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Serious concerns over Ford's customer care & service support

During the 1st breakdown, the job details under labour nowhere mention that the work was carried out for clearing the error codes or cleaning the fuel filter.

 BHPian Pratik Chavan recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

My family has been a proud Ford Ecosport owner (1.5 TDCi Titanium), which we purchased from Sai Sakshi Ford, Pune in Aug’16. The car is primarily used by my father on occasional highway trips from Pune to Mumbai, Kolhapur and the Konkan belt of Maharashtra. In the 5 years of ownership, the car has clocked almost 40k kms.

I truly believe that the Ford EcoSport in one of the finest Ford products globally, and among the best budget SUVs in India, especially in its Diesel avatar. For us, our car has been super reliable and hassle free, however, only until Aug-21. Our ordeal with the car and its reliability started since Aug-21, after the last service carried out at PPS Ford, Pune.

My father has meticulously maintained the car and has always serviced it at Ford authorized dealerships in Pune, and multiple times at PPS Ford Pune over the past 5 years of car ownership. However, there has been something horribly wrong after the latest service carried out on 30-Aug’21 at PPS Ford Pune. The car was serviced with change of engine oil and oil filter, at odometer reading 36,582 kms. Between that service until now (Dec-21), there have been 2 serious instances of the car suddenly halting at high speeds (approx. 100 kmph) right in the middle of motorways. In both these instances, the “Engine Service Now” notification came up on the center console screen with the icon symbol on the speedometer, and within 100 meters, the engine died down and the car came to a halt. The car stopping in the middle of a motorway at such high speeds was highly dangerous and almost a life-threatening moment for us, owing to trailing cars at high speed approaching from behind!

First Breakdown:

Within under a month and less than 1k km after the scheduled service of the car (@37,492 kms), we faced the first breakdown due to ‘Engine Service Now’ error, something which the car has never experienced before in 5 years of ownership. My father and sister were driving on NH4 (Bangalore-Pune) when at approx. 110 kmph near Satara, the “Engine Service Now” light appeared all of a sudden. The car jerked within 50 meters of light appearing and suddenly stopped on the national highway. On cranking with the engine start-stop button, the car engine refused to start. They had to tow the car to PPS Ford Service Center Pune.

The next morning, PPS Ford service center executive called my father and informed him that the car has started on its own without any intervention and no further action is required. He further informed us that the car has been thoroughly checked for all faults, and that no fault is reported and therefore nothing required to be fixed. The car was handed over to us claiming to be road worthy and we assumed that the car would run hassle free.

Error message on screen:

Second Breakdown:

Fast forward to Dec’21 and at 39,313 kms (approx. 2k kms since 1st breakdown and 3k kms since Aug-21 engine service) - This time, we were returning from Goa to Pune driving on National Highway 66 near the town of Kankavli. At around 10:30 AM, I was at the steering wheel when suddenly, the “Engine Service Now” light appeared on the center console screen. Knowing this error from the 1st time, my sister advised me to keep the car in the left lane. As expected within 50 meters, the car engine died and the car halted. Efforts to restart the engine proved futile once again.
Given our experience from the 1st breakdown, we had availed the Ford Road Side Assistance Package (RSA), which unfortunately came to use so early on. Now, here starts our real ordeal which has incentivized me to post this experience on Team BHP.

Our first call to the RSA went at 10:49 AM from National Highway 66, and we had to wait until almost 1:30 PM just to get confirmation from RSA that the towing truck along with the custodian has been dispatched from site. If this was not already a long wait, the shocking news from Ford RSA was that the towing truck will take at least 3 more hrs to reach the destination. The towing truck finally arrived at 4:15 PM, almost after a 5.5 hr long wait on a National Highway without any assistance. Such SLAs for Road Side Assistances that too when officially availed from Ford, and on a National Highway is beyond my understanding and comprehension. The worst part about the quality of RSA is posted later here, for which I am still in a tussle with Ford RSA team.

Car picked up by RSA from NH66 (A painful sight for a petrolhead):

At 4:30 PM, our car was finally towed to Unique Ford Kolhapur and we had to arrange our personal transportation at our own expense to Pune.

On 27th Dec, i.e. next day, we received a call from Unique Ford Kolhapur after they did an initial check of the car. They mentioned that OBD is showing 2 error codes:

  • P228C: Fuel Pressure Regulator 1 Exceeded Control Limits - Pressure Too Low AND.
  • P0093: Fuel system leak -large leak detected.

Clearly, something was wrong with the fuel system. When Unique Ford opened the fuel tank, they observed some debris leading to a clogged fuel filter. Unique Ford began the work on replacing the diesel filter and cleaning the fuel tank.

Fuel filter photos sent to us by Unique Ford Kolhapur:

While work on the car was on-going at Unique Ford Kolhapur, we were interested to understand why this problem was not captured during the 1st breakdown reported in Sep’21, and why we were not kept transparent about this problem if this is occurring for the 2nd time. Therefore, in order to back track what went wrong at PPS Ford during the first breakdown investigation, we had a meeting with the service head of PPS Ford Pune, who showed us the attached job card from the first breakdown. The service head claimed that PPS Ford had already identified the exact error codes during last breakdown, and that they were fixed just by cleaning the filter. He also went on to make a senseless comment that since the car ran trouble-free for 2k kms after the first breakdown, PPS Ford had done a decent job with fixing the vehicle then. He further stated that since the car has broken down again in a similar manner, it needed further investigation. Such kind of statements coming from a General Manager of a Ford Service Center make me doubt the morality and credibility of Ford dealerships and the service staff. There was zero ownership displayed by PPS Ford in this case, until this conversation.

All through this case, we noticed serious discrepancies through our communication with Ford Customer Care and PPS Ford since the first breakdown:

  • The first breakdown job card which the PPS Ford Service Head showed us had the 2 error codes written in pen. We suspect the comments were written by PPS Ford after their communication with Unique Ford, with an intent that PPS Ford can also claim that they had caught the errors during the 1st breakdown.

Errors suspiciously written by pen on job card:

  • During the 1st breakdown, the job details under labour nowhere mention that the work was carried out for clearing the error codes or cleaning the fuel filter. On the other hand, all other line items which were checked during 1st breakdown are mentioned.

No mention on fuel filter cleaned anywhere on the job card:

On the last page of the job report, under observation section, the original problem statement has been suspiciously scratched by a pen and the problem solution below the scratched remark has been re-written. It has been rubbed to such an extent that the original comment is almost unreadable.

Comment suspiciously scratched by pen:

If at all the error codes were cleared by cleaning the filter, this has not been communicated to us after the first breakdown. The only communication has been that there was no issue and the car is road worthy. If at all this was communicated to us, we would have been extra cautious to not take the car on long journeys.

After the above discrepancies, I decided to escalate this case to Ford Senior Management. I reached out to Mr. Jashdip Bhatia (Head Customer Experience) on LinkedIn and Mr. Vinay Raina (Executive Director – Ford India) through his Gmail which I was able to retrieve through some online research. I also lodged a formal grievance with Department of Consumer Affairs with GOI.

After these escalations, Ford Customer Care started frantically reaching out to me multiple times a day. They remained consistent with the argument that the reason for breakdown was adulterated fuel which they observed during the fuel tank and fuel filter clean-up. To date, they remain silent on:

  • Why this serious issue was not captured / fixed by PPS Ford during the 1st breakdown, and who should claim ownership for the 2nd breakdown.
  • When I requested that I be provided with a written confirmation that the car won’t breakdown again for the same error codes, and that I do not risk my life in a similar breakdown again, Ford India provided a generic response without any formal road worthiness commitment due to these error codes.

The senior management escalation proved to be useful though in a limited sense - PPS Ford and Unique Ford Kolhapur coordinated among themselves to get the car back to Pune at their own expense. Moreover, PPS Ford service team was cooperative during our 2nd visit after the car was bought back. PPS Ford gave a written confirmation on the job card, mentioning that the car be kept under observation for 1000 kms until a complete clearance on the defect.

Getting back to the quality of RSA: When I went to take the delivery of my car at PPS Ford Pune, I observed a huge dent on the front bumper of the car, which Unique Ford claims was already present when RSA dropped the car at the dealership. Thankfully, I had clicked pictures of the car while the car was being lifted by the towing truck, and these came to use to prove that the front bumper was dent free when the car was handed over to the RSA. I am presently now in a tussle with Ford RSA, who till date hasn’t identified the ownership of the dent and who and how it will be fixed.

Huge dent on the front bumper incurred during pickup by Ford RSA:

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