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Can Ford Ever Regain the Trust of Consumers?
 

Why Am I Afraid to Buy the F-150 I Really Want?

Can Ford Ever Regain the Trust of Consumers?
 
Posted October 22 2007 02:59 PM by Balboa455 
Filed under: Opinions, Opinions, Opinions, Truck Review

Built Ford Tough?

I love Ford trucks. I even love the Ford Ranger, what with its bucking bronco ride and "a drunk circus monkey must have put this together" interior build quality. I think the simplicity of the design appeals to me, as it should since it has been nearly 20 years since a redesign! But mainly I love the most recent Ford F-150. If I had my druthers, I would go for a Crew Cab Lariat 4x4 with a Roush Supercharger. But that is just me. My concern isn't with the styling, the interior or the wide array of aftermarket choices out there for the 2004 on F-150 owner. My problem is with the way Ford Motor Company has behaved in the past, what with its general disregard for the safety, happiness and well being of its customers.


Why do I feel this way? For over five years I worked happily as a Service Advisor at a Ford dealership. In my tenure, though, I think I saw the outcome of some of the most disastrous years quality-wise for the company as a whole. I started my job, tellingly, on the first day of the Firestone tire recall on all those Explorers back in 2001. I watched as Ford boldly replaced the Firestone tires with Goodyear Wrangler RT/S tires-a model that at the time had a failure rate almost twice that of the Firestones. What Ford did not want its customers to find out was that it knew the Explorer had a faulty rear supension geometry setup that it could have fixed for the 1995 model re-fresh. Sadly, it waited until the 2002 re-design to return the vehicle to class-leader status but by then the damage to the once bullet-proof Explorer name-plate was done.

That is one model only, I hear you say. Let's move on to the vehicle I want, the F-150. My main concern with the most recent F-150 is its braking system. Heavy braking going downhill, in heavy traffic, or when towing will no doubt put owners wise to the main achilles heel for this truck. The brakes just aren't strong enough to stop the vehicle safely numerous times and I wager brake fade will happen after just one major panic stop. I realize there are a number of after-market brake options available (many of them featured in Truckin' Tech articles!) but I would love to see a strong OEM system in place.

My other concern is the manner in which Ford sometimes has gone about fixing ongoing problems with certain models in the past. Case in point is the Ford Focus and its own not-so-stellar braking system. As anyone who has ever owned one will tell you, Ford Focus rear drum brakes often times squeak. If you complain about this, Ford will offer a fix as outlined in a "service action" regarding that problem. (Service actions are problems Ford knows about but will only fix if you actually mention it as a concern. Recalls are problems that are bad enough that EVERY vehicle gets a fix, regardless of a complaint.) The fix kit for this Focus problem had a weighted magnet and some duct tape, which were then attached to the backing plate of the shoes to try and reduce noise. It never worked and, no, Ford never replaced the design with less noisy or harder wearing brake pads. 

Reading this back, I realize I appear like a man with a serious grudge against Ford vehicles. But I am really not. I am known as the "Ford-guy" among those of us who work at Truckinweb.com. My only fear about buying my "dream" Ford F-150 is the nagging suspicion that Ford's brilliant Truck Engineers often times find their best efforts upended by cost cutting. But things are looking up. Just in my research for this article I found that Strategic Vision named the F-150 tops for Total Quality last year. So does that mean the dark times are behind Ford?  I will grant you that my tenure with Ford at the Dealership level ended late in 2006 and I have heard that last year their warranty claims dropped drastically. So in all likelihood, that could be a yes. (In related news, who would have thought a previously schizophrenic General Motors could pull it together to release the briliant 2007 GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado? Not me.)

As a recently resurgent Ford has released some solid hits like the Ford Escape Hybrid and Ford Edge, I remain cautiously optimistic. Having gotten some idea of the look for the upcoming redesigned 2009 F-150, that may be where my money goes. I don't care what some may say, I like the three bar chrome grille. See, once a Ford man, always a Ford man.



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