Blue Oval Farce

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Nov 30, 2001
My Thunderbird came with a damaged driver’s door panel. The dealer ordered me a new one and replaced it about a week or so after delivery last February. About six weeks ago the arm rest (the black plastic insert that forms the the handle) cracked at the spine right behind the window switches and poked up about 3/4" inch. The dealer ordered another one.

When the part came in he left a message on my answering machine at work while I was on vacation. The part was in. Affer I got back in I finally remembered to schedule an appointment, and took it in for repair.

I also asked them to have another look at a wind leak directly in the driver’s ear that has gotten progressively worse. (I had had it looked at in April, but they said they needed the hardtop to fix it.) This time I showed them where the leak was—in the side trim, not the top seal. They said they’d look at it.

When my car was “ready” I picked it up. The first thing I noticed was that the arm rest insert was still broken. Then I looked at the statement they had given me. It said “reordered part.” Well thanks a lot “Blue Oval” certified dealer for leaving me an answer on my machine, returning my part without making any attempt to contact me again, and then not bothering to tell me that they had sent the part back (or warning me that they were going to ship the part back) and allowing me to bring the car in and leave it for another wasted day.

Then I noticed the other part of the invoice, which said “Unable to adjust window to seal convertible top any tighter.”

I again showed both the service writer and the service manager the spot where, if you look closely, you can visibly see the hole where the air is coming in—believe me it thrums at 40-45 mph, like you had the window down just a hair. I pointed out that the rubber sealing trim on the passenger side did not look anything like the trim on the driver side when the window was up. Finally the service manager agreed, but he said they couldn’t adjust it any more. I suggested that they order me a new top and trim. I thought he was going to faint. He said he would talk to the Ford representative the next time he was in. I asked when that would be. He wasn’t sure.

There’s more.

The steering was clicking when I got the car and they “fixed” it after two service visits by replacing the entire steering column a couple of months ago. About eighty percent of the clicking (you can both feel and hear it) is fixed—the part that occurred when turning on a perfectly smooth parking lot. However it still clicks when turning a corner if the pavement is uneven, for example going through the rain gutters at every intersection in the United States. Still, that is minor compared to the original clicking, so I just ignore it. However, there is a scratch in the steering wheel that I don’t think was there before they worked on it (neither my wife nor I wear rings), and with the wheel centered dead on, the car steers slowly to the right. Again, that's minor, but my '79 Chevette never did that.

So now I am driving a roaring and clicking $40,000 car with a scratch in the steering wheel that slowly pulls to the right.

But hey, I'm rejoicing because it’s “Blue Oval Certified!”

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txktom, sounds like your just not a Ford Man. Don't get mad, just kidding. If I were you I would keep getting on the dealers As- about this or find another dealer that will work with you. Sounds like you have one of a few Birds that have some major problems. Even thou this is a low production car it is still a production car and these things will happen. Sounds like part of the problem is with Ford and MOST of the problem is with your dealer.Hope things work out for you.

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If this is of any comfort, your dealer did help me.

Thanks to your dealer's service dept. My dealership finally agreed to change the stering column. After speaking to them about my clicking stering column.

No more problems with mine now

No more clicking (although I did not try deliberate uneven pavement while turning.... (We dont have gutters built into the pavement here...)

You probably need to find a dealership who has a better run rate at fixing cars.

I found out that service depts. have a ratio they keep track of.
Its the ratio service orders that get a grade of first time fixed right. Apparently the service dept. keeps tabs on individual mechanics, specialty (Engin, Trans, Elecric, Body etc...) and also has an overall average.

About a month ago I was in the service bay and saw a big poster plastered on a corner wall next to the employee cafeteria entrance. The numbers on that poster were the %'s for that month for the service dept. They ran 86% first time fixed right. There was also a mention of the best service technician that month, he got a 96%... I took his name down and lucky for me, did not have to ask for him, he was the one assigned to my car....

I guess as a customer you now have to worry about the individual performance of the mechanic working on your car...

I concluded that it boils down to the trust you have in the guy holding the wrench.

I now mention the fact I know about the existance of this stat and the fact I want to have their "best" technician working on the car.

I dont know what impact this has, but to date the same technician has been assigned to my car for 3 different visits. (1 oil change, 1 wheel change, and one stering column change).
2nd that, "You're not a Ford Man". hehe. Hopefully you have more than one dealership to service the car. One local dealership that I know very well, took my '99 Mercury Cougar in at 35,995 miles for a final "fix it because the warranty is running out" job. We got home, and parked in the garage, the next day when we tried to start the car, it would not start and the lights and everything in the car were going nuts when you tried to turn the key. (Sort of like a Poltergeist car). Anyway, I called them and they told me I was up creek without a paddle because I was now over 36,000 miles. I was really PO'd because nothing this bad had ever happened with the car, we took it in for a starter problem, not maror electrical. After some research, I found out replacing the starter required quite a bit of disassembly. After close examination, I found out the morons forgot to put the car back together, including many sensors and the ground cable. Some screws were still laying inside. Minutes later I called the customer service rep which I knew, and told her I really loved them, but if they didn't have a tow truck there by 5:00pm, I was going to have to up the ante. Long story short, the car got fixed the next day and I drove the rental car they owned for almost a month to save miles on my leased junker.
I absolutely love the car, so I'll keep putting up with its annoying problems. I'd try another dealer, but the closest large dealer is about 70 miles away, in Shreveport. There are three very small dealers about twenty miles away, and it would really be a hassle to get the car serviced anywhere else. When the "Ford man" comes, my dealer said he'd have him take a look at the car. Seems a long shot, but I guess I'm stuck with it.

Erict,I'm glad they helped you. They've been nice to me, but they simply aren't interested in looking at any wind noise fix other than adjusting the window up and in. They could have offered to replace the trim, or stick a rag in the hole, but no such luck.

I may not be a "Ford Man" but I've had many Fords and enjoyed them all--none more than my first car ever, a 1953 "Bi-Centennial Edition" Ford 4-door sedan, which was well used when I got it. (Okay, maybe my F-150 pickup, which has been worked on only twice in eight years for a total of less than $300 in service work other than routine stuff.)

Now it's time for the Centennial Edition Fords to come out. Gee, where did the time go?

I'm having the same wind 'leak' problem as you...right next to the drivers ear. (the only difference is that mine is the soft top) First fix by the dealer was to adjust the window all the way 'in'....didn't work. Checked the weather stripping on both sides and noticed an obvious difference between the two. Dealer has ordered weatherstripping....waiting for it to get in and put it on.
Sounds exactly like my problem. Let me know if the new trim works. In the meantime I'm going to try sticking some foam rubber inside the trim to make it stick out another 1/8" or so. I stuck Kleenex in my '96 Sebring trim--invisible and it worked great. Of course, the Sebring problem didn't develop until the car was three years old, when you might expect some wind leakage to develop. The Tbird has only 2500 mles on it.
Welcome Will, good advise. I have always found that by going up the chain of ownership, thinks got fixed to my satisfaction. There have been a few times when I have had to call the "district rep" my self. Whenever I have done this in years past, the repairs got done right, or at the least, they made me happy. John

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