Owners of some 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustangs have filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] and claim their cars, which are marketed as "track ready," overheat in as little as 15 minutes.
The owners, who are seeking class-action status, are suing for fraud and breach of warranty claims relating to a "Limp Mode" defect that occurs when the cars are driven hard. Owners are seeking compensation from Ford, saying that they paid a premium for a track-ready car that isn't track ready. They are represented by the law firms Hagens Berman and Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen.
The suit alleges that when drivers take the GT350 to a track, the transmission and/or rear differential overheats after 15 minutes or less, causing the car to go into a Limp Mode that dramatically reduces power. The suit says that is dangerous when the cars are surrounded by other cars traveling at high speeds. Furthermore, it claims that Ford knew it was selling cars with defective transmissions and rear differentials and failed to disclose that to the buyers. Ford's failure to properly fix the powertrain is a breach of the express warranty, the suit claims.
Despite the issues, Ford claimed in its marketing of the GT350 and GT350R are "the most potent track-oriented production Mustangs ever–nothing was left on the table in terms of weight reduction and track-capable performance.” Ford also used the term “Track-Ready Shelby GT350” in its advertising.
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The suit affects base model and Technology package cars. Cars equipped with the Track package came with additional transmission, engine oil, and rear differential coolers that appear to alleviate the problem. Ford made the Track package standard on the 2017 Shelby GT350, and those cars weren't included in the suit. The lawsuit alleges that Ford's inclusion of the Track package for 2017 was an admission by the automaker that it knew 2016 cars were defective, or couldn't live up to the "track ready" promise.
The suit states that Ford has also "belatedly and inconspicuously admitted the defect by advising owners to buy rear differential and transmission coolers for their 2016 model year cars–at their own expense–in order to actually make them 'Track-Ready' as advertised." It goes on to say that buying those aftermarket solutions could "represent further violations of the express warranties."
The lawsuit was filed March in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Ford didn't immediately comment on the story, but has told Autoblog: "Ford is committed to providing our customers with top-quality vehicles. However, we do not comment on pending litigation."
Note to readers: Motor Authority actually ran across this issue and it appeared to be related to the transmission. During our 2016 Best Car To Buy testing, I exercised the GT350 on a twisty southern California road. After about 15 minutes of switchbacks that required few gear shifts and had me running mostly in second gear, the car went into Limp Mode and the transmission temperature was sky high. After I limped back to base and let it cool down, it was fine. It wasn't the deciding factor that gave the win to the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS because we didn't know if it was an isolated incident or a real problem, but it didn't help.