Back in 2002, I bought a used, low-mileage 1997 Ford E-150 utility van in beautiful condition from my friendly neighborhood used car dealer. When I asked him how dependable he thought this van would be, he told me he’d give me his word that it would provide at least 12 months or 12,000 miles of service, as it had belonged to a local business and was known to have been well maintained.
Ten months later, a design flaw, certainly caused by monkeys, reared its ugly head one cool fall morning. I tried to start the van, but it would barely turn over. I thought maybe my battery had died, so I replaced the battery. It was still barely able to turn over. I tried it two or three more times, and it seemed to be turning a little bit more, and a little bit faster with each turn of the key.
Finally, the engine started, but it made a severe clattering noise, like monkeys gone berserk under the hood. It must have been quite a party under there -- white smoke started pouring out of the tailpipe. I quickly shut the engine off and had the van towed to the same friendly neighborhood used car dealer where I had purchased the vehicle.
After close examination, the dealer explained to me what had happened: In his very experienced opinion, the mayhem was caused by the poorly designed V-6 engine. The monkeys had done their dirty work the night before while the van was parked and the engine was cooling down. Apparently, the engine coolant, still under pressure, had leaked from one of the heater runners in the aluminum intake manifold, past the manifold gasket, and down into the intake port of one of the cast iron heads, conveniently filling one of the cylinders with engine coolant. When I tried to start the engine the next morning, the engine “hydrolocked” from the coolant in the cylinder, which caused the connecting rod to become more severely bent with every straining turn of the starter motor.
Later that day, my friendly neighborhood used car dealer accepted the monkey-infested Ford E-150 van back in full trade, offering the original sales price I had paid 10 months earlier. I applied the trade to a used, low-mileage 2001 GMC 2500 Savana utility van. I have been driving it every day without a single problem since that fateful day back in 2003 when the monkeys had their way with my Ford E-150 van. Monkeys or not, who says there’s no such thing as an honest used car salesman?
This entry was submitted by Robert Bucholz and edited by Rob Spiegel
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