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Our Freightliner Nightmare Continues. Your Opinions, Please.

Discussion in 'Truck Talk' started by usafk9, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. usafk9

    usafk9 Seasoned Expediter

    A little over a week ago, at about the 5,000-mile mark after the installation of the gold-plated remanufactured MBE 900 engine in our 2006 Sterling (a Daimler/Freightliner product), we went in to a TA to have the oil changed. The first thing the tech did was go right to the oil pan to drop the oil. I watched him. Although I'm aware that it's probably somewhat annoying, I like to hover over anyone that puts a wrench to our vehicle. The oil drain plug was stripped. As soon as he turned it, it spun around and around. The plug was not leaking, which baffled me. However, he could do nothing, and we were already dispatched on a load for the following Monday.

    Getting the engine swapped was a major nightmare, with downtime costing us massive amounts of lost revenue. As I said before, we were prepared, but for not much else.

    Fast forward to this week. We dropped in Las Vegas yesterday morning, and drove straight to the local Freightliner shop. The engine now has 11,000 miles on it and the oil needs to come out. My wife and I checked into a hotel, as I knew they were busy, and they take no appointments, despite calling ahead by 3 days. After pulling it in, and I have to call several hours later to get an update, the really rude service writer says that the plug is stripped, and he tells me that my bill for that portion is $905 for the pan and 5 hours labor. They were just waiting for me for the authorization to order the pan. Since we're now past the cutoff for the time to order parts for overnight delivery (should have been easy IF THEY BOTHERED TO CALL ME), this is now going to be another night's stay in a hotel. I then tell him it's a warranted part. I just picked up the truck 24 days ago. He says the part may be, but over-torquing the plug is a workmanship issue, and that I will have to call the engine-installing Freightliner shop to have the repair paid for. HUH? Isn't that what you folks do? I guess the word "Service" only applies to the vehicle, and not the customer. I call the old shop, and he commences to tell me it's the Las Vegas' shop to contact them. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    I am fuming at this point. After getting hosed by a hotel earlier in the day for refusing to allow access to my pets, because they're aggressive breeds (you know, my black labrador killer who is a sworn enemy of all things deep-fried and attacks them at every opportunity), the spark is already wandering around the powderkeg. I have tons of thoughts running through my head. The first thought is what mountain I can climb and scream to anyone listening to never, ever buy a Daimler/Freightliner piece of crap product again, to wondering who I am going to have to make suing my next hobby just to get them to do the honorable thing. When I explain to the rude service writer that there's no way in Hades that I'm paying for that, he explains that's my problem. I say no, that's a Freightliner problem. He then says that he doesn't work for Freightliner OR Detroit Diesel; not his problem. (This all sounds eerily familiar....almost like several of my phone calls to the shop in Washington last month trying to find out where my paid-for engine was).

    My wife and I have never been to a truck show. I'm sure that the bright, shiny metal objects and the slick salespeople there really make you want to own a new _______________ (fill in your preferred truck brand). You sign on the dotted line there, in the truck showroom, or wherever, and I'm guessing that's like where the honeymoon ends. From our experience, the dealer shops treat truck drivers like poorly-cared-for sheep. Everyone is a broke scumbag driving for a 25-30 cent-per-mile mega-fleet. You, the customer, don't even think about trying to have or ask answers. That's for the grown folks to worry about.

    We have many years ahead of us in this business, if CARB and poorly-made vehicles or really bad warranties don't push us out of it first. That means we're probably going to own at least 2 more trucks. They might just be new ones.

    I wasn't going to say any of this, but the Sprinter oil change thread got my blood roiling just a tad more. Since we've only ever driven Sterlings or a Freightliner business class, I'd like your input....more importantly if you've driven (or owned) multiple brands of trucks. I'm leaning towards a Volvo, but am anxious to hear about Paccar products as well. How do you like each of the trucks you have owned/driven? What is an AVERAGE service experience like? I realize that sometimes everyone (drivers/owners/service folks) will have an off day. My experience is that almost all of them at Freightliner suck. I feel like a complete nuisance at every FL dealer we've been to. If, overall, your product is well-built, and your service experiences around the country are good, I'd really like to hear it. I'd also like to hear some horror stories, too. There's a good possibility that we're going to end up spending over 2x the value of our home in our next endeavor, so I'm taking this serious as a heart attack.

    Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. highway star

    highway star Seasoned Expediter

    My experiences, while not always great, haven't been as bad. But, I did find out once that telling them you're going to call corporate can grease the wheels. Have you talked to Freightliner?

    I'm also wondering why you didn't go to a Detroit shop. The little bit that's been done to mine has been at Detroit shops.
  3. layoutshooter

    layoutshooter New Recruit

    The problem with the oil pan is that the pan is aluminum and the plug steel. Speedco did that to mine, while under load. THEY paid to fix it, as should TA. IF if was not leaking on the way in, it should not be leaking on that way out.

    We no longer have a problem. We had one of those systems put on that requires a hose be screwed onto a fitting that is put onto the pan in place of the drain plug.

    I am searching for the name of it, it slipped my mind. Will post it when I find it.
  4. scottm4211

    scottm4211 Expert Expediter

    Fumitomo valve
  5. layoutshooter

    layoutshooter New Recruit

  6. layoutshooter

    layoutshooter New Recruit

    The other one, Femo? without the valve. I posted the link.
  7. usafk9

    usafk9 Seasoned Expediter

    Scott's right. We actually installed one on the M2, but we have an oil bypass system on this one. The oil needed to come out, as there are wear metals on break-in that I believe plugged the bypass filter.

    FWIW, TA didn't strip it. This was the first time the plug wasattempted to be removed since installation of the engine.

    HS-The Detroit shop in Grand Rapids is where I've had a ton of work done (well over $20k worth) since we've owned the truck. However, they replaced a wheel bearing that blew to smithereens on the side of a highway in Canada. It was a Timken bearing, made in China, that THAT Detroit shop bought from the FL dealer in Grand Rapids. Neither of them stood behind making that issue right (had to be towed and spindle rebuilt), so they're not exactly giving me warm and fuzzies, either. Their engine work usually is better, but they burnt me. I'm reluctant to allow myself to be hosed over and over again.
  8. scottm4211

    scottm4211 Expert Expediter

    Most manufacturers have warranty reps that can really cut through the nonsense. They should have them in different areas of the country. Hopefully you can track one down.
  9. moose

    moose New Recruit

    agree !

    2680 Losee Road
    N. Las Vegas, NV 89030-4134
    Map it
    (702) 399-1890
    (702) 399-2977 (fax)
    (800) 839-1483
    W. W. Williams | Locations

    get it there ASAP,
    The LV Freightliner dealer is one of the worst Freightliner have. not a good place to do business with. WWWilliams is. they do magic.
  10. usafk9

    usafk9 Seasoned Expediter

    That's a different one, and one I'll probably look into. I usually do most simple work myself. Thanks for the link.

    I guess my bigger question, is should we expect to be treated this poorly at every manufacturer's franchisee?
  11. highway star

    highway star Seasoned Expediter

    Really, at this point I'd call Freightliner and run the situation by them. It can't hurt and they just may get things going.
  12. moose

    moose New Recruit

    I'd say yes. but it will depend on the salessman. for example: Volvo have the worst service, but here in Minnesota there's a salesman {GATR}that will back his clients 100% and will go to war if his costumers are been treated wrong by another dealer. my carrier buy Pet's from the dealer in K.S, he keeps the dealer on a short leash, and that dealer will provide all the networking Pet's O/O will ever need. i bought an East trailer from the IGH Dealer, and he proved himself over and over to help me save time and money when service or upgrades where needed. if you buy a Pet from rush truck centers you can opted out for a service plan nationwide, and so on.
  13. Rocketman

    Rocketman New Recruit

    I'm guessing that if it were a newer truck and still under warranty they would be able to transfer the cost from one dealer to the other. With the truck being out of warranty, they are treating it just like 2 completely independent shops would. There is also a good chance that they are going to charge you for work already done if you want to take it elsewhere. I would just have them fix it. At least everything is in the FL network that way.

    What you'll likely have to do is pay the bill, then fight with the dealer who installed the engine. You do have the option of standing your ground until it gets worked out, but you know as well as I that the downtime and hotel expenses are going to cost you a lot more than $900.

    I understand your frustration. Personally, I understand the position of the shop where you are currently at. The shop that installed the engine is who should be on the hook for the repair. If it were me, I would get my truck fixed and then begin the fight with the dealer who installed the engine to get the bill refunded.
  14. zorry

    zorry Active Expediter

    I've owned three Volvo's.
    Coming off our recent time off we made an appt a week early.
    My plan :
    Drop trk at Volvo ,Vegas Wed at noon.
    Change a water valve. If they don't have it order it.
    Leave truck in shop overnite and adj valves when you open Thur am.
    I went to the LUCKY ClUB. Under $35 including two shuttle rides to truck dealers only. Pets allowed.
    Thur am I called to see if truck would be ready by noon so I could squeeze in TCU service prior to going into service.
    They hadn't pulled it in !
    When I got there the girl accepted the blame, apologized,and attempted to work things out for me.
    A few days later another Volvo dlr worked me in and will get future business.
    Had one other very large dlr fail to get me in when promised.
    Did my 130,000 mile oil change today. It was a pleasant dealer experience.
    I had one warranty repair. 4.5 hours. In early as promised and out around lunch,just as promised.
    Overall, very satisfied with Volvo dealers.
    Rather than treating me like crap the Volvo dlr in Vegas asked to let them make it up to me. Said they owed me one.
    I bought new Frtlnrs in 90 and 01. More often than not I left dlr irritated.
    New Pete 98 and used from 05 or 06 until last year.
    Some good and bad experiences.
    Pete was my second choice last year until trusted service advisor hinted towards problems with the Paccar motor.
    Hope your luck improves. I too would have recommended Williams.
  15. usafk9

    usafk9 Seasoned Expediter

    Actually, it's a Detroit warranty. The engine-installing dealer claims that it was a complete assembly, and never touched the drain plug. Am I incorrect in assuming that any Daimler/Freightliner/Sterling/Western Star shop should handle this warranty claim?
  16. usafk9

    usafk9 Seasoned Expediter

    Ha! Lucky Club is the one that turned us away. If you remember my dogs, you'd know why the "aggressive breed" thing is hilarious. Further, "All Pets Stay Free" apparently doesn't, in fact, mean 'all pets'.
  17. zorry

    zorry Active Expediter

    If they installed a complete assembly then there should be no issue.
    If Frtlnr doesn't give you straight answers then ask to hook up with a Detroit Rep.
    Or call Williams. If oil is still in drive it over there. They may also get you in touch with a Detroit Rep quicker since that's their primary business.
  18. zorry

    zorry Active Expediter

    Shame on you,Lucky Club.
    My room was nice.
    I was skeptical going in and pleasantly surprised.
    Wish I had a four leaf clover to send ya. .
  19. Rocketman

    Rocketman New Recruit

    Actually, if it is a Detroit warranty then any Detroit shop should handle the warranty (I understand that they are...just being technically correct). But again, is it worth it to sit in Vegas in a hotel room until the issue is resolved? I would definitely be on the phone doing my best to get someone involved that will force the issue onto one dealer or the other...but in the meantime, I would want them repairing the truck. If I didn't have it resolved when the truck gets finished, I would be prepared to pay the bill if they forced me to (I'm guessing they will hold the truck for payment).

    With information given, I would be on the phone with Detroit Diesel and with Freightliner. Since it is a Detroit warranty, I would agree that WW Williams or one of the other Detroit approved engine shops are a MUCH better choice than any dealer shop. I've found them to be reasonable, fair and respectful...unlike dealer shops. IF the current shop has not done anything but diagnose the problem and the bill to get the truck off their property is not too much, I might consider taking to the WW Williams. A phone call should tell you whether or not they can get it in quickly. A phone call would also give you an idea of their willingness to warranty it through DDE. Oddly enough, if they don't have a pan in stock, you'll be able to direct them to one :)
  20. ATeam

    ATeam Senior Member

    I am sorry, AJ, to hear about your truck troubles. It's something most drivers can relate to and I'm sure most feel your pain. I know I do. No way should any driver go through what you have.

    Diane and I drove fleet owner trucks for three years before buying our Volvo. They were five Freightliners and one Western Star. That gave us a lot of experience with Freightliner dealers and led us to the decision to not buy a Freightliner because the service left much to be desired.

    That's not to say there aren't good Freightliner dealers out there. There are a number of good ones and we were thrilled every time we happened upon one. But, by our reckoning, for every good one, there were two bad ones. We did not want to continue with our new truck the service experiences, including some nightmares, we had come to know in fleet owner trucks.

    Soon after buying our 2006 Volvo, we saw a night-and-day difference between Volvo and Freightliner service departments. It was nice and led us to belive we made the right brand decision. That belief persists to this day.

    There was one bad experience but it was small because I kept it from getting big. At the Volvo dealer in Las Vegas, we had an air conditioning issue. It cooled but not as much as it should. They put a guy on the job who was not their regular AC guy. For whatever reason, he was upset long before he laid eyes on our truck. His body language was that of an angry man and when he started rough into our truck, I stopped him and told the service manager that we were leaving.

    A few weeks later, another Volvo dealer diagnosed and replaced a bad compressor and solved the problem. Other than that, we have had no dealership service department issues. I don't like the higher prices charged in the Northeast, but the work has been fine. We have never had a repair made in a Volvo shop that required a comeback, except EGR valve issues, and that's a parts and design issue (resolved on newer models), not a service issue.

    We have had a number of repairs made over the years at a number of Volvo dealers. Almost without exception, Volvo mechanics have been competent and the service has been provided with a good attitude.

    This is not something that happened to us but something I saw while standing at a Volvo service desk. The service manager was seated at his desk. A mechanic walked in and the service manager asked, "What's the word on the _______ truck?" The mechanic said, "The oil is leaking because I did not put (some part) on right when it was here two days ago." The service manager said, "OK. I'll let (customer name) know. Go back and fix it."

    The conversation was calm, almost peaceful. I was amazed by how willing the mechanic was to admit his error to the boss and how easy the boss took the news. There was nothing to discuss. "OK. Go back and fix it" was the next thing said. That's a shop culture thing. It's an environment where the mechanics are not pressured to get work out the door but supported in getting things right. I remain impressed by that conversation to this day.

    There are differences between Volvo dealers, of course. Diane and I have made a special effort to get back to our dealer to get the needed work done. That is VoMac Truck Sales in New Haven, IN (Fort Wayne). I could write many pages about the good things they have done for us.

    They know we are a loyal customer and that we appreciate their good work. It is also true that I have done much to cultivate a good relationship in that shop. I have learned some of the mechanics' names and address them by name. I talk them up and they know it. When we go out of our way to get there, I always tell them how many Volvo dealerships we passed to get to them.

    When you buy your new truck, AJ, you already know to think beyond the sale and think ahead to the service part. You might think about buying from a dealer that you will make your service home. We live in Minnesota but our home dealer is in Indiana. It's nice to have a "home" dealer that knows us. They have provided good service by phone when I needed to reset something or to check a price before agreeing to it at another dealer.

    If we were going to buy a new truck again, it would not even enter our minds to go somewhere else. For us, it's VoMac Truck Sales all the way!

    EDIT: One more thing. We intentionally chose to put a Volvo engine in a Volvo truck. We had read too many horror stories about the engine manufacturer and the truck dealer passing blame back and forth. No way that can happen when the engine and truck are made by the same company. It's even better now with Volvo because you can get a truck, engine and transmission (I-Shift) that are all Volvo made.

    EDIT: It has happened twice at Volvo dealers that we lost a day because parts did not get ordered that should have. I have learned that lesson. Now, if parts are supposed to be ordered, I follow through with the parts department, asking them for the tracking number so I won't have to bug them and can follow the shipment myself.

    EDIT: Overnight I remembered another incident with that Las Vegas Volvo dealer. At another visit, we were looking for new truck batteries. Being in Las Vegas, they did not have "Minnesota" batteries; meaning batteries with high cold cranking amps. I don't remember what work we were there to have done but do remember that the service manager personally went to the nearby Kenworth dealer to get the batteries we needed. It was appreciated that he saved us another stop for batteries and sold them to us at a fair price.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013

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