By on May 7, 2013

It seems like just yesterday that your humble author was bitching up a storm about having to deal with a recalcitrant Ford EasyFill fuel filler.

That’s because it was just yesterday.

Had I waited another day to gripe about it, I would have seen that Ford’s already on the job.

The Quality job. Which is supposed to be Job #1.

Automotive News reports that Ford is taking a more critical look at launch-time quality-control issues:

The Escape and MKZ launch woes were the most publicized. A cooling problem that emerged on the 2013 Escape could cause engine fires. There were no injuries, but Ford asked owners of some Escapes with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engines to park their vehicles until repairs could be made. Ford tweaked the engine software to address the problem.

Quality glitches and parts shortages at the factory in Hermosillo, Mexico, forced Ford to ship hundreds of MKZs to its Flat Rock, Mich., assembly plant for quality inspections and repairs this year… In addition, Hinrichs said, some Ford Fusions had to be brought to Flat Rock for extra inspections and repairs. He did not specify the problems except to say they were similar to the MKZ’s. The cars share the same mid-sized sedan platform and many suppliers, and they are built on the same line at Hermosillo.

Nobody mentioned the Ford Pinto in the above-quoted article, but I think we’ve all moved on from that particular issue, except for the folks who were, like, totally burned to a crisp in Pintos and never got a chance to move on. It’s a little-known fact that the infamous General Motors X-car brake problem was actually, according to certain very well-respected lifestyle journalists, a counter-engineering attempt to make sure that Citations, Phoenixes, Omegas, and Skylarks would spin 180 degrees before hitting a stopped Pinto ahead of them. This prevented the Citation driver from being unduly concerned by the sight of the impending Pinto ass-ramming and allowed the Pinto’s fuel tank to be cushioned by the Citation’s more thoroughly-engineered fuel tank in a maneuver known to modern drivers as the “Jennifer Connelly”.

The flag-waving American in me would like to humbly suggest that one way to fix the Lincoln MKZ issues would be to build the Lincoln MKZ in the United States, since apparently they’re going to wind up there anyway for extra inspections. Given that globalism has become a Thing You Must Not Question on both sides of the American political divide, however, I’ll keep my mouth shut and stick to the article as reported. I won’t mention Jennifer Connelly again, either. Except to say that “The Hot Spot” is worth seeing even if you aren’t a Don Johnson fan, or a Virginia Madsen fan. But if you are neither of those things, I don’t want to hear about it.

Where were we? Oh yes. Ford’s going to take a sharper look at launch-time quality-control issues. I’m glad they’re doing it. Ford has some of the most interesting product in the market right now and it would be a shame if that product was overlooked because of small problems. One thing about this business: fortune doesn’t always favor the bold.

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56 Comments on “Ford’s New Launch Control Isn’t Aimed At The Quarter-Mile...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    I remember when the 2003 Super Duty trucks had a Job 4. If I remember correctly 2008 had at least a Job 3 too. If there are any Ford PVT or Concern Engineers on here from that time, they can confirm. Tresmonos?

    Both were horrible low points for those vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Can’t comment as I wasn’t on those programs :)

      Super Duty has been rock solid since. North American programs are the golden goose IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I was around the time P473 went into production, and you’re right about it being far better than the outgoing P356. Aside from the odd body and chassis issues, it’s solid. Most importantly it doesn’t have the powertrain problems the old truck had.

  • avatar
    redav

    I genuinely like the car part of recent Fords. I don’t like the rest of them, however. Seriously–how can Ford screw up a dome light? But they did it anyway.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    As much as I would like to defend Ford, I can’t. Their recent launches have been buggy at best. Of the major products, I suppose the Focus launch went the best.

    The Explorer, Edge, Fusion, Escape, MKZ, and Fiesta have all had numerous issues that took too long to fix, I’m looking at you A-pillar buzz and DCT. Add the MFT woes to the party its been a rough 2-3 years when it comes to launches and QC.

    That being said, both Ford products I own are fantastic, and I would recommend them to anyone. I sincerely hope their next major product launches(F-series, Mustang, Edge, MkC, MkX, Taurus, and MkS) are not marred by the same irritating QC issues.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      I hope the Ford Focus launch was sarcasm. I had a 2000, the first year they came to the States from Europe. That year had 13 recalls. There were other issues that weren’t recalls like the ignition lock cylinder wearing out and regulator cables randomly breaking on power windows. My personal favorite was the stuck throttle after driving off the dealer lot – for myself I fixed it by bending the throttle cable bracket STRAIGHT.

      There was also a large problem that Ford called “an issue in states that used salt” – the front springs would break. Actually, the springs were designed for use in the Euro cars which had lighter engines. The US-spec 2.0 would cause the front of the car to sag a bit so Ford simply tack-welded (or glued) an extra ring to the front springs and covered that cheap fix with a rubber boot to try and keep out corrosion. Hit a bump just right and that weld would break, making the car sag and drag the wheels in the wheelwells.

      2001 was a better year for the Focus.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I was referring to recent launches.

        The 2012 Focus wasn’t the smoothest launch in automotive history, but MFT and transmission programming tend to be the biggest complaints.

        Other vehicles had a number of ridiculous QC problems that Ford shouldn’t have had to worry about. Parking MKZs in Flat Rock and telling people to stop driving Escapes are much worse than reprogramming software on a few thousand cars.

        I do agree with your premise that Ford seems to beta test first year models on paying consumers.

        • 0 avatar
          bachewy

          Ah, oops! Agreed, the new Focus is a much improved car.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Does anyone remember that the original Focus set a record for recalls in one model year? After that they got it straightened out out, I love Ford but that smacks of GMs Brand of “Customers as Beta Testers.”

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Reopen Wixiom Assembly! At least the Town Cars built there were well put together…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wixom_Assembly_Plant

    Oh but wait you tore it down…

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      It’s sad for me to drive by where that plant used to be. I have a bunch of friends and customers that worked there. I also got to take a tour of the plant in high school. Seeing Town Cars roll off the Wixom line will give you Pather Love.

      It was supposed to be a green jobs site, but we all know how green jobs projects turn out. Let’s just be happy this site didn’t get the half billion dollars Jennifer Granholm was hoping for.

      Instead of a Ford plant, it will be a Menard’s.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      My ’63 Thunderbird rolled off the line at Wixom. Interestingly I bought it from a gentleman who lived only a few miles away from the plant. Apparently the car never left the area.

      It is sad, some really cool machinery rolled off the lines there.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I used to drive by it daily for work when I lived and worked in the Detroit Metro area. Fortunately that was back in 2002 when it was still up and running.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          That’s when I took the tour. I think they were building 3 or 4 different vehicles then. They had an excellent work force as well.

          My friend took a transfer from Wixom to a Ford parts depot in Colorado. He set the record for parts sorted on his second night.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Jennifer Connelly called. She would like her dignity back, please, and she promises that she’ll never work with Darren Aronofsky again.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    My early build Fiesta is really bad. I had an early build Neon for eleven years that had fewer problems in eleven years that the Fiesta has in two and a half!!

    It is possible to build a good car that has a low serial number.

  • avatar
    Timothy

    Recent new Ford customer and I have to say there are some things that have surprised me.

    1) Omission of cup holder insert at time the vehicle was shipped. It’s now on order.

    2) The exterior plastic at the base of the windshield has popped out of the retaining clip

    3) Some cars of my model designation came with a coin tray in the center armrest and apparently some did not, ditto with extending drivers side sun visor and sun visor lights.

    4) When I first got the car the one touch express windows only worked on the drivers window and the sunroof didn’t operate as stated in the manual. A software update through SyncMyRide fixed both these “issues”… which is strange because I don’t think these items are controlled by Sync, but rest assured, they didn’t work prior to update, they work now.

    5) Are they using velcro to hold the roof liner in place? Over particularly rough roads it sounds as if one is taking off a velcro shoe ever so slowly.

    6) The drivers side interior A-Pillar plastic ends a tiny bit above the plastic dash covering, the passenger side a tiny bit below.

    7) There is a hairline crack in the chrome bezel above the climate control module.

    None of these things represent a significant QC issue by themselves as they are mostly cosmetic. I would think that before the dealer lets the car leave the lot they would ensure that the Sync/MFT has the most current software release installed. Add them all up however and I’m questioning what kind of QC they have at the end of the line. Who is signing off on this stuff?

    All that being said, I love my car. It is an absolute blast to drive and I find myself looking past these little defects. That is the wrong attitude to have as anything that costs 30 grand should damn well come off the assembly line 100% perfect. Let’s hope the dealer has the same attention to detail as I have and is able to address some of these concerns.

    2013 Performance Blue ST w/ ST2 package with sunroof/navigation.

    T

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      ” Are they using velcro to hold the roof liner in place? Over particularly rough roads it sounds as if one is taking off a velcro shoe ever so slowly.”

      It’s actually a much stronger Velco-like product called Dual-Lock. It works pretty well when used liberally and is certainly better than the magnets they used to employ.

      Your dealer has access to it and can add strips if it’s coming loose. It’s pretty tough when locked in.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Second shift Friday car…..

      Don’t feel bad, my Focus had to go back to Wayne for them to realign all the body panels, after the dealership tried and failed. I can’t imagine what they would have done if my dealership wasn’t less than 10 miles from the plant.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “I can’t imagine what they would have done if my dealership wasn’t less than 10 miles from the plant.”

        Pillage Ford?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Pat Milliken. Jack Demmer is right accross from the plant, but I shared a dorm bathroom with his kid at MSU and do not want to give that clown any cash.

          • 0 avatar
            pb35

            I bought an Escort GT from Jack Demmer Ford back in 1993. It was not a positive experience.

            My next Ford product was purchased from Gene Butman which was only slightly better.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy

      Apparently I have one of the better built ST’s. There are a few commenters on the ST Forum that have had horrible experience… trim pieces, rubber seals, wire tape in the engine unraveling…

      Really really hoping that this experience doesn’t end up pissing me off. I have wanted this car since I first drove it last June at the Ford ST Drivers academy. Fell in love with car halfway through the first corner of their autocross circuit. I saved my pennies and shit and I really just want my first new car in a long time to live up to my expectations.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I wouldn’t say the things you have experienced are normal for a Focus ST. When it comes to forums, you will hear about more problems than from an average owner. People are there for a reason, whether it be trolling, looking for help, or being an enthusiast. They post more when they are pissed about something.

        I bet I could go to any dealer in the Detroit area and find a Focus ST without most of those problems (MFT I can’t fix).

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy

          Trust me, I know what you are saying. My day job revolves around e-commerce solutions and social media. But my point is this… despite the forum being all those things you said, the bottom line is that there seems to be more than a few ST’s out there with the same issues.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Trim could be design or supplier issues but the seals are definitely plant related. Easy fixes by the dealer.

        Tape unwraveling on the harness is supplier related. I have rewired my crapalier’s engine acc harness entirely. I would just retape it and call it good. Harnesses are such a variable part that it isn’t worth taking them in for anything so long as they still make continuity.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          I’m off to check out Fusions tomorrow. You say:

          “Trim could be design or supplier issues but the seals are definitely plant related. Easy fixes by the dealer.
          Tape unwraveling on the harness is supplier related. I have rewired my crapalier’s engine acc harness entirely. I would just retape it and call it good. Harnesses are such a variable part that it isn’t worth taking them in for anything so long as they still make continuity.”

          Does your plant have incoming statistical inspection, or does it hope for the best from the suppliers supposedly running their own QA program (which you apparently don’t audit)?

          Blaming suppliers would be unacceptable in the QA program I participated in, because the process would be out of control. Once discovered, the QA manual procedures had to be followed to correct the situation, and nothing got shipped until then. CSA Z299

          This concerns me as a potential customer for a Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Suppliers are audited, incoming inspection audits parts, assembly personnel identify issues via an automated system and end of line inspection does the same. All issues are tracked and repaired if found.

            Seals are tricky due to the nature of the part itself – sometimes the ‘memory’ from the metal insert in the seal goes wonky. If it doesn’t have the ‘memory,’ the operator may sometimes not secure it properly and it pops off after inspection.

            If you have ever witnessed a wire harness get made you wouldn’t be asking these questions regarding them. You would just be amazed it retains any routing at all. Harnesses have immense amount of variability. We fight them during preproduction build and get the proper lengths / orientations as best as we can. Every OEM does this.

            Suppliers that can’t maintain a controlled process get on site support. If its during a launch, they get more help then they ever wanted, from top management on down.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Tresmonos, are cars just extraordinarily complicated, or is there some other reason(s) why quality can never be as consistent as we would all like, regardless of brand? (I hate the crapshoot of hoping you get a good one, even with a well-regarded brand or model.)

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            My family all purchased new product, fresh off new launches. They don’t seem to have any complaints other than the durability of the non-hard-plastic IP’s and soft touch kick panels.

            Quality has historically improved. The customer has just become more informed.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Timothy,
      Point all of these issues out to your dealer. They will fix them and if they don’t, let me know. These will show up in the warranty feedback to the plant. Something the plant is very conscientious about.
      The coin tray and visor extensions were most likely J1+90 content. You won’t be able to get that on your vehicle.

      Whenever you drop a headliner, you’re opening yourself up to numerous squeak and rattle issues. This will all be dependent on the skill of your service center.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        tresmonos — so you’re saying that the coin tray and visor extensions are only available on early build cars (i.e. within 90 days)? Why would that be? Is it a supply issue or do they purposefully start decontenting cars after the early builds?

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        I plan of pointing out the issues to the dealer. Most of it, like I said, isn’t really worth addressing. Just worrisome that it represents quality control issues that might crop up in more important places. Unfortunately, try as I might, I can’t see into the future. I will enjoy my car and worry about the issues that arise later.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      The things modern cars have controlled by a CPU somewhere amazes me. Trunk lids, windows, etc. Just more stuff to go wrong when the car gets old. A friend of min bought a used car with the base stereo in it, thinking it would be an easy upgrade to a much better model from the junkyard or on Ebay. If only it was easy! He ended up having to buy a second stereo that was compatible with his older system bus because the first one wasn’t, and it had to have some sort of programming done at the dealer to work. Once that was done, it was just a normal install of speakers, amps and a sub. Sounds great now, but what a mess to get set up.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Easy fix. Stop spending all your money on over styling the vehicles (Fusion is the worst) and actually make quality a priority.

    As for the Lincoln Cimarron, well, it’s just a mess. Ford is clueless on how to make a luxury rebadge. If they are having that many problems with a rebadged car with a Dodge Dart rear end, one should really question the overall quality of Ford vehicles.

    It’s clear that Ford and quality do not go together. They never have.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Brighten up, buttercup. My dear mother is buying the Lincoln Cimarron. She liked it better than her GM employee discount options as the ride was nicer. I even tried to steer her towards an Audi. She must love her son.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        Oh your poor mother! Why would you let her overpay for a Fusion like that?

        I wish her the best with her Cimarron and hope she sees it before the end of the year. Tell her she better get to know the service manager at the dealer very well, hopefully they cut her a break when the car really starts to have problems.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I have never owned a Ford product that gave me any trouble. I suppose I should complain though since me lowly 2.9 V6 in my last SUV (Bronco II) only outlasted the mighty Toyota inline 6 in my Land Cruiser by 80,000 miles and it rattled less at 320k than my new S-10 did. I have owned a couple Fords that could be considered mediocre cars (a 95 Cougar, a 93 Ranger), but none were truly bad. The same can not be said for my GM iron. I’m new to the import world though (thanks in large part to the stuff from the General I owned and random circumstance) but so far so good. I would have no hesitation about going back to a Ford though and if they brought back the Ranger likely would do so.

  • avatar
    DaveWest

    Has anyone noticed that Boeing, Mulally’s prior employer before Ford, is having tons of quality related problems launching the Dreamliner? Coincidence?

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      The dreamliner is a pretty radical departure from how aircraft have been built up to now. I would expect some issues. Now granted, I would have liked them to be worked out prior to passengers being carried on them, but at least they aren’t falling from the sky so they are doing bettere than the beta tested on Marines V-22 Osprey now.

    • 0 avatar
      86SN2001

      Not a coincidence at all Dave. Mulally is a moron. The vehicles prior to his arrival were of a much higher quality than the garbage we are seeing now.

      He hasn’t changed one thing at Ford…..except for the number of quality issues.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Were I to purchase a new car Ford is really building the only domestic product that is interesting to me.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I went to the local Ford dealer this past Sunday to check out the new vehicles. I was disappointed with the door fit and the fit of smaller parts on the doors of the Fusion, MKZ and Focus. It’s particularly galling because the cars themselves are very attractive. But their fit-and-finish in this area was worse than the Hondas and Chevrolet I looked at the same day. Ford needs to work on this.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Last time I looked at Hondas, they were bad. The 2012 Acura MDX had quite obviously mis-aligned panels (TTAC’s review of the 2010 MDX noticed this exact issue too!). The new 2012 Honda I test-drove was shedding some trim inside, although admittedly it was in the 2nd row footwell and could have been an overzealous customer, but still surprising if that’s happening without 80,000 miles of kids kicking it — that’s the design spec.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I only looked at the exteriors of the cars (the dealerships were closed, so the vehicles were obviously locked). The Hondas were the best of the bunch, followed by the Chevrolets, with the Fords bringing up the rear. Hondas and Acuras have tended to be better than their domestic competitors in exterior fit-and-finish, although they have not been without gaffes (door fit on the 2006-11 Civic sedans, for example).

        The new Chevrolets, however, have been a big improvement over the previous models, particularly the Cruze and Sonic.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    “The Hot Spot”—-directed by Dennis Hopper. Decent film noir with Connelly and Madsen as interesting female counterpoints, not to mention that Johnson drives a nice Studebaker Hawk. Good reference, Jack.

  • avatar
    AFX

    Ford’s new slogan:

    “Quality Is Job Juan”.


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