The ongoing Ford saga: WARNING Long winded
.....Last November I melted a piston in my 7.3. All my fault. I had a new program in it that I knew was really fat in the middle of the RPM range. It worked really well. That is until I was on my way up HWY 18 to Big Bear with my 17K 5th wheel. I was cooking coming up. Usually I just use 2nd and let the gears do all the work. But I was curious to see the performance difference with the new program. Long story short, I was in third @ 55+ MPH. I had a few cars behind me who wanted by. I couldn't really yank it into a turn out at that speed so I just carefully watched behind me until I knew the road opened up to pass. Before I knew it I had taken my eyes off the pyro gauge, cooked a piston, and warped the turbo housing.
.....I opted for a factory rebuild 7.3 from Ford. Took me some time to get the money together. So it wasn't until February that I was able to take my truck to West Coast Performance to have the new engine installed. Clyde was a good guy and took care of me. He drove it home one night just to make sure all was good as I would have to drive two ours there and back home when it came time to pick it up. The next morning it would not start for him. It would crank for ever and never fire. He had it towed to the closest dealer which would be Lake Elsinore Ford. That's because the engine had a factory warrantee. It was now a Ford deal.
....After two weeks I got a call from LE Ford. It was done. I took 1/2 a day off work, borrowed a friend and got a ride down there. We picked it up, drove to IN-N-OUT off the 15 x Rail Road Cyn. After we ate, it would not start. Big hassle. Save you the trouble of reading it. LE Ford came and got it. A week later (after calling every few days) it was done. Went back down, drove it to the nearby Chevy dealer so my bro could pick up a part he ordered. Wouldn't restart again!. Same deal. Went back home (all the way to Big Bear mind you) Apparently the reserve oil tank on top of the motor was draining back into the engine. Once it drained, there would be zero oil pressure upon start up and the engine would not fire as a protection measure. They could not figure out how this was happening. They petitioned Ford for a new engine but they declined.
....Another week (and calls every other day) it was done for the third time. I picked it up and they tried to charge me 700 bucks? I reminded them that I had already paid 9600.00 for a new engine that has yet to work properly. And spent three - one half days off of work, and 2.5 hours each way attempting to pick up the truck now for the 3rd time? They fiddled with the paperwork, talked to some people and removed the 700 dollar charge. I had to stop at the gas station immediately as both tanks were nearly dry from all their testing. As I was filling up I noticed a huge oil leak under the engine. Popped the hood and found that the fitting on top of the oil reserve tank was loose and leaking oil? This valve is NOT a filler valve. You fill the engine with oil, and the engine pumps the oil back up into the tank. This valve comes painted over from the factory. It was obvious that it had been removed. I wasn't sure what to make of it so I drove it home.
.....The next morning? You guessed it! NO START ! ! ! I called LE Ford and was told that now I was closer to Fairview Ford so I had to take it there. It is my assumption/opinion that LE Ford overfilled the reserve tank via the top valve just to get me as far away as they could knowing full well that they'd be done with me the next time it didn't start. I then paid for a tow truck to flat bed it all the way down from Big Bear to San Berdo Fairview Ford. It was dropped off the very next day at 7am in their parking lot. I called them to get them going on it. The service manager Gary told me that his diesel guy had just left for vacation and wouldn't be back for two weeks so not to bring it to him. I then called Redlands Ford and was told that they were too busy and it would sit for a few weeks. Needless to say I was a tad miffed. I called Fairview back and told them that the truck was actually in his lot. And that Nobody else would take it? He then accepted it but told me to give him a few weeks......A week and a half later they called and told me that they just could not figure it out. I then wrote letters to Ford customer service in Dearborn Michigan.
Ford Service Personnel, 02/25/06
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I have been in the auto repair business for over 15 years. I am very familiar with unforeseeable circumstances that may arise when repairing a vehicle. Knowing this, I have been very patient with the latest problems regarding my vehicle. However, and with that said, I must add that I feel I may not be getting what I paid for. To keep this letter some what short please refer to the paper work that Lake Elsinore Ford has on file regarding the details. We are not talking about a bad crank sensor, a faulty injector, or something of a benign nature. It has been discovered that this engine, in fact, has some type of internal oil leak that is draining the reserve oil tank back into the pan. Lake Elsinore Ford has given it their best shot all to no avail. At this point my vehicle is being used to trouble shoot a faulty engine that has a serious internal problem. All at the expense of my time, and the use of my vehicle. The Lake Elsinore Dealer submitted a request to swap out this engine, but Ford declined.
If my check had not gone through for the work, I would not be making excuses trying to figure out where the money went that should have funded that check at the bank. I would have to come up with the funds or I would not get my vehicle. And I doubt you would not be as patient as I have been. I have been told three times that the vehicle was done. All three times it has left me stranded. I live two hours away from Lake Elsinore and it has cost me a substantial amount of time away from work, and money in fuel expenses. Today I paid for the truck to be towed to Fairview Ford in San Bernardino. I have gone out of my way to accommodate the time needed to get this taken care of. It is time to stop fooling around trying to trouble shoot this engine that I have lost all confidence in. I am asking for you to please authorize the exchange of this faulty engine and replace it with a new one. Then you can test it all you want and I will be down the road getting what I paid for weeks ago.
I went with a new engine simply because this is a vehicle I only use for towing my 38 foot 5th wheel. Which is why it only has 87,000 miles on it being a 1997 model.. I have an 04 Ford Expedition that I use on an everyday basis. This truck is paid for and I want to keep it for years to come. I own one of the busiest auto repair & tire shops in Big Bear. I talk to a lot of people about vehicles. I am a reasonable person. I am simply asking you to do what is reasonable in light of all the trouble this particular engine has caused. For the record this truck has been down since November 2005. It has been in the shop since January 1st.
Within a week Fairview Ford called me and told me that they approved the new engine. I was STOKED! A week later it was done. I picked up and they were very nice and the truck was clean. I drove it home and parked it in it's spot. The next day I noticed a fuel leak. I had one of my guys rack it and we found a loose fuel line fitting. No biggie could have rattled a tad on the way home and cracked the seal loose. A couple drives later I noticed tranny fluid dripping. I did some more checking and found the trans-dip stick broken at the top and super glued together. The tube where the stick goes into the motor was not bolted into place. It was flopping all over spurting fluid every where. I bolted it into place. As I was checking out the entire thing I found numerous loose bolts and nuts. And the two rear BRAND NEW 35-12.50-16 Parnelli Jones Dirt Grip tires (325.00 ea.) had lost about 1/4 of the tread burned off from some on smoking them.
I was so pissed that I didn't call them. I knew I'd probably burn this bridge. And wanted to be able to take it back if I problems. I drove it to and from work for about two weeks. I put about 800 miles on it before I used it to go to Glamis with our 5th wheel. The first thing I noticed was that it felt down on power. Also it seemed to have a pretty rough idle. Almost like a miss. I called them and they told me it needed to break in. OK?. I then towed two more times with it. And went though a move into a new house where I didn't drive it for about 6 weeks. The middle of September I drove it to work to check it over for Glamis season. It was still idling rough. I just could not let this go.
I did a compression test, and a leak down test. Everything was awesome. Top shape. I then had one of my guys perform a cylinder balance test and found cylinder no 5 failing. We tested it 3 times. That caused the truck to go into a "power down" mode. I called the dealer with my findings and they recommended replacing the no 5 injector. It was under warrantee but the only way I could get them to warrantee it was to being it down to them. and low and behold his diesel guy was on ANOTHER VACATION.?.. I bought the part and put it in. All to no avail.
September 20th I then wrote this letter and sent it to 7 higher ups at Ford Corp.
Ford Service Personnel,
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
It is necessary to have a full understanding of the history I have had trying to get a factory rebuilt 7.3 diesel engine replaced in my truck to operate correctly. I have attached invoices and a previous letter that I had written to Ford Customer Service in Feb 2006. It may also be necessary to contact Lake Elsinore Ford and Fairview Ford in California regarding this vehicles history at both of those locations.
After taking possession of the vehicle from the second dealer who put the second rebuilt motor in (Feb 2006), I immediately noticed it to be down on power and having a rough idle. I was told by Fairview Ford personnel that it would require a break in period in order for the power to return and the engine to run smoothly. Frankly sounded like double talk to me. But I complied. Once I got home I also noticed fuel leaking from the back of the motor. Since I own a repair shop I put the truck on the lift and tightened a fuel line elbow and the problem was solved. No big deal. I understand things happen. A few more outings in the truck exposed a pretty good trans fluid leak. I once again raised it on one of my lifts and noticed that the tranny dipstick tube had not been bolted into place and it was flopping all around allowing fluid to leak out. Now I was a tad concerned so I did a pretty good visual inspection of the installation work. I noticed several loose bolts on the torque converter inspection plate, the ground strap was left flapping, and one of the intercooler boots was left finger tight.
I have a daily driver and this is only a part time vehicle for me. I have only put 1800 miles on it since the last motor was replaced. During the 1800 miles I have put on it I have also notice that the fuel mileage is way down. Roughly 30 to 40% from what I considered normal from the old engine. Ford again told me that the motor needed time to "seat" and "break in". It has now been 9 months and this week I started to get the truck ready for our camping season (Oct-April). We missed nearly the entire season last year while my truck went back and fourth between the two different dealers until they could get a motor to run. So I was very excited about getting a full season in with my family this year
Thursday I brought my truck to work to install a steering stabilizer when I noticed it that it was still running rough and loping at idle. I feared the worst ( a dead cylinder) so I had one of my mechanics scan it on his Snap-On Modus diagnostic computer. During the scan we found that the engine is running in a "power down" mode. I had him perform a compression test and all cylinders it were good. We then did a cylinder balance test and the number 5 cylinder failed. We then proceeded with a leak down test and found that the heads and valves are fine. I then called Fairview Ford in San Bernardino and explained my findings. They recommended replacing the #5 injector. I was thinking along those same lines and asked if the part could be warranted. I was told by Greg in service that he just had no time. And that one of his guys just left for vacation.
This was the exact reason he told me it took so long to get the 2nd engine in back in Feb. He recommended I take it to Snow Ford. I told him that I simply don't have weeks for my truck to be down again and that I'd pay one of my guys to install the injector if they could warrantee the part for me. I am a very flexible person. I just wanted the truck that I paid nearly ten thousand dollars on a factory rebuilt
engine, less than nine months ago, fixed once and for all. He would not budge and stuck to his policy. We do auto repair at my shop. I have been doing business for 16 years in the Big Bear area. I buy factory Ford parts from Fairview all the time.
I understand policy is policy. But I was behooved to find that a little professional courtesy from me offering to take care of the labor, would not get Greg to extend the same to me. I ordered/paid for the injector and it came damaged. I ordered another one the next day and had it installed only to find that the rough idle, the loping, and lack of power is still there! ! !.
Upon another cylinder balance test I found that the # 5 cylinder is still failing while maintaining compression. Back in Feb 2006 lake Elsinore Ford could not figure out why the top oil reserve tank was leaking back into the brand new engine causing it to not restart . I was left stranded 3 times after being told it was done.. I paid twice for it to be towed back. Then they topped off the reservoir (the fitting had been off), so I'd be able to get far enough away from the dealer so when it died I'd have to go somewhere else. I said nothing. I ate the expense of the two tow bills. And it worked. I ended up closer to Fairview Ford when it would not restart . I paid a third time to have it towed there.
I was told it would be 2 to 4 weeks for the work to be done because some one had just left for vacation?. I was then told it was gonna cost me more money due to the aftermarket turbo I have. It's 4 extra bolts ! ! Hardly equal to the time, money, and frustration I had spent picking my truck up numerous times after being told it was done only to find that it was not even able to get me home.
Now after my new findings this week, I am at the end of my patients. A part of me just wants to drive the truck because I need it. I hardly have the time and fortitude it's gonna take to put up with another attempt to install a "good" rebuilt engine and wait for all of Fairview Fords mechanics to come back from vacation ? But, I know that the day the warrantee expires the signs I am seeing of a problem will come to fruition and cost me big time. I am very aware of the double talk mechanics and service writers engage in to give them the advantage of the situation. I simply have no more patients for this type of treatment. I feel that after all I have been though Ford needs to step up to the plate and take action to make this right.
If this same situation was with one of my customers I'd drop everything to get them taken care of. That's what's made me the busiest shop in our area. And the community knows it. Just ask around. I also do it because it's the right thing to do. I know that there were three different 7.3's used in my truck model. I can only assume that there is a wrong gasket, ring, or something causing the number 5 cylinders performance to not match the rest of the them.
I have spent a lot of money making this truck very clean. It is the cleanest 97 you will ever see. I baby this truck. I refinanced my house to pay it off so I could keep it for a long time. I work very hard and the camping season is very important to me, my wife, and three kids. When they found out today that the truck WAS STILL NOT RIGHT they were so disappointed it infuriated me inside. Not to mention the ten thousand dollars I have spent in an effort to get a correctly running Ford Factory Rebuild.
I am not asking for all the time and money I have spent having my guys check it out. I simply don't trust Fairview Ford to be honest with me regarding this problem or motivated due to the nature of the problem.. I wanted to document it myself as best possible in order to state my case so that the issue will be resolved once and for all. I have video recordings of all the tests performed, the engine idling with a lope (mis), the faulty injector right out of the factory box, and the replacement of the new one.
I need someone from your company to arrange for this truck to be towed to one of your dealers whom has the knowledge and the desire to get to the bottom of this engine problem. I am literally at my wits end with this. I CAN NOT WAIT months for this to take place. I have waited in line, I have been lied to, I have been put off , and it's is well beyond time to make this right. I need this truck to be running correctly by the middle of October so we don't miss our first scheduled trip. I don't want to have to explain, and re-explain the problems with this truck to which ever dealer takes it. . Someone needs to communicate to the dealer who receives this truck, the details of the situation. And I don't want to be told it's gonna take weeks to fix. I simply don't have the where-with-all.. I apologize if I sound angry. It is not personal by any means. I am just angry and can't believe I have to go through this all over again
Called Ford customer service in Michigan and talked to Sonya. She told me that the letter was received and that they had tried to call me 3 times that week. I had no messages at either of the numbers I left on the letter. She couldn't give me the numbers they had on file to determine if they were wrong? I gave her my numbers again. I was told some one would call me the next morning.
No call from Ford.
I called Ford in Michigan again. I was told again that they had tried to reach me. I confirmed the phone numbers again and was told that they'd call me the next morning.
No call. I called in the late afternoon. I was told that my deal was sent up to an executive liaison. Told I'd hear from them the next day.
No call as of 12-noon. (2pm their time) I called and sat on hold for 22 minutes. I was told that I was calling Florida and that I needed Michigan?. The lady told me that she contacted her super and that they'd call up to Michigan and have the person handling my deal call me the next day? . LOL
Started up my car for work at 6:50am and walked the dog. When I got back to my car my cell was beeping with a message. It was the person I needed to talk to in Michigan. Karen was her name. She must have started at 9:00am cause she called me at 7:01am my time. Karen left her number. I called her back when I got to work. Even though I sent a detailed letter as to the situation with my truck she seemed to know very little and I updated her regarding details more than once. Karen was very nice and polite however.
She asked me what I wanted to do. I told her that I wanted to have a dealer take this truck and fix it in a reasonable amount of time. I don't want the thing sitting for weeks as they replace part after part every now and then. I wanted some one to stay on it until it's fixed. I just wanted the dealership to treat this like a customer spent ten grand 9 months ago and still doesn't have what he paid for. She asked me which dealer I'd like to take it to. I had heard through the net that Moss Ford off the 10 fwy had good diesel guys. We conference called them and their service manager declined taking the truck. So we ended up calling Fairview back. The service manager Gary Harding said he had gotten the letter (10 days earlier mind you) and asked if his service guy Mark Sanders had called me yet. I told him that I had heard from no one.
Gary Harding continued on telling me that if I wanted to warrantee the injector I'd have to bring the truck down and go through the process. He continued on telling me that his diesel guy had just left on vacation and that to call him in two weeks? I told him that I already replaced the injector in question. Karen stepped in and said that we needed to get this vehicle in as soon as possible. Gary asked when I'd like to bring it down. I told him I would do it right then. He said Monday would be the best time for him and I so it wouldn't sit there for two days. He told me that he could have it done by the end of the week. As a service writer for 15 years I was very impressed at that since they didn't know what the problem was yet.
Dropped the truck off with Mark Sanders in service. Not a whole lot said. Just here's the keys and thank you from myself. Mark was very quiet.
Hadn't heard anything from the dealer the entire week I called and left a message on Marks machine.
I never heard back from Mark so I called Gary and left a message on his machine. Mark called me a few h
ours later telling me that they did a compression test, and a leak down test. All was good there. They did find that there was a rough idle and inconsistent cylinder readings. They were going to change some injectors around to see what happen.
Hadn't heard anything so I called Monday . Mark told me that when they changed the injectors around it made other injectors simulate the same problem. In other words the strong ones were now weak?. His point was that nothing made sense. They were now going to change the fuel pump which was covered or the IDM (injector driver module) which I'd have to pay for. I then told Mark that a few engines that year came with split shot injectors. Could it be possible that the wrong injectors are in the engine causing this problem? His response was that the factory put them in so it shouldn't be an issue. I then stated too, that California engines had an injector pulse regulator just under the turbo that could also be something to look at. He was not interested in this information at all. I didn't take this personally. But I was scratching my head as if I were in his shoes I'd consider any info that might help me with my job.
They made the changes and nothing changed. Mark continued to state that this minor problem was only at idle and once it got above idle it ran smooth. I felt like he was seeing if I'd cave and just live with it. I said nothing. After a pause he said that they had a call into Ford's tech line and were waiting a call back. And he'd call me as soon as he heard anything. I then told him that there is also a barometric pressure sensor that adjusts timing and fuel that could acting up that may effect the injector pressures. Again, no interest.
Heard nothing from them the rest of the week. I called and left messages on both Mark's and Gary's machines. At the end of the day still no call backs. I called Gary. He answered and said that he had gotten my message. He told me that the tech line was at the end of their rope. He continued telling me that they called the engineer and he would hear back from him on Tuesday after the weekend. I then called Karen back east and told her what I was being told. She said that was not satisfactory. She got Gary, myself and her on a conference call. She was trying also to get the engineer on with a 4 way conference. As she was doing this I was cut off. I called back immediately and left two messages explaining that I didn't hang up and to please call me back as I instantly got her machine.
She called me about 10 minutes later. She told me that the engineer told Gary to have his guys change out all the injectors. That would take until Tuesday. If that didn't fix it, the engineer himself would come out on Nov 2nd or 4th to have a look at it. I never heard the engineers voice. To me, it is very suspicious that I was cut off as she was attempting to reach this person.. Also with Mark the service advisor taking no interest in these other suggestions with my truck just seems weird too. For all I know he is not interested because they aren't doing anything and he knows it? I may be wrong, but this whole deal just stinks. Only time will tell.
TO BE CONTINUED: I plan to call them late Tuesday the 24th for the results from changing every injector.