May 2, 2003
Secret warranties “unfair”: Lemonaid author
Toronto – Consumer advocate and author of the Lemon-Aid Used Car and Minivan Guide 2004, Phil Edmonston, says that many General Motors and Ford models built from 1995 to 2001 have serious engine intake manifold defects which the automakers sometimes cover with secret warranties rather than admitting their mistake and recalling the millions of cars and vans involved.
Edmonston points out that the Internet is full of protest websites set up by angry car owners who’ve had to pay $1,000-$3,000 for repairs that other motorists get for free. Sites like GM V6 Lemons and show all owners should be compensated for what is essentially a factory defect.
“Secret warranties provide for free repairs long after the original warranty has expired. Engine intake manifolds usually fail around the 100,000 km mark and automakers have quietly issued service bulletins to dealers that describe the problem and suggest ways to correct the problem. Auto manufacturers aren’t required to notify owners of the defect.”
Edmonston says the Ford engine problem is caused by inherently defective 4.6L engine intake manifolds. These manifolds are manufactured out of plastic and have an abnormal tendency to crack, leading to overheating and in many cases complete engine failure and/or damage to other parts of the car’s engine.
Ford has offered to replace these defective intake manifolds free or charge for cars purchased by police forces and taxi cab companies. However, says Edmonston, Ford has yet to offer such a “recall” to individual consumers who purchased the same cars.
The following models equipped with Ford’s 4L, V8 engine may have defective engine manifolds:
- Mercury Grand Marquis (1996-2001);
- Ford Mustang (1996-2001);
- Ford Explorer (1996-2001);
- Ford Crown Victoria (1996-2001);
- Lincoln Town Car (1996-2001);
- Mercury Cougar (1996-1997);
- Ford Thunderbird (1996-1997),
- and all Mercury Grand Marquis (1996-2001).
Edmonston also says that intake gasket failures are a chronic problem with General Motors 3.1L, 3.4L, and 3.8L V6 engines produced from roughly 1995 through 2001, as well as the V8 used in SUVs and trucks. GM’s Venture and Montana minivans are particularly prone to having these failures.
Edmonston says a poorly designed plastic intake manifold gasket that is leak-prone allows Dex-Cool (orange) antifreeze to leak into the engine, causing the failure.
Edmonston recommends that owners with defective engine intake manifolds, not covered by the original warranty, should ask their service manager to make a “goodwill” or emissions warranty application to GM or Ford. If no refund is offered, consumers should have the repair done at an independent garage and use that garage’s report as proof in small claims court.