CONSUMER: Gosport mum driven to distraction as £6,500 Ford car breaks down on motorway

Lindsay Yendall was driven round the bend when Ford refused to honour her car warranty after it repeatedly broke down because of a series of engine defects.

Thursday, 26th April 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 26th April 2018, 1:29 pm
Lindsay Yendell had a problem with the engine in her Ford Focus. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180456-1)

The furious Gosport mum-of-two found herself locked in a bitter two-month battle with Ford UK when her Focus model suddenly lost all power while she was driving on the motorway.

Lindsay says she bought the one-litre £6,500 used car in July 2017, and it turned out to be a vehicle-from-hell experience almost from the moment she drove it away from a Fareham dealership.

Although she didn’t know it at the time, the car came with Ford’s innovative EcoBoost engine, which has been consistently plagued with well-documented overheating and engine management problems.

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Lindsay said: ‘I’d never actually owned a Ford before in my 12 years of driving so I thought I’d give them a try as they’re quite reliable cars, but ended up with a nightmare.

‘The first signs of trouble emerged after I’d had it for just three months. It was recalled by Ford to replace a water hose which was known to crack under high temperatures and cause engine failures.

‘In mid-November the engine management light came on and there was a very strong smell of fuel in the car. I contacted the dealer I bought it from who took it back and diagnosed a cylinder misfire, rocker cover gasket failure, and fuel fault.

‘But in December the engine management came on again and I took it back. This time it was an O2 exhaust sensor.

‘Just days later the light came on again, and it was found to be a pressure sensor.’

If Lindsay thought her troubles with the car were finally over, she soon discovered they were only just about to begin.

No sooner had the problems with the engine management system been sorted than the car had to be taken back to the Ford dealership for another recall, this time to replace the driveshaft.

Not having had use of the car for most of December, Lindsay was understandably annoyed that it had repeatedly let her down when she most needed it.

She was concerned because she had two young children and a reliable and safe car was essential.

But care manager Lindsay’s annoyance turned to anger the following February, when she got the shock of her life while driving home from work.

She said: ‘The car finally gave up the ghost while I was driving on the motorway.

‘It suddenly became completely unresponsive and lost power.

‘Fortunately I was able to pull over without causing an accident.’

Lindsay had the car recovered to Hendy Ford, which is not where she bought the car.

‘The car was recovered to Hendy Ford in Fareham after several discussions with the customer relations centre.

‘It was inspected on March 19 and I was told it needed a head gasket at the very minimum and possibly a new engine, but they couldn’t state 100 per cent that it was just the head gasket until they began the work and looked at the rest of the engine.

‘The cost of the head gasket repair was quoted as £1,995, but possibly more if the car required a new engine.’

However, things were about to go from bad to worse when, without explanation, she was told Ford wouldn’t cover the cost of the repairs, and there was nothing more they could do.

A hacked-off Lindsay, 35, tried to get on to the company’s top boss, Andy Barratt, three times, but he was apparently too busy to speak to her and the Ford customer relations centre started ignoring her emails.

As a last resort, she approached the finance company who loaned her the money to buy the car. When she insisted it had become a liability and they should take it back, they sent a mechanic to check it over, who promptly insisted there was nothing wrong with it.

They turned down her rejection demand so she appealed to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

In the middle of an all-out war of words with Ford and the finance company and not knowing where next to turn, she called in Streetwise to help her get the problem sorted.

We got on to Ford UK about the shabby way Lindsay had been treated.

Like her, we’d discovered there were literally hundreds of complaints about the reliability of Ford cars fitted with the EcoBoost engine.

By refusing to repair it under warranty, we took the view the car giant was in breach of the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, and asked for an explanation.

Ford initially told us it was its policy to repair EcoBoost engine defects free-of-charge under warranty and on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration how the vehicle had been used, mileage, and service record.

But when we asked for specific details why they gave Lindsay the elbow following the engine’s catastrophic failure, Ford promptly did a U-turn.

A company spokesperson revealed that after making further enquires, wrong information from the dealership had come to light, and Lindsay’s case was still open for a warranty repair.

When we told her the good news, a grateful but cynical Lindsay just couldn’t believe it.

In another twist to her story, she finally learned the financial ombudsman had upheld her complaint.

The finance company was ordered to take the car back, refund her deposit, and pay three months’ instalments in compensation.

‘I’d really like to know what Ford were claiming the error was,’ an incredulous Lindsay said. ‘I believe they’ve backtracked because of the pressure you put on them.

‘On reflection I’ve decided to continue with the FOS outcome and get rid of the car. It’s been so unreliable I’ve lost all faith in it and Ford as a company. Even if they repaired it there’s nothing to say it wouldn’t go wrong again.

‘It’s been a farce as there’s no accountability.

‘Their answer to me when the car ground to a halt and I wound up on the motorway hard shoulder was there was nothing they could do.

‘I really hope my experience helps someone else in a similar position as me with these EcoBoost engines. I believe it’s only a matter of time before their design flaw causes an accident.’