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Richard Leonard - Cam Failure #191

new 1/13/03

Hi Buford:

My name is Richard Leonard and I live in Boise, Idaho. Don't know if you have heard about me from Don, Kirk or Tim but they are aware of my plight. I have a very long story to tell but will spare you until you are ready for all the details. 

First, the Critical Data to get me added to the lawsuit.
Name...................Richard C. Leonard
SHO With Cam Problem.........Ebony Satin 1997
VIN #.......1FALP54N8VA270483
Purchase Date...................... 06/23/2000
Mileage when purchased........ 62,104
email address............... Home...... richardcleonard@aol.com
email address.................Work..... rleonard@zionsbank.com

Background of Claim Request:

Became aware of CAM failures in early 2002. Know service writers well at Local Ford dealer and addressed my concern about CAM failures identified on V8-SHO. Dealers refused to admit there have been ANY CAM failures. Brought in print form club and dealer dismissed as damage caused by "racing and extensive modifications to motor." During the spring and summer of 2002 I tried to sell my SHO for what I though was a reasonable price based on the interior being mint and the exterior also very clean except for one very small dent in drivers door. This car is very rare in Boise, Idaho and selling efforts produced offers appropriate for standard Taurus but not a good condition SHO. As I moved into the fall I decided I would have the car taken to auction and take a floor of $4,500.00. No luck, $4,200 was top bid!

In early fall I address CAM issue with the next nearest Ford Dealer. Their service manager would at least speak to me like I was somewhat of an intelligent person but had no interest in welding the cam's. But after even the auction sales failure, I decided to do the 90,000 mile service and tune up my baby. Ford Dealer #2 was my choice as the Dealer that has serviced my last 5 Ford vehicles had reached the point they would not even talk to me about the CAM issue. 

Keep in mind now that my SHO is running perfectly when I took her in for tune-up, flush all fluids, etc. I also chose to have them put all new coil packs in the back and a new IMRC so I would not have a lot of repair expense to get at these rather inaccessible parts which seem to fail when mileage approaches 100,000. So the Ford Dealer puts all the new parts, does the complete service and then calls me and advises the two rear CAM's are loose! They said they were just following a TSB by Ford a couple of months back (when the other Dealer was still contending there is no such thing as a CAM issue). 

So now a battle erupts as I want the CAM's welded. I try to find a local automotive shop that will agree to weld the CAM's. No success. So after a stalemate for about 10 days with my baby all torn apart, the Detroit Free Press article hits the wires. I take in a copy and DEMAND they step up to the welding procedure used by FPS. Well, at least this dealer came somewhat clean with me and admitted there was a serious CAM Design Problem which prompted the TSB. He also agreed that the most logical to solve the problem was to weld the CAM's and not replace them as they asked me to do upon finding the play in the shafts.

About 10 days later, I was presented a waiver to sign and the Dealer agreed to use his Master Tech supposedly with top notch welding skills to Mig Weld my CAM's.

Well, Beauford, I was between a rock and a hard spot. The bet was the CAM sprockets would spin in less than 1,000 miles. Dealer has already spent a ton of my money on the service and tune-up. So I signed the waiver that basically they could set fire to my car in their service bay and I would have no recourse. Thank you FMC for creating a problem that eventually caused me this crisis. 

Anyhow the welds were done after considerable consultation between FPS and the Ford staff involved with my baby. Well, the day of the weld, I was told everything went Very Well and my SHO would be like new again. But two days later when I was supposed to pick her up, they called and said there would be a delay, as they have a miss-fire caused by a bad new plug. My heart nearly stopped as I knew there was no way this could be caused by a brand new Platinum Plug being bad. So two days later, they call and say she is ready for pickup. Man am I excited. But when I fire her up, my heart sinks. Not silk smooth at idle anymore. But I drive away after paying a $2,458.65 repair bill. In a half mile I hit the freeway and she seems fine for a couple of miles at 75. But on the off ramp when I come to a stop, clearly there is a miss-fire. So I take her right back. Too much money spent to not have her right. 

So they keep her another 10 days and supposedly run all kinds of tests on her. They finally conclude that all of a sudden, one of the two exhaust springs has lost its tension and one of the exhaust valves on #1 is causing the miss-fire only at RPM's less than 1,500. They give me two choices, take her, drive her and enjoy her or give them $10,500.00 to fix her. They wanted to put in four new CAM's and two new heads. Well, you can guess what I told them!

So I take option #1 but two days later the SES light comes on. I take her back and it is the miss-fire code for #1 as well as an emissions control code. Same story, drive her and enjoy her. Bull #$%*! In Idaho we have a strict emissions control testing program and the car would not pass the test. So, still trying to pray for just a little bit of good news, I take her to my long time Ford Dealer. I do not tell them I have gone to their competitor and had the CAM's welded in hopes the problem may still be something simple. Well, after extensive diagnosis, they want to open her up as they say the problem is clearly mechanical. 

Once they opened her up, the problem was blatantly obvious. One of the three welds on the slave cam sprocket above the first exhaust valve had the worst weld you could imagine. There was a tit or extrusion from the leading end of the weld that protruded about 1/2 inch at about a 45 degree angle. It was a large, solid chunk of metal with what was initially a sharp point. Well, you know what the rest of the story is. 

Yes, the first time they turned the motor over, probably just to spin the shafts during the welding process caused all the damage. This weld extension impacted the valve just at the time the piston reached its highest position. Bang, crushed valve! Also this dealer used a bore scope and says there is an impact point on top of the piston. There is also a very shinny circle around the valve where the impact has been continuous and the point of the weld has been worn off to a flat, very shinny end. So you can put this in the book as a quick way to destroy a SHO motor. What a Bunch of Idiots! 

I have contacted a local attorney who has reviewed the signed disclaimer. He says the weld job is so bad that there may be a way to nullify the disclaimer but he wants a huge retainer to take the case. So I guess I have a parts car of will have to pour a ton of new money into her to get back on the road. Not good choices.

Anyhow, I have the SHO now sitting torn down at the second dealer and have to get it out of there ASAP. They will not do a limited repair on the motor. They claim the unauthorized welds have ruined all four CAM's and both heads. They refuse to repair it in any manner short of that level of replacement. They also feel there is a strong likelihood that the block will have to be re-bored as there is probably metal in #1. 

What a F$%& Nightmare! 

Beauford, what blows me away is how Ford has treated me. How can they so blatantly lie to us and not help us avoid this horrendously expensive problem before it happens? Just Unbelievable. I guess I feel particularly betrayed as I have been a Ford Customer all my life. I have purchased three new vehicles from them and have owned 8 or more of their cars and truck. This is my 3rd SHO. I currently own the Gen III, a Gen II, a 2000 SES, a 98 Sable LX Premium Wagon with Duratec Motor and my F-250 4WD. But because I own a "black-sheep Gen III SHO," I am treated like the enemy.

Let me know what additional information you may need to get me on the list. 


 My goal, however, is to just get Ford to make it right.  Have I been hurt over this?  You bet I have.  Has Ford been straight with me in any way over this?  Never.  But I still love the SHO car.  Have cherished three of them.  Ford just needs to understand that loyal customers like myself keep them in business.  I owned a couple of 300 ZX Turbos before my first SHO.  The '90 SHO was an opportunity to not buy foreign and that was a big issue with me.  Its been nothing but SHO's since. 


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