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Transmission Failure
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Ford’s Silence Speaks Volumes

How long should a consumer reasonably
expect to get a response from a
good corporate citizen when one writes
a registered letter to their customer
service department? Any response? Even
just a brief sentence to acknowledge
the receipt of that letter and that
they're looking into it? Well if that
corperation is Ford of Canada, the best
response seems to be no response.
It's been over a month now since I
wrote them a letter outlining some
serious concerns and thank goodness I'm
not holding my breath waiting for them
to get back to me. It’s an old and
tired game that you’d think companies
like Ford wouldn’t play anymore, but
they do, and their silence speaks
volumes.
I’m a 71 year old pensioner who takes
impeccable care of his 2000 Windstar
van.
I put less than 18,000 kms a year of
light duty driving on it. I did
everything by the book.
On May 11th while leaving my driveway
the transmission of my vehicle suffered
a catastrophic failure. I initially
called Ford and no one got back to me.
Then I sent a registered letter to
their Customer Relationship Centre...
Still nothing.
Shouldn’t it behoove a company like
Ford to at least create a file or
incident report documenting the receipt
of a registered letter? Just what are
their protocols in such matters?
Also, how would such a flagrant
disregard for a consumer's concerns be
viewed in a small claims court?
Interesting how companies can spend all
sorts of money to "reach us" but when
it come to "reaching them" it's another
story.

I live in hope.

Klaus Steinbach

Etobicoke, Canada
-----------------------------

(Please find a copy of the registered letter I sent Ford of Canada on May 17th below.)
[Please note that the last line about not wanting to "cause Ford of Canada any undue stress or adverse publicity" ceratinly applied over a month
ago when I wrote it. Now, is a different story.]

Ford Customer Relationship Centre
The Canadian Road
PO Box 2000
Oakville, ON. L6J 5E4

Klaus Steinbach
[address withheld]
Etobicoke, ON.
Canada
May 17th, 2004
Vehicle: 2000 Ford Windstar
VIN: 2FMDA5346YBA76838
Odometer Reading: 80,818 kms
Incident: Complete Transmission Failure


I am writing to inform you of a serious incident that occurred with my 2000 Ford Windstar on May the 11th, 2004.
An incident that came spontaneously and
without warning immediately after backing out of my driveway.

First off, let me preface this by
giving you some information about the
vehicle and my driving habits.
I purchased the 2000 Ford Windstar new
from Cruickshank Motors in November 1999.
This vehicle was leased for 3 years after which I decided to purchase it.
I did this because as the sole owner of
the automobile I knew its history.
I have always meticulously adhered to
Ford’s own prescribed maintenance
schedule as outlined in the vehicle’s
service manual. This automobile wasn’t
just transportation, it was an
investment.
The type of driving I do could easily
be described as average to light duty.
I drive approximately 18,000 kms or less a year. I have never placed any
undue mechanical stresses on this
vehicle nor was there ever any
indication that it was operating
marginally or under some strained
condition that would result in the
failure I experienced on May 11th.
After having backed out of my driveway
I placed the car into drive and then
pressed the accelerator. The car
briefly moved forward and then I heard
a very distinct "thunk" after which the
vehicle ceased moving completely.
I had to put the car into neutral and
push it to the side of the road. With
assistance I eventually got it back
into my driveway and made arrangements
to have the vehicle towed to my
mechanic the following morning.
The prognosis the next day wasn’t good.
Much to my surprise the transmission in
my vehicle had experienced a total
failure and at only 80,818 kms
(just under 50,000 miles).
It is an accepted fact that parts do
eventually wear out. However, I think
you’d agree that the complete and utter
failure of an automatic transmission in
a car that has been impeccably
maintained, driven less than 18,000 kms
a year under optimum driving conditions
and with only a total of 80,818 kms on
the odometer does not fall within the
realm of acceptable industry standards
or "normal structural parameters".
One could have course suggest that I am
somehow misleading you with my
automotive practices. That I have
perhaps driven my vehicle in an abusive
manner putting undue stress on the
engine. Well I can assure you that I
have been driving my vehicle like
the 71 year old pensioner that I am.
If anything, I have been overly
protective and devoted to the care and
maintenance of my car.
So what about the cause? If
not "normal" perhaps something
"abnormal"?
Could there have been something
inherently wrong with the structural
integrity of my Ford Windstar’s
transmission?
Based on many of Ford’s own internal
TSB’s outlining a number of
transmission fixes for the AXOD-E/ AX4S
powertrain, well documented reports of
anomalies from many customers and
various studies by numerous consumer
advocacy groups it would appear
that I am not the only individual who
has experienced these problems.
(I can provide you with the documented
TSB’s and a number of independent,
corroborating incident reports similar
to my own.)
In so far as not having an extended
warranty; it has already been ruled
that the absence of one does not
exculpate or absolve Ford from
liability in the unreasonably
premature failure of a major vehicle
component (based on normal, acceptable
industry standards) with regard to
federal and provincial consumer
protection statues.
Canadian jurisprudence has already
borne this out (see Quebec Small Claims
Court,
Hull Division, No: 550-32-008335-009).
My intention with this letter is not to
cause Ford of Canada any undue stress
or adverse publicity but to resolve
this issue in a prompt and timely
manner that is mutually agreeable to
both of us.
I thank you for your time and look
forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Klaus Steinbach

-----------------------------------

     
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User Replies:
compwiz on 06/18/2004:
Is the car under some kind of warranty still? otherwise, you are out of luck.
Anonymous on 06/19/2004:
A well written letter, but I would suggest that you include your idea of a resolution ( I.e. maybe a dicounted parts price or a dollar assistance towards repair). Transmission failure again is rampant in all makes, especially mini vans. I doubt Ford will pick up the entire tab on this but they may assist with some goodwill towards the repair (I have seen it done before). I will tell you though, you will get more flies with honey than vinegar and if you threaten a lawsuit customer service will immediately stop trying to help and the only thing you will get is Ford's legal department. The best thing to do is go to your local Ford dealer and find out when their regional service manager will be visiting (they usually visit once a month) and address your concerns with him/her on that date. They have the authority to assist on these matters, just make sure you act in a nice way and not a raving lunatic otherwise you'll get nothing. Good Luck.
Anonymous on 06/19/2004:
P.S. When you meet the service manager pretend to be docile and weak (even though you may not be), these guys usually have BIG hearts. Also don't tell him you got this advise off the internet sometimes it is best to play deaf, dumb, and blind.
windstar on 07/30/2004:
Name: Paul Coppock

E-Mail: paul.coppock@teliciti.com

Subject: Re: 1999 ford windstar transmission problem... re: 2000 tran. problem

Body of Message: Can I relate - I own a 99 windstar lxe which I purchased 2nd hand over 2 years ago with 57k on the clock - it now has 84k miles. The transmission fluid has been religiously changed. The car is used mostly on freeways... A few weeks ago I started to experienece a twang when changing out of neutral... then the traction light started flashing... I decided to drive it to dealers this weekend but no such luck. Wife drove round trip to a new job on Tuesday and dropped in to a mall a few miles from home before coming home. She put the car in drive moved 2 feet and there was an almighty bang. The car will now not move in drive - it will only reverse. I am angered and at at a loss to understand why a transmission should die at such a low mileage??? If I had known this was a trait with this vehicle I would not have bought it.

Car is still at Mall whilst I decide most inexpensive place to get it repaired! Any advice would be appreciated.

I would like to know from someone with a history in the automobile business as to whether this problem is likely a result of a faulty design or whether 80k miles is all I should expect out of a modern transmission??? If its the former then perhaps ford should compensate Windstar drivers for a poor product! I see I am not alone!

Paul Coppock
Alameda, CA

cynthiac on 09/09/2004:
Same thing happened to my Windstar. Transmission went at 50,000 miles (80,000 K) Diagnosis: failed Reverse Sun Gear. COst to fix: over $3000 Canadian. They are making me pay almost $1000 for a part that malfunctions and they know it.

This is beyond ridiculous. Who would think a major part would break down (at no fault of my own) at 80K and 4 years. And they are asking me to pay

Never again will I buy Ford. NEVER!!!
Frdtek04 on 10/23/2004:
No where in your post did you mention that you called the local Ford Dealer to have your car serviced. Did the service advisor you talked to on the phone suggest that instead of having your car serviced, you should instead try pointless postal mail to Ford Corporate HQ? Oh wait, nevermind, you didn't try the closest dealer, instead, you waited for Ford Corporation to send you a transmission technician through the mail to repair your car in your driveway. I feel for you and your car problems, but dealerships are set up to sell and service your car. If there isn't a dealership nearby, there are local, independent shops that can help you. Most auto technicians are over 130 lbs and by law cannot be shipped by box to your place of residence.
Brownthree on 11/16/2004:
I too have a 2000 Windstar that I bought new. Mine failed on November 11, 2004 at 51,000 with the exact same symptoms. I backed out of the driveway, but it in drive, heard a loud sound and it would not go. Apparently a bad sun gear. I am very disappointed in my Ford product. I will never buy Ford again and I'm not sure I keep the van much longer.
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Defective transmission
Posted by on
VALLEJO, CALIFORNIA -- I bought a 2004 F150,crewcab, auto,2wheeldrive,26,000mi. at a Vallejo, Calif dealership. The dealership is no longer in existense. I financed with Ford Credit. I put $4,000.00 down and financed $20,000.00. I had the extended warranty. My payments are $374.51 per month. I am in my last six months of payments. In December of 2011 while returning from Costco my transmission started to slip. I took the car to my trusted mechanic and he said the transmission was expired. I called Ford and talked to a representative and she acknowedged my extended warranty. She asked how many miles I had on the truck? I stated 80,000mi. She said sorry the warranty was up at 75,000mi. I sent a registered letter to the head of Ford stating my situation. I got a response in record breaking time from a Ford lackey. Sorry. Nothing we can do!
     
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trmn8r on 01/29/2012:
If the warranty was expired, you may have been hoping for an exception of some sort. The problem with warranties is that they have to be for a specific duration. Once the warranty has expired, if exceptions are made the question arises of how long after expiration is allowed an exception. While one could imagine a "sliding scale" based on how far, I don't know of any company that does that.

The head of Ford may not have time to respond to every letter he/she is sent. On the plus side, a representative did reply to you promptly.
oldisgood on 01/29/2012:
a warranty is a warranty and when they expire that is it. You expected an exception and didn't get it. If you had had problems leading up to this and they were documented then perhaps Ford would have done something. Your vehicle was OUT OF WARRANT!!
Anonymous on 01/29/2012:
The transmission held up past the date of warranty, and the company responded in a timely fashion to your question about the warranty. Where's the complaint?
GenuineNerd on 01/29/2012:
The extended warranty sold may have been a "basic" one with minimal coverage. Of the last three used cars I bought, my extended warranty covered the car up to 100,000 total vehicle miles, Fortunately I never had to make a claim on any of these warranties, but they're nice to have just in case. I wonder if the OP, when he bought the truck, was offered a choice of extended warranty plans...he may have opted for the lowest priced coverage, in order to keep his payments down.
CowboyFan on 01/30/2012:
The OP does not really say when he bought it, but implies that it was used by stating in the description "26,000." He would then not know what kind of usage the truck was given during those miles, so its not like the transmission was bad, it may have had extensive wear when he got it. Once the warranty is up, it is up. Because he did not get an exception does not mean the service was bad.
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Cost of transmission replacement
Posted on
I had to have my transmission in my 2005 Ford Freestyle replaced. Because it was a shiftless transmission it cost with tax $7300. to replace! I only have 60500. miles on it! No transmission is worth that.

People should know this so they don't buy this car.
     
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Whiteduck on 07/20/2011:
Wow. I assume this is one of those CVT trannys? That's a lot of money and not many miles.

Thanks for the heads up.
ChuhBaca on 07/20/2011:
That is very pricey! I know it probably doesn't help your situation, but I think a lot of us reading this will be much more cautious about buying a vehicle with one of those variable transmissions.
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transmission problems
Posted by on
SINKING SPRING, PENNSYLVANIA -- We purchased a Ford Windstar in Dec 2002 because I was starting a small business out of my house and needed the cargo capacity. It had about 30,000 miles on it already. In summer of 2004 I had to have the entire rack and pinion steering replaced at a cost of $800. (By the Ford dealer). I've never had that problem with any other car we've owned, mostly GM vehicles.
Then on Dec 28 we were driving back from Philidelphia. We stopped for a red light on the highway, and the van refused to move forward. The motor was running but the transmission would not work. We were stuck. We had it towed to our Ford dealer and told him we didn't think the van should have this kind of problem with only 54,000 miles on it. The next day we found this site on the internet and found out that Ford has had transmissions problems for years and did nothing to improve them. Hundreds of people have had to replace transmissions in newer models with low mileage. In fact in Canada there were so many complaints, the courts said that Ford should accept responsibility for the problem and cover the repair. They still refuse to do this.
The estimate we got from the Ford dealer was $3,000. or more to rebuild or replace the transmission. After we protested and told him what we had learned, the only offer Ford made was "we want to tear the transmission apart from $550. and then we MIGHT cover the repair." No Promises.
We took the van to a transmission repair shop and they did the work for $1600....$1400 less than Ford would have charged! In addition, he told us that the transmisison he removed was not original equipment. Apparently this is the 2nd time the transmission has been replaced. And the problem was again the Sun gear, the same part that has been plagueing Ford for years. Yet they do absolutely nothing to correct the problem or accept responsibility for the repair work. Their response..."You should have bought the extended warranty"!!! And their slogan is Quality-Plus Ford????? I'd say "Quality Minus Ford".
So, I have only driven approx 23,000 miles and already have had to spend $2400. just to keep the vehicle running!!! I've spent almost as much as I earned this year.
So take heed. NEVER, EVER buy a Ford! I've heard people say Ford stands for "Fix Or Repair Daily." Now I know why!
     
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Transmission acts like it's in neutral after stops while the gear shifter is in
Posted by on
Sometimes coming to stops in "D" on the gear shifter, the transmission acts like it's in neutral unless you shift it to reverse and back to drive and then it's fine. Transmission is in a 1996 Ford Taurus.
     
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GenuineNerd on 08/27/2011:
Considering that the car is 15 years old, transmission problems can and will crop up. I doubt it very much if Ford will do anything about it.
At Your Service on 08/27/2011:
I don't see where this is any platform for a complaint against Ford.

This seems more like a question than a complaint.
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Ford transmission failure
Posted by on
FALLBROOK, CALIFORNIA -- We purchased a Fleetwood Southwind motorhome in 2005 that has a Ford chassis. The Ford transmission on this motorhome went out and we had it towed to a Ford dealership for evaluation as to why this transmission failed only after 7,000 miles. We were given a list of possible problems, none that made sense. Although, the representative admitted that perhaps that the transmission was faulty, but that was the best that they could do. Their warranty is only for three years or 36k miles which ever is first. To replace the transmission is $4,750.00. After many phone calls to Ford CS they would only agree to a $1,000 deduction on an rebuilt transmission with a three year warranty. And, our loss is in buying something with a Ford product.
     
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Anonymous on 05/05/2009:
ALL manufacturers calculate the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and end warranty coverage just outside of the statistical mean. RV use is considered 'severe'. A 36 month warranty is typical. It was a risk when you bought the thing...you lost.
bonzibob on 06/08/2009:
This is a difficult situation. Ford supplied an incomplete vehicle that a motorhome manufacturer installed a body on.The first thing that needs to be established is whether or not the installation complied with Ford specifications and instructions for this chasis, and whether or not the installation could have contributed to the failure. Fleetwood is a reputable manufacturer with a few years experience, so I would guess that they are not at fault, but you have to ask. The next thing I would look into is any track record of problems with this particular transmission, I would ask who ever is doing the repaire, they would know if they have been seeing premature failures. If you feel you have a case see if the Better Business Bureau can help, the dealers in my area have an arbitration agreement with the BBB which I have used successfully in the past.
But trust me if your vehicle manages to squeek past the warranty before it falls apart Ford will not help even if they know they have a defective product. My F250 needs six thousand dollars worth of rot repaire, but they only offered four fifty take it or leave it even though they know they have a problem. They have been doing warranty repaires on these trucks, but mine made it 3 months past the warranty and I'm out of luck.
Is it any wonder the Japanese are taking over. Good Luck
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Transmission
Posted by on
CAMBRIDGE, MINNESOTA -- We have had our Windstar since 2004. It has about 134,600 miles on it. I was stopped at a stop light and when I stepped on the accelerator to make my turn the van would not move. It would not go forward or backward. I have been hearing more and more complaints about the transmission in the Windstars but have not seen a recall. If there are as many people having this problem as appears, maybe Ford should take responsibility for the transmission instead of the owner having to pay for a new one. It seems that there should not be this kind of problem with any vehicle with this low of miles and highway at that. We have a 98 Oldsmobile intrigue with over 200,000 miles and have not had any problems other than the dash cluster. My Windstar has a lot less miles and at this point is a piece of junk. We are interested in finding how many people are having the same problem with their 2003 Windstar transmission. In response to the person who said their warranty would not cover their 2003 Windstar transmission, I have a big problem with us consumers having to pay to warranty something we are buying.

What ever happen to making good product and taking responsibility for problems with a product the company makes? My opinion of the consumer purchasing the warranty is that it is a legalized scam to the consumer and allows companies to avoid the financial responsibility for poor quality or problems.
     
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dan gordon on 07/14/2008:
lets see you have a 14 yr old car with just a low 135000 miles. How could Ford make such a bunch of junk. Would a lifetime warranty make sense??? Such expectations,
Anonymous on 07/14/2008:
None of us want major mechanical failure, but after that many miles our chances of it just keep on improving.
GenuineNerd on 07/14/2008:
The vehicle is 5 years old, not 14. Still the van was driven 134,600 miles, very high for a 2003. Was the van used for commercial, taxi, or delivery use? Was the transmission fluid ever changed? Considering that the van was driven all these miles in such a short period of time, perhaps it is time to have the transmission repaired or replaced. Don't expect any help from Ford, however.
Anonymous on 07/15/2008:
That is a lot of mileage, about 27,000 a year when the national average is 15,000. I think you just wore the old girl out. I wonder how a Toyota would have fared under these conditions...probably better. Those things love mileage.
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There should be a recall on Ford Minivan Transmissions
Posted by on
STERLING, VIRGINIA -- The transmission on my 2004 Mercury Monterey failed on December 15, 2007. I was driving along at 40 mph when all of a sudden the van shifted into neutral and coasted to a stop. The engine kept running, there were just no gears. After having it towed to two different Ford Dealerships where both places told me I would need a new transmission, I went online and found out that this is an ongoing problem with thousands of Ford minivans. Both dealerships claim they have never seen this before. What a bunch of bull! I even have the extended warranty but the company that Ford uses (Easy Care Gold) claims they don't have to pay for the repair since I did not have the transmission flushed at 30,000 miles. According to every mechanic I have talked to the flush was unnecessary and would not have prevented the transmission failure.

Actually it is the torque converter that failed. If anyone else has had that happen please fill out a form with the NHTSA. We need to have a recall issued before someone gets killed when their van just stops. Also, Ford needs to step up and take care of the cost of the repairs.
     
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Aerocave on 01/10/2008:
Were you born yesterday? Ford is not going to just "recall" transmissions...its unfortunate what happened--but your expectations are simply unrealistic!
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2004 E450 transmission replacement
Posted by on
We left on Sunday for our two week trip along the coast of CA and OR. We had been looking forward to this trip for two years as we had to custom order our motorhome (Lazy Daze) and it took 6 months to build at a cost of $70,000. We had also saved for a 2004 Jeep Wrangler which we tow behind the motorhome. We got as far as Pacifica, CA (about 450 miles) and we began having FORD (ick) problems. We stopped at a stop sign and the trans just spun, no go. After shifting into different gears a few times, we finally got it going. We parked at a nice RV park on the ocean and called several Ford dealers in the area and found that the only place we could have the motorhome looked at was in Half Moon Bay (where we had just come from). We called them and made an appt to have them look at it the next morning. We took it there and they, of course, couldn't find anything wrong.

We continued on our trip. We took the road out of Half Moon Bay towards San Jose and made it to the bottom of the hill and the first stop sign (about 25 miles)..... same problem. We unhooked the Jeep and started back to Half Moon Bay (my husband followed in the Jeep). We got to the Ford dealer and they drove it again and low and behold, WE NEED A NEW TRANSMISSION!

Half Moon Bay has only about 100 campsites and we are there the 4th of July weekend. What are our chances of getting a site. The Ford dealer won't let us stay on their lot. We left the motorhome at the dealer yesterday, Thursday, and drove the Jeep home. They hope to get a transmission today, Friday (the 1st), or Tuesday. We will go back up and continue our vacation after it is repaired.

We are now back at home for the 4th of July weekend and I am so pissed I can't stand it. I don't know if we have any recourse with Ford. If we had had an option on what our motorhome was built on, it would not have been FORD!!!!
     
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2001 Ford Windstar transmission
Posted by on
ELLICOTT CITY, MARYLAND -- I have a 2001 Windstar with 54,000 miles on it that requires a new transmission already. I should have listened to my father, who has told me for the past thirty years that he would cut off his right arm before he would buy a Ford. The lovely folks at my neighborhood Ford dealership have informed me that the repair will cost about $3500.

Needless to say, my wife and I are furious that Ford would put out a product that would fail with such low mileage, especially for a mini-van that was used primarily for highway use only, and one that was meticulously taken care of in terms of oil changes and routine maintenance. We have approached Ford's customer service and asked them to look at our situation to see if there was anything they could do to rectify the situation for us, only to run into a brick wall.


DON'T EVEN CONSIDER FORD !!!
     
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centercounter on 07/18/2004:
I bought a 2003 Ford Windstar and a month later the OD light startd blinking, which gives codes for a transmission problem. They found water in the transmission and Ford refused to honor the warranty. When I called the Customer Relationship Department, they outright refused to transfer me to a supervisor and after repeated letters from PlanetFeedback, finally I did speak with a supervisor. It turns out that, effectively, the Warranty department does not appear to provide any means (at least any easily accessible means) to challenge a bad decision.
Brownthree on 11/16/2004:
I have a 2000 Windstar with a failed transmission at 51,000 miles. I am so mad I could just scream. I will never buy a Ford again. I had it towed from the Ford dealers ship so the repair will only cost $2,300 vs $3,000 the dealer wanted. It is ridiculous to have to replace the tranny this soon.
westin on 01/21/2005:
You hit the nail squarely on the head.
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