Friday, December 10, 2010

Ford Customer Service...what customer service?

Many of you know that I am a HUGE Ford fan. I bleed blue. I have driven nothing but Fords since before I got my license. Lots of Crown Vics, F-Series, Mustangs, Super Duties, Marauders, a Five Hundred, a Countour SVT, and most recently I ordered a 2010 Taurus SHO about a year ago. I have always recommend Ford products to my friends, and many of them are very pleased with their purchases. I guess I got bit on this one.

Well, she arrived right before Valentines Day 2010. I loved her from the Get-go, she was pretty, she was fast, and stealthy. I special ordered because nobody had what I wanted. I wanted the Performance Pack, which had special brakes, a different axle ratio, and stiffer springs and struts. It was worth the wait.

So around June of this year, I notice that when I'm leaving the neighborhood, the engine stutters/falters a little when I'm waiting for the light to turn green. This happened every day, and to the point where I started trying with the A/C on, A/C off, etc. Still did it.

It concerned me, and I made a note to take it in to the dealer to have it looked at. Around September, the brakes exhibited a groaning noise at low speeds, and I also noticed, while moving the car down the driveway, I noticed a clicking noise when going from Park to Reverse, and then Reverse to drive. This was enough to warrant taking the car in to be looked at.

I took the car into Tommie Vaughn Ford in Houston, where I bought the car from. They had the car in for three days. Their solution was to reflash the PCM, perform the brake TSB, which addressed the groan, and clearly stated, for Performance Package Taurus SHOs, NOT TO REPLACE THE BRAKE PADS. Guess what? They replaced the pads. When I picked the car up, I read the paperwork and pointed out to the advisor that the TSB was performed incorrectly. The advisor also told me that the clicking noise was gone. He offered to change the pads back to the original ones, however, I had no time, so I just got them back and left.

When I got the car back, I noticed that the clicking noise was still present, as well as the rough idle, to the point where the car died, however, immediately restarted. I called the Dealer and talked to my advisor, and explained that I was really disappointed. I buy from Tommie Vaughn for the good reputation. I took it for service there because thats where the car was purchased. I know Ford doesn't offer loaner cars unless you buy extended warranty, so I didnt expect them to provide me with alternate wheels, but I asked what his suggestion would be to resolve this problem. He told me to bring the car in and they would give me something to drive. I took the car in again. This time, they kept the car for 9 Days. I drove to the credit union to make a car payment in a rental car.

I picked the car up, they replaced the spark plugs, and the brake pads (to the correct ones) and the Brake Calipers. Supposedly the cause of the clicking noise. When I picked the car up and left, I noticed that the brakes didnt feel quite right. I brushed it off as to having driven a different car for a week and I'd get used to it. Well, when I left the office that evening, first stoplight, the brake pedal goes to the floor. To add insult to injury, while waiting for the light to turn green, the car exhibits the rough idle again. I immediately called the dealer. He advised me to bring it in.

Over the weekend and part of the next week, I drove my other vehicle, because I did not feel safe driving the car in the way that it was with the soft brakes. I did take the car in, around November 16th and I met with the Service writer, as well as the Service manager. I explained my frustration that this was the THIRD time the car was going in. He assured me that this would be taken care of and put me in another rental car. I suggested getting a Field Service Engineer involved or Ford direct. Later that week, my advisor called and said that they found #1 Cylinder was 'dropping out' and coming back. Ford techline advised them to move the spark plug and coil somewhere else to see if the 'drop out' followed. It did not. Ford techline suggests that the dealer replace the fuel injector, so they "emergency ordered" an injector. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I got a call stating that the injector was in, and the technician would be installing the injector to see if the problem was fixed. Friday, I called the dealer and talked to the service advisor, and he told me that the tech that was working on my car was on vacation, and that I would need to check back on Monday. Monday, my advisor calls me and says that the Shop Foreman actually drove my car and the problem was still present. So the FSE told them that they wanted to swap the computer, and could I bring my other key to the dealership, since they would need to reprogram both keys. I took my spare key to the dealer and my service writer was not there.

I spoke to the service manager after he got back from lunch. I asked him for an update, which he was not aware of any further updates. I told him to keep "throwing parts" at the car until they had it fixed. He said "Well, we're not throwing parts at it, we're diagnosing." Lets see. You have reflashed the PCM, Replaced Spark Plugs, Moved Coils, replaced the Fuel Injector, and now, you want to change the PCM. If thats not throwing parts at the problem I'm not sure what is.

Later that week, my advisor called and told me that the SHO they had on their lot that they were planning on swapping PCMs with did not match my car, however, when they pulled the spark plug on #1, the technician saw "Something Shiny" down the plug hole. So the Ford Engineer asked them to pull the head. The advisor thought that the engine would have to be removed for this operation and I tended to agree with him. This was around December 3. Over the weekend, I went to the dealer and took photos of my car sitting on the rack, which the exhaust unbolted, in various stages of disassembly. Looked like they were well on their way.

Tuesday, December 7th, I called the dealer for an update. The advisor had left, so I talked to the Service manager. He advised that they were told to pull heads by the Ford Engineer. Which I already knew. He claimed that the engine did NOT have to be removed.

Wednesday, December 8th, My advisor called around noon to tell me that the heads were off and the valves were "Carboned up" Like you would not believe. Then he starts asking me about what kind of Gasoline I used. I told him, Premium, only Chevron or Shell. Then he told me that the service manager said that only 87 should be used. I told him that I thought this was incorrect, they may want to check the owners manual in the car, as well as on the gas tank door. 87 Octane is acceptable, however, 91 or better is recommended for optimum performance in the SHO motor.

So here we have it folks. As of December 10th, 2010, I have a car that has been in the shop for a total of thirty six days. I have made two payments to the bank in a rental car.

Frustrated? Yes.
Angry? Yes.
Feel like I'm not being taken seriously by Ford or the Dealer? Yes.

Maybe its a lemon I have, but I feel like I'm not being given priority or consideration in this matter. The dealer blames it on their lack of Knowledge on the Ecoboost engine. I don't care what it is at this point. I'm tired of being jerked around and tired of being told one story to the next. I've always been a Ford product advocate and right now, I feel like its a huge slap in the face. I have a damn near 40,000 dollar paperweight that I don't see or get to use. Instead, I'm driving a Budget rent a car Hyundai. Thanks a lot Ford.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Test drive of the 2011 Ford F150's new Engine Lineup

You guys know, I bleed blue. I'm a die hard Ford man.

Ford has been making bold moves in the past few years.

More frequent refreshes and new exciting product lines, and killing dead weight (note: Ranger, E-Series and Panthers are NOT dead weight. Refresh THEM PLEASE!)

On Saturday I went and drove the F-Series to try their new engine lineup.

My impressions is that the new Ecoboost F150 is a fast truck, the way the power ramps up is very deceptive, but if you look at the speedometer, you're going at a good clip.

They set up 1/8 mile tracks and let people race each other in all the powertrains, 3.7L V6, 3.5L Ecoboost, 5.0 V8, and a 6.2L Harley truck. Also a Hemi powered Ram Quad Cab and a 5.3L Z71 Silverado ext cab were there to drive/compare.

My best time was run in a Ecoboost 4x4 Supercrew launching in 4Hi (hehe). Ford has hit a home run with this setup. The Ecoboost trucks have lots of insulation along the hood edges and sides to attenuate sound to not give you the feeling that you're driving with a 'smaller' engine. The exhaust note at WOT sounds a little raspy, but you can tell Ford spent some money researching how to get the exhaust to sound decent. NVH is almost nil, and you really dont know its a V6 unless you have a trained ear.

The 5.0L V8 is a smooth engine, with its Modular roots but so much better, it is most definitely refined. I was impressed with the changes Ford made to set the engine up for Truck Duty. Feels different than when in the Mustang App. Still sounds like a mod motor starting up though. Slick 6 Speed Auto is across this whole range of trucks.

The 6.2L Harley truck was by far the best sounding and driving truck there. The 6.2L exhaust on the Harley truck sounds like a NASCAR exhaust at WOT. Ford has done an excellent job with this motor. The truck felt the fastest out of the group, but the Ecoboost was faster on paper (at least to my time slips)

Next they had the Tow area, which had a Loaded Mega Cab Hemi Ram and a Silverado hooked to trailers filled with 6000 lbs in the back, and a group of F150 Supercrew 4x2 and 4x4, all with Ecoboost engines.

Does anyone notice that Ford did not offer a 5.7L or 4.6L Tundra for us to try?

I drove the Ram first, found it to be decent on power but having to work it hard to get it to move at a good pace with the trailer.

Next I hopped into a Supercrew FX4 with the Ecoboost and a 3.73 rear end. This truck moves good with a load. Again, its deceptive because you look down at the speedometer and you're moving faster than you thought. With a load, the power delivery is still very smooth, and the braking and trailer sway control all work awesome. You do have to work that Ecoboost to get the truck to get on the freeways, but thats what it was designed to do, with the turbos, provide that V8 thrust, and it does that.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the new lineup of engines that Ford has come out with.

I just wish they hired more knowledgeable people to work these events. They hire 'pretty people'. I got tired of hearing the wrong information over and over again. Finally I just stopped asking. At the tow section, I made are remark about how disappointed I would be driving the Ram, he stated "I'm an independant contractor, and I will tell you, I like the Ram better than the Ford" I raise an eyebrow at that remark. More technical questions asked to "Product specialists" were replied with a total lie, misinformation and then later "Sir, we're not engineers." If you don't know, just say so. These guys lost their cool when you ask questions they don't know. Then they get offended when you try to correct them. I.e. the guy we did the drive challenge said that "the Ecoboost in the F-series had Honeywell GT12 turbochargers". I said "They're borg warner, and the Honeywell GT15 is what is in the SHO, Flex and MKS with Ecoboost. He just looked at me. Later someone else told me , all F150s have rear axle ratios of 3.73 and 4.10. Ugh. Come on Ford. Seriously? /Rant over.

I did run into two Product specialists that actually did work for Ford and not the event company. They even let me check out and start up the new 6.7L Powerstroke that happened to be there. That motor is crammed under the hood of that truck, however, its supposed to be much easier to service than the 6.0 and 6.4s of yore. Those 7.3L days are over, quit dreaming. HA!.

Ford, you've done a good job here. Lets hope you will keep the products fresh and not let things die on the vine.

Overall I'd say Ford has a good new lineup on their hands. Time will tell to see if people are apt to adopt the Ecoboost in the F Series.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about Brake Fluid

How exciting!

Brake fluid is categorized by the DOT rating. Most new cars will be equipped with DOT 3 brake fluid. Your germans and supercars may use DOT 4, and very few will ever use DOT 5 will come in motorcycles and is a silicone based product.

Chemically speaking, the off the shelf brake fluids, like DOT 3 are based on glycol and glycol esters. DOT 4 is similar in composition except it contains borate esters. New to the brake fluid world is the DOT 5.1 that is made of of borate esters.

Do you know what real job of this fluid is? Brake fluid transmits pressure from the brake pedal to the ends of the brake system, where the calipers or drums are. This force from the fluid is applied to the pads (or shoes) against the rotation of the brake disc/drum.

Its the fluids rating or strength not to compress that allows it to do its job well.

Back to the Mr Wizard lesson. Did you know that H2O is not listed as an ingredient of brake fluid?


Water boils at 212 around degrees F. When braking, the rotors can and get HOT...over 1000 degrees of heat and transfer 400 of those guys or more to the caliper. Agua is not a good fluid to choose.

Unfortunately, Brake Fluid is hygroscoptic. DOT3 and DOT 4 brake fluids attract water. Right out of the air. Just like the coolant you use is probably glycol based just because it mixes well with water.

So, what do the numbers mean?

The DOT Numbers are the boiling point ranges that they achieve both dry (no water absorbed) and wet (about 3-4% water content). DOT 3 the dry boiling point is at least 401 and the wet 284 degrees. DOT 4 steps its game up to 446 and 311 respectively. Remember, that these are DOT minimums, and there are high performance brake fluids that exceed those ratings.

Some of the high performance fluids are rated well over 500 (to almost 600) degrees boiling point dry. Wet boiling points will also vary, but be well over 400 degrees.

The higher boiling points are critical to those of you that like to get your roll on at a race track or autocrossing. Once you boil your brake fluid, its done. You'll need more fluid. Sorry atari.

Most non racing folks will that their brake performance is just fine by sticking with the fluid that the manufacturer sold the care with, unless they use they hoon the vehicle to the extreme, such as a Autocross, Track, or if you live in the mountains and stuff. How do I know when this happens? You'll know because the brake pedal will start to feel like mashed potatoes as the fluid boils and the pedal may even fall to the floor.

Most joe blows never flush and replace their brake fluid. In fact, if you go to a shop and have a “brake job” done it is highly unlikely that they will do much more than bleed the brake lines. This means that the old – wet – clapped out – brake fluid will still be there. The water can react to oxidize brake components from the inside out. I recommend once a year, at least have a look at it. If its nasty, flush and replace with fresh brake fluid.

If you want to DIY, buy a Motive Bleeder or call a friend over, this can be done at home. If you cant change your own engine oil, go pay someone else to do this.

Unless your factory manual specifies something different you start with the right (passenger side) rear, then move to the left (drivers side) rear, then the right front, and finally the left front.

If you dont have a bleeder, you will have to work in concert with your assistant at the brake pedal. The goal is not to get any air introduced into the system while you bleed it. To prevent air from entering you need to keep the reservoir from going empty. So check it often and add new fluid as needed. If you do have a bleeder, keep the pressure up.

You should also remove as much of the old fluid from the reservoir before you add new fluid to the reservior. A turkey baster or similar device will allow you to do that. Just have spray “brake clean” ready in case any fluid get on painted surfaces. If left on paint it will remove it. PROTECT YOUR EYES.

You will need to continue this until you get nice, clean, new fluid out to the particular brake you are working on and then repeat for the other three. Be sure to keep enough fluid in the reservoir to prevent air from entering the system from that end.

Brake fluids gain contamination as they age and should be replace periodically. If you race you should change your brake fluid as often as you change your oil.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Checking in...

Well it's been a while hasn't it? I guess I'll dust the cobwebs off the old blog and say something.

The first day of summer is here and is in full effect. And boy is it hot outside.

Well, whats been going on since I last posted?

Hmm, well, lots of stuff really.

I have had some major changes and events occur.

My grandfather passed away.
I thought about moving closer into town next to some friends from church but ended up staying.
My new Taurus SHO came in.
I installed slate tile into my bathroom myself.
I had a "God in my face" moment.

Most of my friends know that I'm still pretty 'young' in my spiritual journey. I'm not a perfect Christian, nor do I have all the answers.

A few months back I had a "God in my face" experience. Too many times, little things happen, and we attribute them to coincidences or something unremarkable enough to not even give a second thought to why they happen. This event was one that I would have never imagined would happen in a million years. And it was really an experience to show me that God is in my life. He is around, and he does things on his timetable. Not anyone else's.

My good friend Gary, once said to me, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans for the day." This has rang true many times in my life.

So now, where do I go from here? I don't really know.

Life in the past three months has been a series of events of ups and downs. And all of this, is part of Gods plan for me. Sometimes I wish I could see the schedule, or have a peek at the plans, but I know, or at least hope, that in due time, it will be revealed to me.

The end result will be an awesome thing, so I just need to have faith that God will show me when he's ready to.

Journaling has been helpful, but I know in the end I need to spend more time praying and asking God to show me his will.

Adios amigos!