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Old 02-28-2005, 06:48   #1 (permalink)
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US:Oil leak is new glitch for Ford GT; automaker resurrects 'Speedi-Sleeve'

Oil leak is new glitch for Ford GT; automaker resurrects 'Speedi-Sleeve' to address rare problem

AMY WILSON | Automotive News

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is using a time-tested but unusual repair method to fix an engine oil leak in its flagship GT sports car. It is telling dealership mechanics to install a "Speedi-Sleeve" to stop oil from leaking from the crankshaft rear seal. It is one of several fixes being prescribed for the GT when the car goes into the shop for a major suspension recall.

The sleeves have been used for decades, largely on older, high-mileage cars or those undergoing an overhaul. It's extremely unusual for them to be used by a manufacturer on a new car, sources say.

"They work, but, gosh, it shouldn't happen," one Ford dealer says. "It's highly unusual. If I were the owner of a $150,000 race car, I wouldn't be happy about it."

The engine oil leak, which is caused by an improper finish on the crankshaft, isn't a problem in all cars, Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley says. The crankshaft finish has been fixed for cars in production.

For vehicles with the problem, the Speedi-Sleeve will close any gaps that might allow engine oil to leak. The device is a metal band that fits over the end of the crankshaft, increasing its diameter and making a tighter fit against the seal. The Speedi-Sleeve itself is a low-cost part but requires several hours of labor to install.

Until the GT, the sleeves hadn't been used by Ford, at least in recent years, Kinley says. She says it's uncommon because Ford hasn't experienced this type of leak during that period.

While all GTs will get new suspension control arms, not all of the cars are expected to need the other repairs. In addition to two recalls, Ford has issued nine technical service bulletins and one special service message on the GT. Problems range from the leaking crankshaft seal and blemishes on seat belt webbing to a rattle in the upper steering column and leaking power steering fluid.

"All of our customers are important, but (with) this one, we're really giving them the white-glove treatment," Kinley says. "We had an issue with the control arm. We don't want to take the chance we're going to have an issue with anything else."

Ford recalled the vehicle Dec. 16, ordering owners not to drive it after a crack was discovered in a test vehicle's control arm. A recall for a fuel tank vapor leak that affected about 45 cars was issued at the same time.

Ford assembled 448 cars before the recall; 111 were in owners' possession. Thirty-five cars have been repaired. Ford resumed limited GT assembly the week of Feb. 7. Ford aims to complete the suspension recall during the next few weeks. Eight control arms in each car are being swapped out from a cast part to a forged part.

The other service advisories are expected to affect a much smaller number of cars.
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