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Fire/Short due to Ford recall: 09S09

7992 Views 13 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Poppy
I have a 1995 Ford Windstar LX that I purchased February of this year. The miles at this point are at 178,XXX and I've put a total of 3,XXX miles on it since purchase. When I bought it I had a mechanic look it over and the entire vehicle was in near perfect condition. The outside had a few dents and the interior was amazing. Mechanically the only issues were both rear wheel bearings, a set of tires and an oil change.

With any vehicle I have ever owned I have the oil changed at or before 3,000 miles, check the fluid levels for everything at least once a week or more depending on if I feel there is a problem starting, oil change is always with Valvoline at the standard oil weight for the vehicle & use unleaded mid-grade Family Express fuel.

For my work commute it is an average of 60-70 miles round trip. This Winstar preforms on the highway like a dream. 25 MPG at 70 MPH during up to a 45 minute nonstop drive. I use the cruise control to drive the majority of the distance when on long trips like to work on the freeway and use the button that slows the speed down as needed where able to in traffic.

Friday (05/07/2010) on the way to a doctors appointment the red break failure indicator started to come on randomly when breaking with the peddle, breaking out of cruise, after already at a complete stop and even when not breaking at all. I pulled over at a fueling station and checked all the fluids. At that point all was normal so I continued my trip because the breaks worked and since I'm not a mechanic I didn't register an issue. During the trip to the appointment and then home the breaks never went out while driving nor did I have an issue with the Windstar other than the random red break failure indicator at times.

Saturday (05/07/2010) morning I went outside to check the fluids and it was all normal. The only time during that day the vehicle left the driveway was around 10:00 P.m. to take a trip to a fueling station a few miles from home. I arrived at the fueling station and noticed my debit card was not in my wallet and returned home. As I pulled in and parked I noticed smoking coming from under the hood lit up by the headlights. I opened the hood and there seemed to be a short, electrical fire or a smolder in the top driver side behind near the break fluid reservoir. I shut the Windstar off but the problem still seemed to be occurring. I unplugged the two battery cables and this appeared to have stopped the short, electrical fire or smolder that was taking place. After watching to make sure it was not going to cause another fire I cleaned break fluid from the wires and other pieces. The break fluid was not to far from the normal level so I filled to the line and all other fluids in the vehicle were fine.

Monday (05/10/2010) I checked all fluids again and it all looked normal so I made the slow cautious drive to a local Ford dealership to have it looked at. The Windstar was under recall and after telling the associate what had happen he said it would be covered under the recall free of charge and not to worry. After the recall was preformed I drove a back home and noticed the red break failure indicator was still coming on and once home it was parked the rest of the day.

Tuesday (05/11/2010) the red break failure indicator was still coming on randomly on the way to work so I called the dealership that had preformed the recall to have them look at it again for a second opinion to make sure that it was safe to operate. The associate in service told me he would have to speak with a manger and give me a call back. During the wait I dropped it off at Wal-mart to have the oil changed. At the time of the oil change all fluids were normal but they did find the red break failure indicator to be functioning at random times.

A few minutes after picking up the Windstar from Wal-mart the dealership called and asked me to come back in so they could take a took. It is only a few mile drive over and when I pulled in to the service garage the associate at the desk asked me to wait a moment while he finished paperwork. During that waiting period I heard my hood close and there was a gentlemen who appeared to be a sales person or a manager under the hood of my car. What shocked me was he never asked to look at the Windstar nor did he say anything to me but rather when he noticed I caught him he hurried away. At that point the associate behind the counter realized I figured out someone was just under the hood and hurried over to it.

The associate opened the hood to the Windstar and it was smoking rather bad. It didn't appear to be sparking or on fire like the previous time though. The associate told me it was from a little oil that had got on the motor during the oil change but it didn't smell like burned oil. He started to investigate a possible reason the red break light indicator was still coming on but he was looking in all the places except where the fluid almost as if on purpose. Finally after following his head around I looked at the break fluid reservoir and it was empty. Keep in mind that Wal-mart already had stated that the fluid levels were normal not even a half hour prior.

At this point I believe that the recall was not completed like it should have been and when I took it back to have it looked at again it could have been possible that the person that was under the hood while I wasn't aware took the break fluid out as to have that seem like the problem so I would go away.

I contacted Ford's customer care line to report the dealership and fire. A lady from Ford told me to have it looked at by another dealer to confirm if it was safe to operate but since the recall was already preformed no dealership in my area will have a look even after explaining the situation. She also stated that nothing could be done because I had a fire and that it had to be transferred to the legal department before any further action is taken. After explaining the situation they further refuse because they don't want to be involved with the dispute. I made a report with the National Safety Administration and my car insurance broker. I've spoken with several attorney offices and none will take the case because the fire did not burn the car to the ground, I did not retain any injuries and the house did not burn. Being my only vehicle I'm glad I caught it before it turned in to a serious problem but the way it is looking from attorneys I should have let it burn and that's sad.

After 5 days I have yet to receive any contact from Ford or their legal department. Has anyone else here had this happen due to the recent speed control recall or know of anyone that has or any route I can take to have this resolved?
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I am not going to go through the trouble of undeleting your earlier post on this subject which you subsequently deleted, just to prove a point. This post does vary from the original in that you stated something to the fact that Walmart gave you a check off list of fulid levels checked, and the brake fluid level was not checked off.

In this post you make a possible accusation that the gentleman at the dealership removed brake fluid from the master cylinder.

Personally I am getting a little uncomfortable with this changing of your story, and accusation. I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling about this.

It seems that it never really went on fire, but that you did have some smoldering. You may be fortunate in that the car/van did not actually catch on fire, because you wouldn't be too likely to get an attorney to take the case for a $1000 car. Your legal expenses would very easily be greater than the value of the vehicle.

It is a little challenging seeing what is going on back there unless you remove the cowel that holds the windshield wiper assembly.
There is an instructional on here in the windstar section on how to do that.

You may try cleaning the master cylinder and checking it for leaks, then inspecting the wiring for damage. If the insulation is not damaged and the ford people replaced the sensor, you might be ok. It seems like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I don't know if they are responsible to make any repairs beyond what the recall calls for.

Good luck.
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I deleted the other thread so that there is no confusion. Please keep all of your commments on this issue in this one thread.

Please do not make wholesale modifications to a post once you post it, a word or two, spelling and punctuation changes are fine.

If you make more significant changes, please clearly mark what changes you make
EDIT: foo bar new stuff... /EDIT

Members have commented to me privately they they had prepared comments and posts to your earlier story, and didn't post them becuase of the wholesale edits.
They throw the time-line off, and makes for a messy forum.

just so you know... you are a heartbeat from being banned, so please walk gently, please be curteous.

Perhaps there is another member here who had a similar situation that for whatever reason the recall had not been performed for ten years (or so) after the announcement. And Ford took care of it in spite of the delay in performing the recall action. I do not know.
EDIT: Dave pointed out below that this was a more recent recall. He is correct, I was thinking of a different one. /EDIT:

Regarding legal advice, we give automotive advice here. Your legal rights may vary from state to state. Seek the advice of a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in your state.

Good luck.
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Ok, so you noticed smoke under the hood, took it in for the brake switch recall (where they replace a switch that is prone to leaking, and *I think* add an inline fuse)

It is a very simple job, and I think that we can assume that they did it.

A couple of days later, you brought it back to them on Tuesday. There was additional smoldering, and an empty brake fluid reservoir.

Why didn't they do any additional troubleshooting?
Did they point out where the leak is coming from?
Explain why the reservoir was empty?

Could it be that your master cylinder was leaking, and that is what dripped brake fluid onto the wires, and the recalled switch wasn't the culprit?

You see... without knowing where the leak is coming from, you can't say definitively whether the recall work was done properly or not. Since it is a simple screw out the old switch and screw in the new one, the tech would have to be a real meatball to do it wrong.

Can you determine where it is leaking from?
IF as you suspect the recall work was done improperly, then it should still be leaking from the switch.
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Jonzo, I don't know, but if so, has he given you a response?
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