Meghan Fife has a transmission problem with her Ford Escape. But her warranty has just run out. Is she stuck with a $4,000 repair bill, or can Ford help her fix this undrivable vehicle?
Q: I bought my 2015 Ford Escape brand new from a Ford dealership in Huntington Beach, Calif. I have had my vehicle just under five years and am still paying off the car loan.
I’ve had issues with my gears shifting almost from the beginning. I’ve taken the car to the dealership a few times during my three-year warranty period about this issue and explained the symptoms. Sometimes, the car would lurch when switching gears while accelerating as if it wasn’t changing gears smoothly.
Each time, a representative at the dealership would tell me that they checked my car and the transmission was fine.
On a recent evening, I was just starting my drive home from work when suddenly I heard a loud revving noise coming from my engine. I immediately pulled over to investigate. I lifted the hood and could not find anything obvious but the strange noise continued when I pressed on the gas. I had to call a tow truck to have the car taken to a mechanic.
I can’t drive the car anymore and it needs a new transmission, which will cost $5,000. I bought an extended warranty, but it just expired. You can imagine how frustrating and disappointing this all is. It shouldn’t fail at this age. I can’t afford to put that kind of money back into my car based on the fair market value of my car at this point, yet it seems ridiculous to throw this car away since everything else works fine. Can you help me with this Ford Escape transmission problem? — Meghan Fife, Seal Beach, Calif.
A: Of course your transmission should still work. And no, you shouldn’t have to throw your five-year-old car away. That’s preposterous!
I think you have a strong case, and here’s why: You reported these transmission problems to your dealership years ago. Even though it blew you off, there’s still a record of your car being serviced and the concerns you raised. Also, your extended warranty is valid for 100,000 miles or until 2022. You’re just 7,000 miles over the limit, and in my book, that’s close enough. Oh, and one more thing. Have you Googled “Ford Escape transmission problem”? I just did, and guess what? You are not alone. There are lots of other unhappy Escape owners whose transmissions quit on them.
Given all these factors, I definitely think Ford should have helped you. Yet your dealership wanted to charge you for a brand-new transmission and your emails to Ford resulted in nothing. You carefully documented your problems and you didn’t give up.
I hate to see cases like yours. This is such a great opportunity for a company like Ford to address a known transmission problem with its Escape and to turn you into a satisfied, loyal customer. Why would it turn its back on you? It’s just so maddening.
But I love the way this case turned out. You tried to contact Ford’s managers. When their email bounced, you turned to my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of Ford’s executives on my site. You reached out directly to Ford’s CEO, thanks to the efforts of my research team.
A company representative contacted you about your Ford Escape transmission problem. Ford offered to cover $2,000 toward your new transmission. “I pressed for more based on the issues outlined in my original letter and they eventually offered to cover $3,900,” you said. “I then asked if they could also offer me a rental car and they agreed to provide an additional $40 day for a rental car. I hope that’s a good deal.”
It is a good deal. Great job on advocating this case, Meghan. There could be a place for you on my team of consumer advocates.
Christopher Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Get help by contacting him at http://www.elliott.org/help. © 2020 Christopher Elliott.