Ford's Cracked

April 4, 2010

I’ve always tried to buy American. Except for a brief flirtation with a Mitsubishi Montero back in the early 80s (it died three months shy of the final payment), all of my cars have been American-made, even after the engine on my 1971 AMC Matador burst into flames and melted the accelerator cable into the 2/3 full position, nearly killing me and my future wife before we’d even had a chance to reproduce (see “The Towing”).

But when the US auto industry started filing bankruptcy and taking handouts from the feds, I began to question my loyalty to American cars. These guys waste money, build massive inefficient infrastructures, pay their executives obscene salaries, and generally bloat up like a dead whale on the beach in August. And then they expect us to bail them out. Except for Ford.

I’ve owned a Bronco, an Expedition, an F150, an Escape, a Ranger, and now an Explorer. Most have been decent cars. But now I have to say I’m really pissed-off with Ford. Several months ago, the rear lift gate on the Explorer developed a vertical crack the width of a dime between the window and the door handle, right in the center of the gate. I want to get it fixed before the whole thing comes apart. But when I brought it in to the dealer to see what they could do about it, they told me this: it’s a known design flaw, and the cost to repair it is $1500. So because of the way the big brains at Ford Motor Company designed the damn thing, the entire hatch has to be replaced. And if you break the rear glass – oops, $1500, because it’s all one unit. Better hope you have a glass deductible. 

To add insult to injury, the transmission started to slip last month, and again, because of the design, you pretty much have to replace the whole damn thing. It cost me $2300 this time, and that’s for a rebuild. At 65,000 miles. Several shops told me this is fairly typical of Ford Explorers with this many miles.

So I’ll be thinking twice before I consider another Ford vehicle (try never). Despite their not taking any handouts, they don’t fess up to their mistakes. But I suppose it could be worse: I could own a Prius.

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