CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Did my dealer try to cheat me?

The Check Engine light came on in our 98 Ford Expedition right in the middle of a catering job where we were about to go out of town. Instead of risking a breakdown with a truck full of food, we rented a van and left it in the parking lot. We took it to the dealer when we got back in town. The dealer said there were two cracked cylinders and a blown head gasket and we needed a new engine, at over 6K. After mulling over that for a couple of days, we paid the diagnostic fee, picked up the car from the lot and took it home (I guess we wanted to say goodbye before junking it). After a few more days (it’s now about 2 weeks later), I remembered that this same dealer almost got thousand dollars from us to replace the air conditioner a few years before, until a different technician discovered a broken dashboard knob that prevented the AC from being turned on. I took it to the auto center where we get our brakes, tires etc done. I started the truck up, the check engine light went out, and it hasn’t been on since. The auto center manager said there was a slight oil leak and a code indicating a problem with an internal air filter (I may have that wrong). He cleared the code and a month later, we haven’t had a problem yet. I went back to the dealer and he stated that there were ‘special’ codes that only the Ford diagnostic computer could read, but did not have a reason why the check engine light never came back on. My question: Is the dealer incompetent, a scoundrel, or will the truck just blow up in our faces one day?

Incompetant? Scoundrel? You have a much higher opinion of this dealer than I have.

Cracked cylinders are extremely rare in stock engines. And if you had two, you’d have very serious operating problems. I don’t see any here.

A blown headgasket would be showing itself as overheating, excess coolant usage, bad smells, and other problems. I don;t see these symptoms mentioned.

A slight oil leak is meaningless. Just monitor your oil level.
Without knowing the code, it’s tough to speculate, but perhaps it was an EVAP code. Many of those are really just nusience codes that trip whenever you leav the gas cap less than tight.

If you had a serious problem, you’d know it by the truck’s operation, bad smells, clouds of smoke, disappearing fluids, or something like that. I think you can sleep tight.

Dealers in my experence charge you way to much for repair, but at least get the job done right. Yours does sound like he is trying to cheat you. Any BBB reports? Did you tell the other shop what the dealer told you was wrong?

Scoundrel? What is this, Victorian times?
Yeah, I think he’s pulling one over on you.

They are a very old Ford dealer in town and are rated A+ by BBB. 18 complaints listed in the last 3 years, but that may be normal for a car dealer. I’ve dealt with them for years and have purchased 2 vehicles from them over the years. I never felt good about them after the AC incident and have avoided them unless something just required a Ford dealer’s attention.

Found my notes! The codes they claimed were 2195 and 2199.

There are generic codes and there are manufacturer’s codes. A generic code reader that you might buy or might be used by places that offer free code reading like AutoZone or Midas can only read the generic codes. Many garages have a computer to read the codes that can read almost all codes. There might be a few codes that only a Ford garage can read, but the big scanners used in most garages will get the majority of them.

You should be able to have any codes scanned at the independent shop you have used. Most codes have a “two trip logic”, meaning that the code must be detected twice within a certain number of run cycles before it turns on the check engine light. You could have the code again but not frequently enough to turn on the check engine light. It will show up on the scanner as a pending code.

YIKES, I think Mountainbike summed it up very well. I HAVE NO IDEA where that Diag came from, but it makes absolutely no sense at all. P2199 is a air temp code (there is a temp sensor in the intake manifold or intake box, it is either broken or just had a bad reading). P2195 is a lean code which means one or more of the cyls were not getting enough fuel (possibly due to the air temp being wrong)… NONE of this would indicate a cracked or blown ANYTHING… I think its time for complaint #19 (although it will not do any good)…

I would contact the dealer principal him/herself… NOT one of the managers, let him know what his staff is trying to pull. In most cases the dealer would have NO IDEA !! Honestly I am shocked they went for the jugular like that, usually they will throw a bunch of useless sensors, and crap at the motor first and slowly bleed you. Its like how a Vampire usually does not suck his prey dry, you leave just enough life for it to live on and keep supplying you…

If there are any codes for a cracked cylinder of blown head gasket, I don’t believe I have seen them. The two codes you posted are not generic codes. Do you have the diesel engine?

@keith, no this is the v8 Triton 5.4 liter gasoline engine. 151,000+ miles on it. The Goodyear tire shop that looked at it for me had a hand held scanner, it might be the generic type mentioned. Is it worth taking it another Ford dealer? I still can’t imagine how it could be running fine for over a month now with the problems they claimed it had. The dealer said they do not repair engines with those type issues after 150K miles.

Thanks for all the comments, guys. I think you all have confirmed what I suspected. I will take @gsragtop’s suggestion and bring this to the dealer principle’s attention.

It would be absolutely impossible for the engine to run fine for a month with two cracked blocks and a blown headgasket. A minute, maybe, but no longer.

And it’s absolutely impossible to diagnose two cracked cylinders and a blown headgasket with a handheld scanner. A scanner only reads what the sensors send to the ECU, and there’s no sensor that tells you you have cracked cylinders. You know you have cracked cylinders because (1) the engine is shaking like an earthquake and making horrible noises, AND (2) someone has looked into the cylinder with a borescope (a fiber optic optical device) and seen a crack. Or someone has removed the head and looked. Even a total loss of compression could still be a busted valvestem, so even that doesn’t automatically mean a cracked cylinder.

Who gave you this code, the dealer or the tire shop. The P2199 is the intake air temp correlation 1/2 and usually is seen with a turbo diesel when the gate that allows the turbo to quickly build up pressure does not open quickly enough, the turbo blows back through the intake causing a bad reading. I don’t know if the Triton engine even has two intake air temp sensors. This is from Ford diesel sites.

I too think you should take gsragtops suggestion, but I don’t think the dealers rep was trying to sell you a new engine, I think his intention was to sell you a new vehicle through the shock factor, and it looks like it almost worked.

After you speak to that dealer’s principal, he may ask for you to bring the thing back to them to give them another chance to look at it.
I’d be careful dealing with them in good faith after this.

There’s no way in Hedes I’d bring my vehicle back to these crooks. This went way beyond a simple poor diagnosis. This was an attempted robbery.

Well, I’d probably not bring the car there to begin with.
Is it me, or does it seem that dealers are doing this more and more lately?

@keith - The Service Manager at the Ford dealer gave me those codes. I agree, the goal was to get us to buy a new truck. We’ll get one, but not today and not from that dealer!

This scumbag outright lied.
Go back there and ask him to show you the 2 cracks.
Ask him to explain why the car runs fine with a bad head gasket.
Call him out on this right to his face.

Leave a bad review on ALL the local review websites.
Leave a report with the BBB.
This is your moral obligation.

Dr’s give incorrect/poor diagnosis also. Typically its best to seek a 2nd opinion and go from there which you did.

It could be mistaken diagnosis or even the wrong vehicle conveyed between service writer and mechanics. Especially considering a code that is likely unrelated to engine was conveyed.