There’s no escaping these problems with my Ford

The on-board computer on Shannon Stout’s Ford Escape went on the blink. It’s out of warranty. Is she out of luck?

Question: My 2005 Escape is having on-board computer problems after seizing up while my fiancé was driving it last fall.

Our local mechanic and a Ford dealership diagnosed the engine light problem and says we need a new on-board computer. The car has 57,646 miles.

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I am seeing in online forums that there’s a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) for this problem on the Escape. It is my understanding that TSBs are a precursor to recalls. Most, if not almost all, have had this problem while the car was still under warranty. But since this car has been driven so minimally, it didn’t have this problem until now.

I followed Ford’s website instructions by having the problem diagnosed at a dealership. I emailed Ford through their website today and received an email basically saying “no.” Can you help? — Shannon Stout, Haddon Township, NJ

Answer: If your car’s out of warranty, your car’s out of warranty. But I reviewed the form response Ford sent you and took a look at the TSB and wondered if they were missing the forest for the trees.

I mean, here’s a car that’s hardly been driven, with a known problem with its on-board computer. If you’d driven this Escape the way most normal people do, and discovered the problem sooner, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

Point is, there’s a time to stick to the warranty and a time to consider making an exception and repairing the vehicle. I agree with you, this might be one of those times.

But, to be clear, Ford was under no obligation to fix its faulty computer. It should have manufactured a car with a working on-board computer, not one that fails after 50,000 miles.

You can appeal this to an executive at Ford. I publish the names, email addresses and phone numbers of their top customer service executives on my site. But I decided to take this case.

Things didn’t work out so well for me. Ford ignored my message for a month. I contacted the company again and this time I received a somewhat defensive email from a spokeswoman.

“Ford is absolutely committed to top quality and customer satisfaction,” she wrote. “Coverage of any vehicle is determined by eligibility under the provisions of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, a customer satisfaction program or a recall. We recommend that customers with any questions on our products either contact their dealer directly or visit Owner Support at Ford.com or call 1-800-392-3673.”

You didn’t take “no” for an answer. You contacted Ford again and appealed. The company agreed to contact your dealership to see if it would offer you a warranty price for the repair. Ford agreed to cover half of that price.

This article was originally published on May 25, 2015.

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