By Don Wigent
Ford was kind enough to pay our dealer to replace the too-soft moisture-affected rear brake pads on my wife’s Freestyle SUV in a recall. A week later, as I walked around to unload something from the aft gate, I smelled something far too hot and glimpsed a wisp of vapor or smoke near the rear wheel. A wet finger sizzled against a spoke of the wheel. I didn’t bother trying the far-hotter caliper, and rapidly unloaded the family. The other wheels were cool.
The dealer checked it in with my notation that the ONE rear caliper was dragging and risking ignition of the tires with my family in the car. After two weeks of failing to recreate the behavior, the dealer said my wife clearly had driven with the parking brake on and demanded their rental back, at which point I called Dearborn, Mich.
The dealer picked up the vehicle 30 min later and dropped a rental. Four days later the dealer called remarking that after returning from lunch the FWD car pulled in dragging one rear wheel across the parking lot. They said the “bad” caliper was now replaced.
“Some calipers are Just go bad,” they said.
I asked if perhaps it had fallen in with a rough crowd lately, and asked to see the parts.
“They were sent back to Ford for warrantee,” I was told, at which point a rather grumpy tech turning some paperwork at the other end of the desk commented, “Just as well…wish they’d go back to the old calipers…cheap plastic pistons…grumble, grumble.”
“Plastic?” I asked. “Did it look a bit like mustard and canvas?”
“Yeah, kinda brownish with a funny pattern,” he said as the service manager began to sweat.
I called Dearborn and informed them that they should consider denying the warrantee claim for several thousand dollars of parts, rentals and shop time, and instead send some pink slips and a half dozen new $5 piston compression tools to replace the ones the shops techs apparently “lost.” The faster old-school pry bars and screw drivers they were using to push back were cracking the nice high temp phenolic composite pistons … Monkeys.