Ford/Siemen's Insider Tells the Truth About Quality

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC reader David Robinson worked for Ford’s Talbotville plant in 1972, when he was 19. After five years on the assembly line, he was promoted to a supervisory position. Five years later, when Robinson was laid-off, he returned to school to earn his Manufacturing Technicians papers. Robinson then worked as a Service Advisor in a Ford dealership. (“Ever try to sell an oil change to someone who is pissed off because they just had their car towed in for the 4th time with a blown ignition module?”) His last job: a Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) technician for Siemens VDO Automotive in London, Ontario. In that capacity, Robinson worked with all of The Big 2.8, BMW, Volkswagen and most of the tier one and two suppliers (e.g. Bosch and Denso). He was also the Quality Systems coordinator. His position was “downsized” three years ago. Last week, Robinson listened to our interview with Ford’s Manager of Global Quality Data Systems. He contacted us via email to say “what is happening right now with the big 3 is just fulfilled prophecy.” I called him to discuss his experiences and his insight into the cultural roadblocks blocking Ford’s recovery.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Nemphre Nemphre on Oct 22, 2007

    "Timing belt: I think it needs to be replaced at 90,000, but the funny thing is my owner’s manual doesn’t even mention it (as if you never need to replace it, which is obviously not true)." Yeah, I'm looking at a maintenance guide for '99 Toyotas and it says 90k for the timing belt, except for the Corolla which uses a chain. I don't know about '97s, but in '99 the maintenance stuff is in a separate booklet from the owner's manual. They also suggest changing the coolant and non-plat spark plugs every 30k, which I don't do.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Oct 22, 2007

    90k makes sense, I guess Toyota recommends longer intervals because the motor isn't an interference design. But it lasted all the way to 120k? Well, I've seen stranger things, I guess.

  • Paul Niedermeyer Paul Niedermeyer on Oct 23, 2007

    Sajeev: manuf's recommended timing belt intervals are very conservative, for obvious reasons. But I've heard/read of folks going over 200k on timing belts (not chain) and still running. They don't automatically self destruct at 90k.

  • Verydisappointed Verydisappointed on Nov 01, 2007

    I have always bought American cars, mostly Fords. However, I have absolutely had it. In October 2003 I bought a brand new loaded Explorer. Feb 07 the AC goes. The car is just over 3 years old and today Nov 07 only has 34K miles. $1,300 to repair. I was just over the warranty so I had to pay. Do you know what really disappoints me? I bring the car to the dealer to get fixed. Yes it stinks that I have to shell out $1,300 but the least the dealer could do is give me the illusion that they actually care and are sorry the car is already having issues. Now I'm having an intermittent issue with the car overheating. I take it to the dealer and they can't find anything wrong (most likey the thermostat is getting stuck). I also bought a 2003 Taurus around the same time. My only complaint is the very poor fit and finish. The upholstery on the rear doors is coming off and the glue has flaked off. Well, at the end of the day I'm just one customer. However, I can tell you this, my hard earned dollars are going elsewhere when I replace these vehicles.