Ford recall of towbars causing travellers and tradies some anguish.

Submitted: Tuesday, Oct 02, 2012 at 19:36
ThreadID: 98362 Views:3377 Replies:12 FollowUps:9
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I have a Ford PK Wildtrak. Ford have recalled it to replace the Towbar. They state in the letter that I am not to use the towbar until I have it replaced, for safety concerns.
I am towing my caravan up the Queensland coast to Cairns, I am in Rockhampton. I am not allowed to tow my caravan.
The local Ford distributor cannot get any towbars from Ford, none available and there is a waiting list of over fourty in Rockhampton and fourty six in Bundaberg. Both Distributors state that Ford cannot supply them with towbars.
They won't let me use my towbar, they won't pay for a another non Ford towbar, they won't pay my accommodation expenses in Rockhampton until they replace my towbar (which they cant supply).
This towbar has over the last two years at least, towed three different Caravans and camper trailers around Australia, and now it is deemed unsafe.
If it failed in that time they were negligent, after the letter, I am negligent.
What has changed, nothing, they should still be negligent.
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Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, Oct 02, 2012 at 22:08

Tuesday, Oct 02, 2012 at 22:08
G'day Alan & Dale
Welcome to the murky world of car company practices. There is no possibility it is their responsibility in their eyes. The letter would be to guard against possible repercussions, sort of covering their bum,( read other word there ), with cast iron so as to deflect hard kicking by customers/clients.
Have a good look to check if there is cracking or looseness or infact looose bolts holding it to the chassis.

How did you receive the letter, while on the road or at home address? If they don't know you haven't got it yet, eg you have not actually registered the replacement with a dealer then you are still, pre letter status. However, if you have asked a dealer to register the supply for a replacement then the issue changes somewhat, and you are then under the post letter situation. Not sure how you manage that.

If all is ok at present and you are, pre letter notification you could do a search and say you haven't got your letter yet and seek a dealer on your travels who has one and say you have heard it has to be changed. Your letter must have got lost in forwarding.

As long as you stay ahead of the letters progress across the country you are in command and dealers have to comply and help if they know you are coming from the outback to them.
I agree they are negligent on many issues but making mud stick on high quality teflon is difficult for the average person to do. You need to play them at their own game and scour the surface before throwing the mud.
AnswerID: 496074

Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 06:44

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 06:44
Except for the fact that he has gone into a very public forum with his problem and already 382 people have read it and know that he knows all about it. Those people could include people from Ford.
Kevin
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Follow Up By: Member - Adrian L (QLD) - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:15

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:15
Hi Allan and Dale
if I WOULD BE in your position.....this what I would do: Find an Engineering Shop... have the towbar reinforced where it is supposed to break....leave my phone number with the ford dealer to contact me when the new towbar is available....and get back on the road and enjoy my holiday.
As I said in the beginning, thats what I would do and is NOT a recommendation to go down that path for anyone.

Happy travels
Adrian
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Reply By: Rockape - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 05:40

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 05:40
Bugger I feel for you.

Here is the recall and the reason. There is also a phone number as the treatment from the dealer is very shabby.

The other way around it is to fit a Hayman Reece bar at your expense. Price is around the $500 to $600 mark.

Ford—PJ & PK Ranger
PRA number: 2012/13271
Date created: 20th August 2012
Product information
Product description
Certain PJ and PK Ranger XLT and Wildtrak models equipped with factory fitted tow bar and built from September 18, 2006 through June 17, 2011
Identifying features
PJ and PK Ranger XLT and Wildtrak models
What are the defects?
The tow bar assembly fitted to affected vehicles may develop weld fracturing around the towbar tongue.
What are the hazards?
Fracturing of the tow bar tongue welding can affect safe operation and handling when an affected vehicle is towing, presenting a potential traffic hazard to the driver and/or other road users.
Dates available for sale
18th September 2006 - 17th June 2011
Where the product was sold
Nationally
Traders who sold this product
Authorised Ford dealers.
Supplier
Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd
What should consumers do?
Consumers should not use the tow bar. Owners are advised to contact their nearest Ford dealership for inspection and rectification.

For further information contact Ford's Customer Relationship Centre on 1800 503 672.

All the best,
RA.
AnswerID: 496084

Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:18

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:18
In any document, legal or otherwise, you must analyse the wording.

"Consumers 'should not' use the tow bar. Owners are advised to contact their nearest Ford dealership for inspection and rectification."

It does not say 'MUST NOT'

It also only says "Owners are advised .... "



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Follow Up By: Rockape - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:29

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:29
Shaker,
you forgot the mandatory "Shall Not"

You are correct but I was just handing on the notice and the PHONE Number.

One must cover all bases and live by my rules which are.

It is better to ask for forgiveness that ask for permission.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 10:25

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 10:25
Ford do not say "Must not" or "Shall not" because they do not have any authority to direct your actions. They say "Should not" because in their opinion..... "Fracturing of the tow bar tongue welding can affect safe operation...presenting a potential traffic hazard to the driver and/or other road users."
There is no legal restraint to you continuing to use the product other than a possible charge of Undue Care or similar when you had been advised of the hazard. So you cannot be prosecuted for continuing to use the product but may have a legal problem if that use causes an injury.

As to the wording of a document, in the event of legal action a court may make judgement based on their interpretation of the "intent" bearing in mind "how a person may reasonably interpret the wording". It is never Black & White in a legal judgment.

Which leaves you Alandale, in a poor situation. It's lousy I know but Ford cannot be expected to solve everyone's problem instantaneously. Your situation may be no more exigent than many others so you are relegated to a queue to await resolution.
1. You may appeal to Ford but I would not expect a satisfactory outcome.
2. You can cease using the tow bar and await Ford's action.
3. You could continue to use the tow bar with the attendant risk of incurring a problem.
4. You could purchase a replacement and continue touring. If you do this it may be prudent to write to Ford advising them of your action, deemed necessary in the circumstance, and endeavour to obtain some compensation at a later time.

Whatever you do, I wish you good luck.

Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - Andrew L (WA) - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 08:58

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 08:58
Are you able to source an aftermarket towbar? I know my vacation time is more valuable to me than the cost of a towbar. I would be just be fitting an aftermarket towbar, getting on with my vacation and arguing the toss with Ford later. You could always sell either the the aftermarket or Ford replacement towbar later to recoup some costs.
Certainly the service from Ford is unsatisfactory but don't let is wreck your trip.
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:02

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:02
Seems pretty simple to me.
If you want to keep on vannin, have the welds cut and rewelded by a certified welder, and maybe some additional filleting done.
Maybe send a soliciter's letter to Ford demanding they pay.

That's what I would do, but then I am not litigation prone or obsessed by who is responsible for what.
Regards Philip A
AnswerID: 496087

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:07

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:07
You seem to be between a rock and a hard place, Alan.

Doesn't matter what you do at the moment, it's going to cost you money. As Ross said, Ford have covered their arse by sending out the letters, and if you were to ignore it, Murphy might jump onboard, somewhere between Rocky and Mackay, and you could be in the poo, if the bar did let go.

Reckon you have to weigh up the cost of staying in Rocky for xx weeks, with all the allied expenses, and maybe the boredom, while Ford get their act together, or fork out for an aftermarket bar, as RA suggested. You can then continue your trip, albeit a little lighter in the wallet, rather than a lot lighter!!!

Plenty to see in the Rocky - Yeppoon area. Just hope you're still not there when the hot weather starts. Lets us know how you get on,

Bob.
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AnswerID: 496088

Reply By: Honky - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:47

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 09:47
Isn't the tongue the part that holds the towball not the tow ball itself?

Honky
AnswerID: 496089

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 16:02

Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 16:02
That's my understanding. If you are using WDH then you already have replaced the welded tongue piece. Use the contact number in the recall to check if it is just the tongue piece or whether it is the hitch receiver that is not welded properly to the tow bar and their wording is incorrect.
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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 12:01

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 12:01
Wonder how many defective tow bars Ford has seen. Are we talking 1% or 10% problems.

Would also be nice to know if it is more common in the dual cab model with their (my opinion) design flaw with the chassis design.

AnswerID: 496091

Reply By: CSeaJay - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 12:15

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 12:15
From reading the recall notice posted above,
IF I was you
I would simply inspect the weld for cracks in the said place, it appears the be easily inspected
If there were no cracks then I would have happily towed on. Make a forward booking at a place you will be at in two weeks and replace then.

Disclaimer - this is not advice, this is pondering what I would have done in your situation. ;-).

CJ
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 12:54

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 12:54
CJ,
that is exactly what I would do.

RA.
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Follow Up By: Polaris - Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 11:30

Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 11:30
An X-Ray of the welds is the only safe way to inspect the welds.

This is done regularly in mining and heavy industry where weld integrity is of paramount importance.

A casual 'look' at the external appearance is not suffiient.
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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Saturday, Oct 06, 2012 at 22:10

Saturday, Oct 06, 2012 at 22:10
Weld crack testing kits are readily available now from various places.

Get one of these, and check the bar out for any suspect welds.

This is just my opinion, not to be taken as advice what to do...
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Reply By: TerraFirma - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 13:47

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 13:47
Inspect your towbar Alan and if it appears ok as it has been for the past 2 years then I would continue to tow until you have it replaced. Recalls are often due to extreme cases that lead to failure. So many people I know don't even know they got a recall due to it getting lost or thrown out in the mail. Common sense prevails.
AnswerID: 496094

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 14:18

Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 at 14:18
And..... there is no need to necessarily assume that Ford are going to rectify YOUR problem as quickly as the could....only a few years back, my then car was subject to a safety recall (different make), but weeks and weeks went by and the dealer could never tell me when the parts would arrive. I then emailed DOTARS (ACT I think) and asked them to get something done about it (quoting the dire nature of the safety implications etc. :-o) - several days later I got a phone call from the dealer and a booking was offered.....done.
*mine was a 'serious safety' thing too (and an expensive fix), but the manufacturer's letter did not advise non-use in the interim....?
Doubt you could do much worse than have a pro welder take the bar off, clean it up, inspect and reweld the suspect section - much cheaper than a new bar probably and you get to keep touring.
AnswerID: 496096

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 16:03

Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 16:03
See the Followup in Reply 6
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Reply By: Member -Hilton Hillbillies - Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 20:14

Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 20:14
G'day Alan and Dale,

Sorry for the late reply and I hope you have it sorted.
But if not may I suggest you get the closest Ford dealer to inspect the tow bar.
If they give it the all clear then you should be able to continue your trip.
But if they find a problem, you can then consider your options.

I wouldn't be taking any risk, as if you do have any problem you will give your insurance company the perfect excuse to void you policy.

Good luck and happy travels.
Regards
Steve
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