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I used to own a 1987 Ford Escort GT. I bought it brand new and drove it for several years. During that time I came to the conclusion, given the astoundingly low quality of the car's parts and the car as a whole, that the Ford Escort is the Dixie cup of cars: intended to be used once and thrown away. It's disposable. It's garbage as soon as you've used it one time.

You'd think that Ford would be interested in taking care of problems that they knew were a result of defective parts, especially a major component like a transmission. Unfortunately, if it's not life threatening, car companies are not obligated to recall a car due to a defect. That's why Fords get recalled for cheap crap like a faulty fuel line connector, but they'll let you rot if the transmission is tearing itself to shreds.

Needless to say, this car has left a *very* bad taste in my mouth where Ford is concerned.

So I decided to post my story online. Within hours I started to get emails from others who were also angry at the quality of product and service they received from Ford. I began posting some of those stories to my site. This site has evolved into a collection of the experiences of myself and others that have had the misfortune to think that buying American necessarily meant they had to invest their hard-earned dollars in a car that was a lemon and a company that is far more interested in wresting that money away from them than providing them with a product they could be proud of. If you have a story to tell, please forward it to me and I'll be glad to put it on this page.

What finally happened to the Escort? Various parts fell off it (handles, visors, whatever would aggravate the most) until the last time I had it serviced by a Ford mechanic, who didn't tighten the heads down enough. My guess, knowing now how Ford is treating its techs, is that the poor guy just didn't have time under Ford's support system, was rushing to finish, and skipped a step. Anyway, the head gasket slipped, oil leaked out, the engine temperature skyrocketed, and the heads cracked. A trusted (non-Ford) mechanic searched high and low for a part, and after nearly a month of searching, he finally called me up and explained the problem: So many Ford Escorts from that year crack heads (and other various parts) that the junk yards are pretty much picked clean. He told me that he could order a newer model part from Ford, have it modified to fit my car... By the time he got to the estimated total, I told him just to give it final rights and I'd have it towed away.

That was some time ago, and I replaced it with a 1996 Volkswagen Jetta that ran great! Never a problem! It was a zippy little car that got great gas mileage. I highly recommend them. I sold that car and moved onto a Volvo 960 and a Pontiac Montana, both of which are fantastic vehicles. The Volvo was traded in on a Pontiac Vibe for gas mileage reasons, and the Montana was so great that when a 16 year old girl with a cell phone in one hand and eyeliner in the other ran a stop sign and t-boned it, we bought its sister vehicle, the Buick Terazza. I prefer the Montana seats over the Buick's, but Montanas are in such high demand that we simply couldn't get our hands on a fully loaded used model! The Terazza is fully loaded and runs great, and other than the seats and the branding, it's the same car.

I do occasionally get letters defending Ford. The basic theme to each of those letters has been that the folks complaining about Ford don't take care of their automobiles. Well, excuse me, but I had TWICE the recommended number of tune-ups during the life of that car. And none of the problems listed in this web site have anything to do with maintenance. They list defective parts and lousy service. If you see a place where maintenance would have made a difference, please, feel free to let me know...

One last thing before I'm done -- here's a shopping list of the things for which the government forced Ford to recall 1987 Escorts:

     1. Fuel line coupling
     2. Faulty welds on seats (The driver's side seat actually
        broke off in my car one day when I sat down!
        And I'm not a heavy guy!)
     3. Faulty emissions equipment
     4. Faulty fuel injection system

Those are the ones I remember; there were several other recalls, but I don't remember now what they were. My other complaints with the car include:

     o  Air conditioner won't hold freon for more than
        a couple of years.
     o  Brakes are made with plastic parts which deform
        with heat and cause the rotor to need replacement
        early in the car's life.  I had to have major
        work done on the brakes after only owning the
        car a year.   I had a reputable non-Ford mechanic
        do the work with decent parts, and I haven't had
        a problem since.
     o  The steering column self-destructs.  One day,
        while making a normal left turn, the steering
        column cover exploded off and a piece of plastic
        of unknown purpose fell out on the floor.  The
        cover snapped back on (plastic parts) sans the
        mystery part and the steering still works, so
        I guess it was a wash...
     o  The gasket around the parking brake self-destructed
        in the first year.
     o  The dash self destructed after 3 years.  It
        had a web of cracks all across it with pieces
        falling out.
     o  The electrical system was a joke.  The hood light,
        the radio, and the clock fought an ongoing war
        until the hood light was disconnected.  This was
        the only solution the Ford guys could come up
        with after numerous trips to the dealership.
        At one point the radio had burned out, and when
        I took it to be replaced, someone stole several
        tapes out of the glove box.  No one at Ford would
        do anything about it.
     o  The fog lights stopped working after the first
     o  The detachable trunk cover's hooks popped off.
     o  The trunk panels popped off.
     o  The handles that release the rear seats fell
        off in the second year.

The point here is that Ford builds it's cars with plastic parts, sometimes in places where a part with some strength or endurance or heat resistance is required, and if you come back demanding that they repair the damage, you are met with resistance, excuses, and quite often, blatant arrogance and disregard. Ford needs to learn what quality is if they mean to really make it "Job #1", and that Customer Service is Job #2. Otherwise, Ford customers will make "Finding A Better Car Than a Ford" Job #1 and warning all their friends about Ford Job #2.

Last updated January 7th, 2005
Todd's Views
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