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Automatic Gearbox Needs 're-Learning'...


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Hi folks,

My first post on here, and I'm not particularly knowledgable with cars, so be gentle!

We bought our Focus Estate (automatic) 2012 second-hand last September, and within the first few weeks we noticed that driving off from a standing start (or cruising very slowly), the car would judder like the engine was cold & spluttering into life. But when you get above a certain speed (10mph+) it's fine. This happens at any time - from driving off in the morning, to pulling away from lights after driving for a decent amount of time.

So we went back to the Ford dealership for them to look at it. After a few days (thankfully we got a courtesy car in the meantime) they explained that the gearbox needed 're-learning'. When we got it back it was working well.

Now it has started doing it again, in fact it's been like this for the past few weeks, but you probably know how it is with young children, you struggle to find a good time to hand the car in. Plus I'd appreciate advice from you lot before I do, so I have the appropriate information (ammunition).

The car is still under warranty until June, so I'm hoping that any further repairs will come under that. I'm also concerned that there may be a bigger issue with the gearbox itself, and 're-learning' was just the easy way out for a quick fix. I don't want to constantly be taking the car back to get this done!

I've read that there are ways to 're-learn' the gearbox yourself - something to do with the battery or fuses fiddled with (don't worry, I don't like fiddling with anything electrical that'll do me harm!).

So has anyone had this issue themselves, and how did you get it sorted? What sort of demands or questions should I have when I contact them? Is it best to go back to the Ford dealer that saw it last time? Or does it not matter?

Apart from the gearbox issue, the car is great. Love it :)

Any advice on this topic would be much appreciated. Thanks!


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To "re-learn" the gearbox, you could disconnect the battery, and the ECU would relearn your driving habits, and the gearbox might adapt. But I don't see any point in doing this.

These Ford Powershift (DCT) transmissions have had numerous issues, reported in the media and different forums. Also, the petrol Focus is apparently more prone to these issues compared to the Diesel.

Some suggestions:

* Perhaps the dealer should try an ECU/software update (if they haven't already), which I have heard solved some people's issues.

* Some people think that the shuddering is a trait of the gearbox, perhaps you could compare it to a similar Focus from the dealership on a test drive? Just to compare.

* You could ask a mechanic for a ride-along, and recreate the issue, and point it out.

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is it the powershift autobox?

if it is the 6dct250 box then ,disconncting battery etc of no use, re learning is not a diy job.

sometimes re learn does fix fault, also tcm update fixes others,

if its come back then ford dealer needs to investigate further by recording the judder event on there diagnostic equipment and go from there

gearbox input shaft seals can leak and contaminate the clutch plates causing judder.

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Thanks both of you for your advice! I'm sorry I don't know what gearbox it is, and not sure how I find that out(!)

Do you think this will be covered under the warranty, especially as it sounds like it could be a well known issue? I wish I had known that before I bought it. Darn...

Thanks again. Will update this topic when I've been to the Ford dealer... It's always useful to see how people resolve their topics in forums :)

For what it's worth, my car is a 1.4 titanium model.

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You sure 1.4? More like 1.6.

it is fixable, and will be under warranty.

im betting its the oil seal leaking


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Oops you're right. Had it in my head my Astra was 1.6 and the Focus 1.4. But it was 1.8 and the focus 1.6. You can tell I ain't exactly a petrolhead, and why dealers/garages rub their hands with glee when I approach...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally got the car seen to, and they managed to fix it (for now!). I asked to speak to the engineer/mechanic who worked on it. Essentially they updated the transmission control & powertrain modules. Apparently Ford released new software about 3 months ago, which they're hoping fixes the issue permanently. Ford have also extended the warranty from 3 to 5 years in this area. I asked for documentation, but he couldn't find any. I guess it is related to this: http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/mk3-tsb-recall-problems-archive/455833-ford-dual-clutch-warranty-extension-details-new-tsb-clutch-parts.html

So far so good. And I have the (slight) peace of mind about the warranty extension, as it was due to expire in June this year.

Oh I did ask about shaft seals, and according to records it/they were replaced before I bought the car, so no issue there.

Thanks again for your comments :)

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I am due to get a Fiesta Powershift soon so I have read this topic with interest. I know the gearbox is controlled by the ECU and occasional software updates are sometimes available but I am confused by the term 'Re-learning'. What does this mean?

Also when I take the car in for a service should I ask them to check for software updates or is this part of a normal service?

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I believe that when you do a software update, it needs to relearn things like the clutch operation, so it knows the biting point etc (I'm a novice btw, so don't take my word for it!).

I don't know if it is part of a normal service, but no harm in asking. I have no shame in asking lots of questions!

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I have a 2013 Focus auto and about 6 weeks ago I had a similar problem. It was shuddering so much that I had a "Transmission Malfunction" warning message. A mechanic put it down to me not pressing down hard enough on the pedal and after discovering that I'd filled up with Tesco petrol, he wasn't surprised it was showing the message as I usually use Shell V Power.

After running the inadequate petrol through the car, which I must say was an unpleasant experience, I filled it with Shell V power and have done since without any issues.

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Basically the ecu deals with the engine, the tcm is the transmission Co tool unit, it takes feedback from the engine revs and the performance and adjusts the hears based on this. When you have installed an update you basically run it in day to day means and it takes the default values it has, reads the engine and load and starts to adjust it's settings to accommodate the engine performance

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  • 6 months later...

An update...

I made an appointment with my Ford dealer to do a check-up, and I mentioned I still experience the judder. Turns out Ford had a recall to do a software update. Plus they called saying I needed a new clutch, but not to worry, it comes under the warranty.

When I picked the car up I asked if the clutch was related to the juddering issue. They admitted that Ford finally figured out it WAS related to the clutch...

Since then my car has been working perfectly!

I can't help thinking if I hadn't brought the car in, would Ford have contacted me to fix the car...?

Anyhoo, it is working, finally after a year! Happy bunny...

So a word of warning, if you have a similar issue, ask about the clutch :)

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Congratulations! that is a great result!

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