About a week prior to our 3300 mile summer vacation, I had made an appointment with our local Ford garage to align our 2000 Four winds 26Q class C. The garage has a dedicated area for vehicles such as Class C & A motorhomes as well as any other large/heavy vehicle.
As far as I can tell, I don't believe this unit has ever been aligned since it was built.
The original quote for an alignment was $129, which I think is steep considering an alignment is an alignment, no matter the size of the vehicle. However, it was suggested by many that this is the best place in my hometown to take our MH.
After about an hour in the waiting room, the service writer (SW) drops in and states: Your MH is out of alignment. It needs shims, (correctly defined: cams) to put it alignment, the right is way out, the left is barely within spec. That'll be an additional $170 for both sides. WHAT?? I pay $129 for you to tell me something I already knew? Indeed, it still has the factory cams. I went out to the service bay to talk to the tech, as the SW didn't seem to understand my request - and it was better to talk to the alignment tech (AT) myself. After all, I was told he was "the best they have".
Ok, how much for the passenger side, holding the drivers within specs? The SW says $200 total. Ok, do it.
Another 1 1/2 hours go by, service writer & alignment tech drops in and says "We did both sides". The AT and I took it out for a test spin, and indeed, it drives much better, doesn't wallow all over the road and better yet, pulls itself back to center will coming out of a corner.
Once back at the service desk, I asked how much, that'll be $300. WHAT? SW says, tell ya, what, how's $250? Ok.
Now, for a person that has never liked Ford, and has heard lots of horror stories about Ford service, I'm now "one of them". This is strike #2 anyway, as the oil & lube done by that shop the year previous was a little defective (ball joints not touched and they put in 5-20 instead of 5-30 per the receipt.)
Spin forward 3 weeks. We've travelled many many miles from western Oregon to eastern Utah, in the Arches Nat'l park. Pop! What was that? moving on, an hour or two later.. Pop! Hmmm. Moving on, then BIG POP!. Steering wheel is now at a 45 degree angle where it should be straight. (fortunately we were moving at slow speeds). Find parking spot about a half mile away, frontend clunking loudly on every turn, stop and inspect front end. Here's what I found:
BOTH cam clamp bolts verrry loose, ready to fall out. It was obvious the AT didn't torque them, in fact, the tips of the hex on all bolts he touched has been rounded off, probably with an air driver.
Passenger side cam MISSING. Oh Sh..
Given the needle in a hundred haystack's chance of finding the cam, my brother & his girlfriend in their rig went scanning the roads, and I set out on foot. After three hours of searching, my brother & his GF spot the cam laying in the middle of the road.
Having a bottle jack & appropriate tools to change a tire, (check your rig - chances are, all you have is a spare!) we jacked up the passenger side, removed the wheel and re-installed the cam in a similar position to the one on the drivers side. After tightening down the bolt (which was slightly bent) with as much force as we could on a 3/8" ratchet , reinstalled wheel, then did the same on the driver side w/o removing the wheel.
The MH drove the same as it has before, but if we had not found the cam, it would have been an expensive tow to Moab, and probably a pretty expensive fix once there, plus the time to get it all done...
Needless to say, I'm furious, and my opinion of Ford and of Ford service has sunk to the bottom. This is strike 3.
I checked the bolts from time for the remainder of the trip, all was fine.
When I called the service manager (SM) the Monday after our return, he was a tad shocked by the events as well. He stated he would call me in a couple hours after he did a little research... but as you can guess, he's never called back. That was a week ago, and I'll pick up the phone & call him in a few minutes.
Did I say I was furious?
'00 Four Winds 26Q Class C (Ford E350 V10)
Previously: '96 Kit Sportsmaster 212f fifth wheel coupled to our trusty '93 GMC Sierra K2500
Before that: '91 SunLite poptop truck camper
and the first: a Wildernest flip-top canopy.
If you want your E-series aligned right, go to Snyder's in Albany. Ford dealers and Les Schwab's can never get them right. I won't go anywhere other than Snyder's anymore. I used to require annual alignments, but when Snyder's does it it stays set until I make a change (heavier springs, larger axle etc).
Sorry for your troubles. I have had my E-350 15-pax van in for one alignment...for some crazy reason I took it to Sears!! After two hours, a half a can of PB Blaster, a couple of 3' cheater bars, a blow torch, and four mechanics (including myself), she got aligned. She has developed a slight edge wear since then...I'm kind of afraid to take it back in!
1993 Ford E-350 pushed by a 1988 Wilderness 24' TT
I just got off the phone with the service manager, and after discussing several issues at length including the fact that he had promised me that he'd get back to me within a couple hours after our first conversation a week ago today.. and never called me back, he admitted and apologized right up front that he had dropped the ball.
He wouldn't suggest any resolutions because he said he might offend me. He gave me the option of what I think we should do to remedy the situation, and so I discussed various options:
1) Take it back and have them do it again, but I no longer trust they would get it right, so as soon as I got it home, I'd check the torque on all bolts.
2) Refund the purchase price of the service.
I could have asked for the world, but being a pragmatic person, decided to take option 2. The check will be in the mail tomorrow, I was told.
We also discussed the issue with the lube job a year ago; I reiterated that I cannot trust them to correctly do a job, and that he needs to take this message back to his employees. I thanked him for being up front about the issue and the agreed upon resolution.
They've lost my business, and it's extremely unlikely I'll purchase another Ford product or service.
I know there are many Ford owners out there that swear by the brand, and I RESPECT you for that. Please respect me for my choices and my reasons as well.
Sorry to hear your saga, but I too have mixed feelings about Ford products. I have a 2005 27-foot Class C on a E-450 chassis. Within 30 miles of my home are 18 Ford dealers. Only one of them will service my rig. The "Medium truck" dealer won't even consider it. On the road I have had problems getting simple LOF service done as I refuse to take it to the "Quickie lube" type places based in problems they created with my previous rig. I have had a couple of issues with the dealer and for one problem taught their "computer tech" the simple troubleshooting procedure: "spark, fuel, timing."
As to alignment, I found a great independent shop that has a "heavy vehicle" specialist (Previously aligned 6 x 6 trucks in the Army.) I have had them make many mods in my suspension and the rig now handles great.
IMHO Ford Corporation is not doing enough to establish decent service facilities for their "cut-away" chassis. This is unfortunate as they are basically the "only game in town" if you want to build a Class C motorhome. (I know that this will offend the owners of "Sprinter" (?) based vehicles, but they don't meet my requirements for towing or living space.) With the demise of the GM Kodiak the next step up is the Freightliner based vehicles. A major step in both size and price.
To Ford's credit, however, they have established the "motorhome owners hot-line" that will assist you when you have a problem. Last summer I experienced a fuel pump problem when headed west on I-80 just east of Laramie, WY. The Ford Hotline people contacted the Ford dealer in Laramie, however, he had no facilities or technicians for fixing my E-450 problem. I had to take the rig another 75 miles to Ft. Collins, CO to get it fixed. Fortunately it wall mainly down hill. I cannot say enough good things about the service I recieved in Ft. Collins.
I know that the Ford subject is highly controversial, but I spent my life in marketing and feel that "ongoing prodct support" is extremely important.
It's not a just a motorhome service issue. Quality of Ford dealers varies greatly. This is one area where Ford loses out to Toyota big-time. Ford makes great products, but incompetent service departments have resulted in numerous returns for re-work, or bad diagnostics, giving the appearance the vehicle may be less reliable than it really is.
Dealer done work, I noticed a problem afterwards, and sent it back to be done again.
Personal experience with each of the following brands:
Toyota, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mazda...
My thought... it is pretty much a universal problem for the industry.
All of my own cases generally involved simple "opps" like tire pressures set wrong (by 20psi!!!), crosstreading bolts, broken stud, etc.
I now go to a fair amount of trouble to identify the top techs in each category in my area, and only send them work after personally vetting them.
It is a universal problem because the industry pays peanuts for techs and expect a kid that don't even have a high school education, possibly with drugs / alcohol and other problems... to work on high tech vehicles.
Sad story. It seems maybe they had the alignment OK, at least marginally so, then didn't torque the pinch bolts. Or replace bolts/nuts if that's what Ford calls for.
Well, now you have your money back and a solid recommendation from Bryan about where to have a proper alignment done.
Suggest you take a look at Harvard's comments about setting caster to the high end of the spec range instead of the center of the range. If you believe his analysis, you may want to mention that idea to the shop. A Class C is an odd case. Stretched, heavily loaded, very prone to sway (which causes unwanted steer in a Twin-I-Beam front end), maybe light on the front axle. This can be cause to work at the margins of the specs.
Harvard achieved his caster change with adjustable bushings (called Cams here) from Ingalls Engineering. Part 594 if I recall. Here's an image of a similar item from RockAuto. One bushing turns inside the other to achieve a range of adjustments. Notice on Rock that the fixed bushings are only about $5 each. The adjustables run $15-$20.
If God's Your Co-Pilot Move Over, jd
2003 Jayco Escapade 31A on 2002 Ford E450 V10 4R100 218" WB
I was following a thread on vehicles that will get as good mileage as the sprinter based C's. One of the downsides of the Sprinter was the difficulty in finding service for them. Sounds like Ford isn't much better.
1992 Airstream B-190 van
1989 Airstream 25' Excella Trailer
Outfitter Apex 9.5 Truck Camper Ford F-350 Diesel 4x4