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I*m not sure if this is the right site to ask this. I have a Mercury Mountaineer, *01 5.0 AWD. I bought it used through Matt Blatt. They offered a deal with the purchase for "Free tires for life". As long as I bring it in to them exclusively for tire rotation and balance every eight thousand miles, they would replace the tires free of charge for the life of the vehicle. They have done that so far. The problem is, the last time tires were needed, they only changed the rear tires. On a normal 2 wheel drive car that would be no problem. However, as per a Ford dealership the general rule is to change all four on an AWD Ford product. The difference in tire circumference between the forward tires and the rear tires destroyed the transfer case (through wheel speed transducers turning the AWD system on and off on the highway when it shouldn*t have) to the point that the axle coming from the transfer case had to be removed, therefore disabling the AWD and rendering the vehicle a 2 wheel drive vehicle. I explained this to Matt Blatt, who did the tire maintenance. I showed them a TSB from Ford that included many Ford products AND explained that even the owners manual states that when changing all tires they need to be of the same size. Matt Blatt does not deny doing the mistake. I have documentation from a Ford certified mechanic as to the exact reason for the failure of my transfer case and a TSB from Ford that explains why what Matt Blatt did should NEVER be done. Ford does not, however, include my year (the TSB actually skips over it). When questioning Ford Engineering as to WHY their TSB on the relationship of tire circumference and transfer cases in their AWD products skipped my Mercury*s year, they said it just hasn*t happened yet..... I guess, just like the F.A.A., until something happens, no new *directives* on the subject will get published/required/mandated. However, Ford says it is industry known as something NOT to do and knowing that, Matt Blatt will not fix the problem they caused stating that the TSB doesn*t specify my year. What can I do? Or do you have any documentation that relates to this problem? The tires that Matt Blatt put on the back of my vehicle were over an inch and 1/2 larger in circumference than the front ones but the same *size* yet a different manufacturer. Anything you have would be a help. My vehicle has been flawless for years until the back tires were changed. It is the first time only two tires were ever changed.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Denise Koeth, Managing Editor at Tire Review Magazine It sounds like you*ve definitely done your homework. The only thing I would be able to do is refer you to various Web sites that back up the fact that you should always replace all 4 tires on an AWD vehicle, unless the tread on the two tires that are not replaced is more than 70% of their original tread life. But I*m sure you*ve already done plenty of that type of research. Unfortunately, the dealership you*re dealing with has found a loophole and is sticking with it instead of making things right with a loyal customer. The only advice I can offer is to keep pursuing the matter with the manager, telling him that he*s going to lose a long-time customer if he doesn*t correct his mistake. Without the documentation that includes your vehicle*s model year, he can continue to claim that legally, he is not required to do anything. The money to fix or reimburse your repair would have to come out of his own profits, and in these tough economic times he will have to decide which is more valuable - that money, or keeping a valued customer. I wish you the best of luck!

Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd Hi Matt, You state that "Matt Blatt does not deny doing the mistake." It sounds like he is looking for a technicality to get out of doing the right thing. Industry wide.... you don*t just change 2 tires on a AWD or 4-wheel drive vehicle because it can do exactly what it did to your vehicle. He is in the wrong and should fix it... but you would have to talk to a lawyer to find out if you have a legal leg to stand on. You could let Matt Blatt know that if he takes care of "his mistake" you will write him multiple testimonials of how well you were treated, what a great deal you got, etc. that he can use in his marketing. How it is soooo much better to have a happy customer then a very pissed off one. Good Luck!

Bogi Lateiner, Owner and Technician at 180 Degrees Automotive Matt First, I was unable to find the TSB you are referencing - so I am not really able to speak to that issue. Being an all wheel drive vehicle the tires should be wearing evenly - especially if they are being rotated on a regular interval. So there should not have been much difference between the front and rear tires before you had the rear tires replaced. So - unless they replaced one axle because of a different reason, it surprises me that they found the fronts needed to be changed and not the rears unless there was a problem already developing causing one axle to wear faster. I do know that it is general practice to measure the tires and if the difference between front and rear tires is more than and 1/8 or so (I was not able to nail down an exact spec for you - sorry) than they replace all four. A slight difference will not cause any significant problems. But a large difference can. Since this was a special deal that Matt Blatt offered you when you bought the vehicle, it is an issue you have to take up with them alone. It will be a difficult one to resolve unless you can prove the difference in tire treads from front to back *at the time that the tires were replaced* and that that difference was greater than what the spec is. Did they do the work to the vehicle once you started having problems? Did they remove the axle? And for what reason? All these things will make a difference. If they did the work, that works in your favor. Otherwise they will likely argue that there may have been other causes for the damage. Gather all the data you can and, if you are convinced you have a solid case, be persistent. I wish you luck and I*m sorry I couldn*t be more helpful. Bogi

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