NHTSA Ends Investigation Into Mustang Manual Transmission

2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0

2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0

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Last August, we told you that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was investigating manual-transmission equipped Ford Mustangs for shifting issues, ranging from binding gears through excessive noise and vibration.

At the time, the NHTSA had amassed some 32 customer complaints, including several that alleged transmission problems had nearly led to a collision. At the heart of the issue was the Chinese-manufactured Getrag MT-82 transmission, used in 2011 and 2012 model year Mustangs.

Now comes word from Mustangs Daily that the NHTSA has completed its investigation, finding that “there is no indication of loss of motive power or unreasonable safety risk associated with the alleged defect in the subject vehicles.” In other words, there’s nothing about the manual transmission used in the Ford Mustang that would prompt the NHTSA (or Ford) to issue a recall.

The agency did cite Ford’s findings that the bulk of the shift effort complaints occurred in cold ambient temperatures. Ford has released a service bulletin recommending a lower-viscosity transmission fluid for customers complaining of cold weather shift problems, which seem to improve as the car (and transmission fluid) come to a proper operating temperature.

A clutch stay-out issue, which may prevent clutch re-engagement at engine speeds above 4,000 rpm, was blamed on the rotating inertia of the clutch components. Ford has  issued a technical service bulletin to dealers on this issue and has revised certain parts within the clutch pedal assembly.

Finally, grinding or notchy shifts were traced back to the loosening of clutch plate fasteners, which the NHTSA links to aggressive shifting. Ford has since revised the fasteners used in production, and the updated fasteners are now available through Ford’s service department.

If you’re a 2011-12 Mustang owner experiencing problems with the six-speed manual transmission, the NHTSA’s findings probably don’t come as good news. We're also curious if any owners have tried the remedies proposed by Ford, with no real improvements. If you have a six-speed Mustang from 2011 or 2012, we'd love to hear from you.

Want to read the full report of the NHTSA's findings? Head on over to the next page.

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Comments (15)
  1. I own a 2012 GT manual and it certainly does have issues in cold ambient temps. I've had a few other things happen as well that are described in the article. I plan on noting these at my next dealership service visit. The car has only 3700 miles.

  2. I have a 2011. Picked it up in July 2010. Around October that year I started noticing the problem. First it was a small grind into 2nd when the outside tempature was 5 degrees celcius or colder. The colder it got the worse it got. When the outside tempature was around -25 celcius I couldn't even get it into 2nd gear and 3rd gear started to grind. I took it to a Ford dealer and they replaced the transmission fluid. It helped a bit but would still grind going into 2nd and 3rd but now when the outside temp was around 14 degrees celcius or less. I took it back and they replaced the 2nd and 3rd gear synchro, and one of the gears. Still grinds into 2nd and 3rd around 5 degrees or less. Took it back today but now they say its normal. Live with it.

  3. I have a 2011 GT with the chinese 6 speed manual transmission. I routinely have problems shifting into 2nd and 3rd gear, at all temperatures!! I called my Ford dealer - the person I spoke with in the service dept said he knew nothing about this problem - liar, I thought! In any case, I am bringing the car in next week for them to take a look at. My worry is that, being an intermittent problem, they may not even experience what I am talking about.
    To be continued...

  4. @jmiche2, please keep us posted on whether or not the dealer's fix solves the problem.

  5. I have a 2013 5.0 6spd - transmission has been very balky around 4800 rpm and north, going into any gear - and finally the 5th gear dogs went for a walk at 6000 miles (about 80% highway) - now going to dealer for warranty - will see what happens. It is poorly engineered, no question, and Ford should 86 the Getrag - I would have paid an extra few grand if that's what it took to get a reliable set up. Looks like a Tremec 6060 is in the future - probably $5K to get it and install. GEEZUS. Alan Mulally needs to understand if he is going to lift his leg with the big dogs, he's going to have to lift higher.

  6. @Fast Eddy, it certainly doesn't sound like you were hard on the gearbox, especially if most of the miles were highway. Just out of curiosity, did you try switching to a synthetic oil when you started having shifting problems?

    Let us know how it works out with the dealer and warranty repairs.

  7. Haven't touched it. At first I thought it needed some miles to loosen up. When you wind it up on the on-ramp though it is 1 in 3 that it will jam on at least one upshift unless it is a granny. The pattern took some getting used to also - 1, 2, 3, 4 are H pattern, but 5 is angled right and up and six angled down right - it is actually a search to find 5 and often futile above 4500 rpm and ditto 6, as if the pattern actually wanders or "closes out" as a friend noticed. I have raced and driven in a lot of cars, open wheel, tin tops etc. but this trans is a strange duck - it just gets lockjaw at higher rpm - hope it is just oil - will let you know in a few days.

  8. @Fast Eddy, please let me know. If and when the economy ever turns around, I'd be in the market for a six-speed GT myself, so I'm following reports like this with interest.

  9. I have a 2013 Mustang V6 manual trans with problems - hoping I can get some feedback! I have 6200mi on it and it it vibrates and makes a loud noise when I let up on the gas between all gears. I am also experiencing problems getting it into 3rd gear and the take off in first is awful. It hesitates terribly unless I hold the clutch longer. I had it at the shop this past weekend. I was told first and 3rd were fine and the vibration and noise is a "characteristic of the racing transmission in this model." Sorry - but I do not believe them! I have been driving manuals my whole life, both Ford and Nissan made and this is the first time I am having so many problems. Suggestions?

  10. I got a 2012 5.0 mustang first it won't shift into 3 at red lion , dealer put another clutch pedal and spring in, still wouldn't shift so i bought a high end steeds tri shifter and still have the same problem ,to top it off the car is at the dealer again 5th gear syc is out and ford says its because i changed shifters BS. they want to put the stock shifter in or they MIGHT not fix under warrenty, ok i'll play there game when it goes infor the 3rd time the lemon law kicks in.


  12. We own a 2013 mustang V6 manual transmission. On our second clutch with only 12000 miles. Unbelievable! We own a '65 mustang 100K miles original clutch; '66 corvair 70K miles original clutch; VW microbus '66 65K miles original clutch; Saturn 120 K miles before second clutch, etc., etc., ...dealer (Blackwell Ford Plymouth Michigan) says we must be "abusing" the clutch...They sure don't make them like they used to... (dealers or clutches!).

  13. 12 Mustang GT 48k miles. @nd gear and 5th gear since new were always a little tricky. Know the car is at the dealer becuase it grinds into 5 all the time and ocasionally 2nd. The syncros were blamed and replaced. After a ford tech test drive the transmissions is making a rattling noise. Ford tech has taken it apart again and can not figure out the issue. I have contacted Ford and have asked for a tranmission replacement. the car has been in the shop for 3 weeks. Lets see if Ford steps up and replaces it.

  14. I have a 2012 gt, and ive been noticing a few things wrong with my transmission also. Second gear seems like its not there sometimes and then it will start to grind like its not allowing me to fully engage the gear. Under hard acceleration, shifting from 2nd to 3rd is just about impossible, it will either lock out completely or just push me over into 5th. Sometimes I even have a little trouble shifting from 3rd to 4th under heavy acceleration. This is starting to become a huge annoyance to me, seeing that I cant even enjoy getting on my car. Also I wanted to see if anyone knows if changing to a short throw shifter helps with these problems.

  15. I spoke with Bama Performance and they said I should change the shifter in my 2012 CS GT. I just bought the car still under warranty and it will not go into 2nd AT ALL! I have owned it for 7 days and took it to the local Ford Dealership today and they said it was either the Fork or the syncros in which both require the transmission to be torn down. They also inform me that since I had an xpipe exhaust installed that my warranty may be voided so I am waiting to hear from Ford now. Its amazing that this seems to be a widespread problem with the car shifting but they want to void my warranty like it was caused by me??? I don't know what I will do if I have to work on this transmission out of pocket...

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