US auto giant Ford has replaced nine of the new Ford Ranger ute over the past six months due to technical defects, but has promised to respond faster to customer complaints and cut turnaround times.
Ford Australia has announced it has replaced nine examples of the new generation Ford Ranger ute – including two high-profile cases that caught national media attention on Channel Nine A topical matter this week – since the model went on sale six months ago.
After being fined $10 million by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Acc) in 2018 over multiple warranty breaches on other models in the Ford range, the US auto giant has expanded its Melbourne-based customer complaints department, but admits it still needs to get better at fixing serious vehicle faults – and cut turnaround times.
The aggrieved customers at the center of this week’s media storm — a Ford Ranger Wildtrak owner and a Ford Ranger XLT owner — told the TV show their vehicles broke down multiple times shortly after delivery and that they were frustrated by delays in the delivery repair or replacement of their vehicles.
The footage was broadcast on Channel Nine – owner of Drive.com.au – showed examples of customer vehicles with warning notices, fully extinguished digital instruments and images of the vehicle on a tow truck.
Alongside a photo of her brand new Ford Ranger Wildtrak with a giant bow on it the day she picked it up, owner Bianca Fitzsimmons told the TV show, “This is my first brand new car. I was really looking forward to it.”
Bianca’s new Ford Ranger broke down three times with mechanical and electrical failures within the first few months of ownership.
When a road trip to Queensland was cut short because of mechanical gremlins, Ford couldn’t provide Bianca with a rental car and she had to walk – while pregnant.
After numerous repairs, malfunctions continued to appear. “The car hit the brakes at 80 km/h. Being pregnant I’m lucky I didn’t get any injuries,” Bianca told the TV show. “The NRMA came out and they said … the vehicle needs to be towed.”
She said the car had a “pre-collision system error, parking sensors error, reversing sensors have malfunctioned, see manual”.
Both the large digital instrument and infotainment screens went blank. “No speedometer, no turn signals, no fuel gauge, nothing,” said Bianca.
Although Ford replaced Bianca’s Ford Ranger in December – three days before Christmas – she said the process had taken too long and believed her concerns about the car were initially not taken seriously.
“I asked them to replace the car and last time I got a letter saying this car didn’t meet the (guidelines) replacement under (Australian consumer laws),” Bianca said.
“It’s not like it’s jeans. I don’t really think that’s all you can do when it’s a $77,000 purchase.
“I think I was treated disgustingly. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a woman and (Ford) thought they could get away with it.”
Ford Australia has apologized for the time it took to replace Bianca’s Ford Ranger Wildtrak and says it is “trying” to better deal with customer complaints.
Meanwhile, another Ford Ranger customer, Alex Tomlinson, said he was only able to drive his car for a month before encountering problems.
“In the first edition, the vehicle was at the dealer for at least a month and a half. I was told I could come and pick up the vehicle,” Alex told the TV show.
“When I actually jumped into the vehicle, it showed some errors. The same problem again the next day. The car was completely dead. I was shocked.”
Alex is now in a rental car while Ford procures a replacement vehicle.
However, as Alex bought a unique model – a Ford Ranger XLT 4×2 – none were in stock. His replacement vehicle is being built and is scheduled for delivery in February.
“They certainly dragged out the process,” Alex told the TV show. “I was not treated as I should be treated as a customer buying a brand new vehicle.”
In a statement to driveFord Australia said Ms Fitzsimmons received her replacement vehicle late last year and the company has already agreed to replace Mr Tomlinson’s vehicle – but it has to be built and then shipped to Australia as it is a unique model.
“Mr Tomlinson’s replacement Ranger is due in February and in the meantime a Ranger has been made available to him on loan,” Ford Australia said in a statement.
“We are aware that there have been delays during this process and we apologize for any inconvenience this causes.”
Numerous vulnerabilities and failures of the Ford Ranger were reported on social media platforms, the most notorious of which was a series of faulty rear shafts that caused the vehicle to vibrate at high speed.
A manufacturing defect at the end shaft supplier delayed the delivery of more than 1,000 Ford Rangers nationwide or replaced required parts.
Other Ford Ranger bugs documented on social media include blank instrument displays — or digital screens showing multiple images overlaid.
In these cases, the defective parts are replaced or the software updated – and usually do not justify a vehicle buyback or complete vehicle replacement.
Given that the new generation Ford Ranger had a difficult start, drive asked Ford Australia how many had been replaced due to warranty concerns.
“Of the 25,587 Next-Generation Ford Rangers sold since launch (July 2022), we have replaced nine vehicles that have unresolved issues or have experienced unreasonable delays in completing repairs,” he said a statement by Ford.
Ford didn’t answer Moves When asked how the number of vehicle changes for the new Ford Ranger compares to the previous model, he said: “We take our responsibility for the proper treatment of our customers and our obligations under Australian consumer law seriously.
“When we had cases that took longer than reasonable or that we couldn’t resolve to the satisfaction of our customers, we offered to replace vehicles.”
Asked whether Ford has asked or forced customers to sign non-disclosure agreements regarding warranty complaints and/or vehicle replacements or buybacks, the company said, “We have not asked these two customers to sign non-disclosure agreements, and we do not require any customers to do so.” .
“When customers have their vehicles replaced, we ask them to sign a release letter confirming that they agree to the vehicle replacement as a solution to their case.”
When drive Asked how many Ford Australia Customer Services staff deal with buybacks and vehicle replacements, the company said: “We have a dedicated team to look after vehicle replacements and ensure a speedy turnaround in the few cases that are in where a vehicle replacement is required.
“Since 2016, we have significantly increased the size and capabilities of our team. We’ve improved training, streamlined processes, empowered frontline workers and increased our capacity to resolve complaints faster.
“But we always strive to be better. If something goes wrong, we take it seriously.
“Behind the scenes, we also have a proactive support process in place to expedite resolution of issues. So if our roadside assistance partner indicates that a vehicle is being towed, a member of the (customer service) team will contact them and coordinate with the dealer to arrange a loaner vehicle and work with them to diagnose the problem and to provide the necessary technical support.
Ford Australia says any customers who have concerns about their vehicle can contact one of 60 customer service specialists based at their Melbourne office by calling 13 FORD (13 36 73).
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