Watertown Ford / Unscrupulous Service
I recently brought my 1995 ford Taurus in for a recall repair of the cooling motor fan (Apparently, many 1995 Ford Taurus' were equipped with defective fan motors and, as a result, an open-ended recall was issued by ford in December of 2001). I explained to the service department that the fan motor first started making a grinding mechanical noise while I was on the highway and, within thirty minutes, the car had overheated. I further informed them that upon closer examination I had found that the fan motor fuse had blown - hence the overheating. Furthermore, I explained that I had replaced the blown fuse with a new fuse in an effort to diagnose and repair the problem myself - but, removed the fuse immediately as I could see that the fan motor was severely compromised (noise and heat). While researching the problem on the internet I stumbled across the aforementioned recall notice.
Watertown Ford effected the necessary repairs on my vehicle within the parameters of the Ford recall. Upon completion of the repairs, they informed me that the fan motor was not working at all. When pressed they said the fan motor was working but not coming on at the required temperatures. They further explained that it would cost me $99.00/Hr to diagnose the problem. They assured me that the diagnostic and repair costs would be covered by Ford if they could be directly linked to the failure of the cooling fan motor. After expressing feelings of trepidation inre to trusting Ford Motor Company to voluntarily take responsibility for any subsequent repairs, I agreed to have them do a maximum of 2 hours of diagnostics on the problem.
The service manager contacted me later in the day and explained that they had found a problem with the fuse receptacle that controls the cooling fan. He explained that one of two spade-fuse receptors was making inadequate contact with the fuse and, therefore, the fan was not getting the current it needed to operate. He said that it was a simple matter of bending the receptor contacts back into shape.
I returned to the dealership the following day in full expectation of picking my vehicle without charge as there was no mention of remuneration during the phone call the day before. Upon arrival, the service manager tried to charge me for the time required to diagnose and repair the fuse receptacle. I told him that I was unhappy with the idea of paying for any diagnostics or repairs for the following reasons:
1. The old fan was operating prior to the Watertown ford effecting repairs. If there was a problem with the fuse receptors the old fan simply would not have worked.
2. The 2 spades on the fuse that I replaced were seated extremely snuggly in there respective receptacles. In fact, it took a considerable amount of effort to remove the blown fuse. There was no indication at all that either spade receptor was loose during the installation of a new fuse.
3. They (the service dept.) had already indicated to me that the new fan was working… That it was a timing problem that was the focus of there concern. They had even cited a number of components that could cause the fan not to turn on at the proper time. When I raised this fact with the service manager, he said that they knew the new cooling-fan motor was working because they had applied twelve volts to it from an external source to test it. He couldn't explain, however, how they were able to come to the conclusion that there was timing problem with the fan motor circuit if there was no voltage to the "installed fan." It doesn't make any sense at all to be focusing on timing problems if the cooling fan circuit itself is not getting the requisite voltage it needs to operate. From a diagnostic point of view, one always checks source voltage first!
I concluded my arguments to the service manager by suggesting that the real reason the mechanic couldn't get the replacement fan to work was because there was no fuse in the circuit. As previously stated, I had removed the fuse (to prevent further damage and possible fire). I told him It was my belief that the mechanic had never been told by the service department that I had removed the fuse. It was only when he decides to check source voltage for the cooling fan circuit that he realized why it was that the fan was inoperative.
Having challenged the service manager's version of events (veracity), I asked to speak with the owner of the dealership. The service manager stated that he was not on location and, with all the contempt he could muster, he waved the diagnostic and repair charges. In conclusion, I believe that this dealership has knowingly engaged in an act of deception in attempt to elicit from me repair costs to which they were not entitled. Had I not had thirty-five years of electronic repair experience, I might have been victimized by this scam. This service manager seemed well practiced in the art of deception and I am left with little doubt that this is how business is conducted at Watertown Ford on a regular basis.
Upon returning home with my car, I noticed that the temperature gauge was reading extremely high temperatures. I let the car cool for several hours and then examined, more closely, the work that had been done to my vehicle. To my astonishment, I discovered a stress crack in the radiator. The crack emanates out from the base of one of the shroud-flange support posts which are affixed to the back of the radiator. It is apparent that the crack resulted from a considerable amount of torque being placed upon the shroud-flange fastener when either removing the old shroud or installing the new one. Upon seeing the crack, I checked the fluid level in the radiator and found that the radiator was almost empty. This would explain why I did not notice any water dripping from the car upon returning home from the dealership. I contacted Ford Motor Corp.’s customer service and gave them a full assessment of what had transpired with Watertown Ford. After contacting Watertown ford, Ford Motor Corp.’s customer service informed me that Watertown Ford’s service manager refused to take any responsibility for the crack in the radiator. They went on to say that, although Watertown Ford flies the Ford flag, "Ford Motor Corp. has no real power to intervene on the behalf of a dissatisfied customer" as Watertown Ford is "independently owned and operated." This Ford customer service representative was kind, courteous, sympathetic and, most of all, utterly professional. But, at the end of the day, I'm left with a vehicle that is more damaged then it was before being serviced by Watertown Ford. I brought my car in for a defective cooling fan and now have a crack in my radiator that is squirting a stream of water out at a very visible rate when the cooling system is pressurized (car running and warm) and the radiator is full.