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Stiff-armed by the dealer on a warranty issue

Discussion in 'Stock 2011 - 2019 Ford Explorer Discussion' started by KeithH, March 30, 2018.

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^





  1. KeithH

    KeithH New Member

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    My 2016 Platinum Explorer burned up its PTU fluid to the point that the control system shut down the AWD function (44K miles.) So, they put in new fluid and charged me $358. Based on my reading of the warranty, this should be covered.

    To net it out, the warranty says it does not cover “(1) parts and labor needed to maintain the vehicle; and (2) the replacement parts due to normal wear and tear.” Since this is a “lifetime” fluid, and NOT on the regular maintenance schedule, it’s my position that this fluid should not need to be replaced to maintain the vehicle (in theory), and it’s clearly not normal wear and tear.

    So, after some back and forth, the Service Manager finally calls me and tells me that this IS a maintenance activity (fitting in category 1 above I assume). He bases this on the following (from a paragraph under (but separate from) the REGULAR maintenance schedule):

    Axle maintenance: The Power Transfer Unit (PTU) in your vehicle does not require any normal scheduled maintenance. The system is electronically monitored and notifies the driver of required service by displaying a message in the information display. The PTU lube will be more likely to require a fluid change if the vehicle has experienced extended periods of extreme / severe duty cycle driving. Do not check or change the PTU lubricant unless the unit has been submerged in water, shows signs of leakage or a message indicating required service is displayed. Contact your authorized dealer for service and to reset the PTU lube life monitor.” [emphasis mine]

    So, let’s parse this out, the warranty doesn’t cover maintenance and normal wear and tear. OK, engine oil is not covered, got it.

    1. The PTU fluid is designed to NEVER be maintained and is NOT in the regularly scheduled maintenance schedule. There’s no argument about that.

    2. The only reason it needs to be changed is if there have been EXTENDED periods of EXTREME / SEVERE DUTY. The problem here is that NONE of that occurred! The car has 44K miles on it and is owned by my partner. She gets it detailed inside and out twice a month. 90% of her driving is granny-going-to-church highway miles. Nothing severe, no off-road, no towing, no nothing that could have caused this “lifetime” fluid to break down.

    3. Also, the paragraph cited by the service manager indicates that IF you’ve driven it rough you should get an indicator for required service as the fluid degrades. Never happened, the first thing we knew about it was a horrific stench and an indicator light saying that the AWD was going off line. Nothing saying “Hot PTU”, or “PTU needs service”, only the AWD shutdown. Scared the hell out of my partner.

    So, that’s the net of it. I feel like Ford created a POS PTU (witness all the other similar stories and the PTU lawsuit), and they won’t stand behind it. I do understand that the dealer doesn’t want to pay for the design error, but where does that leave the customers? Screwed, in my case.

    I also asked for answers to the following questions (hoping they would get us to root cause.) The service manager also refused to answer my questions. So, in addition to taking my money for something that’s under warranty, they also refused to answer my completely (IMHO) reasonable questions.

    1. One day before the PTU problem [the dealer] did a Multi-Point Inspection that included: “Drive shaft, transmission, u-joint and shift linkage (if equipped) and lubricate as needed.” Why wasn’t our PTU problem found and handled?

    2. What was the root cause of the PTU problem? We were told that this was a “fluid failure”. OK, but I’ll need some convincing that the factory fluid that is engineered to last the vehicle’s lifetime is liable to complete failure in less than 24 hours at 44K miles (with no towing or adverse operation.) Did the Ford engineers specify an unstable fluid in a vital drive component? If it is “fluid failure”, we’d like to know what the chemical catalyst would be for such immediate breakdown in the lubricant’s properties.

    3. Why was there no warning of an overheating condition? Why was the first message we got that 4WD was being disabled? That’s like a low engine oil warning turning the engine off rather than telling you to add oil.

    4. Why were NO DTCs found in the diagnostic report? I’ve never plugged in OBD/RossTech/other tool and found NO DTC or messages. There’s always something even if it’s just intermittent issues and status checks. At a minimum there should have been a DTC associated with the “4WD is being turned off” message? I assume Ford would log the shutdown of a major driveline subsystem.

    5. Why aren’t DTC reports, even if nothing is found, stored with the maintenance records of the vehicle? I asked to see the reports (before and after work), and was told they weren’t saved. It seems like saving them would be a best practice.

    So, there it is, the proverbial stiff-arm with an absurd explanation and no recourse. I asked for the contact info of the Ford Regional Service Manager and they declined that also.

    Anybody got any suggestions or know who the RSM is in Seattle?

    I'll update this thread with any changes in status.
     
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  3. chefduane

    chefduane Texas Elite Explorer Elite Explorer

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    Find out who the Zone Manager is in the region. Lay out the details (like above) to him and ask if he can help. Perhaps he might intervene, perhaps not.
    Dealerships DO NOT like getting CS calls from the Zone Manager.
     
  4. jo7hs2

    jo7hs2 Active Member

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    You absolutely need to call Ford CS on this. They’re less responsive than they used to be, in my opinion, but this *feels* like a Powertrain warranty foul, even if by the letter of the warranty it isn’t. I understand their argument, since only the fluid was changed and fluids are usually not covered, but since there is no fluid change interval, we have no way of knowing how long it is *supposed* to last. Ford may still say it’s not a warranty issue (and honestly, I get it, they have no clue if the vehicle was or was not driven hard) but you gotta try.

    But when you talk with Ford, leave out discussion of the lawsuit and accusations of how horrible the PTU design is...stick to the facts on THIS instance, “premature” fluid failure on a fluid that has no change interval.
     
    Last edited: March 31, 2018
  5. thefranchise713

    thefranchise713 Well-Known Member

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    You can call customer service but they're about as useless as useless gets. I've never seen a group of employees--sorry, contractors--dedicated to frustration--at company request, of course. :) Anyway...

    Dealers are more than happy to bill back warranty work, but they don't like to get burned on the same. If they're not claiming the fluid they're worried that they're not going to get paid. Thus it's a reimbursement issue from Ford.

    Talk to dealership management first--not the service manager--and lay out the issue and give them an opportunity to correct. Then ask when the field service engineer or zone manager will be on site next. Ford doesn't dispatch FSMs anymore without an act of congress, but if one is coming for another customer you might get lucky.

    Give management a chance, then escalate. That said with the failure of the fluid, I'm surprised that the PTU itself didn't entirely fail. Usually folks realize that their PTU fluid has burned by a catastrophic failure of the PTU. Keep an eye on it.

    Interesting how MY2017 vehicles all have PTU fluid coolers now if I'm not mistaken... :popcorn:
     
  6. bigdude2468

    bigdude2468 Active Member

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    Curious, does the 2016 have a drain plug to change the fluid? If it does not how do they change the fluid? Every other oil change, once a year I do the "speed quicky" fluid change on my 2014 by suctioning out as much as possible and refilling with fresh synthetic.
     
  7. jo7hs2

    jo7hs2 Active Member

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    They don’t. They remain air cooled, as before, in most Explorers, with limited exceptions (Sport, PIU...) having water cooled PTUs.
     
  8. thefranchise713

    thefranchise713 Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, wonder where I got that factoid then, because I've been hearing it a lot.

    After I posted it I pulled my 2017 service manuals. Sure enough the 2.3Ls PTU has no mention of the cooler, unlike the 3.5L variants and the 3.7L TiVCT.

    Must have been another running change I was thinking about--apologies.
     
  9. jo7hs2

    jo7hs2 Active Member

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    No worries, only reason I knew was because I’m looking at the parts online right now, my 3.5 Ti-VCT has no cooler shown. In the civilian mass-market, the coolers are less common (Sport) but I think maybe your comment might make sense in that I’m seeing the cooler as available on all the police versions with the 3.5/3.7 now. Maybe that was the change? I thought it was an option at one point. Maybe that was the Taurus SHO? Idk. It’s hard to keep them straight.

    Here’s my 2018 XLT’s PTU for reference... Power Take Off Assy | FordUS
     
  10. jo7hs2

    jo7hs2 Active Member

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    I think they’re also sucking it out.
     
  11. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    I think the term 'siphoning' would be a better word.:D Yes, you are correct and there are threads/posts on that.

    Peter
     
  12. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Welcome to the Forum Keith.:wave:
    Sorry to read about your PTU issue. I think you have made very valid points in your post and that this is an issue that should be covered. Please do keep the community updated as to your efforts and outcome. Thank you.

    Peter
     
  13. bigtexan99

    bigtexan99 Active Member

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    The dealer should have REPLACED the PTU. Not only is the newer design better, then the fluid change would also have been covered under warranty.

    What is the build date on your car? Its on the drivers door label sticker.


    Here is the PTU model history:

    •Jan 2014 - Full faced thrust washer (FFTW) introduced
    •Prevents idler bearing from walking into aluminum case.

    •Oct 2015 – Loose Fit Idler Bearing
    •Dyno Testing Shows ~ 2 x improvement over FFTW design

    •May/June 2016 – New Bearing Design without drawn cups
    •Eliminates Walk Mechanism
    •Dyno Testing Shows ~3-4 x improvement over FFTW design


    My build date is May 28th 2016... I don't know if I got the newest May/June PTU model but I hope I did.
     
    Last edited: March 31, 2018
  14. KeithH

    KeithH New Member

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    Hey - thanks to all for your input. It will be considered!

    After more thought, I'm convinced something isn't right here. When I talked to the service manager he kept trying to insist that the "service" indicator light had been turned on prior to the failure. It wasn't and I couldn't understand why he kept asking. See if this makes sense:

    1. There were no DTCs in the system. That means it couldn't have failed slowly or we would have gotten the "PTU Service" light before the fluid failure.
    2. The fact that the first indication that something was wrong was the AWD shutting down seems to indicate that the failure was very fast and therefore not "maintenance".

    What confuses me about this is that there were NO DTCs. I can't get my head around that. No matter how we got to fluid failure, we eventually got a dashboard indicator that the AWD was going offline. How does that NOT write a DTC, or some kind of log entry? Some thread I looked at said that a problem had to persist for several "cycles" (engine on/off = cycle?), for a DTC to be registered and logged. If true, that also argues for an "immediate" failure. Does anyone know about this possible DTC/cycle connection?

    That's the other thing. The dealer seems unconcerned no DTCs. How can the "AWD is shutting down" not have been logged? If it wasn't logged, there MUST be a computer, sensor, or control module problem? If that's true, why isn't the dealer talking to me about a "diagnostic failure"?

    This just smells bad.

    Finally, on a philosophical note, I wish dealers could figure out some way to pay service people that didn't include revenue based incentives (commissions). That conflict of interest makes it hard to trust the service folks. I'm sure they're nice people, but you get what you pay for. If you pay for more revenue, you're going to get more revenue, by whatever means.

    Thanks again to all!
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH New Member

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    Hi Tex, I checked the door label and don't see a mfg date. But in any case, that's just an FYI to me, right? I don't think it makes any difference to resolving this issue, but maybe I'm missing the point?
     
  16. thefranchise713

    thefranchise713 Well-Known Member

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    Wrench light DTCs sometimes don't store historically... we saw this a lot when throttle bodies were failing left and right. Why the codes didn't stay in memory is beyond me. There was a DTC when the AWD shut down, it most likely cleared on the key cycle.
     
  17. KeithH

    KeithH New Member

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    Hi 713 - yeah I must be confused about DTC handling. I don't see how any "diagnostic" system would clear the DTC of such a failure (AWD off-line) no matter now many times it cycled. Is there a definitive source (that I can access) that defines how DTCs are handled by Ford?
     
  18. blwnsmoke

    blwnsmoke Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    There are hard DTCs and soft DTCs. Hard will log in the computer, soft will not based on a key cycle causing a normal condition and therefore clearing itself.

    If the fluid was burnt, I agree the PTU should have been replaced since it is not serviceable. No telling what damage was caused internally by this.
     
  19. bigtexan99

    bigtexan99 Active Member

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    Yes, mostly FYI....but if you have an early build date like Sep 15 or so, then maybe you can argue the case with them that the part is defective, and should have been replaced with the newer improved model.
     
  20. blwnsmoke

    blwnsmoke Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    I've posted this info before and I'm pretty sure the consensus was that this had to do with the PIU PTUs only, not the civilian ones.
     
  21. KeithH

    KeithH New Member

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    blwnsmoke, would you please amplify your response to bigtexan99? Starting with what's a PIU?

    Sorry, but I'm a noob to the Explorer world.
     

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