A federal class action has been filed this week against Ford Motor Company in connection with alleged defects in the MyFord Touch dashboard infotainment systems that are found in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. The action was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The suit, brought by the Center for Defensive Driving, a nonprofit educator based in Torrance, California, seeks compensatory relief on behalf of a proposed class of purchasers and lessees of Ford vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch systems, excluding those who have personal injury claims resulting from the defect in the systems.Introduced to Ford vehicles in 2010, the MyFord Touch (called “MyLincoln Touch,” or “MyMercury Touch” in Lincoln and Mercury cars) is Ford’s LCD dashboard interface which allows the vehicle owner to operate the vehicle’s audio systems, GPS navigation, climate systems, as well as a Bluetooth enabled mobile device. The MyFord Touch also allows operation of certain safety systems in the vehicle, such as collision detection that subsequently dials 9-1-1 to connect the vehicle to an emergency services provider.
The Center for Defensive Driving contends that it leased a 2013 Ford F-150 Lariat equipped with a MyFord Touch system, which suffered from numerous problems, including: System lockup and total system failure; periodic non-responsiveness to peripheral devices (such as MP3 players and smartphones); and periodic non-responsiveness to voice commands. The plaintiff alleges that between February 22 and July 1 of this year, the F-150’s MyFord Touch unit has failed or locked up on no fewer than 27 separate occasions.
The plaintiff’s complaint alleges that Ford vehicles equipped with the systems have been plagued with serious defects, and many of the features advertised as part of the system often fail to perform. One example recounted in the complaint is the MyFord Touch screen will simply turn off while using certain features, such as the GPS navigation technology, then turn back on, and when it does, it states that it is “performing scheduled system maintenance”; however, it is not performing maintenance, but simply malfunctioning. The complaint also points out that certain crucial vehicle functions, including the defroster and the rear-view camera are routed through and controlled by MyFord Touch, and become inoperable when the system crashes, creating dangerous situations and possible collisions.
The suit contends that the plaintiff’s experiences are by no means isolated – and that the internet is replete with examples of blogs and other websites where consumers have complained of the same defect within their Ford vehicles. The complaint details similar complaints by consumers posted on a database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also points to a website, titled “syncsucks.com,” which lists the “most common Sync/MyFord Touch issues.” In addition to the screen and the back-up camera black outs, the site notes instances where music randomly starts playing while using the phone, repeated disconnection of the USB iPod, and repeated failure to recognize Sirius satellite radio subscription. Further chronicling of MyFord Touch problems can be seen on a site called http://fordsyncproblems.com/, created by a consumer in response to “Ford’s inability to resolve issues with my newly purchased 2012 Ford Escape” as well as several other websites.
The complaint notes that Ford’s problems with the MyFord Touch system has led to its loss of standing with consumer reporting organizations. J.D. Power & Associates “Initial Quality Study,” which examines vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership, ranked Ford fifth place in 2010, the last year before rolling out the MyFord Touch system. In 2011, after the rollout, Ford plummeted to 23rd place in the same survey – and the primary driver in Ford’s descent, according to a J.D. Power & Associates executive, was the MyFord Touch system. Consumer Reports also recommended that no consumer purchase Ford vehicles that are equipped with MyFord Touch.
The Center for Defensive Driving, individually and on behalf of all other class members, seeks compensatory damages for defective systems. Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief, requesting that Ford institute a recall or free replacement program.