Defective Ford Intake Manifolds — Get Your Money Now!

Ford Motor Company is about to buy me a high quality Canon EF lens, with change to spare.

How does this good fortune come about? I have a ’99 Crown Victoria LX — a safe, roomy and smooth ride for cruising on long road trips and a hardened battle-wagon for storm chasing on the Great Plains. I’ve been really pleased with this car except for two things: the lousy factory paint job common to most Fords, and a rather surprising and expensive replacement of the intake manifold at around 120,000 miles (it’s well past 150,000 now).

The reason the manifold needed to be replaced, according to my mechanic, was that they used crappy plastic in the manifold’s coolant crossover passage, leading to fatigue cracks and coolant leaks. He replaced it, I was irritated at spending several hundred bucks for an out-of-warranty car repair, and that was that. Or so I thought.

Neither he nor I knew then what I know now.

Yesterday I found a news item on Consumer Affairs’ website about a class action lawsuit settlement that forces Ford to reimburse owners of certain vehicles — including mine — for repair costs already incurred. The gory details are at www.FordManifoldSettlement.com but I will condense it to what’s important right here:

If you or anyone you know owns any of these cars, Ford owes about $735 — If the claim is made before March 16 (a little more than a month from now as I write this)!

  1. 1996-2001 Ford Crown Victoria
  2. 1996-2001 Mercury Grand Marquis
  3. 1996-2001 Lincoln Town Car
  4. 1997 (build date after 6/24/97) Mercury Cougar
  5. 1997 (build date after 6/24/97) Ford Thunderbird
  6. 1997 (build date after 6/24/97) Ford Mustang
  7. Some 1998-2001 Ford Mustangs
  8. Some 2002 Ford Explorers

You will be reimbursed the cost of the replacement you’ve already made if you have the receipt, or $735 if you don’t have the receipt. For owners of the above vehicles, the instructions are simple:

  1. Download the settlement agreement at http://www.fordmanifoldsettlement.com/noticeplain.html
  2. Print it.
  3. Sign and date it.
  4. Take it and any manifold replacement receipt to a Ford dealer before March 16th (90 days after the final settlement was made).

I checked Ford’s website, and they’re not exactly forthcoming about this. Indeed, running the VIN number in the “Recalls” section yields nothing! This is because, technically, there haven’t been any recalls on this car. Instead the defective part is being replaced because of a lawsuit, not a recall. Entering “intake manifold” in their search engine won’t pull it up either. Instead the information is buried deep in the catacombs of Ford’s web servers, accessible only if you call up their Q&A and happen to ask exactly the right question. It’s no wonder many folks likely will never know. I have no doubt that’s by deliberate design. Ford certainly isn’t sending letters to these vehicles’ owners to inform them of this.

So…spread the word! I am.

Will I buy another Ford? That depends entirely on the treatment I get in the reimbursement process, including the speed with which I receive that money. I have the signed settlement and repair receipt in the car, ready to take to Reynolds Ford of Norman on Monday. I will report back in the “Comments” section below on how I am treated.

In any event, now I don’t have to wonder how I’m going to pay for a big piece of nice glass for the new Canon still camera for which I’ve been saving.



Comments

24 Responses to “Defective Ford Intake Manifolds — Get Your Money Now!”

  1. Steve Miller on February 13th, 2006 6:57 pm

    I had the exact same experience a couple of years ago with a 2001 T-Bird with 60,000 miles!
    I was running down the expressway, hit a passing gear, and related higher RPM, and the silly thing blew.
    At first I thought the thermostat was stuck closed and the radiator hose busted.
    With a once-over, I realized coolant was leaking from the intake manifold. That was scary since at the time, the intake manifold was running $1,100 for parts & labor.
    Two calls to Ford and three days without my car was all it took. It was fixed – – free!

    The thing that frightens me about this is that car manufacturers, rather than recall a problem like this, will simply cross their fingers and handle issues on a case by case basis. I wonder how many other issues we each have in our cars that we will never know about because they are not safety-related therefore no recall will ever be issued.

  2. tornado on February 15th, 2006 7:50 pm

    Thanks for chiming in, Steve. I figured a few other storm observers might have had this problem also, whether or not it already had manifested (or in this case, manifolded) itself. I know some chasers are driving Explorers of the right model year to be eligible for this money.

    My leak wasn’t as sudden and obvious. Just a little green dribble-stain down the side of the motor and an occasional few drops on the garage floor gave it away.

    As for my experience with Reynolds in Norman, it was quick and painless, though I still have to wait 4-6 weeks for the refund check from Ford. Since I had a receipt for the work, they didn’t even need to inspect. It was in-and-out in less than 5 minutes. They’ve had “quite a few” of these. I know that particular dealership handles a lot of police vehicles, so it’s not hard to believe. I just hope that the word gets around to as many folks as possible with these vehicles before March 16.

  3. Steve Miller - TX on February 16th, 2006 6:46 am

    This was good reading and not at all surprising to a “victim” of Ford Motor Company like myself. I went through an absolute nightmare with them in the early 90’s with a Ford Ranger. After about 700 miles on the odometer, I noticed a pretty noticeable rattling noise coming from underneath the truck towards the engine area. The best I could tell, it was eminating from the transmission housing next to the engine block/oil pan. This noise wouldn’t start up until the engine got fully warmed up. It continued to get worse.

    After 4 trips to the dealership, they never fixed it. They would always say that they had but never would drive it until it warmed and the noise started again. It’s either that or they were screwing me around. So, I started the Lemon Law procedure under Texas law. As such, they get one more chance to correct the problem or they have to replace the vehicle. So, trip #5 to the dealership.

    This time, a “regional customer service specialist” (this is akin to calling a mafia hitman as “the doctor”) took over. I brought the truck in and met with her in person. She played the perfect part of the politician trying to butter me up. It was funny.

    Anyway, when I returned a couple of days later to pick up the truck, she met me again. She told me that they found nothing wrong with the truck and that this noise was common with all Ford Ranger trucks because a new transmission design. Nothing to worry about she said. LOL!!! This noise was so damned loud that it garnered alot of attention to people on the street. She stated that since there wasn’t a problem to be fixed, Ford had done all they could and would do about the matter. I was basically told to take a hike.

    After I recovered from being totally stunned, I hit the roof. I ripped her apart verbally along with the Service Manager standing with her…who looked pretty sheepish about it. I vowed to see them in court and that they would regret this day. I immediately went to see the General Manager of the dealership and he basically parroted the same stance. I promised him too that I was going to make his life a living hell.

    An already long story short….

    1) I filed a claim under the Lemon Law for a mediated hearing.

    2) I then filed a complaint with the Attorney General under the “Deceptive Trade Practices Act” (DTPA) of which they were in clear violation of.

    3) I then filed court documents in state court to sue Ford and the dealership under the DTPA for a good chunk of money including actual damages, replacement cost, and punitive damages.

    4) I contacted the Dallas Morning News and all three local TV stations about my ordeal. One of them, Channel 4, contacted the General Manager.

    The result was that I soon got a call from the GM who played the part of being treated unfairly. I retorted that I was just getting started…and only following through on my promise. LOL!

    The end result? I got a new truck. All previous payments were credited towards it. I got $3000 in free upgrades including a nice security system….it was fully loaded and decked out. I got a free extended warranty. I got free oil changes for as long as I owned the truck.

    It’s a damned shame that Ford treats people like that. I’m certainly not an isolated incident by any means. I’ve read tons of similar horror stories. Your story, Roger, is pretty typical…at least the lawsuit part of things. That’s the ONLY thing that motivated Ford to do what they are legally and ethically obliged to do.

    Check out the fire problems with Ford cars a few years back. The ignition switch would start a serious fire. There was a recall in Canada for years…but not in the US…not until a lawsuit was filed by the family of a woman killed by that. Oh….and let’s not forget the big defective tire issue (with Firestone in cahoots)on the Explorers wither a few years ago. many people were dying from that here in the US….but for years before, the recall had been in effect in Europe.

    I could go on and on, but the pattern is clear with Ford. They are the worst American Car manufacturer in this respect. It’s why I’ll never ever buy another one from them. It’s no wonder that they are struggling right now as a company. They blame foreign competition but ignore the fact that people buy foreign cars as a result of Ford’s attitude towards them and the related bad experiences.

  4. tornado on February 17th, 2006 10:33 pm

    Southern Steve,

    Wow, what a horrid ordeal. I don’t blame you one bit. Those sorry b_stards. It’s a good thing you made ’em squirm.

    If another company made body-on-frame sedans, I would have gotten one from them instead. Alas, when the Meatwagon went to that Great Scrapyard in the Sky back in ’99, the CV and Grand Marquis were the only such sedans or wagons still in production. Chevy had just stopped making the Caprice — the car I really wanted — a couple years before, and I was not interested in any vehicle with a high center of gravity and high wind profile (SUV or van).

    My criteria are: Roomy, big, wide wheelbase, low center of gravity, body-on-frame construction (for optimal side crash safety). I guess that limits my options, but after being T-boned by a 50 mph drunk driver in my first Crown Vic (and all of us walking out afterward), I will not compromise on crash safety. This has been an ideal chase vehicle for me and I hope to make it last ’til it turns 10 (at which point it will be somewhere around 250,000 miles with a matching number of hail dents).

    I also hope that, by the time this one finally does kick the bucket, that
    1. They’re making hybrid versions to save some fuel expense and
    2. Someone else besides Ford gets back into the business of body-on-frame sedans again, so that I have more choices.

  5. Dwayne Williams VA on February 19th, 2006 4:24 pm

    This article is good news to my ears. A couple of years ago, my manifold blew while entering 95N heading to Maryland. I had it towed to the Ford Dealer and they fixed it right away. Something was funny about the repair job as I had previously asked to keep the manifold part out so I could view it upon pick-up. Well, when I got there, no manifold. I refused to pay until I could see what happened with the manifold. The poor guy had to go out in the trash (so he said) and hall it in so I could see it. I couldn’t believe it, a crack in the plastic about 3-4 inches. When I asked about a recall for this part, they said there wasn’t one. They were right. I even called the Ford Gods and they wouldn’t help me. I was really torqued. Nonetheless, I paid my $700 and moved on with my tail between my legs. Get this, I just canned the receipt this past fall. Darn. Thankfully upon my last visit to Ford the service technician still has it in my account. Thankfully, I don’t need a receipt to get credit. Hey, thanks a lot. I thought this issue was buried and dead. Now I’m thinking about what to do with the extra money. Maybe buy a MAF Sensor and get a cool body kit. I’m headed down to Ford early Monday morning.

  6. jd on February 21st, 2006 1:56 pm

    Called Ford about my 97 t-bird and was told $735.00 reimbursment with no receipt IF you purchased the vehicle within 7 years. Who could have bought a new 97 within the past 7 years? Looks like Ford has that one figured out. Oh yeah, and they need the car for half a day so the wrench can get a code off the intake. What a bunch of b.s.

  7. tornado on February 27th, 2006 10:00 pm

    Dwayne: That made my day…glad to have helped you retrieve $700!

  8. Tony Praest on March 1st, 2006 1:13 am

    [EDITOR’S NOTE] Comment not edited for spelling, grammar, etc.

    ———————————

    I am glad to here some got there money back. I am still in the process of trying get a few bucks back. I didn’t know of the defective manifold until mine cracked and the parts guy at my local ford dealer told me about it. While my 96 town car was out of commission I bought a 97 town car because I really liked my 96 as I liked my first town car a 91 model which had 250000 miles on when I traded for the 96. Anyway I recieved the lawsuit letter after I got my 96 fixed. In the meantime my 97 was acting up. I took it to a local mechanic and guess what another craked plastic intake manifold. Now I get to buy another maniflod and have it replaced also. I saved a few bucks by having a local mechanic replace both manifolds, but still useing oem ford updated manifolds on both town cars. After waiting for the settlement to become final and getting all my paperwork in order it turns out my cars are too old and past the warrenty period. I could have saved alot of time and money if I didn’t know of the lawsuit, because I would of used aftermarket parts that are 1/3 of the price of ford parts and the time and gas of chasing after reciepts and useless trips to the ford dealerships that got me nowhere. I am a loyal (not diehard) ford owner, because my family has owned fords for three generations. I currently have four fords liscensed and on the road. If ford will not reimburse all or some of the money I will consider other brands. If they wonder why they are loosing market share this could be a good example. If they can take thousands of a new vehicle they sureley can reimburse my 1250 for both town cars.

  9. nate stanley on March 3rd, 2006 12:23 pm

    I have a similar situation with my Vic- I went to Tiffany Ford in Hollister, CA and the service mgr told me that they would only reimburse me for the cost of the manifold if I had done the work myself.

    Where can I show him in print that Ford will pay the full 735 bucks?

  10. Jim on March 3rd, 2006 8:34 pm

    The deadline to apply is March 16.

    If you don’t have a receipt and your car is more than 7 yrs old, you’re out of luck, as Dwayne noted above.

    But the program allows you to submit a photocopy of the receipt, which you might be able to get from the files of the facility that did the repair.

    More details are on my free-of-any-charge website,
    flamingfords.info

    Jim

  11. tornado on March 3rd, 2006 11:23 pm

    Nate:

    Tiffany Ford in Hollister CA is absolutely full of bullsh_t. They are using classic stall tactics to hold you off and keep you from claiming your money by March 16. Don’t let them get away with it!

    Here’s how. Print out the entirety of the lawsuit settlement I linked to above, and take it to them. If they still try to come up with excuses not to process your claim immediately, then please

    1. Take the documentation to a different Ford dealership and file your claim using that same settlement printout;
    2. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in or nearest Hollister about the unscrupulous stall tactics used by Tiffany (BBB filing is not hard to do, believe me); and
    3. Hand deliver a copy of the complaint letter to the head of the repair department at that dealership after sending it to the BBB.

    There’s no excuse for what Tiffany Ford is doing. You are entitled to your money, no matter who did the work and no matter whether you have a receipt for it…as long as the manifold has been replaced already. Act quickly! You’ve got 13 days to claim your refund.

    Jim: Thanks for the additional info!

  12. Henry on March 6th, 2006 11:14 pm

    So, since my 1997 TBird is more than 7 years old, I’m completely SOL to get the manifold replaced? Mine just went into the shop today. $900 bill to replace the cracked manifold on my 1997 TBird with 70,000 miles.

  13. Julia Paske on March 9th, 2006 3:52 pm

    I filed my manifold settlement claim on Jan. 6, 2006 with my local dealership, and as of March 1, 2006, they have still not figured out how to handle it. I took them copies of the information from the web, directed them to the dealer website, and have called the Ford customer assitance line 4 different times to complain. Each time, they put me on hold, talk to the dealership while I am on hold, and supposedly the claim will be filed. They won’t let me past the customer complaint line to speak to their supervisor and each time can only direct me back to the dealership. I am so frustrated. The dealership doesn’t return calls, (they took my number twice this week with no call back) When I finally got them to talk to me today, they said the warranty claim had been returned on March 1, 2006 because they filed it incorrectly and they just didn’t know what else to do. Again, I get Ford Customer Assistance to explain the process and I have to hope they get it right. I have no confidence that it is filed correctly now. How long is it taking to get the refund for those of you who have gotten your claim filed?

  14. RICHARD BARTLETT on March 10th, 2006 9:44 am

    I have processed the request for re-imbursement with Star Lincoln Mercury in Glendale CA. Today I received a check for $611.00, not $735.00 as stipulated in the settlement. I am not cashing it.
    I plan to initiate a collection action against the dealer for the full amount after I get more details as to why the full $735.00 was not paid. I do believe this settlement has the same significance as a judgement so collection should be fairly easy (attach their bank account).
    If anyone has had a similar experience let us hear about it.

  15. michael mason on March 12th, 2006 10:17 am

    I went to a Ford Dealer about a month ago and filed for the manifold settlement. I have not received the check yet. The Dealer said it would take about 10 days to 2 weeks. It has been a month since this was filed. Has anyone received their check yet?

    Just wondering;
    Mike M.

  16. tornado on March 14th, 2006 12:48 am

    Mike M and Julia: I received my check from the dealership itself (Reynolds Ford in Norman) in less than 10 days. They treated me very well in all this.

    Julia: Your local dealer is using BS stall tactics on you! Please see my comment above regarding the BBB. Also, please hurry to a different dealership and try to file there before COB Thursday (the deadline).

    The depths to which some of these places will sink to avoid serving the customer is astounding and pathetic. Please tell us what dealership this is, on this forum, so their unscrupulous treachery can be exposed publicly.

    BTW, everyone: If you name a dealership that’s treating you badly in this matter, I will aggressively defend your right to do so in this forum. Such writing is absolutely, positively an expression of free speech and will stand up in any constitutional court, hands down, no question.

    And for any dealerships who don’t like being mentioned here and want their name removed, I am preemptively calling your bluff right now: Make me, if you dare.

  17. Susie on March 15th, 2006 8:41 am

    This is not true on the Ford Cougar Manifold intake. I sent a letter to ford as I had to have my manifold intake replace and because my VIN# was not involved they will NOT reimburse me for the repairs I had to have. I WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER FORD AUTOMOBILE AS THEY SUCK!!! THEY DO NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR PRODUCTS!!!!

  18. Ira Soblick on March 17th, 2006 2:06 pm

    In August 2002, the intake manifold on my Grand
    Marquis split, coolant spilled over the engine, over heated same, and ruined the engine. Instead (of) junking the car, I opted to replace the engine with a rebuilt engine and a new intake manifold, at a cost of approximately three thousand dollars.

    In a call to Ford at the time, I was advised that they had no problem with the intake manifold, but would log in my complaint.

    In the Chamberlan class action suit, recently approved, Ford paid me $735.00 out a claim for $3055.00, but never explained why the balance had not been paid. This despite the settlement order providing for “covered costs include the cost to replace the intake manifold, as well as associated damage to the remainder of the vehicle that was attributable to a failure of the intake manifold and could not have been avoided by reasonable care of the Settlement Class Member.”

    My claim is a reasonable one, but there has not been a reply from dealer, Country Lincoln Mercury Sales Inc, Huntington, New York, Bill Ford, CEO of Ford Motor Company (letter written to him on February 8, 2006), and even attorneys handling class action suit, Levy, Ram & Olson LLP, San Francisco, California.

    I would like to hear from class members having similar problems.
    Ira S.

  19. Ira Soblick on March 19th, 2006 2:42 pm

    These comments are in addition to those I posted
    on March 17, 2006. and should be of interest to
    Ford Intake Manifold Settlement Class Members:

    I received an offer from Ford Motor Company to
    participate in a SWEEPSTAKES, which in our end
    of the woods we call “CHUTZPAH” or “BIG BALLS”

    It states: Share your opinions with Ford Motor
    Company and we’ll enter you in our Sweepstakes,
    for a chance to with $1,000.00.

    By completing a brief survey about your experience you will help us to improve our customer-support and customer-handling processes. In addition, you will be entered in
    our Customer Appreciation Sweepstakes drawing,
    with cash prizes of $1000.00, $750.00 and $500.00.

    The reply to the survey questions would use these
    rating scales:
    Very Dissatisfied – Completely Satisfied
    Unacceptable – Outstanding

    Needless to say, my experience and comments could fill a book, as could many of the other Settlement Class Members.

    I would like to see further comments from others on this “outstanding offer”.

    Ira S.

  20. Nathan Higdon on March 25th, 2006 1:56 pm

    GREAT! I just now find this information after the deadline. We have a 1996 Lincoln Town Car livery Limousine, which had a cracked manifold. We replaced several alternators prior to the manifold finally cracking enough to release all the coolant and seize the motor. We had to replace the motor in the vehicle in October 2004 at the cost of around $4000.00, and lost revenue. Are we out of luck with trying to get any reimbursement? Any comments to my email would be appreciated at nathan.higdon@lespacemotorcoach.com

  21. William A. Miller on March 28th, 2006 4:33 am

    March 15th 2006

    Just got home from towing my 1996 Crown Victoria with 83,000 miles. Of course the manifold was bad and cost me $2525.00 because the car was driven 3 miles to get off the highway with the temp gauge well below the red line but pretty close !! Well just that little bit of driving warped the heads and blew the head gasket.

    I called Ford 3 times since the 15th of March and they basically told me to get bent because my 1996 Crown Vic is out of warranty.

    My next step is to fill out a complaint form with the attorney general and I also called a attorney. Maybe we can all file a class action lawsuit again. Stay tuned and keep watching this post for updates!!

    Sincerely Upset!!

    bmiller1230@yahoo.com

  22. lawnpro on March 30th, 2006 6:33 pm

    My 97 GT had the manifold replaced on 12/31/99 and I guess it got another plastic one because it just started leaking coolant through a hairline crack. My car doesn’t even have 60,000 miles yet. I guess I am screwed because I just found out about the suit two weeks late. I wonder if there is an epoxy or something to seal it up until I can afford the 900 dollars to replace it again.

    [Editor’s note: Edited for a few punctuation, capitalization and spelling errors.]

  23. Paul LeTang on April 2nd, 2006 7:35 pm

    How come my 96 Thunderbird is not included?

    It failed when it was only 3 years old.

  24. Rich Dagesse on April 4th, 2006 12:55 am

    I have a 1997 Crown Vic and the maniford cracked on March 28,2006 with 48,000 miles on it. I called Ford twice and was told that it was more then 7 years old and out of warranty. On the second call I talked to a supervisor and basically was told that Ford did not care about the problem and it was not a recall because it was not a safety issue. It will cost about $950 to fix it. I also received a survey card on April 3,2006. This is my first Ford and I would not buy a Ford again.

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