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)
Paint Supplies (?)
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.
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]