2016 Ford F150 Lemon Law Saga

Last night, I dropped my F-150 off at the dealership where I originally bought it. After that, I picked up a refund check.  I owned it for nearly one year. During that time it spent 47 total days in the shop with engine problems. 
After filing all the required forms and dealing with Ford and the Better Business Bureau, and then waiting almost 7 weeks, the matter was finally resolved.  The resolution was for Ford to “repurchase” the vehicle from me. 
This basically amounts to a full refund of the price of the truck, plus sales taxes, license, and registration.  Was it difficult?  Not really, though it was fairly involved.  Was it adversarial?  Not at all.  Was it worthwhile?  I would say yes, because even after all the repairs, I don’t trust that the truck will be reliable long-term . 
Do you need to hire an attorney? Maybe.  Below is the story of my truck and information on how to file a Lemon Law claim.

I purchased my 2016 F-150 in July of 2017.  This pickup had 2,389 miles on the odometer yet it had never been sold to a customer. It was only used as a loaner vehicle – thus the miles on the clock.  Since it had yet to actually be sold, I purchased it as a new vehicle.  This is important to the story because the Lemon Law only applies to new cars in my state.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was enacted in 1975 and it requires manufacturers of consumer goods to honor a stated warranty.  It does not require that warranties are offered on products, only that warranties are honored if they are offered.  This, of course, includes motor vehicles.  Specifics vary from state to state, however, and some states’ Lemon Laws may exclude leased vehicles or commercial vehicles.  Do check your state Lemon Law details before filing a claim.
In Utah, the Lemon Law states that, in order to qualify for as a lemon, the following must occur:

  1. The vehicle must have been purchased new
  2. Not more than 1 year can have elapsed between purchase and Lemon Law claim
  3. The vehicle must have been in the shop for the same issue 4 times (and it is still not resolved) or, it has spent more than 30 days cumulatively in the shop (doesn’t have to be for the same problem).

I never really did get a satisfactory answer about whether the 30 days in the shop are business days or total days.  It didn’t matter in my case becuase it spent 47 total days and 35 business days, so it qualified either way.
My particular truck was equipped with the 2.7 liter Ecoboost V6.  It had truly impressive power and torque.  While I owned it, I used it for ordinary commuting and for hauling different cars around on a flatbed trailer.  One was a 24 Hours of Lemons MR2, another was a 240Z I acquired, and a third being the Plymouth Arrow pickup I hauled to Radwood.  Those loads were between 4,000 and 7,000 lbs, which is well under the rated towing capacity of the truck.  In fact, the truck barely labored with these loads, despite the fact that it was conquering some of the toughest climbs in the country. I’m talking about the climb through the Sierra Nevada mountains between Sacramento and Reno, and the climb over I-70 from Grand Junction to Denver.

Just before the first long run I made in the truck, I noticed that it was two quarts low on oil.  I filled it up and went on my way.  It was about 11200 miles round trip to Montana.  Upon my return home, the oil was low again, so I reported it to the dealership and they told me to bring it in.  I did some research on the F-150 forums and found that there was a related Ford service bulletin about oil usage.  I printed out the bulletin and took it to the dealer.  After diagnosis, the dealer told me the truck would need new heads, and that they would have to order the parts.  12 days later I had my truck back, all fixed.

As it happened, I had a trip to California planned the following week.  So I loaded it up, with a trailer and the Plymouth Arrow, and headed to Radwood at Hooptie-con.  On the way, in Reno, I checked the oil – one quart low.  So I added a quart and kept going.  On the way back, somewhere around Truckee, a light came on on the dash and the engine de-rated its power.  I limped into Reno and checked the oil again.  Two more quarts low.  I added two quarts and the warning light turned off and power was restored.  Upon my return, I took it back to the dealer.
The diagnosis this time was a turbo.  So they ordered a new turbo and replaced it.  This repair took 11 days.
A couple of weeks later, I drove the truck for about 60 miles locally and when I exited the freeway, it was idling rough, so I rolled down the window and revved it some to listen to the engine.  It had a major rod knock.  So I limped it home and called the dealer.  They towed it to the dealership and opened the oil filter up to find it full of metal shavings – likely bearing material.  So, they ordered an engine and replaced the whole thing.  This time, the truck was at the shop for 23 days.

By now, I’d already been doing a lot of research on my Lemon Law options.  If you do a basic search for “lemon law” it returns thousands of results with info (good and bad), opinions, and a bunch of muck to wade through to get to actual, useful information.  Eventually, I discovered that many manufacturers use the Better Business Bureau’s Auto Line program as the means of filing Lemon Law claims.
The BBB Auto Line process is fairly self-explanitory.  If you visit their website, there is a list of details for each state’s Lemon Law and a list of participating manufacturers.  If your car is on the list, and it meets your state’s qualifications, then you are in business.
From here, you fill out the basic information in the form on the BBB website.  Your info, your complaint, the problems with the vehicle, etc.  Once that is received and processed, you will receive an email that reads as follows:

A request for a BBB claim packet has been submitted.
The claim will first be reviewed to determine if it involves a warranty dispute against an automobile manufacturer.  If the claim involves a warrantable defect or non-conformity, you will receive an email confirmation within the next business day with instructions on how to create an online account using the PIN number you provided when filing your claim.  Please check your junk or spam folder if you do not see an email in your in box. The consumer account will have the initial claim packet including the Customer Claim Form (CCF) for printing.  You may also upload your supporting documents including:
1. Copies of your repair orders;
2. Copies of your current vehicle registration;
3. A copy of your sales or lease agreement; and
4. Any other correspondence or notification letters related to your claim

A hard-copy of the initial packet will also be mailed to you.  A copy of your complaint may be shared with the automobile manufacturer (where applicable) and a company representative may contact you to discuss a possible resolution.

The actual claim form is a non-fillable PDF file you have to print and fill out by hand.  Once you have all the supporting documentation, you assemble the whole packet (mine was 18 pages) and FAX it to the BBB.  That’s right, you fax it, which I found out is still a thing.  When they receive the info, they upload your documents onto an online case-specific file that you can get into to reference your materials, add documents, etc.
[Editor’s note: So… they make you print something from the Internet, fill it out offline, fax it, then scan it back… onto the Internet?]
The BBB then submits this information to the manufacturer and they decide whether to grant the request for repurchase or replacement.  This is the part where a lawyer may be useful.  If there is gray area where you think your car qualifies, but the manufacturer does not, a lawyer may help tip the scales in your favor.  They would also presumably prepare the paperwork properly to give you the best chance at success.  I did not use a lawyer, and I’m glad I didn’t.  Mine was a clear case, and easily met the requirements.
Keep in mind that the claim must be filed before you have owned the vehicle for 1 year, but the actual buy-back date may be after the 1 year window.  About two or three weeks tends to go by before you get a response back from the manufacturer.  In my case, Ford responded fairly quickly and offered to buy the truck back.  I was actually surprised at how easily it all happened.  I then was put in touch with Ford’s repurchase/replacement people and had to submit a few more documents, such as the sales contract and the financing contract.
The refund, if that’s what you choose, will be comprised of the following:

  1. The initial purchase price, in full
  2. Dealer service fee
  3. Sales tax
  4. License/Registration
  5. Property tax assessment fee
  6. tire recycling fee
  7. Dealer added accessories (a spray-in bedliner, in my case)

All those items, added together are your refund, minus a use fee for the miles you added to the vehicle, which is calculated by the following formula:
(Current mileage – mileage at time of sale – 100 miles)/100,000 x purchase price on sales contract not including taxes and fees.  I added about 11k miles to my truck, so the fee worked out to some $3200.
If you added any accessories or modifications after the purchase, those are not reimbursed.
Finally, Ford sent a check to the dealership where I purchased the truck and I exchanged the truck for the check.  The check was in the amount of the difference between the actual refund and the amount owed to the bank for the remainder of the loan.  Ford then writes a separate check to the bank to pay off the truck and get a title so they can get rid of it.  The truck will then get a Lemon Law branded title and will be auctioned off to a dealer for resale.
And that’s it.  Simple, right?  It really wasn’t very hard.  It was slow and a bit stressful and pretty involved, but not hard.  I’d say I spent about 10 hours total on the preparation of documents, speaking with the BBB and Ford, and dealing with the dealership when I finally returned it.
One last note:  Document everything.  Phone calls, texts, emails, repair orders, everything.  These may help you build a case if the vehicle doesn’t clearly qualify like mine did.
[Images copyright 2018 Hooniverse/Scott Ith]

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33 responses to “2016 Ford F150 Lemon Law Saga”

  1. mdharrell Avatar

    This is what you get for buying a vehicle from a manufacturer that still exists.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Better to buy a lemon to start with, so you know what you are getting into?

    2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Of my 5 cars, only one is from a nonexistent brand and manufacturer (Checker), and only one is from a current brand and manufacturer (Jaguar).
      One is from a dead brand, but the manufacturer still exists (Saab built by GM/Chevrolet). One is from a dead brand, manufactured by a current brand that is no longer a manufacturer (Pontiac built by Holden). One is from a dead brand, manufactured by a current brand no longer owned by the same company (Saturn built by Opel).

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Does ‘old GM’ still exist, just to add another wrinkle in the Saturn story?

        1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

          Well, that wrinkle would apply to all three of my defunct brand GM vehicles. ’05 Pontiac, ’08 Saturn, and ’09 Saab were all “old GM”.

        2. Eric Rucker Avatar

          Sorta, in the form of trusts to handle debts, environmental response, asbestos claims, and litigation.

          1. outback_ute Avatar

            And isolate those claims from the ‘real’ company too no doubt…

  2. ptschett Avatar

    Significant mileage on a ‘new’ car can happen. My ’96 Thunderbird came from the Ford dealer of the closest similar-sized town to the south of my hometown; it was built in January 1996 and driven by the spouse of one of the dealership owners for awhile, then went to the lot, then we bought it in August 1998 with 5800 miles and a warranty good till August 2001 or 36,000 miles whichever came first. I’d be willing to bet it was one of the last ’96 Thunderbirds bought as new.

    1. Simon Hova Avatar
      Simon Hova

      One ammendum to your TBird, if the car was sold as new (never titled) with miles on it, the miles get added back to the warranty. So, your TBird warranty would actually end at 41,800 miles.

  3. Tank Avatar

    Maybe I missed it, but did the new engine give you the same problems?

    1. needthatcar Avatar

      The new engine is only 250 miles old. The truck may well be completely fixed and may never have another problem. I chose to return it because I have lost faith that it’s viable long-term.

      1. Tank Avatar

        Understandable, I guess you’re not buying another F-150

  4. Zentropy Avatar

    Wow. Haven’t heard of such troubles with F150s, but then, I’ve not known anyone that had the small Ecoboost engine. Thanks for sharing the LL process!
    Also, I have Z envy.

  5. GTXcellent Avatar

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
    Back to my dealership days, we had one buy-back situation and it wasn’t a real fun experience for the dealership. It was a Trailblazer that truly was possessed by Lucifer himself. What was extremely frustrating with us was General Motors. The customer was really, really patient, and if I recall it was our service manager who was so tired of seeing this thing in the shop that he was the one who started the process on their behalf. But it was a huge PIA before the General finally agreed to buy it back. They needed documentation of the documentation. Then, once everything was finalized, that black monstrosity sat on our back lot for a loooooong time before a transport finally hauled it away.
    So what do you plan on replacing that FoMoCo with?

    1. needthatcar Avatar

      For the moment, I have replaced it with a ’89 Corolla GT-S.

      1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
        dead_elvis, inc.

        Seems like a perfectly cromulent substitute.

      2. salguod Avatar

        You may have sacrificed some towing capabilities.

  6. neight428 Avatar

    You’ve convinced me that I should rid myself of my 2016 F150 straight away. Not that it has given me any trouble, nor does it even have the same engine, but I will take the slightest excuse to swap out vehicles for my own amusement.
    Curious if this fact pattern is common for the 2.7’s. My 5.0L V8 has been solid so far (knock on wood, I’m out of warranty). Only actual issue has been the windshield wiper controller not realizing it is in the off position until you crank it up to 11 and back again a few times.

    1. needthatcar Avatar

      My perfunctory research indicates that the 2.7, for a certain run of serial numbers, have the oil consumption issues. The 5.0 doesn’t seem to have the same problem.

  7. Batshitbox Avatar

    Your truck depreciated $3200 in less than a year, and barely over 10,000 miles? Jeez, no wonder I never buy new cars.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      That’s likely the Lemon Law easy button and could be why it was not a more painful process. If you lawyered up, you could get that $3200 back too, less $5000 in legal fees.

    2. needthatcar Avatar

      at this point, I look at it like a one-year lease. Which works out to some $270/month, which isn’t too bad.

  8. dukeisduke Avatar

    Scott, it wasn’t 11,200 miles round trip between Utah and Montana, was it? Also, hi, long time, no see here.

    1. needthatcar Avatar

      Hi to you! Actually, that was supposed to read 1200 miles. Oops. Who’s in charge of quality control around here?!?

    2. Vairship Avatar

      maybe he took the long way round (the earth)?

  9. Sjalabais Avatar

    Yikes, that sounds horrible. 23 days waiting for a new engine for the most common vehicle in the US sounds like a long time, too. The upshot is that we have now all seen that the F150 is build like a Matchbox: Remove all four bottom screws and lift everything but the engine off the frame.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      … just as every vehicle should be built! I despise the Tetris nightmare that is most modern vehicles!

  10. Scubie Avatar

    Bought a new Ford Escape here in New Zealand last year (not sure if its sold in the US). Took it in for the 3,000km courtesy check. Service manager (whom I knew already – fourth new car from the same dealer over the years) asked how it was running. I said really well, apart from the diesel engine being as loud as my Mitsi Pajero… Queue more intense interest. Turns out Ford NZ said it needed a new engine. I mentioned it to the salesman. He said – leave it with me. After no additional pressure from me, we got a brand new Ford Escape. We were not out of pocket for any of the 7,500km on the odo by the time the replacement was given to us – 5 months after the new vehicle purchase.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Ford is taking very seriously, their chance to overtake Toyota in the NZ market.
      They’ve realised that they have to outdo Toyota’s customer service which has set a VERY high bar.
      And with the demise of the RWD Commodore, GMH is struggling. (Though I’ve been seeing a few of the new FWD/AWD models around in Police decals, so they’ve still got that contract, which guarantees quite a few sales.)

  11. salguod Avatar

    My 2005 Mazda3 spent, I think, 30 of its first 90 days in the shop. But because the problem was shoddy body work done by the dealer to correct damage done by dealer personnel, the lemon law did not apply.
    We’ve since put over 200K nearly trouble free miles on it so, although it was extremely frustrating at the time, I really can’t complain now.

  12. Roland Alfonso Avatar
    Roland Alfonso

    Woah! They had to remove the entire body off of the frame to replace the engine? Imagine if it was out of warranty, or Ford blamed you for running it out of oil…Ouch. And like they say, “Don’t try this at home…”

  13. Jerome Harley Avatar
    Jerome Harley

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  14. sara Avatar

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