Ford Dealers Waiting On Parts for Leaky 1.5-liter
As vehicle production rates begin tipping back towards normalcy, the pandemic continues to rattle supply chains. The wheels of industry may be in motion, but they’re not yet in sync — making a comeback difficult for some players.
Ford dealers report a shortage of replacement parts needed for repairs, with some components taking over to a month to arrive at service centers. Against this backdrop, the automaker issued a technical service bulletin telling dealers to check for coolant leaks in the cylinder head of the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engines found in the Escape (MY 2017-19) and Fusion (2014-19). The repair notice dropped in April, though Ford owners have complained about fluid leaks for a couple of years after a shocking number of owners noticed their engines were overheating — only to find that one of the cylinders was hoovering coolant.
The old 1.6-liter engine was also recalled for vaguely similar issues, making us think there might be something in the works for its little brother once Ford realizes there’s no escape. But it already seems to have it handled; at least, that’s what was claimed by the manufacturer.
“There were disruptions in parts supply in early May due to supplier closures caused by COVID-19,” Ford stated. “Upon reopening, parts production and delivery was expedited, resolving shortages by late June. Ford is not aware of any significant parts delays currently impacting dealer ability to repair these engines.”
Automotive News tells it differently, claiming several dealers are still waiting around for components. We’ve heard stories about coolant-impacted customers occasionally getting the runaround before having to settle for a long-term rental, too. However, it seems most of the supportive anecdotes we’ve heard were settled by the start of this month, or are now part of a class-action lawsuit that’s being cooked up by Newsom Law PLC (among others).
One service manager, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, called the situation a “nightmare” and said the store has a half-dozen Escapes sitting in the shop awaiting repairs. A second dealership official said enough customers had come in with the problem that the person raised it on a 20-group virtual meeting and heard similar responses from peers. An employee at a third dealership said the store cut a five-figure check in June to a rental company so that affected customers could have temporary transportation while waiting for a fix.
Tim Hovik, a member of the Ford council and owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., told Automotive News that his store has experienced some parts delays, although he said they weren’t limited to any particular models.
“There’s a supply chain that’s trying to get back on line in terms of parts deliveries and how fast we can fill our orders,” Hovik said. “I think sometimes we forget how important some of our vendors are. It seems like we’ve had some issues as we’ve come out of this getting those ancillary businesses back rolling.”
Based on how these things typically play out, we imagine Ford was probably weighing its options before the lockdown and got caught with its pants down. Cars continued to suffer while the lockdowns were in affect, worsening the issue from both ends. Fortunately, the problem is being dealt with internally, and has since been exposed to daylight — which usually gives all parties a necessary kick in the pants to expedite a solution.
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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