NHTSA Defect “Cleansing”
In researching Toyota’s Sienna safety-related problems for the 2006-07 Lemon-Aid Used Car and Minivan guide, due out in May, 2006, we discovered that the NHTSA is no longer listing all of the safety-related complaints on vehicles a few years old as it has done in the past. If you go on the site, you will find thousands of owner complaints have been dropped. Fortunately, a decade of complaints on most vehicles is archived in both the Used Car and Minivan and the SUV, Truck, and Van guides.
Why is this important?
These logged complaints, along with service bulletin citations help car owners prove that a safety failure is the automaker’s responsibility because it is a recurring problem. Therefore, the auto manufacturer must pay for the repair.
Diesel Future Sputtering
Lemon-Aid doesn’t recommend diesel cars and new information supports our contention that they are a risky buy. Within a year, diesel fuel will be reformulated to burn more cleanly, as is the case with diesel fuel sold in Europe. Additionally, both Mercedes and VW are expected to re-engineer their diesel engines for the 2007 model year.
New fuel and new engines spell trouble—both from a reliability and servicing standpoint.
If diesel still “lights your fire,” wait for the arrival of the 2008 engines.
Anyway, smart money is going with ethanol/gasoline or ethanol engines presently used widely in Brazil. They will likely be sold in North America within the next decade.
Ford Engine Intake Manifold Refunds
Ford of Canada has extended to Canadian owners free engine intake manifold repairs and an extended warranty following a protest lodged last December by Car Help Canada and Lemon-Aid.
Ford’s decision to pay about $1,000 each to Canadian owners who have paid for the repair and also provide a free 7-year retroactive warranty with unlimited mileage is an excellent first step.
Ford of Canada president and CEO, William Osborne, is to be congratulated for ensuring that Canadian Ford owners are treated fairly. For over a decade Lemon-Aid has chided Ford for stonewalling engine intake manifold complaints and hiding the existence of a “secret warranty” slush fund. Ford must now extend the reimbursement period from March until December 31, 2006; give refunds to owners who complained within seven years, but were turned down; and provide funds for consequential damages caused by the engine failure.
Some engines can be ‘cooked’ by this failure and require thousands of dollars in repairs. Ford must put money aside for this eventuality.
The intake manifold channels fuel and air to the 4.6-litre V8 engine's cylinders. Vehicles included in the American settlement are the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car from the 1996-2001 model years; 1997 Mercury Cougar, Ford Thunderbird and Ford Mustang; some Mustangs from 1998-2001; and some Ford Explorers from 2002.
We don’t recommend electric and gasoline engine hybrids because their fuel economy can be 40 percent worse than the automakers report, their long-term reliability is unknown, battery replacement cost is estimated to run as high as $8,000 (U.S.), expensive electric motors are predicted to have a higfh failure rate from corrosion, their retail prices are incredibly high, and the potential resale value is no better than similar vehicles equipped with a conventional engine. For example, a 2001 Prius that originally sold for $29,990 is now valued at a disappointing $12,000 (and we’re only two years away from the expiration of that $8,000 battery warranty). Compare that to the price of a fully-equipped 2001 Camry CE V6, that sells for about $1,000 more--with no battery worries.