Friday, April 06, 2007

Found On Road Dead...Or In This Case, Running

Unless Ford becomes the first manufacturer of the flying car, or the intelligently self-driving car, or some other kind of really awesome shit, I'll not be giving them my ducats any time soon. My focus has had a long history of problems, including numerous recalls, my favorite being one where the "rear tire assembly may spontaneously detach from vehicle during high speeds." For the 3rd time in just as many years, the ignition lock mechanism in my Ford focus has jammed. This, it turns out, is actually a very large scale and well-known problem; the ignition lock manufactured by Ford for the focus models is poorly crafted and breaks long before it should. It's not a cheap repair either, costing at around $500 for parts and labor, labor, in this case, involving taking apart the entire steering column and basically knocking out the broken part.

In spite of the high cost to customers, and the frequency of the problem, and despite Ford actually acknowledging that it's a problem, Ford is not issuing a recall on the grounds that it's not a safety issue, to which I respond with a hearty "bullshit." Not only can one make the argument that being unable to turn on the car in any number of situations can be considered a safety issue, more importantly to me is the seriousness of the defect. This isn't like my power lock system which broke years ago rendering every lock button and my keyless entry system useless, nor is it like my CD unit that malfunctioned long before it should have. See, those things can be considered luxury items: things that, as nice as they are and as used to them as I've become, do not stop me from using the primary function of my car, which is getting from A to B.

For any device that employs an on/off state, if the mechanism for moving between those states is not working, then the device is completely and utterly useless. This is true for everything from cars to blenders; how ridiculous would it sound if Kitchenaid refused to address
a problem with one of their blenders constantly breaking and not turning on claiming that it's "not a safety issue?" To me it's simple: if the ignition lock is poorly made and constantly breaking, then I can't turn my car on; if I can't turn my car on then it's completely worthless to me as a car. Ford, you greedy bastards, address this problem and attempt to make good with your customers.

Of course, knowing that they probably won't, I'm eager to join a class action lawsuit that I found.

One thing I should mention about my car troubles, and I can admit that this is pretty funny: the first two times the part broke I wasn't able to turn the key and start my car. This time however, the lock jammed when my key was already in the on position, and as a result I couldn't turn my car off. I had to pull up the hood and disconnect the engine from the spark plugs one cylinder at a time until it died, and let me say that high voltage jolts from the spark plugs aren't fun, even when you're wearing gloves.


Blogger Zeroes said...

Man, you seriously need to start grinding rep and gold for your epic mount. The 60% speed increase on the Ford just sin't cutting it anymore.

11:44 PM  
Blogger t [] p said...

I haven't read your entries yet, but I just wanted to start our comment war. Blogfriends!

11:48 PM  
Blogger Mike Airhart said...

You seem to have misunderstood the American auto market, which is based upon membership fees and rental-parts subscriptions.

You see, when you paid the dealer $15,000 to $25,000, you weren't buying a car. You were buying membership in a renters' club.

You still pay an annual rental cost for each auto component -- $500 for the ignition lock, $750 for the optional power-lock-and-CD package.

Membership rates is tiered to the maintenance service level. You see, you bought the Classic level of membership, in which tire assemblies are not guaranteed and in which the penalty for nondealer maintenance is electrocution by spark plug. Did the member services rep (oops, I mean, dealer) tell you that the Classic level of membership also does not guarantee certain functions of the steering wheel or brakes? I have heard of instances in which dealers neglect to mention that.

Members who want the car's tires to remain attached to the car, or who want a five-year rental of the ignition lock system, pay the Gold membership fee of $30,000. For a seven-year rental of the power lock and CD package, you'll want to upgrade to Platinum for $49,000.

I understand from hearsay that some foreign carmakers offer a different plan, a no-membership arrangement in which the car's parts are bought as a complete package rather than rented, and then guaranteed for some years. That sounds very strange to me, but I may check it out.

7:33 AM  

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