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Cracking Plastic Intake Manifolds on Ford V-8 Engines
The December 2005 "Settlement"

This page created on 6-25-05,  updated 3-17-06

Summary: 

Ford was sued about their cracking plastic manifolds, lost, and then settled. The "settlement" received final court approval on December 16, 2005.

The settlement provided a very short period of time for submission of claims - the deadline was March 16, 2006.

The settlement also excluded many vehicles.




The Details

Ford's 1999
Owner Notification Program offered extended warranties ( usually 7 years ) to vehicles belonging to their valued fleet customers - police, limos and taxis - but excluded many full-sized cars owned by "civilians."
The program bulletins also made it appear that civilian Mustangs, Cougars and Thunderbirds were covered, but some owners reported that Ford refused coverage.
 
 
So, some of those excluded "civilians" filed lawsuits.  Many of those suits were consolidated into a single class action suit heard in Federal court in Oakland, California.  Ford attempted to block certification of the class, failed, appealed, and lost the appeal ( see the appeal decision and the article in box below ).
   

From the Authoritative Blue Oval News

31 April 2005
Robert Lane, BlueOvalNews.com

Dearborn, Michigan. Ford lost an appeal to keep at least 100,000 from suing Ford over intake manifolds used on 1996-2001 Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Cars and Grand Marquis models. In addition, the intakes were used on 2002 Ford Explorers and 1998-2001 Ford Mustangs. The plastic intake manifolds are prone to cracking, which results in the loss of engine coolant.

The lawsuit seeks more than $100 million in damages.




Once the class was certified, the case could go to trial.  But just before the trial began, Ford
agreed to a settlement, to apply nationwide ( see article in box below ).

18 June 2005
Robert Lane, BlueOvalNews.com

Dearborn, Michigan. Ford has agreed to settle lawsuits filed against it due to cracking intake manifolds on certain 1996-2001 4.6L engines. The engines are found in: Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car, Mustang, Cougar and Thunderbird models. The settlement could impact over 2 million vehicles and cost Ford up to $375 million USD.

The intake manifolds Ford used were plastic and were notorious for cracking, thus causing coolant leaks.

The terms of the settlement include:

• Ford will reimburse customers with receipts for the intake repair.
• Ford will pay $735.00 to those without receipts, provided that they can verify with a dealership that a repair was made.
• Ford will extend the warranty coverage for customers whose intakes have not failed.

Ford lost an appeal earlier in the year to have the case dismissed.



The settlement was filed June 18, 2005 in Federal court in Oakland, California, and became final on December 16, 2005.  It gave a 7-year warranty, on the manifold, to cars which weren't previously given the extra years of coverage.

It excluded cars that were more than 7 years old when they experienced manifold failure.  Based upon that 7-year period, we believe that all 1996 and 1997 cars ( and many 1998's ) that failed in 2004 - 2005 (approx.) or haven't yet failed, were denied coverage.

The concept adopted in the settlement appeared to be that "civilians" should not get warranty coverage longer than the 7 years that was given to those cars covered by the 1999
Owner Notification Program.  ( One of the lawyers told us that they settled for the 7-year coverage because, during a court hearing, the judge had said that she was not likely to grant coverage longer than what the "fleets" got. )

We disagree with any such 7-year limitation.  The
appeal decision ( at pages 3867 - 3868, in bold ) used the phrase "...what each individual buyer's expectations were regarding the durability of the intake manifold on the vehicle."  We believe that we know how long the public expects an intake manifold to last.  Until these plastic manifolds came along, the public expectation was that an intake manifold would last forever.  We concede, of course, that the people who purchased these cars knew that the cars did not come with a lifetime warranty. 

"According to Class Plaintiffs, as early as 1995, Ford was aware that the plastic manifolds were prone to cracking." 
( Appeal Decision, at page 3867, in bold.)


But we also know that it was wrong for Ford to continue to include in its cars a component that it ( allegedly ) knew to have a failure rate essentially infinitely higher ( and a life infinitely shorter ) than the time-proven component it replaced.   Especially since it could have quickly stopped the problem by resuming the use of aluminum manifolds ( as it eventually did, in 2002 ).  It appears that the law agrees...

"The CLRA makes illegal various specified “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or which results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1770(a). For example, the CLRA proscribes “[r]epresenting that goods or services have . . . characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or qualities which they do not have,” Cal. Civ. Code § 1770(a)(5), and “[r]epresenting that goods or services are a particular standard, quality or grade . . . if they are of another.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1770(a)(7)." 
( Appeal decision, footnote 1. )

Another reason that we oppose the settlement is that we have reason to believe that Ford treated at least one of its fleet customers far better than what it now offers in its settlement with its civilian customers.  On August 27, 2002, we had a conversation with Sgt. Larry Jowdy, who was at that time the supervisor of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's fleet department.  Jowdy told us that he had approximately 2000 Crown Victorias, saw the Ford factory representative two to three times a week, and that Ford had replaced their plastic manifolds before they failed (the equivalent of a "recall").  This is not the 'equal treatment' that we believe the court  talked about.

And a further reason that we oppose the settlement is its small window of time - It was announced on a Friday near Christmas, and expired after just 90 (ninety) days.

We think that a settlement that excludes so many cars, and provides such a short time to respond, should not have been accepted by the plaintiffs' lawyers, nor should it have been approved by the court.  If you agree, you could write to the court or the lawyers.  It probably won't change anything regarding this settlement, but maybe it will affect future settlements regarding other defects, as the same lawyers are involved in other automotive class actions.  The addresses are in the box at the bottom of this page.
(On February 22, 2006, we went by the Federal courthouse in Oakland and checked the case file.  We found about 50 letters there, from readers of this website.)

If your manifold failed, but not within the 7-year time limit, or you didn't hear about the settlement until after March 16, 2006 and as a result you have been excluded from the December 16 "settlement," we suggest that you file a complaint with ODI.  Maybe there will be another class action suit...


Claiming Your Settlement, Misleading Info*

*The deadline was March 16, 2006 - The following is info that was applicable prior to the deadline.

You can make a claim even if you no longer have a receipt for the repair.  But if you have no receipt, your car will need to be less than 7 years old as of now.

Beware:  You may have seen some incorrect info about who is eligible.

Until January 20, 2006 the Important Dates page of the official website for the settlement looked like this:

(The discussion continues below the image.)


Important Dates page (www.fordmanifoldsettlement.com/import.html) as it appeared until January 20, 2006, when it was corrected - highlighting has been added)

The first highlighted passage indicated, incorrectly, that the settlement would not be applicable to cars now more than seven years old, even if the owner had a receipt for the repair.  That passage should have read:
 
"If you paid to replace the intake manifold on your Class Vehicle, have the original receipt or a copy of it, and your manifold replacement occurred within seven years of the initial sale of your vehicle..." 

Even though the settlement webmaster has since corrected the page, it was "out there" for the first month+ of the program and no doubt will result in many otherwise-eligible people not filing a claim.

If You Don't Have a Receipt....**

**The deadline was March 16, 2006 - The following is info that was applicable prior to the deadline.


The second highlighted passage was correct as originally published on the
official site - if your car is now more than seven years old and you don't have a receipt for the repair, you will not get reimbursed.  However, even if you no longer have the receipt in your own files, you can submit a copy obtained from the files of the place that did the repair.  Presumably, that could even be from your Ford dealer, if the work was done there.  The court papers say:
 
"If the settlement class member does not have his or her original receipts, he or she may present a photocopy or duplicate receipt obtained from the business that performed the work."
(From page 19, Settlement Agreement and Release of June 16, 2005, Document 445-1.)



Fixing It Yourself

If you were not eligible for the Program, or missed the deadline, here is a free website which tells you how to fix it yourself.
http://www.autoclinix.com


How You Can Help

The hard deadline (March 16, 2006) meant that word had to get out, and quickly.  If you feel you have been cheated, we suggest doing any or all of the following:
1.  Call newspapers and TV stations, ask them to talk about the program, its deadline, and its exclusion of so many vehicles..
2.  Post info on internet forums or newsgroups that you frequent.
3.  Write to the judge.


*****


(Your name and address)

(Date)

Judge Claudia Wilken
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Courtroom 2, 4th Floor
1301 Clay Street
Oakland, California 94612

Re:  Chamberlan and Fok v. Ford Motor Company, No. CV-03-02628-CW

Your Honor:

I have mailed a copy of this letter to both counsel in this matter, at the addresses indicated below.

I own a (year) Ford (model), VIN # __________________.

(Your text, continued...)






Very truly yours,

(signature)




cc:
Michael Ram, Esq. (Counsel for Plaintiffs Chamberlan & Fok)
Levy, Ram and Olson, Attorneys at Law
639 Front Street
San Francisco, California 94111

cc:
Brian C. Anderson, Esq. (Counsel for Defendant Ford)
O'Melveny and Myers, Attorneys at Law
1625 Eye Street
Washington, District of Columbia 20006




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