Ford owners sue over costly repair linked to broken spark plugs

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Scores of Ford owners may be in for a costly surprise when they drop off their vehicle for a tune-up.

Channel 2 Action News reported Friday  that owners of many 2004 to 2008 Ford models with a certain engine are being charged hundreds of dollars extra to remove spark plugs that break when mechanics try to replace them.

Ford, which alerted dealership mechanics to the problem in 2006, issued a special tool to remove the plugs but didn’t issue a recall to vehicle owners, according to Channel 2. The problem has triggered several lawsuits by angry Ford owners.

The affected vehicles include the popular F-150 pickup, Mustang, Expedition, Lincoln Mark LT and other models that have a Triton 5.4-liter engine. The spark plug problem generally isn’t noticed until after the vehicle goes in for its first tune-up at 100,000 miles.

Ford F-150 owner Roger Miller was shocked when what he thought would be a routine service turned into a $400 job. “I thought it would be a simple hour’s worth of changing the spark plugs,” Miller told Channel 2.

Miller has joined one of four class-action lawsuits targeting Ford in federal court.

Bill Rimmer of Cooperlake Automotive in Smyrna told Channel 2 that Ford owners can’t escape the extra costs. Rimmer said Ford didn’t realize that despite the high mileage before the first tune-up, carbon builds up and sticks to the spark plug chamber, causing the spark plug to seize.

“I’ve talked with a few mechanics that said it’s hard to tell people, ‘Look this tune-up is gonna run you probably $300 to $600 if everything goes smooth,’ ” Rimmer said. “But if a plug breaks, it’s going to be more for each plug that breaks.”

28 comments Add your comment

Fred ™

April 27th, 2012
6:47 pm

Ford has long had problems with the spark plugs.


April 27th, 2012
6:53 pm

Fix Or Repair Daily. Found On Road Dead.


April 27th, 2012
6:55 pm

A little anti-sieze goes a long way.


April 27th, 2012
7:03 pm

A lawsuit because repair costs are higher than you expected? Gimme a break.


April 27th, 2012
7:05 pm

American engineering at its best.


April 27th, 2012
7:07 pm

You mean “Rimmer said Ford didn’t realize that despite the high mileage before the first tune-up, carbon builds up and sticks to the spark plug chamber, causing the spark plug to seize.”
Gee, I thought that was Automotive 101 in shop class!

Still Working It

April 27th, 2012
7:28 pm

Guess what? Whenever you bring ANY vehicle to a dealer for repair, costs are going to be HIGHER than you expected. People are sheep and just plain stupid.

some people really make my butt itch

April 27th, 2012
7:33 pm

Repairs ok gotcha….however simple maintenance> They did say a regular tune-up could run $400-600. Who is the sheep? The one that takes it in stride or the ones that stand up for what’s right?


April 27th, 2012
7:40 pm

Engines have ONLY been using spark plugs for over 100 years. I’ve seen the plug – had to have been designed by some kid engineer..


April 27th, 2012
8:07 pm

One of the many reasons I enjoy my Nissan.


April 27th, 2012
8:18 pm

Only the Ford Triton engines have these weird plugs. I heard about the problem from my mechanic about 3 years ago. He had a h*ll of a time getting a broken plug out. You have to see the plug to see how rube goldberg it is..

Never buy a Ford

April 27th, 2012
8:19 pm

The worst car I’ve ever owned was a Ford and no one in my family will buy another one. Bad cars and even worse customer service. 25 years without a Ford in the family and hopefully we can go another 25 without seeing one.

some people really make my butt itch

April 27th, 2012
8:28 pm

They should have done the recall. Instead they give “special tools” to their dealerships and saved the cost of having to fix their muck-up. (bottom line, profit over people) $$$ bills ya’ll, $$$bills ya’ll. Now some non-reading comprehensions want to call the people that “Bought American” stupid sheep. The irony is sickening.

J. Hoffa

April 28th, 2012
3:10 am

Support Unions… Buy American… We love Obama!

Vote with your dollars

Sally Rode

April 28th, 2012
3:22 am

Anti-sieze compounds are way over-rated. We saved 5 cents per vehicle eliminating this waste.

All dealership cashiers are now required to keep a tube of KY Jelly under the register for improved customer comfort.

Jack Holder

April 28th, 2012
7:35 am

Ford has never cared much for emissions or gas mileage…I will keep my Honda.


April 28th, 2012
7:43 am

just another simple reason that buyers are driven to foreign vehicles. $3200 repair on my GM truck… the next one will be an import.


April 28th, 2012
8:00 am

Decent truck, easy ride. All you gotta do is buy it, drive it less than 100,000 miles. Let the next owner worry about it. Worked for me.

Buzz G

April 28th, 2012
9:08 am

I am trading my Ford F150 when it hits 99,000 miles next year. And my next truck will be a Toyota Tundra made in Texas. That’s the best part. Tundra is made in the USA in a non-union plant, so you don’t have to worry about some of your money ending up in the UAW’s campaign to re-elect this nasty President Obama.


April 28th, 2012
10:32 am

Wow. What idiots. Any REAL mechanic knows when something is stuck you don’t apply more force. You find the correct tool. In this case it may be the approriate sized impact driver. People that this happens to deserve it. Think before you do it. If that is too much for you to understand then go ahead and get that 3/4″ drive out with a breaker bar

Yota Fan

April 28th, 2012
11:41 am

I was glad I totalled my 04 F150. That truck was nothing but problems. I had just bought the plugs for mine too. $40 bucks each. Bought a tacoma and have loved it ever since.

April 28th, 2012
1:38 pm

I have almost 200k miles on my 2001 F150. I have changed the plugs once, brakes and rotors several time, oil every 4k miles on average, replace the fuel and air filters somewhat regularly, replaced the battery, had someone repair the sun roof and replace the catalytic converter. That’s it….I have been saying I am going to sell it but the damn thing just keeps going.


April 28th, 2012
11:00 pm

October 2011 decided to have my 05 F-150 tuned up (115,000 miles). Took to my local mechanic. He kept it 2 wks and removed two plugs. All he could do. Took to local ford dealer. Kept 4 wks, Had to pull heads and drill out plugs. Total cost $2600. That was after refusing to pay for pulling heads. Total of 3 of their special tools could not remove plugs. Contacted Ford. You guessed it. Nothing they could do.

John Latimer

April 30th, 2012
9:30 pm

Enter your comments here

John Latimer

April 30th, 2012
9:36 pm

Spent over.$ change plugs also the 3 valve system should have been a recall so much for Fords better idea!!! Bought my last Ford(fix or repair daily ) mad ford owner…….

Stephanie Dean

May 1st, 2012
4:23 pm

I have a 2005 Honda Pilot that I bought from Gwinett Place Honda with 50,000 miles on it and Honda Certified but after the extended warranty ended at 100,000 miles I only went 121,000 and a spark plug damaged my engine and my header and apparently now that I have done my research Homda had a class action law suit aganist them becuase of their spark plugs in pilots but refuse to recall or fix these items. People that still had warranties were getting told from dealers that this was not a covered item under the warranties. Just want people to know that it is just not Ford having this problem, I have had my pilot in the shop now for over three weeks at an independent shop owner not a Honda delearship and he is quoting me 4200 dollars to fix when this could have all been avoided if Honda would just fix this problem!! You should investigate them also.


May 2nd, 2012
7:08 pm

Just for clarification, the issue that the article was speaking of only applies to one specific engine produced by ford for approximately 4 years. I run an auto repair facility and have faced this problem on several occasions. The first one was the worst and even with Ford’s special (read expensive) tool we still were unable to remove what was left of the plug and ended up costing the customer a head job. We felt so bad about it we split the bill with the customer. After that one experience I now inform every customer with that motor of the possibility of complications during the repair before even touching the car. The way Ford designed the spark plug it actually has two pieces to the metal body. If carbon builds up on the end of the plug (in the combustion chamber) it can break that piece of the plug off when removing the assembly, sometimes even breaking the end of the porcelain off as well. Then the technician is left trying to fish out a stuck hollow metal body from the cylinder head. Various manufacturers have entered the market with 1 piece designed plugs to remedy this issue but they are very costly. I have yet to have the opportunity to replace one of these new style plugs after 100k miles so I cannot attest to them being any better than the original design at this time. Ford also released a technical service bulletin about this failure and now promotes an improved removal procedure which basically equates to soaking the plugs in a solvent prior to removal then tightening and loosening the spark plug while removing. Good job AJC for picking up on this. If you want to uncover some more repair horror stories look into the camshaft / lifter failure in the 2004-2005 VW Passat TDI (BHW), 2004-2005 Jetta (BEW), 2004-2006 Golf, New Beetle (BEW), 2005.5-2006 Jetta (BRM), or V10 Touareg TDI (unexpected $2500 repair as early as 60-75k miles) all with the TDI motor. The Honda Accord and Odyssey transmission from around 1998-2003. And anything made by Chrslyer for the last 20 years.

James Montone

May 3rd, 2012
1:29 am

Have a 2010 Fusion still under warrenty The warning light goes on for” Air Pressure Fault” Ford said this is a defective part but I have to pay to replace it says a lot about there warrenty.