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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair

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  • rysterryster Posts: 476
    I HATE MY EXPLORER!!!!

    Yesterday's appointment only added more fuel to the fire.

    I got a call mid afternoon from the dealer telling me they have no idea what the problem is. They acknowledge there is definitely something making the noise, but they just can't fix it. I know have an appointment on 11/20 to take the truck back for "a few days". They give me a loaner and they call Ford directly for assistance with fixing my truck. They also said they "won't give it back to me until it is completely fixed". I asked what the odds are it would be fixed even with Ford's intervention to which they responded "we have had cars here for WEEKS that needed Ford's help, but they were eventually fixed". Wow...that's comforting.

    So, I go to pick up my truck only to have it given back to me with a severely twisted seatbelt, a broken trim piece, and a door panel that was not put back on correctly, in addition to the usual smudges of grease all over the panels. They were "kind" enough to fix the seatbelt on the spot, but had to order a new piece of trim to be installed at the next appointment. I didn't have the patience to deal with the ill-fitting door panel. As usual, after every appointment I have, I went home and cleaned the interior myself.

    I am so disgusted with the level of service I am getting. The dealer is making an effort, yeah great. They are also being careless. I want out of this truck desperately. Looked at a Mercury Cougar this morning...guess what...the driver's door creaked. I must have lousy luck with cars or something. EVERY car I have ever owned has developed a rattle or creak in at least one of the doors (they all developed dash rattles regardless of how long I owned the car).

    It is time for me to dump this nightmare truck. Ideally I would like a Toyota, Nissan or Honda but they do not have special financing right now. The only reason I have been looking at a domestic is to be able to get special financing to get out of the Explorer. It has a trade-in value of around $15K and I still owe $19.8K. Even with $3K down I would have to roll over ~$2K which is much easier to do at low financing rates.

    The moral of this story is no more Ford products. Quality is not Job One; nor is Customer Service.
  • rysterryster Posts: 476
    I have sent an inquiry to the top lemon law firm in this area. They handle both lemon law issues as well as restitution type settlements. In reviewing my records, I have been to the dealer 5 times for the popping in the door. 4 trips too many and many more to come from what I can surmise. I'll let you all know what, if anything, the law firm says about my case. Have a good weekend!
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    ryster,

    Have you tried aiming higher on the Ford Co. food chain? Sometimes that has a miraculous influence on getting problems resolved.

    tidester
    Host
    SUVs
  • Is it possible to go to another dealership? The service department at the one you are using soounds like a bunch of novices. There is no reason for you to get you truck returned to you in the condition you found it. If this is how they pay attention to details, no wonder they can't find out where the noise is coming from. If the noise is the only problem, you have to ask yourself: Is it worth the $3,000-$5,000 it will cost you to sell this Exlorer? Maybe it is time to start to get angry and start writing letters all over Ford land. Any letter you send to the Ford Corporate HQ, make sure you cc the owner of this dealership. I would speak to the service manager AND the owner at this dealership, in not so nice terms, and give them some grief about how your truck is being returned to you and their failure to find and repair this problem. Tell them that you are writing J.D. Powers, State Attorney General, and the Consumer Fraud Commission about all of the grief the dealership has put you through. If you can get J.D. Powers to hear you out you may put a real scare into the people at the dealership you are using. Good Luck and hang in there
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I hear that your are frustrated.. man I know how it feels to be treated poorly by the dealer, and besides not finding the problem they clean out your coin box. I have been there. And GM and Chrysler are no better. Actually, I think GM is worse.

    Regarding getting angry.. May I suggest don't. It may not help the situation, and it only raises your blood pressure. I personally have found that I "get more flies with honey than a flyswatter." I know that you just want to drive the truck through the front window of the dealership .. but that action will not help you. I have found that people respond to anger with anger, and at that point they stop listening to you and probably wont work with you to solve the probelm. You want them to act on your behalf to fix it, not scream back at you.

    Before going to the boss, or threatening them or writing to the Attorney General of your state, I would:
    1. Put in in perspective. The popping noise is a comfort issue.. not a drivability issue. These mechanics are usually good at finding problems with the major systems, so it is probably not something major that you have to worry about a wheel falling off. Do you want to take a hit of $3K or more just to get out of a vehicle with a pop or squeak?
    2. Is there another dealer that you can bring it to?
    3. Tell the Dealer's Service MANAGER or Shop Foreman how you feel before you go to this guy's boss and complain about him. I have found from personal experience that these guys are pretty helpful and many times do not know what their underlings are doing or saying. This also gives you more ammo when you have to step up the ladder higher. Play the role of the nice guy getting the runaround. You can always go to the boss later.
    3. There is a Ford Regional Representative you can contact, you can get that number from the dealer or by calling Ford corporate.
    4. If you want to go the lemon law route, then you have to have documented that you have been to the dealer at least 4 times for the EXACT SAME PROBLEM. A lot of the service managers are wise to this, so they word the complaint differently each time. You have to request forms from your State's BBB or Attorney General. You may get some mileage out of Ford Arbitration.
    5. A heart bypass can get very expensive, as can ulcers and high blood pressure. Dont let this get to you. Yeah, it is frustrating, but it is only a machine... and you can sell it or trade it at any time if you find it is making you sick.

    Good luck, man. I've been where you are.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Well said!

    tidester
    Host
    SUVs
  • rysterryster Posts: 476
    Hi! I understand your points and they are very sound suggestions. But I am literally at my wits end with the truck:

    "1. Put in in perspective. The popping noise is a comfort issue.. not a driveability issue. These mechanics are usually good at finding problems with the major systems, so it is probably not something major that you have to worry about a wheel falling off. Do you want to take a hit of $3K or more just to get out of a vehicle with a pop or squeak?"

    It is not just a matter of a "pop or squeak". The noise is getting progressively worse to the point where I can not only hear the noise but feel something loosening up underneath me as well. Almost like the chassis or frame has a problem. Then again, it could be my brain responding to negative stimuli (because the noise is loud, my brain is processing a feeling with it) My personality is such that I simply have no patience or tolerance for such noises. There is also no concrete evidence that it is not becoming a driveability issue. The truck didn't do it initially, but now it does. If it turns out to be a weakened or bent frame I certainly want no part of a vehicle with such a defect. The vehicle has never been abused or off road so the frame should not have weakened. In fact, I go out of my way with any car I drive to avoid pothole strewn roads or very rough roads to prevent these types of noises from developing in the first place (that is how much I hate squeaks/rattles/pops.)

    "2. Is there another dealer that you can bring it to?"

    There are other dealers in the area, however their reputation is no better than the dealer I currently use. For example, my parents take their Mountaineer to a different dealer. It has a very bad idle problem (stutters and almost dies). They looked at it, cleaned the MAF sensor, and said it was fixed. My parents picked it up and it was still idling poorly. It goes back tomorrow for the second trip for the same problem. We are plagued by poor dealer service, regardless of manufacturer, in this area. Seems it is either an industry wide problem or we just have bad luck. In any event, I now have to get this dealer to undo all of the mistakes they made on Friday before I can start using another dealer. They still owe me a new trim piece to replace the one they broke, they need to reattach the door panel correctly, and I also found that they must have messed with the driver's seat belt as the screw that attaches the seat belt retractor unit to the B-pillar is not fully tightened. The screw is about one inch out of its hole and the washer is just sort of floating around on the screw. This, in my eyes, is a definite safety issue.

    "3. Tell the Dealer's Service MANAGER or Shop Foreman how you feel before you go to this guy's boss and complain about him. I have found from personal experience that these guys are pretty helpful and many times do not know what their underlings are doing or saying. This also gives you more ammo when you have to step up the ladder higher. Play the role of the nice guy getting the runaround. You can always go to the boss later."

    The shop foreman has been actively involved in getting my vehicle fixed. He has driven the truck with me in it to hear the noise and has been interacting with the mechanic and service advisor at my various appointments. In fact, he was the one that approved the supposed second fix on the third appointment. It has been my experience with vehicles in the past that contacting the higher ups gets nothing resolved whether it be a sales or service related issue. In fact it tends to make problems worse, as you suggest. At this point I think they are intentionally doing things to my truck as their way of demonstrating they are frustrated and sick of dealing with me and my truck.

    "3. There is a Ford Regional Representative you can contact, you can get that number from the dealer or by calling Ford corporate."

    This is a possibility depending on what the lawyer says. I have the phone number and address of my region's representative.

    "4. If you want to go the lemon law route, then you have to have documented that you have been to the dealer at least 4 times for the EXACT SAME PROBLEM. A lot of the service managers are wise to this, so they word the complaint differently each time. You have to request forms from your State's BBB or Attorney General. You may get some mileage out of Ford Arbitration."

    In this state is the same problem with no resolution after 3 tries. My truck has been back 5 times already. I have the repair orders and the dealer uses the same wording on each one. If the lawyer thinks I have a valid case, he will do all of the investigative work and filing for me.

    "5. A heart bypass can get very expensive, as can ulcers and high blood pressure. Don't let this get to you. Yeah, it is frustrating, but it is only a machine... and you can sell it or trade it at any time if you find it is making you sick."

    This is true, but again my personality is such that I cannot just accept it. That is what the dealer wants me to do. If I back down and just live with it, I am letting Ford get away with selling me a $30K truck with an acknowledged problem that they won't/can't fix. Trading it is the same thing. At this point, I just want the vehicle fixed properly or replaced. I also shouldn't have to take a potentially $6K hit simply because Ford or the dealers do not want to deal with me. They sold me the truck, they need to make good on it.

    Again thanks for all of your suggestions and advice. I have had a history of poor vehicles and service and this one certainly takes the cake. I do not think it is too much to ask to have the truck fixed properly. When it reaches the point where all of my paid time-off this year has been devoted to dealing with this vehicle (which it has so far) that is a definite problem. Granted, we all work to be able to afford the vehicle that takes us there. I do not work to also use my earned paid time-off from work to have the same vehicle serviced on a regular basis. One, maybe two, unscheduled service appointments a year is one thing. But a problem resulting in the vehicle going back 5 or more times for the same unresolved problem is unacceptable. Not to mention that I am becoming mentally tired and stressed to the point where I have no desire to shop for a new vehicle which should, to some degree, be fun to do.
  • Mazman you are right. You can get "get more flies with honey than a fly swatter". You should follow a chain of command and deal in a cool calm collected manner. But in this case I think Ryster has done that. If I am wrong I'll stand corrected. When I said "get angry" I guess I should have said "act angry". When you lose it and begin to act irrationally you are in the wrong. But if you doing it for effect, it can produce results when you have exhausted all other options. I am making the assumption that Ryster is at this point (yes, I know what happens when one assumes!!!). The dealership he is working with does not seem to be too concerned with the customer. Returning a vehicle to a customer, repeatedly, that has grease and dirt on it is not a sign of good customer care. In addition, returning the vehicle with the problem not resolved is an issue. Indeed, it is the major issue. It cost Ford and the customer. Ford paid for parts that it did not have to and the customer is still not satisfied. The fact that the problem is a comfort issue is not as important to the customer, Ryster, as that the fact that it is not resolved. Ryster's blood pressure is already up. He is very frustrated. He deserves better. Why should he have to have to "get an an ulcer"? In this case it is time for the people at Ford to get the ulcer. I guess we could all cite our horror stories with automobile dealership. The fact that we have a little knowledge about cars and their repair and maintenance makes us a bit more vulnerable to getting upset at the incompetence and/or ineptness and/or thoughtlessness of the people to whom we hve given many thousands of dollars. We expect them to know better! Why should the customer have to get rid of a vehicle and/or spend thousands of dollars to correct a situation that should be fixed, under warrenty, by the company selling the car. I think we could find beter ways to spent our hard earned money. Maybe some of us have done this, I know I have. That is the beauty of a place like Town Hall. We have the opportunity to share our experiences and give our input to help others solve problems.
  • I went down this road with Ford last summer (2000) with my '99 Explorer XLT. This truck was an absolute piece of Ford GARBAGE!!! That said, the truck went to the dealer something like 15 times in 14 months for Repairs ranging from warped rotors to a faulty windshield, to 3 sets of front end seals to ball joints in the front end (get the idea)...

    Anyway, I submitted a lemon law claim, and after a couple of loud arguments with the Sales and Service managers of my dealer, a win/win situation arose. My dealer offered to take my truck in trade for a 2000 model at a LOW cost. For my '99 and $3000 I got a 2000 brand new XLS. They wanted $6000 for the XLT. This included tax, title, etc.

    So I don't know what your cash situation is, but I read you are actively car shopping. With the low (no) financing going on, you could probably work something out with the dealer for a 2001 leftover or 2002 Explorer. Just a thought. PS...so far the 2000 is a champ.
  • Boy it's been quiet in here, 2 posts in a row, 24 hours apart.

    I own my truck, and I plan to own it for hopefully another 5-6 years. It is a 2000 XLS with the OHV engine, 4wd, auto tranny. I currently have almost 18000 miles on it, mixed driving, maybe more like city (a lot of stop and go in central NJ). At what mileage/time do you guys recommend getting the tranny serviced? When getting the tranny done, how extensive a service (eg. fluid change vs. gasket work). How often do you change the coolant and flush the radiator? How about changing plugs? Also, what is it with these engine flushes? All the dealers around here push them. Thanks for your input...
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Just for you, we'll make it 3 posts! :-)

    tidester
    Host
    SUVs
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    You can get more specific info in a Haynes repair manual, but here is what I do:

    Oil = every 3-4 months, or 3,500- 4,000 miles
    Coolant = Flush every 2 years or 24,000 miles
    Tranny = Change fluid and filter (std dealer svc does not change the filter) every 12,000 miles
    Hoses = every 4 years, whether they need it or not
    Serpentine belt = Change every 2 years.
    Plugs = every 30,000 miles
    Plug wires = every 4 years, whether they need it or not
    Fuel Filter = Every 2 years or 24,000 miles
    Lube door hinges and locks every spring and fall.
    Inspect brake pads every 3 months. Replace every 20,000 miles or as needed.
    Tires = Inspect tires every 3 months and replace at 5 yr or 50,000 miles. Check air pressure every month.
    Add Chevron Techron to the gas every spring.
    Add drygas (gas line antifreeze) every snowfall or ski trip.

    Hope this helps.
  • The dealer I get my ride serviced at was telling me that Ford has no set guideline for having a transmission serviced. That's a good line to have when it comes down to someone not properly maintaining their vehicle therefore shortening its life.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I think the Explorer owners manual has a maintenance schedule.. I personally thought it was ridiculous... but if i recall correctly, it did call for Tranny service at 36K. This is the same manual that calls for oil changes every 7,500 miles.

    Good luck.
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    I've got a question for you. I am looking to be educated.

    I have a 95 Explorer 4WD. About a year ago I had a "fluttering" sound in the front end that I thought was a wheel bearing. I took it to the dealership and the tech knew immediately what it was. They lubed the "front driveshaft double carden seal". Sound gone. Now a year later it is back and I need to take it back in to get it lubricated again.

    What is a double carden seal? I am technically literate, but I don't know where this seal is and what function it performs. Is this no big deal and something that just needs to be lubed occasionally, or is it something I should keep my eye on? I have considered dumping the vehicle before it starts costing me money. Is this a sign of potential future problems?

    Thanks in advance.
  • It is a seal that prevents transfer case lubricant from leaking from the joint between the double cardan driveshaft and the transfer case. You can read more about the double cardan joint, etc. at http://www.outdoorwire.com/4x4/toyota/tech/driveline/


    If you want to see what your Explorer's Double Cardan driveshaft look like, check out the Haynes Repair Manual for the Ford Explorer.

  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    Thanks for the link. I have a general understanding now. What I can't gather from the link is whether or not the need to lube this is telling me anything about future repairs to the transfer case. Do you know if this just requires periodic lubing?
  • According to the Haynes Manual you should lubricate the driveshaft yolk every 30K. If you had it done last year and the original problem is back, this might mean that you have to increase the frequency of lubrication, the easy solution, or you might have a developing problem with the transfer case driveshaft or universal joint. How many miles are on the odometer? In any event, direct observation of the components is the best way to diagnose the problem. We could infer any one of dozens of causes, but until one looks, it is impossible to tell. You should bring the truck in to a good mechanic and get it checked. I Hope it is something simple and inexpensive.

    Good luck
  • swn1swn1 Posts: 27
    My inlaws have a '98 Mountaineer V8 and I understand the Ford Explorer V8's have the same problem. Seems a quart of oil disappears every 1000 miles. Dealer says this is normal that Ford specs call for this although he had nothing to back it up. Anyone know anything? Where does it go? I would imagine the converter must be pretty gunkie by now.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I think they are giving you that extra 'lube'.. any vehicle that loses 3 quarts between oil changes has a big problem.

    Get another opinion.

    The V8 is the same engine in the Crown Vic.. and there are a lot of those out there... I am sure that if all of them lost a quart of oil every 1K miles, then cop cars and taxis would be littered all over the place.
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