Ford has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit in the United States with nearly two million owners – and former owners – of Focus and Fiesta vehicles equipped with its troubled DPS6 PowerShift dual-clutch transmission, as The Detroit Free Press reports.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2012, alleged that Ford knowingly sold cars with defective DPS6 (or 6DCT250) transmissions to unsuspecting buyers and then blamed the drivers for the problems they experienced. Last July, the publication revealed internal Ford documents and e-mails, which showed that the company knew the transmissions were defective from the start, but continued building and selling them anyway.

Customers claimed in legal filings that their 2012-16 production third-gen C346 Focus and 2011-16 production B299 Fiesta vehicles had defective transmissions that were prone to “shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration.”

The automaker has tried repeatedly to repair the vehicles. In 2014, it extended the warranties on transmission-related parts to seven years and 160,000 km (100,000 miles) on Focus and Fiesta models built before mid-2013. Following the July news report, it extended the warranty to also cover 2014-16 Focus and 2014-15 Fiesta models.

In its proposed agreement, Ford is offering a guaranteed commitment of US$30 million (RM122.5 million) in cash reimbursement to consumers who have a record of multiple failed transmission repairs within five years of buying their cars or 96,000 km (60,000 miles).

The company will also come up with a simplified buyback program for defective vehicles as well as an easier process for former owners and people who leased the cars to get compensated.

Ford had offered an earlier agreement in which the payout was estimated at US$35 million (RM142.8 million), with no minimum required payout. That earlier agreement also required car owners to give the company a final chance to repair vehicles before going to arbitration, but that prerequisite has been dropped in the new settlement. The case is set to be heard on February 28 for final approval.

The payout could exceed US$100 million (RM408.25 million), according to a lawyer who helped broker the deal on behalf of owners. There would be no cap, and the automaker will have to pay out until people are done filing their claims.

The automaker also revealed that between October 2017 and the end of 2019, it spent around US$47.47 million (RM193.8 million) to buy back 2,666 defective Focus and Fiesta vehicles through a voluntary arbitration programme. There was no word on how the company is approaching the issue in other markets globally where the affected Focus and Fiesta models were also sold.