Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Ford Escape Fun -- a GOOD experience this time

Not all bad this time, but since I've whined complained in the past, it's only fair to mention when the experience is a good one.

A little history....

Monday morning:
  • Our 2008 Ford Escape started and ran rough. It felt like the transmission was slipping when pulling out of our parking spot. It had been very cold overnight, so I just assumed that might be why. Once it was warmed up, it seemed OK.
Tuesday morning:
  • Another rough start. More of that "slipping" feeling. Again, warmed up, it seemed fine, although sometimes when accelerating from a stop or a slow roll, something didn't feel quite right.
Tuesday afternoon:
  • After sitting for 9hrs in the underground parking at work -- where it's above freezing -- the truck started fine. While driving through the underground parking, I accelerated lightly and felt slippage, followed by a sudden grip of the transmission. This is probably what it would feel like if you were in neutral, revved the engine slightly and put it into drive. It made the tires chirp on the concrete. Not good.
  • While driving up the ramp to exit the underground parking, the transmission slipped again. I almost didn't make it all the way up. Not good at all.
  • It drove fine to my wife's work. I told her what happened. She called the dealership and was told the transmission guy went home already, but would be in at 7:30am Wednesday morning. She asked if he could take a look at it right away in the morning and they said he could.
Wednesday morning:
  • After leaving the block heater plugged in all night, the truck started fine. I felt a little slippage when we went to Timmy's for coffee.
  • We drove all the way to Orleans and arrived at the dealership at 7:30am and pulled into the service bay.
  • Jim, the "Senior Service Advisor", helped us. We explained the problem. He checked with the transmission guy and was told that he had 3 or 4 cars to do today. It probably wouldn't get looked at today.
  • We had a choice: if it was deemed not serious, he could schedule us in for tomorrow morning and we could take our truck home and back tomorrow. If it was a serious problem, they'd need to keep it.
  • The good: Because we have an ESP (Extended Service Plan), they'd cover a loaner/rental!
  • The bad: they had no loaner cars available, and the liklihood of getting us a rental was slim to none because of the never-ending OC Transpo strike in Ottawa. On top of that, Ford would only approve of FORD rentals -- they won't supply non-Ford rental cars to their customers. That would make it more difficult for Jim to find us a rental. WTF, Ford?
  • Jim told us about some nasty stories he had heard from the other dealerships in the area -- customers irate that they couldn't get loaners or rentals while their vehicles were being serviced. Apparently the cops had to be called to get one customer leave.
  • My wife said that she was told they could take a quick look and maybe take it for a spin if we brought it in first thing this morning. Jim seemed a little surprised, but went to talk with the transmission guy. He agreed to take a quick look.
  • The first thing the mechanic asked was to start the engine and pop the hood. He checked the transmission fluid. It was dry. O_o He put his hand under the bumper and something dripped on his hand. We had a coolant leak. He asked me if I had noticed any puddles under the truck when parked. I said I hadn't. Had it been summer, I surely would have noticed, but with all the snow lately, I hadn't seen anything.
  • The good: a coolant leak is a quicker repair, if the parts are available. The mechanic left and came back to tell us that they had the parts, and a guy who can do the repair immediately.
  • More good: the entire repair would be covered by the ESP.
  • Jim told us it would be a 2-3hr job, if the parts they had matched the truck. We could wait, or they could give us a shuttle ride to work or home. We decided to wait until they could do a more thorough check with the truck on the hoist.
  • A ½ hour or so later, Jim came to the waiting area to give us an update. Parts are confirmed in stock, they match, and the problem was as suspected.
  • An hour passed and Jim again gave us an update: repairs almost done. The mechanic would then take it for a spin to make sure the problem was fixed.
  • Another ½ later Jim came to tell us our truck was ready. The paper work would take another 20 minutes, but we could leave and they would mail them to us.
2 hours after arriving at Jim Keay, we were on our way to work with a working truck.

Needless to say, we were very pleased with the service we received this morning. Granted a little luck was involved that the repair wasn't as serious, but we left feeling that Jim -- the Service Advisor -- and the first mechanic put in additional effort to get us on our way quickly. I don't know what we would have done otherwise. Hopefully that's how they treat all of their customers.

Thanks, and kudos to the guys at Jim Keay Ford Lincoln!

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Monday, January 26, 2009

My Bucket List

Yellow BucketI stole got this idea from someone's blog, who got the idea from another blog. It sounded like a fun idea, so, here's the start of my list:
  1. Weigh 200lbs or less (target = summer)
  2. Quit smoking (already in progress -- if I can go 2 months, I'll consider it done)
  3. Visit the UK (where I was born, and where my cousins, aunts, and uncles live)
  4. Visit my Dad's grave site in Louisiana.
  5. Own a Ford Mustang. :D
  6. Visit every province in Canada (6 to go... not including the territories)
  7. Cycle 1000kms in one year (this may not seem like much to some people, but considering I tend to cycle once per weekend, in spring & summer only, that's about 80kms per weekend -- double what I usually ride...)
Yeh, some sound more like goals, but achieving them will make me happy. :) I'll add as I come up with more stuff.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ear Force X3 Headset -- my review (or 2 cents)

I love gaming. I love gaming late at night. Unfortunately, this means that I can't play certain games and fully enjoy the experience without disturbing my family as they sleep.

I discovered that Turtle Beach makes wireless headsets to solve this problem. They allow you to listen to the audio of the game AND chat with friends at the same time. Up to now, my options were:
  1. use the original Xbox headset and keep the game sound low
  2. plug my stereo headphones into the stereo to listen to the game audio and not bother with voice chat
  3. use both my stereo headphones and the Xbox headset at the same time (ever tried wearing two headsets at the same time?) :)
I picked up the Ear Force X3 after a few friend recommendations and reading glowing reviews on the web. I had high hopes for these, but I have to say that I am disappointed.

The sound is good and they're comfortable, but there is one thing about them that is making me seriously consider returning them: they are not compatible with the Rock Band guitars or the Xbox chatpad. You can't even use the adapter wire that came with Rock Band.

I thought that surely I must be doing something wrong. I visited the Turtle Beach web site and found this:
The wireless X3 and X4 model headsets use special connectors that draw power from the Xbox handheld controller's "puck" connection. This connection is used to power the X3/X4 chat level boost, which boosts the chat when game soundtracks get so loud that they might obscure the chat channel.

Because the Chatpad, Rock Band and Racing Wheel controllers do not provide these extra power connections, the X3 and X4 headsets are *not* compatible with these aftermarket controllers. There are no adapters available that will make them compatible.

The Guitar Hero controller has been reported to work with the X-series headsets.
So, not only can I not use it with the chatpad or the RB2 guitar, but I can't use it with the racing wheel either.

I may be able to live with not using it with the chatpad, or the racing wheel, but when I play Rock Band or Guitar Hero, I use the RB2 guitar. My main purpose for getting these was so I could talk and play RB2 or GHWT later at night. Without being able to talk, I may as well wear my old stereo headphones and put up with the inconvenience of the headphone wire extension. (and wear two headsets at the same time) :)

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Trico Neoform wipers the clear winner!

I finally got around to dropping in at to pick up some Trico NeoForm wiper blades to replace the old OE blades on my 2008 Ford Escape. They were $24.99 each, and the guy at Partsource says I've got a one year warranty on them from today, and if there are any problems to bring them back with my receipt and they'll give me a new set of blades at no charge. A store that honours the manufacturer warranty? That's also $5 cheaper per blade than what Ford charges for the OE Motormaster blades -- the only wiper blades that Ford sells for the 2008 Escape (see below)

Although I haven't yet tried them under normal driving conditions, a quick check after installing them indicated that they do indeed make complete contact with the windshield and wipe it clean. No gaps or streaks, unlike the Armor All wiper blades I had tried.

It might be a bit early to say they're great, but I'm fairly confident that they will live up to my expectations. Hell, even the plastic packaging was easy to open and didn't require scissors!

If you own a 2008 Ford Escape, this is what you want: Trico Neoform Blade, part # 16-2013

Thanks again to Joe for the heads up.

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