Make them Infamous. (Update: Or not. They Fixed the Issues.)


I am really, really pissed off at Capital City Ford in Indianapolis. Last April I had some rather extensive suspension work done on my ’05 Explorer (workhorse car that has generally been great for me). Less than a month later, on the way home from a night out the right rear axle nut comes off (parts they installed). I have the car towed to the shop, take an Uber home, and get a rental. They make the repair under warranty and they reimburse me my out-of-pocket.

So far so good. Things happen even at the best places and they did make it right.

Fast forward to this past Thursday afternoon. I go to get Athena from school. During this trip I get a warning that traction control has shut down and a flashing indicator on the dash (the “4X4 high” light blinking). Not good, but, fingers crossed, I get home.

When I do get home, I find that smoke is pouring out from under the left rear wheel well. Oh, so not good. I get the car up on a jack and remove the tire (lug nuts, even after the time it took me to get the car lifted, were too hot to touch bare handed). There’s grease sprayed around the inside of the rim and when I try to turn the rotor, it won’t move. I knock the brake caliber pack and forth a bit with a mallet to make some slack there in case maybe the brake pads were gripping but still won’t budge. It looks like the wheel bearing has seized.

Double plus not good. (Risk of fire?  Yikes!)

I take a look at parts. Money’s tight (as the fact that I’m having to do a fundraiser for my daughter’s service dog should indicate–If I could do it myself, I would) and this looks like a not-unreasonable DIY job so I look up what a replacement bearing would cost. Not too bad. Amazon can get me a bearing and hub assembly for under $50. But then I ask myself how long the warranty for the earlier work was and…I call the dealership where the work was done (Capital City Ford, in Indianapolis; do not forget that). The repair has a two year warranty. Excellent. I’m well within that.  I just need to get the car down to them. (I was advised later that what they should have done was immediately get a tow for me, and get me into a loaner while the warranty work was done.  But, I am perhaps too easygoing for my own good.)

I call several local tow companies. Cheapest is $125. Ouch. But then I think that I might have emergency roadside assistance via my insurance. I’m not sure but I call to ask. And, yes, as a matter of fact I do. While normally the coverage is only “to nearest qualified repair shop” I decline that and they have the towing company itself contact me to see what the charge would be and how much my coverage will actually cover. The result, completely covered. No out-of-pocket to have the car taken down to the shop.

Again, So far so good.

Tow truck driver tries to back the Explorer out of the driveway so he can load it up onto his truck on the street. Moves about five feet and stops. The wheel simply will not turn. So he backs his truck into my driveway (which blocks most of the street which was why he didn’t want to do that if he could have avoided it). He still can’t get the car to move, not safely, because that wheel is locked up tight. So he uses a gadget he called a “skate”, basically a plastic wedge with a concave upper surface that he shoves under the tire to make it easier for it to slide.

Next morning I call the shop. They hadn’t looked at it yet. I ask about a loaner. They need to talk to their manager. I call again. Same. I call later in the afternoon. Same. I have to go to the store so I use Lyft there and Lyft back I wait until I absolutely have to make a decision between getting a loaner from them or until I have to get a rental (basically, as late as I can and still get to the rental place before it closes). I go ahead and reserve a car online.

Call the dealer service department again. Oh, they won’t get to it until Monday. And they need approval from Ford to get me a rental and that can take…

I. Am. Pissed.

I am out more than $300 out-of-pocket (car rental, deposit on car rental, and the two Lyft rides) on what should be a warranty repair at no cost to me. Their screw-up has cost me that. Now, depending on how long I have to keep the rental, I can get some of that money back…eventually. But I don’t have it now.

It is far, far too late for them to “make it right.” The best they can do is mitigate how badly wrong it is.

Remember, that’s Capital City Ford, Indianapolis, IN. They screw up repairs and don’t make it right.

Make them infamous.

Update, 1/27/20

Well, finally heard back from Capitol City Ford, a dealer for Ford Motor Company. Definitely unhappy. Yes, the repair is warranty. “Doesn’t know what happened, maybe someone didn’t tighten things down properly.” In addition they found a leaking pinion seal with repair on that running about $200 (ish–I didn’t right down the parts and labor numbers and add them up). Estimate done by Wednesday afternoon.

  1. As a result
    1) I am out of pocket $400–car rental, deposit on the rental (which, at least, I should get back after returning it), and Lyft to and from the grocery store on Friday while waiting to hear whether the dealer would provide a loaner or not.
    2) Since I am out of pocket on that, I can’t afford to have them do the pinion seal. (Folk who follow me here know why I’m really strapped for cash at the moment.) Fortunately, that looks like a reasonable DIY project. Even with having to buy the special Torx sockets for the driveshaft and a bit 23 mm socket to get access to the seal it’s a lot cheaper than having them do it.

I have generally had good experiences with Ford and, indeed, the dealership I used to deal with before it closed down (2008-9 recession) was a joy to work with. But I am seriously unhappy with my experience here. But being out $400 now, of which I can only recover $200, plus the time and effort I’ve had to expend because their repair failed? No, not happy is an understatement.

Update 2:

Ford Motor Company said, in the end, it was really outside their bailiwick “While we try to encourage our dealers to provide courtesy loaners or rentals when possible, it is up to the discretion of the dealer”
On the other hand, very soon after that, my posting of the original issue on the dealer’s own FB page got a response that they’re fixing the pinion seal (leaking and not actually related to the warranty issue, just happened to be there too) on their own nickle and we’d go over my out-of-pocket to come to a “mutually acceptable agreement”.
Don’t know what was said where to have this come up–about tht best that can be reasonably expected at this point. I won’t get the gray hairs from worry and stress back but barring a time machine (Okay, okay, I’m working on it, but still, these things take time, which is ironic when talking about a time machine) there’s no way to do that at this point.

Update 1/28/20

I got my car back. Not only did they do the repair gratis under warranty, but they repaired the differential pinion seal and a couple of other minor things while they were there. The service manager had me forward the receipt from Enterprise so I’m hoping for that to be reimbursed.
I said up above that it’s too late to “make it right” and the best they could do was mitigate the level of wrong but the existence of other issues which they did not have to fix under strict letter of the warranty, and their fixing thereof, actually managed to make it right.
On the whole, I’m quite pleased.

5 thoughts on “Make them Infamous. (Update: Or not. They Fixed the Issues.)”

    1. I had excellent experience with my ’91 Ford Explorer. I bought it with ~150K miles on it, and traded it in 9 years later with ~250K miles on it. The few problems I had were 1) had the fuel pump go out 3 times. Wasn’t surprised the original went with ~175K on it, was surprised the new one went out 6 months later, and very surprised that replacement went out a month later. At least the last two didn’t cost me anything but towing. 2) plastic body panels were breaking, which wasn’t all that surprising by the time we traded it in as a 17 year old vehicle.

      The other Fords I’ve had, all used, were of lesser quality. But I was very happy with my Explorer. I’ve been looking for something to replace my ’02 Trailblazer, as it needs more work than I really want to put into it. But am not finding things as well made as they once were. I’m debating about just fixing the Trailblazer.


      1. In his case, it was the 2nd Ford he’d bought new that had EXPENSIVE problems. That it had a problem was not the issue. That the company failed to stand behind its product and refused to honor their warranty? There’s a reason he went to Toyota/Lexus after that. Three Toyota/Lexus vehicles, ONE unplanned trip to the shop and that cost all of $50.

        And my Toyota (20+ years old now) rattles right along….

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good thing they did the pinion seal for you – that’s not exactly a DIY job for the unitiated. Too easy to screw it up, and end up needing to get the whole differential overhauled (and just the ring & pinion gears can be expected to run over $200! Then add in bearings, seals, setup time to get the gear mesh right, …)


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