easy to do and only took me a couple of minutes.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. Please include your name and a phone number or email. I’m a fulltime copywriter working with businesses on marketing, a columnist and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.

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