Ball joints are under the spotlight with a promise that suspect parts will be replaced, free of charge, if there is significant wear. Ford Australia stresses that the new move is not a recall, or a pointer to a recall, but comes as it continues an engineering investigation into customer complaints about front-suspension failures.
Every Territory built from early 2004 until the introduction of a revised model at the start of 2009, which has a different ball joint design, is covered. "If anyone has concerns they should take the car into a dealership for inspection and, if necessary, the ball joints will be replaced free-of-charge," says Ford spokesperson, Sinead McAlary."This is so we can manage the wear. Obviously, if a new part is fitted there will not be any wear for some time."
The difference with the new deal is there is no cost. "Previously, if the car was under warranty it was covered, and if it was out of warranty it was taken case-by-case with a contribution of 50 to 100 per cent." Ford has been investigating ball joint troubles on the Territory for more than a year and following a major campaign by the Carsguide on behalf of worried owners.
The company says there is no recall but it is continuing its work on the problem. It has been monitoring the Territory parts for some time on cars coming to dealerships for routine service work."This is not a recall. What we’re doing is making a lot of progress on our studies," says McAlary."We are getting to the root cause and looking for the long-term solution."
But Ford now admits there is a significant problem. "Ford is aware that some customers have experienced wear-and-tear issues with the ball joints on their Territory. The majority of instances of excessive wear on the ball joint have been discovered and rectified by Ford dealers during routine servicing," McAlary says.
"However, as a result of significant wear on the ball joint, a small number of customers have experienced ball joint separation while undertaking low-speed, high-steering-effort manoeuvres. This will only take place if the ball joint in question has worn to a significant degree."
McAlary says a long-term solution is close and Ford is committed to doing the right thing by Territory owners. "We take the safety and ongoing peace-of-mind of our customers very seriously and are undertaking a detailed engineering investigation to determine any potential root cause to the issue that has been reported.
"We have an engineering team working on the issue as quickly as possible and are investigating the issue thoroughly."