On Station

Well, this week wasn't as much fun as I had hoped, but it was eventful. I have learned, for example, that in addition to the two things that I knew could cause power steering to fail -- burst hydraulic lines, and a failure of the pump/reservoir -- a third thing that can happen is for a solid steel bracket to fail for no apparent reason and drop your alternator on the whole assembly.

Since the bracket may be attached to a major component of your engine, such as the timing chain cover, the cost of labor could make repairs prohibitively expensive. You would, after all, have to take apart a large part of the engine to install a replacement -- if you had a replacement.

Because the failure was due to a design flaw (you engineers should know better than to use a thin single point of cast rather than forged steel to hold an alternator, which is under tension from the belt driving it), you'd think there would be a recall. However, as Fight Club explains, AxBxC=X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, the company won't do one.

Just because the cost of a recall can involve repairs that are each individually prohibitively expensive, often times they aren't done. But the part you'd need to repair the vehicle, were you inclined to pay the prohibitive cost, will be discontinued. Thus, not only is it prohibitively expensive, it's nearly impossible.

So anyway, I bought a used truck this weekend. It's a Ford. The old one wasn't. That's all I'm going to say about it, but you can take that for what it's worth.


Dad29 said...

I think I saw your old one when we met in North Georgia.

Your summary of recalls is exactly correct, by the way. (Surprised you couldn't find a replacement part in a scrapyard....) In any case, my sympathy!

Best of luck with the Blue Oval!

Grim said...

With enough time, I likely could have done. But I was on the road, so I didn't have ready access to my usual scrapyards; and I wasn't prepared to pay someone else to disassemble an engine in a scrapyard and then ship me a heavy steel part if I couldn't find it locally.

I had the option of taking the money from junking the old vehicle to rent a car to drive home, but then it's even more of a sunk cost when I went to buy a replacement.

raven said...

IIRC, rare usually forced by the NHTSA, after a certain number of complaints. This would be for safety related items ,and losing the power steering would certainly fit that bill.

If you still have the truck, sometimes a skilled welder/fabricator can do amazing work , either by repairing the break or by fabricating a new and better bracket with additional attachment points.

Is this a common failure with this vehicle?

Grim said...

I thought of a welder, although the steel involved was not great -- big crystals showed where the break was. Again, though, I was traveling and didn't have access to my usual people. Nobody I talked to about it was willing to weld it. Maybe, with time, I could have found someone. But it's harder when this kind of thing happens while you're on the road.

My guess is that this failure is common enough, because of the bad design, the poor quality of the steel, and the fact that they've discontinued the part. But I have no data on that.

douglas said...

" Nobody I talked to about it was willing to weld it."
I blame the lawyers- always making our lives more complicated.