My daughter bought a used 2012 Ford Escape in Jan 2015 with about 25k on the clock (2WD, 4 cylinder, AT). We had a thorough AAA inspection prior to purchase and it was declared in great shape.
Since buying it, she’s driven it another 20k including a trip from California to Denver. It’s never towed anything and she’s a sedate and conservative driver. It’s only had a couple of trips into the mountains near Denver.
It started having shifting problems, so she took it to the local Denver Ford Dealer. The Ford service dept found the valve body was fouled / varnished, so they “rebuilt” it. No new parts were installed. The Escape is still under the original drivetrain warranty, but Ford refused to pay because no parts were broken. The total charge to rebuild the valve body, flush the AT and torque converter, and replace the ATF (Motorcraft XT10 QLVC) was $1,000.
My poor daughter had authorized a $200 diagnostic and was shocked to get this $1,000 bill (needless to say). I called the dealership service dept. and they said they were perplexed by the varnish at such low mileage. They said the fluid appeared clean and not burned (no burned odor or appearance). They blamed it on some vague “contamination” by the first owner. They quickly offered to knock $500 off the bill. Their work is warranted for 2 years unlimited mileage.
- How can varnish form on the valve body under mild driving conditions at 45k miles? How can varnish form if the fluid appears clean and not burned? I didn’t see any pics of the valve body prior to cleaning, so I can’t confirm it was really varnished; it’s just the dealer’s claim.
- While I appreciate the dealer knocking off $500, I’m a little concerned they did it too quickly after I hinted I thought they were taking advantage of a young woman in her 20s who doesn’t know much about cars. Should I be happy with the dealer’s efforts to make us happy? Or should I be concerned that they were too quick to make this good and perhaps they didn’t actually do what they said they did? Were they trying to rip off a young woman? I get the feeling it took a call from Dad asking the right questions to get the $500 taken off the bill.
- Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to simply slap in a new valve body rather than “rebuild” the old one?
- The invoice didn’t include a new AT filter. When I questioned this, they said that year / model of Escape does not have an AT filter. I looked on the web and can’t find one and one auto parts company on the web confirmed that there is no replacement AT filter part for that year 4 cylinder Escape. I’ve never heard of an AT without a filter. Is that correct?
- Lastly, how could AT fluid get “contaminated with gunk”? Many AT these days are sealed and don’t even have a dipstick.
Thanks in advance. Sorry for the long first-timer question.