Ford to GM
Over the years I have had my favorite cars and have favored certain models and makes. Since the 80s in regards to full size vans (vehicles that I have always been guaranteed to have in my driveway since childhood), I have favored the Ford models, but in the last few years Ford has put a very sour taste in my mouth and I will not purchase one at least for the foreseable future. I will share a few reasons why.
When I was commissioned in 1998 and sent with my wife to Sanford, Maine, we were pleased to hear that we had a brand new 1998 Ford van. It was a nice color and was as loaded as possible for the model year it was. It was a great van and I only had to put a heater core and rear heat lines in the 3 and a half years, and 114,000 miles that I owned it. It was the best van I have ever owned. I traded it in in Feburary of 2002 for a van that I essentially had custom ordered to my specifications, right down to the color. My 2002 van was a nice looking van, again, it was as loaded as was allowed for the model year, but right away I noticed very subtle things about it. It seemed louder on the road in regards to wind noise, and my arm would get cold as I rested in on the drivers door. Despite being a mid level XLT with the nicer door trim, seat trim etc, it seemed Ford scimped on the sound insulation. Later on I realized that whenever the van was drivien in a rainstorm on the highway, the turn signals would not work for 2 days. Apparantly there was a short and this was a problem until I left in June 2005. The dealer tried to reproduce the issue but had no luck doing so.
The van also would have a knock in the engine. I asked the dealer about it and told them about it. They told me there was no knock. I sort of argued that there was and that I was not new to this engine. My 1998 had the same engine and did not make the racket that the 2002 made even with the high mileage on it. They insisted it must be something I was doing, despite using Exxon Mobil gas at the recommended octane rating! Sometimes, I think they despised me at that dealership! I said to the service tech once, "well maybe Ford dropped a Lincoln Navigator engine in this and I should have been putting 93 octane in this." They looked at me like I was from Mars. Its sometimes sad when you know more about the car then the so called experts!
The van didn't have serious issues, but stupid unresolved issues and that bothered me almost as much as the major issues. I believe this van is still being used by the Sanford corps with nearly 150,000 miles. I finally swore off Ford when I observed my dads 1 week old Ford van last summer before they moved from Erie. While parked in my grandparents driveway, I noticed that the bumper was installed crooked. I pointed it out to dad to verify that I wasn't seeing things and he noticed it too. The gap between the bumper and the body was signficantly wider on one end than the other! I said to dad, "if they can't put a bumper on straight, what else is wrong with it!" Ironically two days after seeing that bumper gap, I had to go shopping for a new van as my transmission failed on the way to the congress that previous weekend. Let's just say I steered clear of the Ford dealer!
I do believe that now Chevrolet vans are superior to the Ford vans. They are far more comfortable to drive. The driving position is more relaxed and less confined. The engine has signficantly more power and torque, and is quieter as well. I believe the styling is more refined as well. The seats are mounted into the floor instead of on brackets. This allows for easy loading when needed with no floor obstructions. The GM vans ride better as well!
My Chevrolet van has 28,000 miles on it and I don't think I have put $500 into it in maintenance since purchasing it in June 2007. The GM service people are informed and know their product well.
Over the next 6 weeks, I will be spending a lot of time in my Chevrolet Express 3500 as I drive all over eastern Connecticut. Its a good van and I am now a huge fan of GM products. Lets hope they can survive the next year!