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Trying not to be angry dealing with Ford Customer Service...


Azgunslinger

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Any suggestions?

I have a 2014 Ford Explorer with 22k miles. I was driving it on an interstate @ 4am one day returning back to Phoenix and a guy behind me flashed his lights signalling, "pull over". I did and he said the back of the vehicle suddenly started to smoke...indeed there was an acrid smell that was obvious and a little smoke.

I was in the Navy and worked on aircraft so it smelled like hydraulic fluid burning or something like plastic/oil. He said he was a mechanic so he looked under the car and said - you probably lost your rear shock and the oil somehow burned. Could have hit the exhaust or something, but that's the problem. I asked him if it was safe to drive and he said 'yes'.

So I continued on my way about 200 miles to Phoenix. Took it to the dealer the next day to get repaired.

The dealer initially said it was covered by the warranty, not to worry. They called later in the day and said, "hey, on second thought, there is mud under your vehicle, and if any debris gets in there, this isn't covered." to back up his position, he sent pictures of some mud on the back of the shock oil reservoir, and splattered on the suspension, which he said was the other side of the car. (The shock in question was right rear). He said that somehow mud got on the part and caused it to fail. But the pictures looked like the dust cover had melted (MELTED!) to the oil reservoir.

As I understand it, the shock absorber piston descends into the reservoir, and in addition to seals to prevent debris from being plunged into the reservoir, there is a dust cover that covers the top of the plunger/piston, and covers down to the bottom/reservoir, further sealing the unit from outside influence.

That was cracked off so some was still on top, and a mangled piece was melted to the bottom.

The car drove home "OK" and wasn't noticeably bouncy or tracking poorly or anything. Anyway, the dealer said, "can't warranty this because the dirt/mud caused this failure". I asked to escalate to a supervisor within customer service and they sent a flowery email saying, "after reviewing the details of this case, it is not covered under warranty because the mud caused the failure."

I asked how mud - last i checked a relatively cool mixture of water and dirt - could ever cause something to heat up enough to melt plastic and burn oil. She responded, "I am not technical, but it did." Then she closed my appeal case.

I am beyond frustrated, and I'd like to know what others have done to remedy this situation. I'd hate to take Ford to court or invest a lot more time in this situation because its a $250 repair, but its the principle of the matter that galls me. They're clearly just doing the runaround and have no intention of making sure I am satisfied. This could be accomplished by explaining how a little dirt could cause a part to overheat, and/or agreeing to pay for the repair.

What do you guys suggest I do next? If there are any Ford people on here, please let me know. I have been given another option of reporting this to the Better Business Bureau, but has that achieved results?

Thank you in advance for your help...

David
 


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dudefish

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Did you take it back to the dealer from whom you bought the vehicle?
 




Azgunslinger

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No, but I bought it about 35 miles from my house when the dealer 2 miles from my house didn't have what I wanted in stock. Think they'd be more sympathetic?

I already had it repaired, so the other dealer close to my house has the part they removed from it. Too late, I think.
 




dco43054

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Never seen or heard of a failure like this. Very strange.

And no, I don't think mud would have caused the failure.

Just wait for a Ford Customer Service person to wander through the thread, or PM one directly. Not that it will necessarily do any good, but you can bypass the dealer and get Fords folks engaged directly.
 




182RG

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tmg19103

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So the EX has a mud/rut off road mode and Ford had advertisements of the EX in 2010 driving through thick mud to advertise it's "intelligent 4WD", and some mud underneath the vehicle now voids the warranty?

Here Ford Media advertises and shows an Ex driving through deep mud and they are voiding the warranty for some mud under the vehicle? They are voiding the warranty for something they tell you the vehicle can do and is supposed to be able to do and is something they tell you to do and show the Ex doing it on their own video? Perhaps they should also void the warranty if you drive on a paved road in "normal" mode?

https://youtu.be/MWcIPZ-9ioE
 




Azgunslinger

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Off roading, no, but i was driving on a wet dirt forest road while hunting. It was quite smooth, and this whole shock thing happened on an interstate highway.

As I was going to Ford's website to read about how to escalate this issue, I saw an explorer banner go by, and it said "Be Unstoppable!" - and showed an Explorer going across a dirt road. Yup - its still up there: http://www.ford.com/suvs/explorer/?hptid=fv-2363b-nocar:billboard:slide0:explorer

I can't tell you how disappointed I am. I tend to be a bit of a Ford Fan-boy too. Traded the third Mustang I've owned in on the Explorer. Bought my 16 year old son a Fusion. Dreaming of a GT...you get the idea.

My Explorer is black with light interior, and I wanted to get all the bells and whistles. I really wanted the sport with the nicest interior, but living in AZ, I just can't handle black leather. Was so excited to see the 2016 with the Sport model engine and an even better interior - with light color as an option (FINALLY!). But then this happens and I can almost feel the sour feeling seep in. I want to be patient, and be a "good customer" - and I just can't figure out how the heck they're essentially blaming this on me.

Its unreal. The escalation path to a customer service person who just spews the same illogical line of reasoning as the dealer and says she's "carefully reviewed this case"...but then declines to answer any technical question because she's not qualified. She wouldn't call me, just closes the ticket.

Oh, and I didn't tell you this before, but the closed ticket notice came with a survey. You bet I clicked on that link with a vengeance...and wouldn't you know it...that didn't work either! The link generates an error at SurveyMonkey (the free survey tool any business can use). What in the world?

Customer satisfaction is their top priority? Like I said, I'm trying not to get mad here, but there's little reason to hope for the best.

Should I file a small claims case against Ford?
 




Halwg

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Off roading, no, but i was driving on a wet dirt forest road while hunting. It was quite smooth, and this whole shock thing happened on an interstate highway.
In my mind, and I'm sure in Ford's as well, this does qualify as "off roading." A wet, dirt, forest road, while hunting, is taking the vehicle "off-road."
 




tmg19103

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In my mind, and I'm sure in Ford's as well, this does qualify as "off roading." A wet, dirt, forest road, while hunting, is taking the vehicle "off-road."
So? They advertise it as an off road vehicle driving though mud, sand and dirt. They have a TMS system that has various off road modes and you are not supposed to take it off road or you void the warranty?
 




funfool

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Still does not explain what caused the failure.
You could stick Lamar and a whole house full of gaa gaa girls in the rear, will not cause the shocks to catch fire and melt.

If I was Ford, I would be really interested in this case and what conditions caused this failure, can they be repeated on other cars, causing fire and damage if not caught in time.
 




dco43054

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Wait til Monday bathe Fors reps will wander in. If not, PM them
 




peterk9

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MikB

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I'm finding this a little odd that Ford would take this kind of stance for a relatively cheap part and replacement under warranty. Shock leaks, fluid hits hot exhaust, burns and creates smoke. Mud noted on shock by Ford. Ford blames mud for shock failure due to off road use by customer therefore, abuse by customer causes failure and voids warranty? Hmmm. Since the Explorer is advertised as 'off road capable', is their a disclaimer in small print somewhere that list failures the warranty won't cover and which will void the warranty? Why do I feel like this is a 'gotcha moment'?

This better be overturned and resolved by Ford or they will need to bring forth full disclosure on the limits of the warranty to include conditions of off road use in their advertising. Much like Pharmaceutical company's do when they spend more time telling you how their drug may cause more problems and kill you more than help. Doing this of course, will have customers running away from the Ex. :eek: :salute:
 




scarpi

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Hey AZgunslinger, I just had my 2015 Explorer up off roading around the peaks near Flagstaff enjoying the fall Aspens. I was on all kinds of dirt/gravel/rocky "roads" and had no problems. My Explorer performed well as expected using the select terrain system. Isn't that what the Explorer is meant to do, explore? How can the dealer tell you that because there is mud under your vehicle that the failure is due to some kind of abuse? It's an Explorer you are supposed to use it to explore in all kinds of weather. Since the Terrain Management System has a setting for "Mud/Ruts", how can they tell you that since there is mud under your vehicle it is not covered under warranty. It is supposed to be driven in some mud. I just used mine in all kinds of rough conditions driving around the peaks in Flagstaff on dirt, gravel, rocks, and some mud and I had no problems at all. Your repair should be covered under warranty in my opinion. How can the dealer tell you the repair isn't covered under warranty because there is mud under your vehicle when the select terrain system has a setting for "MUD". I think you need to go to another dealer. And what dealer told you that? Hopefully it isn't mine.
 




blwnsmoke

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I honestly believe that this is a dealer issue in how they present it to Ford. Ford can only go by what the dealer says (not what the customer) and if the dealer presents it as abuse, they will mark it as such.

My guess is the dealer saw an out to be able to charge the customer full price for the shock and labor as opposed to a warranty claim. Ford backed the dealer based on what they entered on the repair order.

I'd be pissed as hell because based on your own description, if I blew a shock because my inlaws live on a dirt road that after it rains can be muddy, I'd be all over Ford and I'd have no reservations on taking them to small claims court if I was still under warranty.

Let them buy a plane ticket both ways and fly out there to battle you in court over a $250 repair and see what happens. Hell if it were me, even if I was going to lose, it would well be worth the $80 out of my pocket to fight it.

This is one reason why I try to build a really good relationship with my service advisor. I only go to him for all my vehicles and will travel a further distance just to do it. I'm nice to them and give them all my business. In return, they are really nice to me and take care of me as a customer.
 




Azgunslinger

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Scarpi - I could look up the name of the road I was on, but it was a well groomed forest service road that goes from Ash Fork kind of parallel to I-40 and dumps off at the country club in Williams. It was really nothing challenging, and if we weren't going slow (10-15mph) trying to be relatively quiet and scanning for elk, we probably could have gone 40 mph without much trouble. It was that flat.

The reddish soil was moist and while we were driving, the Ex doesn't have very effective mudflaps and there was a little splatter along the back wheel wells and on the side of the vehicle. I imagine the mud they saw was an accumulation of the wet dirt that splattered up into the suspension and over the undercarriage. We were back and forth on that road for about 40 miles over the weekend.

I do not profess to be the most informed how the shocks work, especially how they fail and what happens when they're used after they fail. So my theory is somehow the shock seals failed, and the heat on the shock may have happened before that to contribute to them failing, or the heat happened after the seals failed.

Maybe one of you can answer: If the oil is purged from the reservoir after a seal failure is there more friction and heat on an empty shock reservoir? I did drive back to Phoenix after the part failed, so the heat that melted the dust cover may have happened secondary to the seal failing. Seems like that's a possibility.

I also didn't look at the undercarriage early in the AM, so i can't say exactly what was burning - could have been the dust cover and oil, or just the oil or whatever. No idea, but it was an acrid smell. Hydraulic fluid burning does smell a lot like burning plastic to me.

Just a little exasperated at the lack of effort by the Ford service folks. I know that the Explorer is not the same as a Raptor, but still...I did not do anything extreme at all by driving on a dirt road. I used to live off a dirt road when I was a teenager (3 decades ago) and I know how bad dirt roads can be after significant water runs over/across them like the washboard effect that can develop...I also know I didn't encounter even that much "roughness". I wish I could show you a picture of what the road conditions were like, because they were beyond minor. The road I was on is clearly a well managed road that anticipates more traffic than an ATV trail. We pulled over and got out and walked through the woods at several junctures. We always stayed on the road or pulled over on the shoulder, I would not say we went "off roading".

I do have a picture of the melted dust cover and even the mud on the back of the shock the dealer provided to me as "proof" of the cause...how do I share that with you all? He said, "See that dirt? There you go!" I responded with "and?"...and obviously that got me nowhere.

Thanks for your support though. You guys are great!
 




Azgunslinger

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I honestly believe that this is a dealer issue in how they present it to Ford. Ford can only go by what the dealer says (not what the customer) and if the dealer presents it as abuse, they will mark it as such.

My guess is the dealer saw an out to be able to charge the customer full price for the shock and labor as opposed to a warranty claim. Ford backed the dealer based on what they entered on the repair order.

I'd be pissed as hell because based on your own description, if I blew a shock because my inlaws live on a dirt road that after it rains can be muddy, I'd be all over Ford and I'd have no reservations on taking them to small claims court if I was still under warranty.

Let them buy a plane ticket both ways and fly out there to battle you in court over a $250 repair and see what happens. Hell if it were me, even if I was going to lose, it would well be worth the $80 out of my pocket to fight it.

This is one reason why I try to build a really good relationship with my service advisor. I only go to him for all my vehicles and will travel a further distance just to do it. I'm nice to them and give them all my business. In return, they are really nice to me and take care of me as a customer.


No doubt you're right. The $250 is really nothing in the grand scheme of things, but if their position is I did something wrong, I'd like to know what it is at a minimum to avoid putting my vehicle at risk in the future. I'd also like to know if this is one of those things where they have been slowly accumulating similar failures and are just slow to admit it so they incur some undesirable costs. Deny, deny, deny...admit & recall...isn't that how some things go?

I wonder about your other point with the dealer relationship. As I said earlier, I went in hot and heavy 2 years ago to buy a mustang from this dealer, and they tried to get the one I exactly wanted from another dealer down the road. They got sideways in that negotiation from the other dealer and somehow couldn't get them to release it. They had run my credit, and we were very close to making the deal. After 3 days of "can they get it or not?", I walked and bought it somewhere else. Do you think they have my "permanent record" flagged with that as a difficult customer?

Something similar happened with these guys on the Explorer. I wanted black with a light colored interior. I subscribe to the Henry Ford - any color, as long as its black - color preference. but I can't do a black interior. Anyway, they couldn't/wouldn't get the vehicle from another dealership, and they pushed me to special order and wait a couple months. I said no thanks and went to another Ford dealer in the Phoenix metro area. Maybe this has left them disappointed with me such that their system has blackballed me? Is that possible?

I don't think these guys can sell their way out of a wet paper bag, and maybe something is up with their relationships in Phoenix if other dealers don't play ball with them.

None of this means dirt causes heat on a shock though. :)
 




Azgunslinger

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Forest Road 124. Kaibab National Forest.

https://www.google.com/maps/@35.2855579,-112.2407731,597m/data=!3m1!1e3

Hopefully this shows how "nice" this road is. Rain only made it a little squishy, but it has some kind of crushed red cinder in it that is pretty impervious to the drizzling rain we had that weekend. Splatter, but not swimming in mud by a long shot. And to the point of others here - so what? How do you get from mud to melting? That does not add up.
 




tmg19103

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Per the Ford warranty guide, I see no reason why this would not be covered. Sounds like you are being scammed by your dealer.

Reasons to deny coverage are pages 12-15 and I see nothing related to this issue, unless they are arguing driving a vehicle down a dirt road that they market for off road is "misuse". Sounds like are using it exactly like it is expected to be used per the way Ford markets the vehicle. Heck, any car should be able to drive down a dirt road and get some mud on it without falling apart.

https://www.ford.com/resources/ford/general/pdf/2011Warranty.pdf
 


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dont slow down

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Ive never looked under mine and without seeing pictures it's hard to say. However I know how shocks work. If in fact you were "mudding" I don't see that as misuse. The part of the shock where the shaft enters the main body of the shock is the most susceptible to foreign objects entering the shock. If the shock is positioned with the shaft upwards that exposes the seals around the shaft even if there is a dust cover. If dirt managed to work it's way into the seals then the repeated movement of the shaft and dirt would eat away the seals. When they wear too much all that pressurized oil in the shock "explodes" everywhere and probably all over the hot exhaust creating the burning smell and smoke. I don't know how the dust cover would melt or burn unless after all that fluid leaked out the friction from the up and down movement as you continued to drive it cause the shock to heat up to a high enough temperature to melt plastic. This is a highly unlikely cause however it may be possible.

Do you have any pictures of the carnage?
 




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