Woman sold a lemon in 2012 wins Ford fight

·2-min read

A Melbourne woman has won a nine-year battle with Ford over faults in her car, but 65,000 car owners on her tail hit a speed bump on their claims.

Business consultant Biljana Capic took on the US car company after her brand new 2012 Ford Focus had a number of mechanical faults, leading to it shuddering.

The Federal Court on Tuesday found Ford had breached its obligation under Australian consumer law to supply Ms Capic with a product of acceptable quality and fix problems within a reasonable time.

Justice Nye Perram agreed with Ms Capic's lawyer that her car "was a lemon".

"Ms Capic took her vehicle for servicing on many occasions and complained about these problems. For a long time they were not fixed," the judge said about one set of issues.

While Ford eventually fixed several issues, Justice Perram wasn't satisfied two particular remedies were done within a reasonable time.

Those issues related to faulty seals that allowed the clutch to get wet and a computer chip that could go offline for seconds, causing the transmission to go into neutral.

"If a vehicle overtaking another suffers a three-second power loss, this generates a real risk of an accident," Justice Perram said.

Ms Capic also succeeded in showing rattling gears and low-speed vehicle shuddering meant her car wasn't of acceptable quality.

Ford had tried to defend the issues as "normal operating characteristics".

The Melbourne woman was awarded damages of $6820, equating to 30 per cent of the car's pre-GST purchase price.

She will also receive interest, and sums for extra taxes she paid as a result of her paying full price for the faulty Focus.

Ms Capic had earlier abandoned a claim for damages for inconvenience, distress and vexation.

Claims that Ford's conduct was misleading or deceptive were wholly dismissed.

The transmission - dubbed DPS6 or "PowerShift" - was also present in other 73,000 Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport models manufactured from 2010 to 2016 and sold in Australia.

With some claims already settled, lawyers for the class action led by Ms Capic say claims related to about 65,000 vehicles remain.

But, while Ms Capic will receive damages, the road is bumpier for those behind her.

The question of whether Ford Australia fixed each group member's vehicle in a timely manner, was not an issue litigated at trial.

Parties will return to court on July 27 to further progress those claims.

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