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$600 for a 50-Cent Fix

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naperlou
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Automotive design a mystery
naperlou   10/14/2013 8:33:52 AM
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Jan, this has always been a mystery to me.  I have had many cars over the years and worked on many of them myself in the early days.  My earliest cars were 1960s British sports cars.  Lot's of fun to drive but not very relaible.  I found many situations like the one you describe.  We always used to joke that ancillary systems and parts were designed by the new engineers who had no experience.  It doesn't seem like things have changed much.

GTOlover
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Platinum
Re: Automotive design a mystery
GTOlover   10/14/2013 8:53:59 AM
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I would add, naperlou, that the guys designed for ease of assembly. Given the need to drive down labor costs (for political reasons I will not state the obvious), the wire bundle fit nicely in this location. Then some new guy had to find (or design) a clip to retain the bundle. They gave no thought to the consumer owning the vehicle over time.

What I found interesting in this, the owner of the Expedition was very meticulous in his maintenance. I can imagine a more carefree driver (think offroading) would have this same issue sooner!

stemobserver
User Rank
Iron
Re: Automotive design a mystery
stemobserver   10/16/2013 4:32:43 PM
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Goat,

After looking at potential routing paths for the wire bundle I actually think that it would have been easier to have routed it over the top of the transmission and into the engine bay.  The actual bundle comes out of a hole on the right hand side of the transmission facing the rear of the vehicle. It commits to an Immelmann and runs forward near the top of the transmission.  Near the bell housing it turns right and crosses over the catalytic converter.  Had it continued straight it would have entered the engine compartment near the rear of the engine and easily routed over to the ECU connections.  Avoiding all the heat producing exhaust components.

But I don't know what configuration the engine is during assembly and therefore could be way off base.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Root Cause
tekochip   10/14/2013 8:54:46 AM
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Well, even though the shop charged you $600, at least they found the actual cause.  I had a very similar situation with a new car.  The shop replaced everything on the car that had an electrical connector.  Since the car was new, I wasn't going to get involved, but in frustration I opened the hood after a "repair" and found that a wiring harness in the engine had been burned, melting insulation and vacuum hoses.  I repaired the harness and hoses myself.  Warrantee or not, I never sent the vehicle to the shop again.


Mydesign
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Platinum
Re: Root Cause
Mydesign   10/14/2013 9:18:00 AM
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"Well, even though the shop charged you $600, at least they found the actual cause. "

Tekochip, I feel that for this AT problem, $600 is in high range.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Root Cause
Rob Spiegel   10/14/2013 5:32:36 PM
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Too bad you had to take matters into your own hands, Tekochip. Most car owners don't have that opetion. They're at the mercy of the shop.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Root Cause
Charles Murray   10/14/2013 6:04:52 PM
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I also had an odd problem with a Ford transmission. In 2000, while driving with my family in a 1998 Ford Windstar 225 miles from home, the vehicle downshifted into second gear while traveling at 70 mph. I almost got flattened by a semi-trailer from behind. When I took it to a dealership in central Wisconsin, the mechanic told me I needed a new trans, but it would take two weeks. I decided to drive the 225 miles back home on side roads in second gear. Back home, the dealership fixed it in five minutes. It turned out the the transmission controller was mis-reading the sensor signals from the shift mechanism. In other words, it thought I was shifting into second gear. It didn't cost me anything, except for a lot of headaches and a lost vacation.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Root Cause
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/15/2013 8:56:06 AM
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Charles: Two points ....

#1)  We had two WINDSTARS, both very reliable & cost free.  But, at about 100K miles, the 2nd one began showing signs of transmission problems, and since it is a transaxle design, it would have been a costly repair..... traded it for a CAMRY in 2003, and NEVER looked back!

#2)  Had friends who owned a 1990 CAMRY, but always had the dealer service the vehicle.  A single woman with NO knowledge of vehicle mechanics.  At any rate, the service writer called her one day to inform her that she needed new ball joints & tie rod ends.  She called me to get some advice.  I asked her IF the car wandered while driving or if she experienced unsure steering.  To all my questions, her answer was NO.  So, I said the dealer is "taking you for a ride."  However, her family overruled my analysis, and elected for the repair.  When I picked her up the next day after getting her vehicle, I asked IF she felt the steering OR handling any different?  She said NO!..... I said, well you just made the dealership about $800 richer.

My point in #2 is that there SHOULD be some power recourse for people to protect them from unscrupulous dealerships.  In many states, there is a strong division of the Attorney General's office which will pursue these complaints.  However that is not universal, much to the chagrin of those victimized.

 

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Root Cause
Charles Murray   10/15/2013 11:41:22 AM
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I, too, ended up trading in my Windstar, Old_Curmudgeon. Various different transmission problems kept reappearing until I finally gave up at 84,000 miles. Of all the cars I owned, it had the shortest tenure. When I traded it in, I bought a Honda Odyssey, which is now nine years old. The Honda clicked over the 198,000-mile mark over this past weekend.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Root Cause
Charles Murray   10/15/2013 12:13:58 PM
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I should add that I also agree with you on the common dealer practice of wanting to replace ball joints and tie rod ends, Old_Cumudgeon. For those of us who know what to look for, that can be taken as a "heads-up," rather than a "must-do." My problem has always been in advising family members over the phone on these matters. Some people simply don't notice steering issues (some people don't notice any issues), such as whether the car is wandering. That's why I'm always far more conservative in advising others than I would be with my own car.   

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Root Cause
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/15/2013 12:29:29 PM
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Charles:  Regarding the ball joints fiasco.  This was a case where there was a mother & two adult, unmarried daughters living together.  No one in the family was automotive knowledgeable, and so they were always very "sympathetic" to the advice of "professionals", in this case, the service writer at the local TOYOTA dealership.  Add to that the VERY DETERMINED sister, and it was very difficult to buck the tide, so to speak.  The ONLY saving grace in all of this was that money issues were NOT an issue, so they willingly paid the price for "peace of mind", even though there was really no action required. This was just ONE incident in a string of incidences that I could relate.  Regardless, my summary comment still holds.... I WISH there was some sort of stricter oversight for these dealerships, service organizations, etc. to cull out the bad ones, and prosecute them more fully.  People, especially impressionable women, SHOULD NOT BE USED for personal or corporate profit!!!!!

 

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Root Cause
Charles Murray   10/15/2013 7:02:27 PM
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Regarding the need for stricter oversight: I couldn't agree more, Old_Curmudgeon.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Problems with AT
Mydesign   10/14/2013 9:14:54 AM
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1 saves
"The main issue is that the car was not selecting the proper gear when stopping and restarting. This happened repeatedly for a few weeks. Then it failed to start when the transmission was hot."

Jan, is it with an automatic transmission gear. I think in AT it's a common problem, especially with city ride.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Parts Store price or Dealer price?
GTOlover   10/15/2013 9:38:03 AM
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$0.50 for a clip must be the price if I go to the big chain auto parts store. The dealer price for a clip is usually 5 times this! I have tried to keep my vehicles OEM, but when it comes to clips, the dealer charges outrageous prices for cheap plastic clips. I go find an equivalent for the $0.50 price range.

stemobserver
User Rank
Iron
Re: Parts Store price or Dealer price?
stemobserver   10/15/2013 11:06:47 AM
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1 saves
I put inthe $0.50 price for what the clip is worth. I didn't publish the dealer price for a glorified zip tie.....

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Parts Store price or Dealer price?
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/15/2013 12:38:03 PM
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Interesting comment!  I have a similar story, BUT y'all will be shocked to learn that SOME OEM parts ARE actually very inexpensive.  There is a front air-dam under the bumper fascia on the CAMRY.  Unfortunately, it is prone to becoming dislodges when one pulls up to a parking space w/ those concrete barriers.  They seem to pose an exact interference fit.  At any rate, this air dam is fastened to the vehicle w/ several plastic clips.  Just about every time I visit the local TOYOTA dealer for routine maintenance, one of the items I alert the service writer to is to replace the clips that have popped out.  They don't charge labor for this repair, but the bill shows "n" # of clips @ 10 cents a piece.  HARD to BELIEVE, I know, but that's the price!!!!!  (Then again, maybe that's why I have to have them replaced so often.  IF they were 25 cents, maybe they'd be made more substantially???  :)    )

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Parts Store price or Dealer price?
Larry M   10/17/2013 4:28:05 PM
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Just last week I used hot-melt glue to attach the still-functional top-half of an OEM plastic tubing clip to an aftermarket bottom. Under casual examination it looks just like the original.

splatticus
User Rank
Bronze
Recalls
splatticus   10/15/2013 10:09:56 AM
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Ford must not make money fixing known issues! Your case is especially bad since yours was a potential safety issue. If you are unable to get this repair cost reimbursed, contact the NHTSA

Turbineman
User Rank
Gold
Re: Recalls
Turbineman   10/15/2013 11:06:40 AM
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Splatticus is right.  At the minimum, notify the NHTSA and/or the NTSB.  Consumer orginizations also suggest you seek recourse starting with the dealer's Service Manager, then owner and on up the chain to Ford's VP of the division that manufactures your vehicle.  You will probably get satisfaction at the higher corporate level.

On the fringes of this topic, I had a 1972 Ford E300 1 ton van where the transmission would fail every 2 years.  Had to learn to rebuild it myself and it was good for another 2 years, but never understood why they put a C4 (think Pinto) transmission in a 1 ton van.

stemobserver
User Rank
Iron
Re: Recalls
stemobserver   10/15/2013 11:22:57 AM
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Is your recommendation relate to the safety issue and that others may experience it or the reimbursement of the $600? I ask because the $600 may not be worth the hassle related to the reporting and follow up necessary.  But, if it is a safety issue that has the potential to save others inconvenience or injury I would feel a greater compulsion to report it to the agencies you identified.

 

Related to your E300, I have relatives who had a motor home with the same issue.  Big vehicle, itty bitty transmission.  Drove to the transmissions shop every two years until they parked it.

Turbineman
User Rank
Gold
Re: Recalls
Turbineman   10/15/2013 11:52:54 AM
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Notifying the Feds, then showing the Ford people that you did so, should enhance his ability to get some recourse from them.  It would also convey to the manufacurer that this is a safety issue, and he could be the first to let the Feds know about it.

On the E300, took it to transmission shop first time.  Cost $900.00.  Failed 2 years (20k miles) later.  That's when I went to the local library branch and printed out the overhaul manual (Ford's, same as transmission shops use).  Overhauled it approx. every 20k miles.  Cost: Transmission overhaul kit (just like a carburator kit)containing all clutch plates seals and gaskets: $57.00.  Labor (mine): About the 3rd time, I got it down to 4 hours on the work bench, 20 minutes to remove from van, 40 minutes to install back in van.  All a Saturday job.  After 100k miles I decided to replace the torque converter too ($50,00).  Got my parts at TransGo.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Recalls
Larry M   10/17/2013 4:32:29 PM
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I vaguely remember that there was a class-action suit on this exact issue--use of the C4 transmission on heavy vehicles instead of C6(?).  Take a look for it.

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Recalls
GTOlover   10/15/2013 11:10:04 AM
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I am not sure that the NHTSA is considered 'essential' at this time. At the most, it is running with a reduced staff and you will probably be ignored until the government impasse is over with.

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