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Old 06-09-2024, 04:07 PM   #1
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Wife wants to sell my van!

SMB 2004 E350 RB50 4X4. We travel full time (340,000 miles) so the van gets lots of exercise. Herze da problem. I am running out of money and my wife wants me to sell my van.

Over the past 5 years, the air conditioning system has failed four times. Each time it is the compressor that fails but in Bozeman, the compressor clutch eventually locked up. We are "full timers" (retired). This is the only vehicle we drive. The repairs have been done at four different shops. A/C rebuilds run from $2000 to $3500 plus down time, lodging costs and car rentals.

The first rebuild was done by a shop I trust. The new compressor failed out of warranty. Second time, the A/C was rebuilt by a shop in Carson City. Took a long time to repair but I trust that it was done right. That job lasted almost two years.

Third time, the compressor clutch annealed itself to the compressor in July of '23 (snapped the belt). I had the van towed to the Ford garage in Bozeman. They took 3 weeks to do the repair. The A/C worked up until this past March.

Our "base" is Carson City, NV. Thinking that the refrigerant was down, I drove the van into the Ford dealership in Carson. The mechanic said that the compressor had failure (fourth time) and that the system, including the condenser, had to be replaced.

The mechanic at Carson Ford also told me that when the A/C system was rebuilt by the Ford dealership in Bozeman, they put in used parts or the parts they used were not made for an '04 E350. Carson/Capitol Ford said that since the Ford dealership in Bozeman installed parts that were different than those specified in their repair manual or that some parts were used, they could not honor the Bozeman Ford repair warranty and I would have to demand my money back from Ford in Bozeman or sue them.

Cost to repair the A/C at Carson Ford was $3500 (sans car rental, etc.). When done, the A/C was putting out 40F. That lasted a week. Yesterday (Saturday 6/8/24) the compressor began to sound like it is going to fail (compressor making strange noises but is still putting out cold air).

We are boondocking in the Sierras south of Tahoe. The drive to Carson takes an hour. Seems that my only choice is to drive the van back to the Ford dealership in Carson tomorrow (Monday) morning.

Questions:

Has anyone had their A/C compressor fail more than two times in a 10 year period?

If so, what was the cause of the failure?

Has anyone been told that a Ford warranty was voided because the prior Ford dealership failed to do the job according to the Ford shop manual?

How did you go about collecting the money you wasted on the work that was done by the previous Ford dealership?

Thanks for any assistance.

Michael

PS Ford will not warranty work done on things that have been modified from their stock vehicle. That means if you have Ford work on any part of the Dynatrac, transfer case, drivelines or suspension lift, they will not warranty the work.

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Old 06-09-2024, 07:20 PM   #2
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Whoa….I’ve never heard of that number of A/C failures before, there’s got to be some underlying issue causing them that the shops haven’t picked up on. Any past front end collision that would have thrown the mounts or otherwise out of whack?
It sounds like the shops are just deflecting the blame on past work done at other places instead of taking the time to properly diagnose the issue, given all the info.
Certainly a frustrating endeavor that would warrant the thoughts of selling. I would certainly get in touch with Bozeman Ford and talk to the service manager to get answers on what parts they used for your repair, warranty and what they are willing to do. Nothing about the A/C compressor and components are aftermarket and should be covered.
Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2024, 10:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraHawk View Post

PS Ford will not warranty work done on things that have been modified from their stock vehicle. That means if you have Ford work on any part of the Dynatrac, transfer case, drivelines or suspension lift, they will not warranty the work.
As I understand it this is pretty much an industry standard.
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Old 06-10-2024, 06:30 AM   #4
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Very sorry to hear of your issues - wishing you the best - and obviously - Ford warranty work overall has gone to the crapper as I've had similar issues - paying $600 bucks for a passenger seat tensioner dash light repair - only to have it reappear within 6 months - you rarely get what you pay for these days as the buck gets passed down the pike to the next questionable dealership - and so it goes -
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Old 06-10-2024, 07:35 AM   #5
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OP - what A/C system do you have? Only factory dash, factory rear, or does this also have a aftermarket rear - Starcool?
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Old 06-10-2024, 08:30 AM   #6
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The Ford dealers in Carson and Reno have not been very helpful for my van. Regarding AC repairs, American Auto and air ( In Reno ) rebuilt my AC system which included a custom high pressure line without a problem. Might want to give them a call.
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Old 06-10-2024, 10:52 AM   #7
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jkasten -- what van - what AC system (StarCool I - II - III ?). Thanks for further details !
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Old 06-10-2024, 11:02 AM   #8
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On the repair bills anywhere does it state that they flushed the system? Was the drier, expansion valve or condenser replaced. Most shops i have encountered will not warranty an A/C job unless all those are replaced and lines flushed if a compressor failed.

If money is an issue or you want to take time to figure things out with the other dealer, i am sure you could just bypass the compressor with a different belt and just drive in nice weather for the time being.
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Old 06-10-2024, 11:38 AM   #9
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If they didnt change every part (and I mean every single gosh darn part) of the A/C system, its perfectly reasonable that these failures keep coming back as there is trash in the A/C system. The unfortunate reality is new stuff is basically uncleanable, so replace is the only 100% sure-fire option when a compressor lets go.
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Old 06-10-2024, 08:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for all of the responses. In the past, I have done most of the work on my van.
I figured that I could screw up the job a whole lot cheaper than a shop but I am now 75. The A/C is the original 2013 stock dash type. The van came with the Starcool but I disconnected it 15 years ago (wasn't using it and did not want to worry about repairs).

When I first discussed the repair, I told the service rep to install all new parts. I just found out today that it was the tensioner making the noise. Ford service recommended that I replace the tensioner and belt. The belt is less than a year old. If it needs to be replaced, it must have stretched when the tensioner was not properly adjusted. I also learned that the newest mechanic found that the condenser was not changed last week and that the old condenser was still shedding metal shavings. So far I've paid $3200 for the original rebuild.

They are trying to sidestep their own warranty. Now they want me to pay $430 to install another tensioner and belt and $800 to install another condenser.
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