Calling the blistering Shelby GT350 Mustang “track-ready” has led to unexpected consequences for Ford Motor Company. As of late yesterday, the automaker finds itself the subject of a class-action lawsuit.
Owners of 2016 models are turning up the heat on the Blue Oval after their vehicles’ transmissions and differentials overheated, forcing the cars into performance-sapping (but component-saving) “limp mode.” Certain GT350sÂ â€” base and Tech Package variants, to be exactÂ â€” came from the factory without transmission and differential coolers. While fast, the models created headaches for some owners. Many drivers suddenly found themselves stuck in limp mode mid-race, or on the road.
The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Florida by law firmsÂ Hagens Berman and Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen, claims Ford’s declaration of track-readiness, coupled with the lack of cooling systems, isn’t safe. Power and speed loss can occur within 15 minutes of the start of a race, the suit states. The plaintiffs claim the sudden loss of power can prove disorienting, increasing the odds of a crash. (You can watch a video of a limp mode intervention here.)
Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said owners paid over $50,000 for a product that didn’t live up to expectations.
â€œWe believe that Ford induced purchasers with its â€˜track-readyâ€™ marketing, when in fact it knew that this defect would ultimately bar these Mustangs from ever being the hotrod consumers paid for,” he said in a media release. “Ford’s only answer to owners has effectively been, ‘pay for a fix on your own dime.’”
The suit demands Ford reimburse owners for the purchase cost of the vehicle, as well as punitive damages and depreciation costs.
While Ford has since installed transmission and differential coolers as standard equipment on all 2017 Shelby GT350 models, it doesn’t help owners of 2016 vehicles. The full performance potential of those models could only be unlocked by ordering a $6,500 Track Package. Not surprisingly, complaints about the earlier model’s limited endurance cropped up quickly. Many owners took to online forums to air their frustrations.
One Utah owner posting on gt350.org last October claimed theÂ Ford salesman who sold him the Mustang said his Tech Package model came equipped with the proper cooling systems.
“As you can expect, I’m not very happy to find out that my car doesn’t have the diff and trans coolers it needs to even last a 20 min track session without going into limp mode,” the poster wrote. Other forums revealed similar gripes. While many owners claim that even base-model GT350s should be capable of handling the rigors of a track, other claim they simply should have known to buy the Track Package.
Ford has so far not responded to the lawsuit.[Image: Ford Motor Company]