By on July 19, 2016

Deer Crossing Dixboro Road, Superior Township, Michigan, Image: By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Michael writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Back in December, I purchased a new 2016 Ford Mustang 2.3-liter Ecoboost. Awesome car, my first Ecoboost and my first “sports” car. Anyway, the vehicle only has 2,200 miles and I’m still very much breaking it in.

Much to my dismay, last week while driving home through a wooded stretch, I struck a deer in the middle of the road. The deer was already dead, laying across multiple lanes with no way for me to avoid.

After hitting the deer, I continued on while listening for any unusual noises or driving characteristics that may indicate damage. I made it the two miles home without incident, except the Mustang wouldn’t shift into Park. I was able to shut off and secure the vehicle, but then it wouldn’t restart because the computer did not recognize the transmission as being in Park. Shifting (with difficulty) to neutral allowed the vehicle to start, but with the CEL illuminated.

(Amazingly, the car was cosmetically fine. Not a scratch, other than the undercarriage. The deer passed completely under the car)

Fast forward to today, I picked up the vehicle from a repair shop after my insurance company foot the bill (minus deductible) for everything requiring attention — except the repair sheet only mentions a new front engine cover for the undercarriage and a four-wheel alignment.

In driving the vehicle home and it seems fine.

  1. Is this a realistic repair estimate or could there be things missed? I don’t want to deal with transmission or other issues down the road.
  2. Could Ford attempt to void my warranty if I bring the car into the dealer and they notice the repair? The repair was made at my insurance company’s own facility, but with an OEM part as far as I know.
  3. How much of a resale value hit am I looking at when this hits Carfax?

This is a nearly new car that I plan on keeping a very long time. It is in my best interest that I maintain it in top condition. Thanks for your help!

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for the detailed description! You’ll get more from me us in determining the potentially hidden costs of hitting a dear.

  1. This answer is purely theory, unless you have photos from the insurance adjuster. We gotta know why you had to “shift with difficulty” into neutral and how that issue was fixed. Hopefully it was just a bit of deer carcass that was removed with no damage to the linkage and transmission position sensor.
  2. If this shifter issue was fixed poorly and/or not with all the necessary parts, yes, you could pay again for that repair. Talk to your insurance agent about that. Odds are FoMoCo wouldn’t void the entire warranty, but then again, do remember the “value” us autojournos give to the motoring public.
  3. Since I’m answering months after your query, pull a CarFax now and dispute the hell out of a potentially overzealous damage assessment. You’ll need all the paperwork from the insurance company/claim and maybe the advice of a seasoned claims adjuster or lawyer. Good luck with that.

[Photo: IIHS]

Send your queries to [email protected]. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry … but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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73 Comments on “Piston Slap: Dear Ecoboost Mustang!...”


  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Deer NAmE /dɪr/; noun 1. A large rat with antlers found at inopportune times on roadways in North America.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      2. Tasty morsels that I love to fill the freezer with.

      Had a doe and 2 fawn pass right through our back yard Saturday evening. They stopped for a quick drink in the pond before continuing on through.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Doh!

  • avatar
    maserchist

    At least, it wasn’t a real 4 legged mustang. THAT would have hurt !

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    1. This can be addressed by my response below.

    2. I don’t believe Ford can void the warranty because you had the repairs done at a professional facility (ASE certified?) in good faith. You didn’t take it to your uncle or try to fix it yourself. As long as you have paperwork showing the repairs made and the contact of the shop, they have no grounds to void anything.
    If they missed anything, by going to the insurance company facility, you have a lifetime guarantee on the repairs made. If you need to go back for anything, your insurance company will deal with getting it fixed. You do not have to take it back to the same place multiple times if you don’t have faith they can fix it. After two attempts you can take it to the dealer. Or, if the insurance place says they can’t fix that sort of thing (if it’s just a body shop) you can take it anywhere you want.
    The tricky part would be trying to convince your insurer that the transmission damage was caused by the deer. Hopefully you provided that information in your statement.

    3. I got in a wreck in my Subaru back in November. I had been considering selling it and even posted it on the LGT forum. After the crash I’ve basically given up on that and plan to use it until it completely falls apart. I went from hoping to get $18k for it last year to reasonably hoping to get $11K now with about 1,500 more miles on it in that time.
    The important thing is to keep the documentation of the repairs and if you took any photos when it was damaged that would help.

    • 0 avatar
      Bowler300

      Buying a car with *recent* damage repair concerns me. If the repair was 20-30000 miles ago then pfft, who cares.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        This is exactly how I feel.
        Just got your car back from the body shop and you’re selling? No thanks.

        Car was damaged 7 years ago and you’ve had it since? Clearly it’s been perfectly fine.

        That said, I’m still not paying the same price as a car with no damage history.

        I also don’t want to buy any cars from the NYC area or northern New Jersey. I don’t care what their history shows.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    where does this notion come from that warranties are being “voided” left and right?

    yes, the manufacturer may deny a particular warranty CLAIM if the failed part was damaged in a collision. But they’re not going to unilaterally void the warranties on the entire car.

  • avatar
    monomille

    Funny timing. Yesterday there were three deer in my suburban back yard. Since they eat all of my flowers in the bud stage and cost me a lot for fencing my garden,I regard them as long legged rats. I bought a paintball “marker” sometime back so that I could express my displeasure. Yesterday was the first chance to use it. The young ones were chasing each other in a big circle and I was standing on my deck shooting at them as fast as I could reload. It was great fun but somewhat surreal since it was exactly like a carnival shooting arcade. I’m waiting to hear of the local sighting of rare red spotted deer

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I’m in favor of a 365-day-long hunting season on the damned things. If there’s a more stupid creature in all of nature, I’ve yet to find it. I deeply resent not being able to ride my motorcycle at night because of the infestation of these creatures.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “I’m in favor of a 365-day-long hunting season on the damned things.”

        Double win. That would remove a lot of drunk-tard hunters, too. But it might cut down on casual traipsing through the woods for the rest of us.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        So wipe out the entire deer species so you have the ability to ride your motorcycle at night without fear. While we’re at it, might as well wipe out the moose, elk, and bear population too. You think deer are a nuisance, those pesky creatures will really fluff your hair do. Might as well start killing off the human race too, as your much more likely to be killed by a fellow motorist than Bambi, who unlike humans are completely innocent

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Well, I’d be all for just hunting other hunters and leaving the sweet, innocent animals be.

          Tad more sporting, wot?

          Plus evidence is mounting for a robust history of humans eating The Other Pork.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Mason,

          Did you miss the word “infestation”? I actually really like deer. But their out-of-control population has had a devastating effect on native flora and caused thousands of accidents (some fatal). we are lucky that, in the northeast, they have enough to eat but in bad years, tens of thousands of deer starve to death because they have been allowed to breed without control. That’s cruel.

          It’s all about balance. The fact that we have altered the natural landscape makes it our responsibility to manage natural resources to prevent runaway populations of what are, normally, prey animals. We have, in essence, turned the automobile into the number one predator of deer. I would rather see deer hunted than hit them with my car. I’ve had three deer “hits” in the last 15 years. That’s three too many.

          My 365-day comment was made, partly, tongue-in-cheek, but I was serious that we need to drastically cull the population to protect the ecosystem.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            It sounds like your Fish and Game and DNR are failing at their responsibilities. Hunting seasons are exactly that, a regulation of the population. For example, antlerless permits used to be available in all 88 counties in my state. Last season that number was reduced to 10. Muzzle loading season was only 4 days in January. October’s week was “suspended”. All based on estimates of population.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @mason, +1000

            Fish and Game needs to do a better job.

            Here in NM we have done well regulating populations. Elk permits vary widely from year to year based on population. Rarely even cougar hunts will be allowed if the population gets out of control.

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            I’m not sure there’s much that the fish and game commission can do. The real problem is that so many areas are off-limits to hunting and there is a huge outcry whenever higher limits are proposed.

            A friend of mine used to rent a house in a development in the Poconos during hunting season. He and his buddies would walk out the door in the morning to see large numbers of deer right outside who had, apparently, figured out that it was a safe zone. Apparently deer are really smart in some ways but really dumb when it comes to cars.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            Now I’m seeing where the frustrations are, PA has one of the highest deer populations in the country. I’ve watched deer in their natural habitat quite a bit, instinctually they are very smart animals. Vehicles are as foreign to them as aliens are to us so to judge them based on observations from a vehicle isnt an accurate observation. They’re just totally freaked out at the sight and sound of your vehicle, and in many cases have only a second or two to act.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The real problem is that so many areas are off-limits to hunting and there is a huge outcry whenever higher limits are proposed.”

            yep, like you said we’ve altered the natural landscape. Deer thrive along the fringes of human populations, which is why the most hazardous interactions between deer & car/deer & bike are increasingly in suburban areas. Which- for obvious reasons- don’t allow hunting.

            hell, I’ve seen road-killed deer on I-94 in Detroit, and I’ve been sent photos of some milling around backyards in Grosse Pointe. I nearly clipped one on Franklin Road near M-10 (a sizable freeway.)

            Deer are everywhere. You tend not to see them because they move around mostly around dawn and dusk. If you see them during the day, they’re usually running from cover to cover.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          We eradicated wolves.

          That’s why there are too many deer.

          Deer *should not be* so abundant, ecologically speaking.

          Since nobody but hippies wants wolves back, someone’s gotta kill those deer.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “I’m in favor of a 365-day-long hunting season on the damned things”

        Yes. Wipe them out.

    • 0 avatar
      bobdod04

      You sir, are terrible human being. That is cruel and completely unjustified. How would you like to be shot with a paintball gun when you are just trying to feed yourself? You disgust me.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    A bunch of years back, I crested a hill and there was a freshly-killed doe lying in the middle of my path. With no time to react, I ran over it. The car (a Sable Wagon) wasn’t damaged. Little bits of deer secreted themselves in the nooks and crannies of the undercarriage. No amount of car washes could get rid of the smell. A few weeks later, we parked in a Wal-Mart next to a VW van complete with resident hippies who complained about the smell. That’s when we decided to donate the car and move on.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    One more deer story. In many states, residents are allowed to collect road kill. A friend of mine came across a fawn which he promptly picked up.

    He dropped by our house bearing “fawn kabobs”. Talk about having mixed emotions! They were very tasty but came with the nagging thought that we were eating Bambi.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Automatic transmissions have what is called a neutral start switch. The purpose of this switch is to prevent the engine from cranking over unless the drivetrain is disengaged from the engine. If it is shifting and starting OK now, it is very likely OK. Most likely, something was jammed in the linkage (deer parts?) and the shop removed the obstruction.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Don’t forget in insurance terminology, the deer hit you. To say you hit a deer implies some portion of neglect on your part :-)

    So I would say you got off lucky. When we hit a deer (I mean, the deer hit us) it spun down the side of our car and into the road where the car behind us ran completely over it. Their car (Ford Focus) went airborne and took some serious underbody damage (maybe because of the antlers).

    The first local that stopped to help after asking if everybody was alright asked where the deer was. After inspection he said there was nothing worth salvaging.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Naw, doesn’t matter. The deer can’t be at fault.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I’m not sure he can claim that the deer hit him when it was stationary (already dead in the road). :P

      I’ve both hit deer and been hit by a deer. Getting hit by a deer was much less damaging as it just ran into the quarterpanel of my car. No scratches, no dents.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        It doesn’t matter. When I was doing claims adjusting work in college, I’d write up the claim the same way. The detail would obviously be different, but “fault” is assigned to the insured because there is no other driver. It may vary by insurance company.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        “I’m not sure he can claim that the deer hit him when it was stationary”

        That depends on your frame of reference. Sure, if the frame of reference is the Earth then the deer was standing still and a moving car struck it. However, you could also consider the car to be the frame of reference. In which case, the car is stationary and the Earth is moving under the car at some 50mph or so, and likewise the deer is moving at the car at about 50mph.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Semenak

        I had one do the same on my 12 year old Ford tempo v-6. No outward damage but, the passenger front door would not open more than a crack until the body was straightened.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I live on the Chicago north shore and surprisingly see healthy amounts of deer, coyote, and skunk even though I am right next to the lake and surrounded by small towns and houses. Thankfully none have been hit by me so far, but I see the dead carnage on the side of the road often.

    Glad you’re enjoying the Mustang…hope it’s OK.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Michael ….Being a Canadian , i don’t completely understand the U.S insurance/car fax system. I do understand the hazard that large animals present. It looks like you ,and the Mustang , came out of it relatively unscathed. You did get it fixed at a legitimate shop. As others have mentioned , keep you rpaper work , and enjoy your car.

    I too, own a 2015 Mustang Eco Boost…i love everything about the car. I’m not judging you Michael, but i too plan to keep the Mustang for a very long time. My policy, for what its worth. Nobody, but a Ford dealer, and i mean nobody, not a fast lube, or a good independent , will lay a wrench on my Mustang.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    If you had the vehicle repaired at one of your insurer’s facilities—or what it considers a “partner” or “in-network” facility—that insurer will usually warranty the work for a limited amount of time if something goes wrong or isn’t rectified in the repair. I’d have made the repair facility point out everything that was damaged in the first place, but you can still pursue this, probably just by re-opening the claim.

    By the way, are you sure you don’t have any intercooler damage?

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Good question.
      I assume if it’s punctured you get quite a noise in boost mode?

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        If the intercooler is puncturered you will notice the noise is different under boost. You will also notice that it doesn’t make the 18-20 psi it should be making. If it’s not punctured but dented so severely that it impedes flow you may not notice anything except a loss of power. You may also observe higher than normal intake air temperatures.

        However, assuming you are the gentleman who wrote in, the most certain method is to just jack up the front end, get under the car, and check it out yourself. You may have to remove an under engine cover; I am not sure. Are the fins bent? The fins should have a regular pattern to them, is there a disruption in the pattern? Is there an obvious dent? Are the hose clamps OK? Are the hoses OK? Are the mounting brackets obviously bent? Is there deer bits stuck to it?

  • avatar
    mikey

    Just another big critter story. My Brother in law, was driving a fully loaded car carrier, through Northern Ontario. He hits a full grown Bull Moose, he said “it shook the whole truck” . The Moose didn’t make it, neither did the Truck. The truck grill , and the moose rack went through the rad..

    The Provincially Police tell my Brother In Law “the moose belongs to the truck owner, your boss” . “Can you call him and ask him to release the dead Moose “? By this time its 4:00 AM. His boss is 400 miles south, and i really don’t think he wanted a 1500 lbs of dead Moose.

    The older cop, called up a couple of local boys. They had that Moose in the back of a pick up truck in about 15 mins. Moving in a Heavy Tow/ recovery truck, took about 4 hours. The Tow, and repair bill beat up about 10 K Canadian $

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I was reading through my owner’s manual the other day, I recall there being some release switch for the automatic transmission shifter. I don’t remember all the details because I haven’t messed with it, but you have to pry up the chrome trim surrounding the shifter, and unscrew part of the assembly to get to the mechanism. You basically then just hit some release that will allow the shifter to move.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      That’s only true is there isn’t a physical impedance somewhere in the linkage preventing the shifter from moving which sounds like may have been the case here.

      That button just lets you shift out of park when it would otherwise be locked in.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That is for the brake interlock system and has nothing to do with being able to put the car in park or shift it once it is out of park.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    As others have mentioned the reason you couldn’t shift into park was probably due to a piece of deer being in the way of the shift lever and cable. So it is possible that removing that was all that was needed. However it is possible that the lever, cable, cable bracket or the sensor were bent, cracked or otherwise compromised by that impact and the subsequent attempts to get it into park.

    So take it into the dealer for a oil change and ask them to carefully inspect the undercarriage for damage due to the deer hit. If they find something call your insurance company and have the pay to have it fixed.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Was this driver slipsliding and fishtailing out of control across 4 lanes of traffic after leaving a Cars n’ Coffee like most Mustang drivers?

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Superdess … ” like most Mustang drivers” ??? Michael has a Eco Boost Mustang, and sounds like a fairly responsible dude. I’m 62 years old and my daily driver , only car is an Eco Boost Mustang. I don’t drive like that. What , pray tell , sort of “sterio type ” vehicle do you drive ?

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Here you go buddy, 25 minutes of Mustang Madness for your viewing pleasure. Like most stereotypes, they’re harsh, but well deserved.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1lgJ7G2KaY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L4EnFTN1lo

  • avatar
    mikey

    In keeping with TTAC’s “new ” anti trolling /anti flaming , guidelines , I will keep any further comments , re stereotyping , vehicle drivers / demographics , to myself,

  • avatar
    VoGo

    This sounds like a good opportunity for me to voice my support for cougars. By repopulating cougars in the Eastern half of the US, we would reduce the deer population and save human lives lost from car accidents.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      Do these cougars go to the gym? I only like the cougars that go to the gym. I believe these subspecies are called MILFs. Oh dear!!!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        VoGo, I doubt you would enjoy carrying a handgun with you just to go on a hike due to the repopulating of the cougar (not the kind who buy their claws in a salon.) Anyone with any brains here in NM doesn’t venture into the wilderness without firepower for fear of the cougar.

  • avatar
    mdkhoutx

    OP here.

    Thank you all for the replies!

    Three months later, and about 1600 miles, no additional issues with the vehicle.

    When the incident occurred, the vehicle certainly was covered with lots of blood, deer guts and fur. And that was just around the exterior, I can only imagine what the undercarriage looked like. The piece of deer gut in the linkage is a very likely theory.

    According to my insurance company, there is a lifetime (at least as long as I own the car) guarantee on the work they did. So if anything else related ever occurs, believe me I’ll be going back after them.

    Recently had the car in for it’s first oil change (at 3500 miles) at the dealer. While I didn’t specifically ask them to look for damage or issues, they didn’t come back with anything either. All normal. As a side note, I switched the car over to synthetic, due to sludging issues I’ve heard of with the 2.3 Ecoboost.

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