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Old 09-21-2007, 02:41 PM   #1
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Fuel Filler body dent on new fords

I've kept a lid on it because I want SMB to really take care of the issue, but I should mention now that their initial commitment and plans seem to have changed. It involves a large dent on the body panel where the fuel filler cap goes. This is a factory defect, and is a dent about 1.5 feet in diameter.

Apparently the very large sheet metal piece is placed on the frame and the welds 'pull' the sheet metal in to the frame. In some cases, SMB has seen the sheet metal deform along the pillars near the window areas, but they say they have never seen it at the frame point where the fuel filler is.

You can sort of see it here in these pictures:



I'll get some better pics uploaded after lunch...

No one at SMB noticed it until I pointed it out at my delivery. After pointing it out, Alan Feld and I walked the assembly line and found a handful of other vans with similar issues.

It was very subtle, however, and even seemed to flow with the body lines, but comparison to the other side and other vans reveals that it should not be there.

SMB agreed to have the dent pulled on my 1 week return visit, but they just made the problem worse with the dent puller rig, adding smaller dents. At this point everyone standing around the van agreed that the van would have to be emptied of it's customization, and the panel would need to be addressed from the inside. A proposition no one looking at the van wanted to even entertain.

Since the deformation was barely noticeable until pointed out, and since I was planning on putting a wrap on the vehicle which would further mask this imperfection, I was told to take the vehicle home and get a quote from a body shop, and if I chose, they would write me a check for the difference. I was ok with this and went on my way. I am perfectly fine not having the vehicle repaired, but I do feel there should be a financial compensation for the less than perfect body.

I was unable to obtain a quote before the van went off to S&K for the 4x4 work. It would have to wait until after our inaugural trip. I had to put the van wrap on hold until we figured out what to do with the body.

After getting back from my inaugural trip, I took the van to my usual body shop, Bertolucci's in Sacramento. Bertolucci's is a very good shop who I've worked with before with issues on my Vette and other vehicles. They are not a cheapo shop by any means, but I told SMB about them and they seemed ok with this.

Bertolucci's will not work on the vehicle unless the interior is removed. (understandably). In addition, the extent of the dent is that it cannot be 'frozen' to draw the metal back into place, as it has been that way since the van was built in January/February. This means the entire side panel needs to be replaced, and the matching window cuts be put in.

The raw cost for the panel is $3170.75. Painting, mounting, labor, etc come in at:
Body Labor (mounting, welding, cutting for windows etc)
$2737.50
Paint Labor
787.50
Paint Supplies (?)
367.50

They also put in the quote an estimate of $5k for the removal and re-install of the interior, but made it clear that they could not perform that work, it was merely for estimate purposes only.

This brought their entire estimate to $12350.55 after taxes. A much larger amount than even I was expecting.

Even less the $5k for the removal and re-install of the custom interior it's at $7350

When I told Alan, you could hear him take a breath over the phone. I told him that I wasn't expecting them to pay the full amount; that I'm not trying to get one over on them etc.

He said we would need to get ford involved, and asked if I had a ford dealership nearby I could take it to to get involved.

It just so happens that I live just down the street from Folsom Lake Ford, and have a good relationship with some of the service folks there.

UPDATED 9/25:
So I took it down to ford who looked at it and they agreed that the panel would have to be removed and replaced, and obviously the interior would need to be removed before anyone could work on it.

By the way, the other side of that panel is where the toilet/shower closet is, and it's about the worst part of the interior to remove.

The folks at Ford did have some interesting input:
Apparently, this sort of issue is intended to be caught at the "PDI" (pre-delivery inspection, I believe) where the van is checked over from delivery from ford. If the issue isn't reported within 48 hours of PDI, then ford is absolved of warranty issues on the body, as it could have been incurred by the dealership or customer or whatever.


Now they (SMB) want to take the van for a week to repair it instead of honoring their initial commitment. We're still talking and ford is involved, so we haven't come to the end of the story yet.

SMB is definitely interested in getting it taken care of, I want to be clear on that point, they just want to approach it differently now.

I'm not super fond of going without the van for a week, much less have the van gutted and re-assembled. I also doubt they could get it done in a week. Also, I do not want to lose two more days driving it down there and back again.

All of this is what's keeping the wrap from going on, as obviously I need to either get it addressed or not before I pay to put the wrap on.[/b]
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Old 09-21-2007, 03:01 PM   #2
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Dammit, now i have to go take a look at my van! Not that anyone's going to do anything about it since I bought it used, but...

Of course, since I haven't noticed anything yet, I don't have anything to complain about anyway.


Herb

P.S. That's still a beast of a van Buji. I'm amazed by it with every new picture I see.
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:51 PM   #3
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I feel your pain. My wife saw all the dirt and grime the SMB folks left on our top, canvas and carpet when fixing the leak- at least I can probably take care of it myself. I could probably even argue them into some detailer's fees but I'm sick of feeling like they owe me something.

Good luck, keep us apprised. Couldn't be more of a shame because it couldn't have happened to a nicer van!
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Old 09-24-2007, 06:43 PM   #4
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That sounds like a class action law suit, against Ford, waiting to happen. At least according to my Boy Scout sense of justice I don't see how they can not fix it.

All things being equal I'd accept a check if it were offered. I'm kind of figuring our van will look the worse for the wear pretty quickly anyway.
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:49 AM   #5
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Wait, Fords answer is "We didn't notice it (soon enough) so it's not our problem?" If it was one van they might get away with it but since it's obviously a problem with a series of vans there's now way. I wouldn't hold my breath on getting anything from them soon, though. They'll deny everything, up until they have to start writing checks.

Sportsmobile is in a tough spot. They could be stuck making expensive fixes to keep customers happy on an issue thats not really their fault -- though I bet delivery inspections get tougher. I do hope they are documenting the problem on every van they have, and that they'll be up front with their customer base.

You'd hope Ford would have enough sense not to go the denial/screw the customer route, not if they want to turn the corner and not go under. It's just one more thing that is going to sink them if they handle things like this wrong.
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Old 09-26-2007, 12:42 PM   #6
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I had a relatively good visit at SMB yesterday, but as usual I didn't get near enough of the stuff I wanted done. (my fault, as I think I just expect too much of myself plus it doesn't help that Mr. Soda was being a pill and needed more attention than usual.)

I actually didn't get to chat with Alan very much, he seemed busy and honestly I was just trying to be as facilitating as possible. I fear that I have been acting a little bit like a crybaby with regards to this, and how much I'm expecting SMB to take care of it. He did say that there's a regional ford person he's been in contact with, and I need to touch base with him on this to make sure we're approaching ford together and with a united front, as he has other vans which need addressing on this issue.

This all sort of reminds me of the position Ford put everyone in with the diesel fiasco at the beginning of the year. It wasn't SMB's fault etc, but it sure affected their process. I need to take a step back and make sure I'm working WITH SMB on this instead of against them.

Sure SMB missed it in their inspections, but honestly it was hard to notice until I pointed it out. No one else I've shown the van to has noticed it on their own.

Careful examination of other vans there and I saw at least two that were on show (the red one more noticeably) and a couple on the line also had this issue.

As I continue with this issue, I'll make sure I update this thread as we go.

Velogo:
Hey dude, I specifically had it on my list to check out yours and sdwindansea's vans for this issue, but the maintenance team was being so VERY gracious by letting me hang out in the van while they worked on it I did not need to push the issue. I would, however, ask Greg about that particular spot on the van to see if it's going to need to be addressed on your van.

As it was they got the bevy of small warranty issues addressed. At this point I only have the body panel issue, plus a weird issue with the toilet where if the blackwater tank is low or empty, a flush from the toilet results in an unpleasant spray from the external vent on the van. They had no idea how to approach the issue yesterday so I'm just going to follow up with John Kalmbach when he gets back in and see what we can come up with.
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Old 09-26-2007, 03:45 PM   #7
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No worries. I'm glad things seem to have gone well there. How they handle the issue is more important to me at this point than whether I'll have the same problem with my van or not. It sounds like you are at least reasonably happy with how things went.
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Old 09-26-2007, 06:32 PM   #8
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Not a problem Buji. You have enough "issues" to deal with already, although all in all I'm sure you are loving your SMB. Hopefully you found some time to play Halo III
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:02 PM   #9
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So is there any update on this issue yet?
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:34 PM   #10
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Yeah, as a matter of fact yesterday I got tired of getting the same "We'll have someone call you back" (and no call) so I called and insisted that we get this problem addressed. Jay from S & C ford called me and basically offered to have the van fixed or he could get me a check for $500. I'm tempted to just take the $500 because I am sick and tired of the game here. The $500 was an insult. If I didn't already have to take the van back to get the toilet/plumbing issue addressed, I would consider it nonetheless just so I could be done with SMB. At this point I'm ready to turn my back to them ad infinitum.

I tried explaining to the guy that three different body shops gave me estimates between $4k and $7k (plus up to $5k for removal and re-install of custom interior). Everyone who has looked at it agrees that the panel needs to be replaced, as it cannot be stretched back. I have worked in a body shop before and it's tough to get even a decent color sand done for $500 in labor and materials.
S&C is just positive that this is not the case and they can get the van fixed for $500. I say bullshit, but I have no recourse.

This doesn't even factor in the cost to SMB that they're going to have to incur to remove and re-install the interior.

So, the bottom line is I have to take the van back to SMB so they can strip the interior out, then they need to get the van over to their body shop where it will probably stay for a week. Obviously if it's there for a week it's not going to be a simple repair, but reason seems to leave my lips and get lost on the way over the phone to these people. Then the van has to come back to SMB for re-assembly.

Obviously I'm not thrilled with the outcome, because the bottom line is I believe I will not have my van for up to a month, and I fear for the quality of the re-assembly of the interior.

We have plans for using the van during this time that have to be scrapped, not to mention the commitments we have that we will not be able to meet because the van will be out for so long.

I still feel that SMB changed their story from the day I picked it up. If they had not said they would give me a check and that they would have insisted on getting it repaired, I would not have taken delivery until it was fixed. In that case I'm positive it would have been taken care of expeditiously. I do not feel that SMB cares as much about getting this done right now that they have their money, (or I wouldn't have had to ask for a call back over and over again).

I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how I was behaving and even called and apologized to Alan if I came off sounding like a spoiled kid trying to tell him how to run his business. I still have not heard from him, despite Liz saying she would have him call me.

My whole thing was I was actually trying to help SMB out by excusing them from having to repair it. I honestly would be fine with the panel once I get a wrap on it, if I just didn't feel like I was being taken for a ride here!! I've said from day one that I didn't want them to have to tear apart the van but SMB seems hell-bent on making this whole effing purchase as difficult as they can for me. My friends' guess is that SMB is 'hurt' that I took the 4x4 business to S&K and they simply see no value in making me a happy customer.

I need to call Peter and arrange the time to drop it off, but first I have to look at our schedule with the van and get my ducks in a row before I call him.
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