Action 9 investigates $700 spark plugs



A Melbourne man claims a simple tune-up cost $740 and he blames a mechanical defect haunting lots of Ford owners, saying they're hit with huge repair bills while just trying to replace the spark plugs.

 Ron Giesecke doesn't pull any punches in his rant against Ford over a repair bill for his F-150 truck.

“I felt trapped. There's nothing you can do,” said Giesecke.

A Ford dealer's repair shop charged him $740 to replace eight spark plugs. The cost was so high because six plugs broke off in the engine.

Giesecke later discovered Ford had known about busted spark plugs since 2008.

“I came home and checked online and found hundreds of pages about it, and I was completely shocked,” said Giesecke.

Many Ford owners and mechanics call it a serious design flaw involving 2004-2008 models of the F-150, Mustang and Expedition.  Most of those vehicles are now hitting 100,000 miles and are in need new plugs.

Even after the broken plugs are replaced, there could be a bigger problem: Any debris left behind could kill an engine.

A Longwood man called Action 9 in 2012 after plug debris blew a hole in the piston and repairs cost thousands.

Since then, Ford has supplied dealers with a special tool to remove the plugs and has designed a new spark plug that will not stick, but problems remain.

“Have they solved the problem for these owners?” asked Action 9's Todd Ulrich.

“No, absolutely not.  No change whatsoever,” said master mechanic Jay Zembower.

Zembower said the new tool doesn't prevent plugs from breaking and the revised plug still has carbon buildup and sticks in place.

 “You go in for a tune-up, now you're faced with a major bill,” said Zembower.

In a response, Ford said manufacturers don't disclose what normal maintenance costs will be, and there's no safety issue to trigger a recall.

“They could have stepped up to it, you know,” said Giesecke.

If you own one of these vehicles, shop around for spark plug replacements. Some mechanics have better success rates in removing the plugs without breaking them.

Still, expect to pay a premium.