Jithesh

Ford Figo - Steering Rack Damage

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I own a 2011 June model Ford Figo Titanium 1.4 TDCi. I recently up-sized the tires to YOKOHAMA 195/60 14 with 14" Alloys. During the service for 30,000 km, the mechanics informed me that the steering rack seal had been damaged and the power steering fluid was leaking from the rack. This would lead to serious problems with the steering systems if not repaired promptly.

As I had used non-Ford (aftermarket) alloys and up-sized the tires, I was informed that I would not be covered by warranty and I had to replace the steering rack assembly which set me back for a good Rs. 16,500. The mechanics claim that the damage was caused by the "non-Ford" alloys and the bigger tyres.

While I understand that I will not be covered by warranty if I up-size the tires and use aftermarket alloys, I do not understand how they can actually cause damage to the steering system. This is a matter of serious concern as nowadays it is a common practice to use sporty alloys and bigger wheels. In fact I was worried about affecting the car mechanically and had done some research before changing the wheels and tires. I used the tyre size which is the maximum permitted for Figo as per the chart of Bridgestone.

I have observed many Figos which havemuch larger 15" and wider (205) tires, I wonder if they are experiencing a similar problem??

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Jithesh

I suspect the problem lies with a faulty steering rack. 30,000 kms is not a figure at which the rack should give way. So many cars have upsized tyres . I have upsized rubber on my City as well 15 inch alloys on 195 profile tyres. the stock as 13 inch wheels and 175 tyres. Still my steering rack gave way only after 1,00,000 kms.

I feel the mechanics pulled a fast one on you. And honestly even if there is a power steering fluid leak, the rack can be repaired by just changing the seals in it. Replacement is not needed. You could get that done by a good specialist. I got mine repaired and you could get that done at a cost much lesser than what you paid.

Bottom line a faulty steering rack

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It may be a manufacturing defect but you cannot claim warrenty/goodwill gesture because in the warrenty clause it is written not to change tyres size and only be replaced with one given as OE spec.

The damage can occur when steering through potholes in corner and especially in the wet monsoon climate there can be many unexpected potholes but they can damage steering rack. Also check the axel for any signs of damage.

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@ Prancing Horse and @ rssh,

Many thanks to you for the kind advise. I too suspected the same - fault with the steering rack and nothing to do with the alloys/tires. The heavy monsoon has done a lot of damage to the roads in Kerala and this is a major contribution to damages like this.

I too did understand about the seal, its only a matter of changing the seal (my job concerns partly about administering/supervising mechanical work). But this whole thing happened at the Ford's authorized workshop (I have never taken the car anywhere else), and they convinced me that the the seal is not available as a single part and the whole assembly needs to be replaced. It was quite annoying because I look after the car really well, doing service at the right intervals and never compromising on any repairs.

Ford Figo is a great car and I really love the handling and responsive engine. Its a cute and honest car. The bigger 195/60 tires have only enhanced the ride and handling to an amazing level. But its no surprise that Ford's service is nowhere near Maruti or Hyundai, in spite of Ford's best efforts. This fact is quite irritating to the ownership experience. I used to own a Suzuki Swift and sort of got pampered and spoiled by the excellent after-sales support by Maruti and downright cheap parts and service.

Frankly, I am considering to get back to Maruti and am eyeing the new yet-to-be launched SUV. Although I love the Ecosport, this kind of poor back-up from Ford is putting me off from buying that.

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Dear Jithesh,

Generally for a particular segment of car the rack power assembly is designed to withstand upto a fixed pressure level. When we are up-sizing the tyre and modifying the stock alloys, it happens that the pressure tolerance level for the master cylinder varies beyond the tolerance level. The rack hydraulic chamber which directs the fluid cannot withstand the added pressure and tends to leak. Also in many cases the leakage occurs in spool valve housing.

In simple words, if a hydraulic mechanism is designed to lift 50 kgs and it is loaded with 70 kgs, then ofcourse the excess hydraulic pressure will burst the hoses and seals.

While you are riding your car with up-sized tyres and alloys, make sure that you should not negotiate a sharp turn at higher speed and at rough patches better to slow down a bit.

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Jithesh, a sudden crash into a pothole at speeds above 60 can give serious damage to the steering system..If something like that had happened, a bit hard one, then that would have been the problem.. Of course, I have seen Figos with upgraded 15 inch wider tyres with performance alloys... It would not be the reason for the steering under any circumstances..

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@ sibasis_FIAT and YOHAN1991

Thanks very much for the highly technical info, I think that makes sense. I think that up-sizing to 195/60 with the same diameter wheels is a nominal upgrade which shouldn't put excess load on the system. But certainly the poor road conditions would seriously damage the underpinnings.

It is really sad to see the pathetic conditions of our roads, in spite of the so-called "economic boom" our country is going through. These roads sorely remind us that India is still way behind when compared to International standards. Thankfully, through efficient systmes like BOT and PPP route, our country has witnessed some amazing transformations like the Yamuna Expressway and the GQ. But the best is still yet to come.

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Well at the point let me just say that next time a problem like this crops up do check for an independent mechanic who can get the unit reapaired for you instead of a whole replacement. Also since its been quite some time you have owned the car, how about starting an ownership review thread with pictures putting down your experiences?

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I own 2 fords. 1.6 Ikon nxt 2003. 1.6 Fiesta Duratec 2007.

2003 had same steering rack failure within 2 months of ownership. 2009 1.6 Fiesta had it within 1 yr.

I have seen many Figos, Fusions and the new fiesta as well with the steering rack issue.

It is a common problem for these fords and it doesn't make sense. All these car's including mine have been bone stock.

Ford never addressed this issue and I have proof of it with multiple owners complaining about as well as 2 invoices with me which contain the details of the replaced steering rack for free (after throwing a fit at the dealership.)

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@vr.46

Thanks for your reply, that has been such a "relief". The spare parts in-charge in Ford also secretly told me that this is a common replacement for Ford cars.

@Prancing Horse

Thanks for the suggestion, I would love to share my experiences with the Figo. In fact, the car has delivered much more than it should, given the price. I really like the car and I was quite upset that these problems came up.

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