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Ford Mustang under gov’t investigation for transmission problems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a preliminary investigation to examine reported shifting problems in 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustangs powered by the 5.0L V8 and backed by the new 6-speed manual transmission – a problem that could result in a recall of the new Mustang should a defect be discovered by the Federal agency.


The NHTSA opened their investigation after receiving 32 complaints about the 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustang having shifting issues in models equipped with the new 6-speed manual transmission. Depending on what the government’s safety regulator finds during their studies, Ford may be faced with a recall to address these issues should a defect be discovered. In total, roughly 26,000 Mustangs from the 2011 and 2012 model year are affected by this investigation.

Since the incredible new 2011 Ford Mustang GT stormed onto the scene with a new 412 horsepower 5.0L V8 and a 6-speed Getrag transmission the mighty Mustang has received rave reviews from owners and writers alike. However, there have been regular grumblings on various internet communities like about how these 2011 Mustang’s with the 6-speed manual were experiencing a variety of problems with the new transmission. These issues included excessive noise from the transmission and, worst of all, the inability to shift from or to certain gears at high rpm. As more and more of these upset owners came forward, surprisingly little was done but relief may be in sight as the NHTSA has stepped in – opening a preliminary investigation to see if there is a defect in the 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustang.

I had a chance to speak with member Shane McGlaun, who is the proud owner of a 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302, #0333. Shane has owned several Mustangs (including 2012 Boss 302 #0001!) and has never experienced the problem before but during a recent track day session, he found that his high performance Mustang was having problems getting from 3rd to 4th gear at high rpm. He attributed the problem to the Texas heat combined with the added abuse of the track day (although the 2012 Boss 302 is built to race) and didn’t think much of it until he found that under normal driving circumstances on the open road, his Mustang was still having problems getting from 3rd to 4th gear. He has also run into instances where he will depress the clutch to shift and the pedal won’t return from the floor – both of which are regular issues in those Mustangs experiencing the problems that have spurred the NHTSA investigation. The only “fix” that Shane has found is to let the engine speed (rpm) drop until the clutch pedal kicks back out or in the case of the transmission not wanting to go into 4th gear, Shane has found that shifting into 6th and then going to another gear works. However, with a brand new sports car most people don’t want to have to figure out ways to get into gear…and they shouldn’t have to.

The video below is in-car footage taken by Shane McGlaun in his 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 #0333. It is great fun to watch and listen to the new Boss 302 in action but around the 7:30 mark, as Shane rockets down the straightaway and attempts to shift from 3rd to 4th gear, the transmission does not oblige and Shane is forced to shift into 6th gear. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sweet roar of the Boss 302 engine as the engine speed climbs and then radically drops as the inability to get into 4th gear sends Shane going for 6th.

While not everyone takes their Mustang to the track, think about merging into 70mph traffic on the highway and as you go to shift from 3rd gear to 4th gear easing into traffic…the car will not go into 4th gear. Now you have other traffic running up on you from behind and you’re in a car that won’t go into gear and because of that – it won’t pick up speed. That presents a very clear safety risk so the NHTSA is looking in to the problem to see if there is cause for a recall of manually shifted 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustangs. Luckily, there have been no reports of accidents or injuries stemming from this problem but reports indicate that several of the 32 complaints that caused the investigation alleged that it almost caused an accident. will continue covering this – bringing you news as it becomes available!

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Anonymous (not verified)    February 18, 2013 - 11:35PM

In reply to by kenny (not verified)

had this happen to me today with my 2013. just had it supercharged and was going from 3rd to 4th and its almost like it was going into 2nd. I put it in 4th the first time and RPMS went crazy so i went back to N, then back to 4th and it did it again so i had to coast in neutral for a bit then hit 5th..scared the crap out of me and now im paranoid since the supercharger barely has 200 miles on it.

David Garcia (not verified)    January 9, 2015 - 5:01PM

In reply to by J R Lew (not verified)

I own a 2012 Boss 302, and had this same problem. I just took it in to service due to not having any 3rd gear at all after attempting to shift from 2nd into 3rd while merging into Highway traffic. I just got a call today from the service advisor telling me that if its determined that abuse caused the damage I am to pay for all the work and the premium extended warranty service I purchased will deny coverage. I have no problem having them check for abuse because I don't abuse my vehicle, but if I may say I did try to push that 3rd gear a bit hard to get it in there. Any thoughts would be very appreciated regarding how to deal and get this issue resolved with the dealer and warranty personal. Thank you!

carl loren (not verified)    August 8, 2011 - 8:23PM

I've Had shift problems, but was told it could be the stupid Ford 'Skip-Shift', & nothing could be done as it is programed into the computor--I have Boss 302 #439--Carl Loren

Drew (not verified)    August 11, 2011 - 3:37PM

There have been over 100 NHTSA complaints filed as of today. The dealerships are now filing complaints on behalf of frustrated customers.

Ford has known about this for over a year now (at least people have been reporting this as a significant problem on the forums for over a year now) and Ford kicked them to the curb.

Also, a correction to your article, one forum member has in fact reported being rear ended due to the car not going into gear.


Michael Stanley (not verified)    November 17, 2015 - 10:53AM

In reply to by Drew (not verified)

Can anyone advise me how to file the complaint. I have a 2012 that the dealer worked on and it is still a problem. Scary when merging in to fast traffic and car will not go into gear.

Blueknight (not verified)    August 12, 2011 - 6:54AM

There is no problem with the transmission, it is the skip shift,to over ride it, just keep the rpm's over 2000

Get your Musta… (not verified)    February 17, 2012 - 12:39PM

In reply to by Blueknight (not verified)

Yes I bought a 2011 Mustang in July of 2011 to find There was a problem with it shifting. After taking my car to the dealer that I bought it from twice and being told there was nothing wrong, I decided to contact a Ford transmission specialist. I made a appointment to take my car in. I am not a mechanic myself but I have been driving now for 24 years and know when the car is not shifting. I suggest that Hines Park Ford in Kensington needs a new mechanic, I was told twice there was nothing wrong.Going on my gut feeling there was still something wrong I kept my appointment with the specialist at the Varsity dealer in Ann Arbor brought it in and they took one look at my car and said it needed (THREE) new solinoids in the transmission, there was not a recall but a BULLATIN on the defective parts. They took my car and gave me a Expedition for the week and ordered three solinoids from different dealers across the country and fixed it. MUCH BETTER NOW

Drew (not verified)    August 12, 2011 - 9:07AM

Blueknight, the V6 mustangs are having the same problems and they don't have skip shift. It's been well documented at this point that disabling skip shift does not fix the problem.

Skip shift is not causing damaged synchros, broken shift forks and shattered gear teeth inside the numerous failed MT82's; low quality components and materials is causing it.

Anonymous (not verified)    August 12, 2011 - 11:46PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

wow thats one fast stock engine and tranny mustang and to think people are having shift problems just driving their cars on the street and to see how this guy is speed shifting his and running that car that hard with no problems

Anonymous (not verified)    August 12, 2011 - 9:52PM

sounds like some people don't know how to shift. i make glass plates that everyone uses. you and 90.000 walk your plates to the sink the other 32 guys throw theirs and i make junk plates. PLEASE. ive been to nmra events and watched guys take brand new mustangs put superchargers on them and run 10 sec passes time after time and have no problems 90.000 plus sold and 32 complain not bad. i read post when the camaros trannies where breaking in half and they weren't crying as bad as these people .i say these 32 people need to go to chevy and buy a camaro and cry when the side air bags deploy when they try to cut a doughnut LOL.

Sgm (not verified)    September 22, 2011 - 11:01PM

Met a Cobra owner here in W TX and he (an engineer) explained it to me as the mass of the 43lb two piece drive shaft taking the sync's out of alignment when the clutch is engaged due to the stored energy of the mass of the shaft going one way and the engine taking the input shaft the other. Makes sense to me, also an engineer. Additionally the oil issue addressed in the TSB and finally the inadiquate shifter mechanisim of both the Cobras and the GTs (see what MGW has for us to fix that) add up to a problem that gets worse with miles - my experience in my GT. He cured his problem with a one piece Al shaft from DynoTech, MGW shifter and Royal Purple product for his Tremac. GTs have an MT86 that it would appear, can be made correct with the same upgrades, at a cost of $1k - a cost Ford should be picking up? Too bad they didn't get it right the first time, for this otherwise outstanding Mustang.

mgm (not verified)    October 16, 2011 - 1:00AM

I have experienced the shift issue in my 2011GT, always when the car is on 20 degree or higher incline and always shifting from 2nd gear to any other gear the tranny will not let you go into any other gear even if you manage to place the shifter into neutral until the engine RPM drops. If you are aware of this issue its okay to drive, but first time this happened to me from a red light when I had to merge from 2 lanes to one lane it was very scary. I do love the car when it works, but it would be great if Ford found permanent fix/solution to the issue.

Anonymous (not verified)    November 6, 2011 - 1:04AM

The shifting problem with the 2011 Mustang manual transmission is very real, and seems not to have been corrected on the 2012 models as well. Complaints continue to be posted at the NHTSA site, and Ford continues to be mum on the subject. Affected owners are rightfully put off by this, and are hoping for some sort of resolution after the NHTSA investigation. Many have not waited, and have either sold or lemon-lawed their cars. Ford has lost many formerly loyal customers over this.

Stephen Hollier (not verified)    March 13, 2012 - 6:52PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I have a 2012 mustang 5.0 manual transmission and while driving in traffic the transmission heats up and I have difficulty shifting in to high gears. The same thing happens when down shifting. I brought the car to the ford dealer and their answer to the problem was keep driving until a recall comes out. WRONG answer !!!! I have owned many fords and this has never been their answer. The dealer didn't even look into the transmission.

Anonymous (not verified)    December 25, 2011 - 10:17PM

I have a 2011 gt500 with 96 miles on it and it grinds from 1st to second and the tech has ordered parts but also says that he has redone 3 with only one resolved. Pretty high dollar car to require a double clutch when shifting?

John (not verified)    July 11, 2012 - 2:14AM

I have a 2013 mustang gt premium manual transmission with 1500 miles, and I can not shift from 3rd to 4th gear also at high rpm .... So FORD has not FIXED the problem for 2013 ....

Anonymous (not verified)    February 18, 2013 - 11:38PM

In reply to by John (not verified)

Just had this happen to me today on my 2013 gt. 2k miles on it and and tried going from 3rd to 4th at higher RPM's and it was almost as though it went into 2nd, tried twice until i had to roll a bit in neutral and put it in 5th

Anonymous (not verified)    September 4, 2012 - 6:17PM

I have a 2012 Boss 302 ( # 1825 , race red ) . My shifting problem is when I shift from 1st to 2nd is often missed and goes into 4th . Why ? All other gears are fine a blast to drive .