NHTSA Launches Investigation of 2011 and 2012 Mustang Manual Transmissions
by Patrick Rall
Since the first 2011 Ford Mustangs were hitting the street with the new 3.7L V6 and 5.0L V8, there have been rumors about shifting problems with the new 6-speed manual transmission. As more and more of the manually shifted 2011 Mustangs abound, more MFers complained about a variety of issues with their 6-speed transmissions, ranging from things as simple as excessive noise and vibration to the inability to shift into some gears at high speed or high rpm.
While the complaints online stacked up, Ford Motor Company had little to say, causing some owners to quickly grow frustrated with their new muscle car, but a recent announcement from the NHTSA has 2011 and 2012 Mustang owners sleeping easier as the answers to their problems have gotten a little closer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a preliminary investigation into the 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustang models equipped with the Chinese-built 6-speed ZF transmissions. Their main concern is the inability to get from one gear to the next. While nearly all of the complaints about this new gearbox are based on symptoms found at high speed or high engine rpm - thus having less effect on daily drivability - the Mustang is a performance car built for high speed and lots of rpm.
Some drivers have found that when they are attempting to shift from 3rd to 4th gear at high rpm, the transmission will simply not go into 4th gear. Instead, the driver is forced to shift into 6th gear before then shifting back to another gear. The problem with this, even for those who may not have the need for speed, is that in some circumstances, such as merging into fast moving highway traffic, you may require this type of shift. Without being able to shift...the Mustang is unable to continue accelerating.
In addition to the inability to upshift, some driver's have also complained that when the clutch pedal is pushed to the floor, it will not return and engage the transmission until engine rpm drops significantly. Although none of the 32 complaints received by the NHTSA included any accidents or injuries - there is an obvious increased danger to the driver and others on the road, so the feds are looking into these problems.
This problem with 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustangs has been severe enough that some consumers have opted to avoid buying a new Mustang with the 6-speed transmission until the company addresses the issue. Depending on the findings of this NHTSA preliminary investigation, Ford may be forced to recall around 26,000 Mustangs from the two model years with the new ZF 6-speed transmission - including the incredible new Ford Mustang Boss 302.
MustangForums.com member ShaneM is the proud owner of 2012 Boss 302 #0333 and during a track day in his Boss he experienced the shifting problems. You can watch him tear around the track with a driving instructor in the car in the video below with the shifting problems beginning around the 6:40 mark of the first video and then again at the 7:30 mark. The second video offers a good look as the condition gets worse.