By on July 29, 2013

Freestar

Saturday was a day of reckoning for my Ford Freestar. As detailed in an article I wrote last week, my Freestar required a trip to the dealer to repair rust related issues that affected the rear wheel wells and the third row seat latches and the cost of the repairs were covered by Ford under a recall issued earlier this year. I promised then that, once the repair was completed, I would report back to you on how everything turned out.

As you may remember from that earlier article, the damage to the van was fairly advanced. The area around the seat mounts was encircled with corrosion and, in some places, had rusted to the point that there were actual holes between the wheel well and the interior of the vehicle. The affected area had been concealed under a plastic panel so I had not noticed the issue earlier, but I had noticed the van felt and smelled damp. How the whole piece had stayed in place I have no clue as it seemed to me at the time I could have pulled the seat mount out with my bare hands.

rust 1

As usual, my local Ford dealer was excellent and scheduled the repair as quickly as they could. They took it in after work on Friday night, completed the repair on a Saturday and I had the vehicle back in my garage that night. Once again, Ford deserves accolades for their customer service and I came away quite satisfied with the transaction.

On Sunday morning, I went out to the garage and took a good look at the work done. From the wheel well side I could see where a new piece of sheet metal had been grafted onto the inner fender well. The edges appear to have been carefully caulked and the whole thing covered over with rubberized undercoating. To my eye it looks to be a neat and efficient repair.

IMG_01

Inside the van, I once again removed the plastic panel to examine the backside of the repair. The most obvious thing the Ford techs have done is to totally cut out the rusted area. It appears as though they did the work with a pair of tin snips, nibbling away at the area one bite at a time and leaving a series of sharp metal teeth along the edge of their cut. Several sheet metal screws have been used to affix the panel and a large steel band has also been added to reinforce the seat mount. Besides the sloppy cut, which would have been neater and easier had they used a dremel or a sidewheel cutter, the repair seems to be a good one. Given that it was all done on the company dime and that all the sharp bits are hidden behind a thick plastic panel where they should never come into contact with soft human skin, I am satisfied with the work. Of course, since I am not a body and fender man, I’d be interested in everyone’s comments, too.

IMG_4716

To me, however, there is a larger issue brewing. This whole experience of finding massive quantities of hitherto unexpected rust has left me questioning whether or not hanging on to the Freestar for another year is really worth risk. I wonder now just what other parts of the vehicle are suffering similar issues and what the results may be if we have an accident. There are, I note, a few places around the body where rust bubbles are forming and I have over the past year assiduously attacked the red stuff wherever I have found it, in particular along the lower edges of the vehicle’s doors. With my eventual departure from Buffalo now less than a year away, I am thinking it may be time to replace the Gray Lady and I have a pretty good idea what we are going to end up with.

Am I wise to make a move or just worried rat trying to jump a holed ship that isn’t actually sinking? You tell me.

Photo courtesy of Netcarshow.com

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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92 Comments on “Total Recall Update: Rustectomy Successful But Change Is In The Wind...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I would not be too pleased with that repair. I’d expect that in addition to the bracket installed for the seat, there would be a full patch panel welded over the entire hole. Painted. And proper seam sealer installed. I like quality work. You a leaving Buffalo in a year? Unless you find real structural rot, use it through the winter. Why subject your next car to that treatment….

    • 0 avatar

      Just to clarify, the seat mount is now that band and the sheet metal patch bears no weight. That said, it does look like shit.

      Since there is a good chance we will just go directly overseas, getting a van now will let us work through any teething problems and give my wife and myself the chance to put the first scratch on it rather than waiting for a shipping company to do so. As little as we drive our current van, I’m hoping the exposure a new one will get will be so limited that we won’t have any issues later on.

      • 0 avatar
        Yesac13

        Why not buy your next vehicle in whatever country you are moving to? There’s a story waiting right there. A nice article about the wonders or horrors of buying a new car overseas…

        I don’t know where you are moving but I would bet that a minivan from America will not fit well due to its sheer size (street parking in particular). I would suggest just use up the current van then dump it when you move.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve done that in the past, but how successful it is depends upon a number of factors. The worst is having a left hand drive car in a right hand drive world…

          Because my wife also drives, we usually buy something else when we get in-country anyhow. If the van isn’t the best tool for the job, then it will become my vehicle and the other one will go to her. I won’t lie and say there is no risk, but I think the risk is pretty small that the van will be unusable at this point. For the most part my job takes place in urban areas so I won’t need to be out in the hinterlands on safari very often.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    With the Pentastar v6 asa base engine and impending loss of sales for the whole line of vans you might swing a pretty bargain from Chrysler..

  • avatar
    morbo

    You’ve already had to replace one semi-structural member of the vehicle, and you’re thinking of keeping it?!? I get that it’s paid for, felt the same way when my Diamante started having rusty water in the coolant. But it ain’t worth. At most, keep it till you move, sell it in Buffalo, and buy something less holey in your next home.

  • avatar
    ward

    Uh, The first thing that came out of my mouth when I saw that “repair” is holy $#%& I feel so sorry for that guy.

    If I did that to any of the cars at work i’d get so fired. Would that qualify for a repair at ANY restoration shop? Nope. That is 100% grounds for being fired. That botch is total BS. Because of the hack job they did there will be new rust all around that hole in a very short few years. Also, Sheet metal screws?? Those are not structural, for a seat mount, that’s literally asking for a wrongful death suit. If you got hit there who ever was in that seat would be seriously injured as that mount fails.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’d say this regardless of the badge, so it’s NOT a Ford bitch (and most dealerships, irrespective of the make, cut corners, lie & generally engage in unethical behavior) –

      That repair is awful.

      The priority given any rust repair, if abating the rust & oxidation is of primary concern – as it should be – is to remove ANY & ALL rusty metal, even ff that means removing a good sized section of metal surrounding the rust to ensure every molecule of oxidized metal is gone.

      It’s like cancer surgery: a competent surgeon would never leave any metastasized tissue behind, knowing full well it will simply expand at a rapid rate, rendering the surgery essentially an exercise in futility.

      It doesn’t matter that new metal patched over the old is clean of there’s rusty metal that was left on every edge of the existing metal.

      Rust never sleeps, amd a competent body shop would laugh at this piss poor “repair.”

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Every time I go to the Ford dealer, there are parades of old rusty minivans that require this procedure be done. Ford should just write checks for double Blue Book value. The fix isn’t much better than the current problem, and plenty of these vans are raggedy heaps. If I were FoMoCo, I’d want to get these things off the road.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      For many of them, they are writing checks for 150% of market value. Whether it be due to the rear axle, front sub-frame, torque converter or this repair.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I have seen that. Some of the vehicles I have seen have been in such disrepair, that Ford couldn’t have made them safe. Some of that was the rust issues, some has been a complete lack of maintenance. I remember overhearing, “We can fix the rust recall, but you haven’t changed your oil in 60,000 miles, and you pushed it into the dealership.”

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I’ve heard stories of vehicles supposedly being pulled from the boneyards in an attempt to get Ford to fork over some cash. I’m sure it worked in more than a few cases. One guy I worked with got $3,000 for his ’01 ‘star with well over 200k miles, body already rusted to crap.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      A friend took his van in to the Ford dealer when the rear axle failed, and left a few weeks later with a check; they couldn’t fix it.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Yeah, they had parts availability issues at first. Ford didn’t have thousands upon throusands of beam axles just lying around when the original letters went out to prompt inspections. So they cut checks for many of them. From what I saw, there were a LOT of happy former Windstar owners after getting checks for realistically 5x the value of their heap.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          I don’t think parts availability was the issue. They evaluated the whole car and condemned it. He was happy with the settlement (probably 3-4x its value).

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    So is the formed sheet metal panel just held in place by the sheet metal screws and the interior brace bar? That doesn’t sound too reassuring. The screws may be some super duper strength grade, but I wouldn’t care to bet on it. They could at least have done a better job of trimming the rust, masked and hit it with a rustoleum rattle can and used something a little more substantial than those sheet metal screws. Thomas, its not like some old ship where you can lose a few tens of tons of scantlings to corrosion and you’re still mostly OK.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    Honestly, that looks like crap and it appears that the person had no pride in his work knowing full well it would be covered up with the cover.

    At looking at it, it looks like the person just grabbed the rusted piece and tore it out. I don’t even think he cut it at all, I f you look at the original picture you can see where the rusted area was. It happens to fall in line perfectly with the hole.

    He/She could have spent an extra 10 minutes cleaning it up and squaring it off to make it nice and neat.

    With the jagged edges all they did was introduce a new way for the metal to be fatigued and to tear more around the area.

    Take it back, make them fix it correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’d do this, and take it right back to them with the panel already removed. “Come here and look at this s***!” would be my first statement. It’s just going to start right up with rusting again, and I agree with the previous posters about how it’s not fortified with the proper materials to make it last. There’s still rust there, where it shouldn’t be.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      There is a good bit of rust they didn’t remove. You could also take it back, and demand they repurchase the van, as they have apparently done for others.

  • avatar

    I’d take it back and demand a better repair, this is one step above using a stop sign to fill the hole. Wire brush the rust/scale off the edges and make neater cuts, weld the panel in instead of screws, and paint the inside and out to make it look better.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I wouldn’t be happy with that. There is no reason to believe the work wasn’t performed in a manner as sloppy as the final product looks.

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    I think that even I could have done a better, at least looking job. Might have cost you a 6 pack of beer or so. Maybe a steak dinner, too. But who is counting….

    You really accepted this repair – shame on you.

    Perhaps that is why the dealers think that they can get by with such shit. You just sort of helped them out.

    My 17 year old Mercedes was rear ended last year. Not too bad but here in Germany most any repair is costly. The shop that did the repair actually pulled the carpet and trim back out so I could admire their repairs to the rear wheel wells! Of course I suppose there might be some other parts of the repair that they were hoping I would not see but so far I have not found anything, yet.

    That is really scary looking work, at least to my eye.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I would have at least spot welded and seam sealed the patch panel, but I haven’t seen the details of the repair procedure, if one exists.

    The 13S01 document I could find stated the actual latch would be relocated from that panel, and overlay panels would be installed to seal the body. So it would seem that this flimsy looking repair wouldn’t actually be supporting the latch anymore, that’s likely the purpose of the bracket.

    Sheet metal screws to hold in the patch panel is a bit janky, I would want it at least spot welded and seam sealed. I would suggest talking to the dealer and find out why they did it with screws and express your concerns about the effectiveness of the repairs. Ford pays 3.1 hours to complete the repair, which should be plenty to spot weld in and seal a panel.

    Regarding getting out of the vehicle, if the rest of it is sound, don’t let this psyche you out. If done correctly, it will not affect the use of your vehicle.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Looks like your body man was a Civil War surgeon in a former life…

    Get the Chrysler, reread Jack’s review if you need to convince yourself. It will be night and day from the old Ford.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/trackday-diaries-you-should-buy-a-minivan/

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/review-2011-chrysler-town-country/

    Put a “Mr. Horsepower” license plate on the front just for giggles. I know a cigar chomping woodpecker on the front of a minivan would make me smile every time I walked in front of it no matter how the kids are acting.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      “Civil War surgeon” – Good one.

      Wow, what a horrible job. Literally screams ‘We don’t give a damn, it’s good enough now get the hell out of here’. Does Ford have a quality standard that this conforms to or is it up to the individual dealer? I wouldn’t go back to this shop for an oil change.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        +2 on the Civil War surgeon reference, but unlike most competent (at the time) surgeons of the Civil War, this dealership failed to remove all the gangrene during their amputation procedure.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Looks like they left a whole bunch of rusted section there anyways, so that part will just continue to rust.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It looks like to me “Flat Rate Freddie” at the Ford dealer made his own shortcut repair. It’s probably his “gravy” that he brags to everyone about what he gets paid vs the amount of hours he actually puts into it.

    I’d get rid of that car ASAP. It amazes me that a modern car with no accident history was able to rust like that.

  • avatar
    Commando

    You know who made that repair? The newly hired “tech” who started just last week and gets all the crap warranty work. Fresh out of tech/trade school who’s last job was a 3 month stint at Jiffy Lube. You got what you paid for.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personal opinion: Get out while you can. They left too much rust behind which can still undercut the cheap outer work. You also didn’t mention how that stiff steel bar is secured–more screws or welded?

    I wouldn’t trust it. It might last the rest of the van’s life, or it could simply continue to grow as a symptom of a far worse rust problem.

  • avatar
    Wacko

    Ford Quality is NOT job # 1

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’d not allow my Son to ride in this raggedy piece of shyte .

    It looks to me like they yanked at it until it broke loose .

    I’d skip talking to the local dealer and go right to the Ford Zone rep. , he needs to see this in person or at least the photos so he can see how they’re endangering customers lives .

    Junk this now .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    fiasco

    I wouldn’t do that crappy a repair on my LeMons car. Well…not on something structural. That’s bad. Rust should’ve been completely removed, new panel WELDED in place, seam sealed, then primed and painted. Bad, bad work.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    i figured they would have also installed a large panel on the inside to sandwich everything together and cover up the original hole.

    guess not.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    A lot of trash-talking the tech in the comments.

    I can’t see what’s on the other side. If the patch panel is significantly larger than the hole, and the tech used panel bond (just as strong as welding in most cases, and used by OEM’s) adhesive to attach the panel, then this repair should be adequate. Not great, but adequate. The screws could be there just to hold the panel in place while the adhesive cures.

    I would have at least radius’d the corners of the hole however to prevent cracks from forming. It should be just as strong or stronger than original if repairs were performed this way.

    • 0 avatar

      I regret not taking those photos but from the outside the repair looks pretty good. The panel is large and clearly made for the purpose and the black steel band they used supports the seat now. About the only gripe I could have is the edge of the cut, but given that it is behind a panel that most people will never remove I understand why he didn’t do a better job of grinding it down.

      In the end, I know that Ford is doing thousands of these and that they are trying to do it to a certain cost. It is an almost 10 year old van with 128K miles on it. I’m not trying to restore it so welding in an entire new panel and putting it back to stock isn’t something I reasonably expected. When I say I am satisfied with it the repair, I am speaking from a position of “it’s good enough.” Especially since I have pretty much decided to replace it at this point.

      I’ll write about the whole purchase process and explain my logic in more detail in another article for anyone who is interested, but it makes decent sense to go ahead and do it now.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        It’s “good enough” if you accept it. If you believe the repair will outlive the van then so be it.

        I get affixed to vehicles and almost never trade in a vehicle, just add to the pile, so everything I have is fixed correctly whether by a professional or myself, I expect a life time repair.

        If the new joint is no longer stressed then I wouldn’t worry about it if the van will only live a couple more years.

        Otherwise read my below post.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Mr. Crabspirits,

      I was sort of thinking that, had I done this myself, I would likely have used a two part epoxy to cover that hole. So, on that part I agree with you.

      I think part of the issue is that they didnt take the extra, but minimal time it would have required to take a cutting wheel and grinder to the hole, clean up and perhaps seal/treat/prime the edges, rather then leaving it all ragged. It really just looks lazy, which effectively serves to erode confidence in what might otherwise be a sufficient repair.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I feel the same way, that’s why I reserved by judgement until I can see the actual technical bulletin if one exists. I would have spot welded it and seam sealed it myself, but in a word, the repair is likely “adequate” and the tech may have been following the bulletin to the letter. That’s why I would call the dealer, and then Ford if necessary to get an explanation as to why it was done this way.

      It is a bit comical that some think the vehicle will collapse into a heap of death on the highway because of a corrosion hole like this. Judging from the pictures of the rest of the van, I suspect the rest of the undercarriage isn’t in terrible shape, and is likely more or less confined to this spot that was prone to it.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      I don’t think the repair is necessarily as dangerous as some people seem to suggest, but it’s definitely pretty half-assed since they left a ton of rust sitting there. I think this repair could be made better in a DIY fashion if someone went and actually removed the remaining rust but optimally they should have welded on the replacement panel instead of using glue and screws-the repair was obviously made to use the least about of labor possible and it shows.

      If it was my car I’d probably sand off the remaining rust and slather rust converter all over the old metal edges to try and minimize the regrowth opportunities for the rust, even if I was otherwise satisfied with the half-assed job.

      I honestly don’t even think Ford saved all that much money in labor here by going with the half-assed approach.

  • avatar
    Joe K

    I saw that and thought my God what a crappy repair. I could so that better and I detest body work. So much rust left on the inside to continue the job of eating the car from the inside out. I would replace this van ASAP as there has to be more rust lurking in other critial places you can not see.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This is a text book example of conformational bias. You like Ford. You like your dealer. You like your van.

    Rusting out of structural components at this stage of the game, rust belt or not, is unacceptable. Had no recall been done or if you were unaware, that third row would be a major injury waiting to happen, with potential dire consequences for anyone in the second row if the seat separated from load or an accident.

    The repair job is – awful. I can’t believe that if this was not a Ford product, that you like, with work from a dealer, that you like, that you would be happy. With the exposed rust left behind, untreated, unsealed, the cancer will just continue (at a slower rate, but still there). Oh it’s just surface rust is just an excuse to not do it right.

    Me, I would not be happy with the repair, the Freestar, and Imwould not be praising Ford for doing something that the government would likely make them do the first time three kids strapped in the third row go flying through the cabin in an accident. Just as I’ll call out Toyota for failing to design a gas pedal right (remember they had to reshape hundreds of thousands of them) I’ll condemn Ford for building a vehicle with massive corrosion issues as I will condemn GM for gaskets eaten alive by Dexcool. They aren’t doing you any favors here.. I would walk away from the Freestar.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Although from what I understand, being that the sheet metal no longer is the stressed member, but rather the sheet that they added going vertical; as a “ok” welder myself with a little schooling on basics, I must say….

    The only way to do a quality repair is with clean solid metal, there is no way if that was a metal panel that it would be affixed properly with a weld. Anything that has cancer must be removed, the better the metal where the patch is welded in the better the repair, everything I just said can be deduced by most anyone, the ford tech obviously has never welded, using sheet screws isn’t something I would do to anything.
    They had to have known that the repair would rust through at the edges soon, in addition anywhere that the solid new metal touches the rusted area with sealant covering it, is a perfect opportunity to destroy the new metal as well.

    There was zero quality control no one was standing over on the repair, or either it was one sorry SOB.
    I could Stand behind a 10 year old child and direct him to do the job, with a better end result.

    I say everything as someone living in NC where rust isn’t extremely prevalent, so I have no idea how people there expect a vehicle to last, but I wouldn’t allow that on any of my vehicles, not even a beater.
    Take it to a regional.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Above comments suggest – very plausibly – that it’s glued (panel bonded) rather than welded, with the screws merely holding it firmly in place while the adhesive cures.

      I doubt it’ll rust through the edges, being inside the car and insulated from the outside, with no way for significant dampness to get to the metal, since again the panel bond will completely seal every part of the join.

      (And of course the new part is pre-painted and probably pre-drilled for the screws, so no way for it to start rusting from a drilled hole, and the glue will prevent surface scraping…)

      Yes, thinking about it in terms of “have to weld in a new piece to replace the old one”, this is a disaster.

      But in the terms described above and in the post, it looks fine. That repair will probably outlast the drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think (based on having had ’95 and ’00 Windturds in the family) that the chances of the drivetrain outliving this repair are absolutely and utterly zero. It is a miracle that this car is still moving under its own power already.

        Might as well drive it until it blows up. Won’t be long now.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          That’s what I was wondering, I’ve never messed with this particular drivetrain. But if the drivetrain is the usual part to first go down, then I agree, I wouldn’t worry about the fix.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    Well, I guess we look at these factors:

    – You’ve just had the van repaired, but at no investment on your part other than time and the gas it took to get it to the dealership
    – it has other rust spots which are a concern
    – you are moving out of rust-prone Buffalo (I have a hard time imagining a place more rust-friendly, really)
    – dumping the car now might theoretically lighten the load while moving, but given that it is a van, it might strike me as being a helpful mover itself
    – it presumably has pretty high mileage, but has been fairly reliable so far
    – it’s a Ford Freestar (make that what you will)

    I’m left to conclude: unless you’re really intent on buying a van that’s no older than what CPO would qualify for (and even then, the only real reason I see for it is to move onto updated safety systems) I would just keep it. Granted, the repairs required no real investment but you are invested in the vehicle in other ways anyway, I really don’t think the rust is going to be that much of a problem a year or even two from now (given that you’re moving into a more milder clime, at least) and given that it’s a van I’d think it’d be somewhat useful during the actual move. And do you really need the stress and time of a new vehicle on top of the move? Given the rust and the likely mileage I think you’re pretty much going to be tapped out on resale value whether now or after the move anyway. Might as well keep it.

    Oh, and – as the owner of a Ford Ranger (have to have something to support the bike) I have to say my own experiences with my local Ford dealership have been (with a few key personnel interactions) actually quite negative (I should also add that this particular Ford dealership has had a somewhat high turnover in ownership). It was a pain just to get them to address issues concerning the stupid gas cap. So I’m not really surprised the repair looks very sloppy from the inside.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Thomas:

    While I understand the point of ‘good enough’ on the repair, I’m currently driving a 1990 Ford F-150 that’s lived in Pennsylvania for the last 13 years that doesn’t have as much rust as your poor van shows. That van should have at least as many years left in it as it has currently run, but that patch alone–along with who knows what’s hiding beneath the skin elsewhere, to me makes it a very untrustworthy machine.

    If you sell/trade it now you’re likely to get a better price for it, though I’d almost expect that if you trade, it will end up shipped to the southwest to try to reduce the risk of the rust continuing its work. (What I’ve discovered is that Southern used cars go north to live the rest of their lives as winter beaters while Northern ones go south to last as long as possible.) If you wait until you move, you probably won’t get as much for it.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    If you sent Ford a link to this repair, my guess is you’d be getting a call from the dealership with a really generous offer for a trade in.

    I know that’s not at all what you’re gaming for and you’re a Ford fan (as am I) but it’s unacceptable work and I’d call them on it.

    Just the rust they left behind (and that’s not just surface rust) means that the cancer is going to keep spreading, to say nothing of the safety issues of mounting that latch with sheet metal screws.

    Ford badly botched the design of this car, and they owe people that paid good money more than this band-aid.

    • 0 avatar

      The truth is that I am not a Ford guy. This is the first one I have ever owned but, despite the additional costs I have occurred since purchasing the van, I have generally been satisfied with my experience.

      After reading all of the various replies from people who know much better than I about how something like this is repaired, I am coming to the conclusion that the tech could have done a better job. But I guess this raises a new question, when something goes in for a recall like this I imagine there has to be some sort of standard to which it is expected to be repaired. What could I have reasonable expected to have happened? Say he hit that edge with an angle grinder and sprayed on some rustoleum would that have been enough? I wonder.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        It’s an unusual repair for a recall, and most Ford dealers aren’t body shops, so it’s understandable it’s not going to be perfect, but the technician that did that repair KNEW he was cutting corners because99% wouldn’t have inspected the work because it was behind a panel.

        That’s the basis of character, doing the right thing even when nobody is looking.

        I genuinely think Ford corporate should be put on notice that this is what’s passing for a fix to a major problem.

        Ford should figure out some formula for buying these vans back, that level of rust on such a “young” car with no accident history will only be fit for a scrap yard in no time.

  • avatar
    redliner

    A mediocre repair on a mediocre van.

    That repair is clearly a “good enough” repair.

    I understand Fords reluctance to do much more, but at the very least they could have removed ALL the rust, not just most of it.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Can’t comment on the actual quality of the repair, but if I were a prospective buyer looking to take the van off your hands, my gut reaction would be to run away as soon as I saw that repair.

    Any parent who understands that repair is holding their kid in place during a wreck will probably have a similar reaction. It may be difficult to sell the van if you disclose this issue.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I agree with your comment the most.

      Maybe they could have hammered down the rough edges to pretty it up, but the repair is covered by interior panels anyway.

      However, this repair will appear in a Carfax report on the vehicle, which could work in your favor if a prospective buyer knows about the rust problems these cars have. At the same time, the van is old with a known rust deficiency; it may be nearly worthless no matter its condition.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Break free from the uncertainty, the wear and the decay. Go pick out that shiny new Town & Country and ride around in greater comfort, style, safety. Enjoy some up-to-date technology and performance!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Thomas–If you are going to be moving over the next year or two I would just keep it. A 2004 model will be considered 10 years old in another month when the 2014s are released. The resale value on these vans is not that good even if it didn’t have rust. I would not sell it to anyone unless they knew the extent of the rust. I had a 85 Mercury Lynx that in 1994 I traded for a new Escort Wagon. The Lynx had extensive rust at the bottom of the firewall that was structural in nature but the rest of the body had no visable rust. I was not going to sell it to an individual because of the structural rust and also because the heads were going. In all honesty if I had it to do over again I would have junked it but I got $700 trade-in which was at most all it was worth. You should not spend any more money on this van except for the rountine maintenance.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Dayem that’s a nice looking Chrysler! Life is too short – go for it.

    I wish Chrysler made a 2/3rds size midi-van. I test drove a Routan (the best looking of the bunch) but it was too big for my needs….

  • avatar

    I just got off the phone with the folks at Ford and it appears that they are unwilling to really help me unless I pitch a major shit fit. The woman I spoke with told me they might be able to help me out with some additional incentives should I want another Ford product, but said they can’t do anything else otherwise.

    I told her that currently Ford doesn’t produce anything I am interested in, to be honest the Flex looks like a nice rig but I want sliding doors, so Ford and I won’t reach any kind of a deal. My main hope was that they might give me back something on the new tranny I had installed in the vehicle last year, but alas no.

    I won’t say I am horribly upset. I’m a fairly pragmatic person in this regard and I know that this is a 10 year old vehicle. It is unreasonable to expect them to replace it but I had hoped they might work with me a little more. I guess that when it comes down to it, I’m not really willing to throw the required fit. Instead, I’ll just bear a lifetime of ill will towards the brand and sew the seeds of discontent wherever I go. Live and learn….

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Did they explain the nature of the repair at all to confirm if what you received was correct according to what Ford specifies?

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      Did someone at corporate actually look at your photos of the (possibly botched) repair?

      • 0 avatar

        They declined the opportunity.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          If they know who you are, they have already looked…

          • 0 avatar

            That’s a nice thought, I think, but I suspect that my ability to influence the greater court of public opinion is rather more limited than I would like. I would be thrilled if someone from Ford contacted me and said, “Hey, we saw your article, how can we help?” It’s a nice dream though.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            I like Ford far more than Gov’t Motors or Fiasler, but I think a major shit fit is in order.

            Post these pictures anywhere and everywhere you can on social media. That includes Ford’s Facebook page, Twitter feeds, etc. Hell, maybe even Jalopnik might pick it up…

            Also include a brief explanation of how pleased you’ve been up to this point with your dealer’s service, and that you were happy to have them handle the repair – but you feel that this was not only shoddy and unprofessional work, it may also be downright deadly if the metal deteriorates further, and those screws pull away.

            Yell. Scream. Go to the mattresses. This is war. I appreciate your generally easygoing nature about it, but no matter the vehicle’s age, this issue was designed into the vehicle by Ford engineers and their subpar efforts risk the lives of you and your family. Ford owes you nothing less than to place a sizable check in your hands to buy back their poorly designed, and above all potentially deadly, product.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Maybe give a Kia Sedona a look. We love our 09; it’s a pretty good value, and has provided good service so far.

  • avatar
    Commando

    Ford:
    “Yep. We were right. That repair would be good enough to satisfy the 98% target management will be happy with. The other 2% will just go away…
    Next?”

  • avatar
    Kamaka

    Thanks for complete coverage. Sell the Gray Lady before another piece falls off! There’s really only two things to consider since you will be replacing her.

    A: Buy a shiny new Town & Country which will be fun here an unique wherever you go since they probably still sell it as Chrysler Voyagers and wouldn’t have S models either. Or B: buy a new unique to there car. Unless you have something in mind already like a Fiat 500XL or Ford S-Max neither of which have sliding doors(all important in my book) buy the T&C.

    Also I do believe we pay the least in the world for identical cars. Just like the new Jaguar will sell for more in India I do believe most cars sell for the least in currency exchange here.

  • avatar
    hawox

    sell a car for rust problems and buy a chrysler-lancia-fiat !?? lol! it doesn’t sound very logical.
    seriously i wouldn’t sell it untill the first costly repair. sure you’d better do a good rust check removing the internal carpets, then lift the car and hit the sills with a hammer. but if no major corrosion appears the change wouldn’t have a financial sense.
    once i discovered rust on one car when removed the instrument panel, the bean was rotten!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Everyone who cuts and runs from a simple rust hole in the floor make me happy to own a welder.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    They could have at least treated all the rust they left behind.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    And I’d sell and buy overseas. One of the things I have enjoyed over my Military career was driving all the stuff you can’t get here, be it the string of Alfas I drove in Italy or the Hiluxes and Indian trucks in the more recent locales.

  • avatar
    David Hester

    That’s a terrible repair job. The lesson for the rest of us is to always examine a repair job before you take delivery, even if it means yanking panels.

    That being said, if you’ve still got one more Buffalo winter to subject your car to before you move, I’d keep just it until next year’s President Day sales events.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    This is not a treasured project car that might be worth salvaging. It is an appliance, only your family’s life depends on it not disintegrating. Run like hell.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Thomas, I found the Tech procedural documents for 13S01. I’ll leave it up to you to judge whether they they followed spec or not…

    http://www.j-rauto.com/docs/13S01%20APPROVED%20Tech%20Instructions%20-%20Freestar%203rd%20Row%20Latch.pdf

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for posting this. To be honest, the repair I saw looks like what they described. I notice in their example the rust wasn’t as severe as the rust in my van but that they did not act to sand or repair any of the corrosion or other body issues as a part of the specified repair.

      The directions show them cutting the mount off, but I think in my case the guy just pulled out the entire piece and snipped it along the one edge where there was metal left. Had I been doing it, I’d have ground down the edge or at least hammered it back flat. Other than the crappy cut along the left side, it looks like the Ford tech did just exactly what they specified.

      Based on this, I don’t think I’ll get any extra compensation from Ford on the issue so it goes back to my original point, it was done to a cost and was just supposed to be a “good enough” repair, not a restoration. Whatever, I’m sure I’ll love the hell out of my new Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        That’s kind of the conclusion I came to, looks like they did what Ford told them to do. I read some other letters between Ford and NHTSA and Ford doesn’t think it was a dangerous situation because there are no known deaths as a direct result, so it seems Ford is making these repairs just because they’re “good guys”, pushing the issue is probably pointless

  • avatar
    claytori

    I am a bit of an expert on ‘Redneck Rust Repair. Back in 1993 I was given my mother-in-law’s ’83 Olds Cutlass Cierra (only 100,000km).Sound’s good. Wasn’t. I had to put more than 3 square feet of sheet metal in the driver’s footwell to pass safety inspection. We were having a cash shortage that year, and this was the best offer I had. The car was from Montreal, and the MIL hadn’t used rubber floor mats. Montreal makes places like Buffalo and Toronto look like the South-West by comparison. I once rode in a two year old cab in Montreal and was shocked to see the road through the hole at my feet.

    So the proper technique is pop rivets at 3/4″ spacing and coat the whole thing with roofing cement on the outside. I only use sheet metal screws (#10 x 3/8″) to hold on muffler patches – substitute high temperature red RTV Silicon Rubber for the roofing cement, sandwiched under the patch. Spacing remains the same.

    The Ciera continued to fall apart, especially the rope type rear seal on the engine (done twice, through the oil pan). Sold for $75 to someone who wanted the perfectly operating automatic transmission. In comparison, our ’91 Buick Century Wagon was almost rust free when scrapped. But then it hadn’t been driven in Montreal in winter.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Yes this, Quebec wreaks havoc on car bodies. Whether from road brasion from the sandy mix they throw down or the salt brine causing corrosion,, it isn’t uncommon to see corrosion perforations on vehicles that are just a few years old of any make. It doesn’t help that few people ever wash their cars there either.

  • avatar
    ttacfan

    How does this rust problem play with the rear left strut mount? My Mercury Monterey started wallowing in the right turns. Showed it to mechanic. He hoisted it up, took off the left rear wheel and showed me the strut mount. Through the rust hole. From the outside. I handed over the title to him. It was a week before the Ford recall. I wonder if I could have gotten some money from Ford. But a thought of the rear strut going through the floor and pinning the rear seat, potentially with a passenger, to the roof makes me happy I got rid of that deathtrap.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Very interesting to read that Ford document that shows how to do the work. It shows that the philosophy is basically “good enough for government work” where it fixes the problem but isn’t necessarily pretty.

    I feel that I did better rust repairs back when I was driving a 13 year old ’85 Jetta that had some rust problems. I’d be a bit annoyed if I owned that Windstar and saw the sloppiness of the repair.

    Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your new Chrysler product. Too bad there’s no cash for clunkers going on, that van would definitely qualify.


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