CougarSunroof.com When the sun no longer shines on your head
CougarSunroof.com
Home : About : FAQs : Contact

FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the problem with '99 and 2000 Mercury Cougar sunroofs?
To understand the design flaws in the sunroof, you first need to understand how the transport mechanism in the sunroof works. The sunroof is moved along its tracks by two arms. Each of those arms is attached to a metal guide that moves inside the track, controlling the sunroof tilt and its position on the track. Each of the metal guides is connected to the gears that are driven by the sunroof motor. In the 1999 and 2000 Mercury Cougar, those metal guides are each connected to the gears by a small piece of plastic. (Yes, a piece of plastic.) Often in an alarmingly short period of time, the plastic becomes insufficiently strong to withstand the strain of the sunroof weight (when open) and the strain of opening and closing the sunroof, and one or both of these pieces of plastic break, causing the entire sunroof to be non-functional. This often happens when the sunroof is partially open, and owners may be unable to close the sunroof, causing water damage to their car's interior. Many owners report having to "break the other side" of their sunroof in order to close it before an impending rainstorm. For some pictures of the sunroof parts and an additional explanation of how the sunroof works, see this thread at NewCougar.org's forum. [Please note that, unfortunately, the repair that is attempted by the author of the thread does not succeed.]

The sunroofs in 1999 and 2000 Mercury Cougars have two design flaws. The first flaw is that the metal guides are connected to the sunroof gears by plastic parts that are incapable of sustaining the weight and strain of the sunroof operation. The second flaw is that the pieces of plastic are not replaceable. The entire sunroof assembly is a single component, welded and riveted together, so when the first design flaw manifests itself, the only solution is to replace the entire sunroof assembly, including the motor, arms, gears, drive, etc. The retail price for this replacement part (which is what Ford/Mercury service centers will charge you) is around $950 USD. Obviously, that does not include the labor necessary to replace the part.

0

How prevalent is the problem?
The easiest thing to do, go to the list and read the stories and problems of other people with the same problem. Also this thread at NewCougar.org's forum is also a great place to find people with the same problem.
Just opened - our own forum. Start posting your stories and questions there.

0

Is there any way to get the dealer to do this repair for less money?
Many people have had success in getting this defect addressed by their dealer at a reduced cost, even when their cars were out of warranty. This is often referred to as "dealer loyalty", "good-faith service", or "out-of-warranty repair". Your odds of getting a similar break can be greatly increased if you 1) bought the car new at that dealership and 2) have had your service work done at that dealership regularly since then. Most people who have been successful obtaining such a reduction report paying between $100-$300 for the entire repair (Ford pays for parts, you pay for labor). Ask to talk to the Service Manager with any information (including a print-out of the list) you can find about this problem.

0

Can I fix this problem myself?
Assuming you are somewhat mechanically inclined, it's likely that you can fix this problem yourself for far less than the dealer will charge you.

0

Can I buy a replacement sunroof assembly at less than retail and replace it myself?
Yes you can. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper. The part number for the replacement sunroof assembly is F8RZ63518A30AB. One place where you can buy this part yourself is a fordpartsonline.com. In the section of the page titled "Search by OEM Part Number", choose Mercury, and enter the part number above.
If you have documented the process and wish to share it with others, please go to the contact page and let us know about it.

0

Can I fix it myself without replacing the entire sunroof assembly?
Unfortunately, there have been no successful reports. One person attempted to reform the plastic pieces with a strong epoxy, and his solution worked for a week, but then broke again. You can find detailed pictures and descriptions of his attempts here at NewCougar.org's forum.

0

Can I find a replacement sunroof assembly at a salvage yard?
If you're persistent and lucky. Several people have reported success in finding wrecked Cougars with intact sunroof assemblies, while many more report that the problem is so pervasive, and wrecked new Cougars are so few, that none can be found at salvage yards nearby. Also keep in mind that if you find intact sunroof tracks at a salvage yard, and those tracks are in a '99 or '00 Cougar, the tracks may break again (because you're replacing the broken plastic with more plastic).

0

What are the symptoms of this problem?
Beyond the obvious symptom is that your sunroof will not open, or will not close, there are several telltale signs that your sunroof's failure is due to broken plastic within the sunroof tracks. First, the motor should still sound like it is working properly when you press the transport button. You may have heard a cracking sound when trying to open or close the sunroof, after which it would no longer open or close. It is possible that only one side of the sunroof will move (likely meaning that one of the two plastic pieces has broken.) If both of the plastic pieces are broken (fairly common with the additional stress put on one of the pieces when the other first breaks), you may find that the sunroof will still "pop up", but only when you run the motor all the way to the back (which would ordinarily mean that the sunroof should be completely open.) This is caused by the remaining portion of plastic in the track sliding all the way to the back of the track and pushing up the back of the sunroof.

0

Is Ford Motor Company aware of this problem?
Yes. Not only has Ford been made aware of this problem on numerous occasions by its customers who have encountered this problem, but the maker of the sunroof (which is purportedly an OEM part) fixed the primary design flaw in the sunroof assembly by replacing the plastic parts with aluminum, and Mercury Cougars made in model year '01 and '02 have this corrected sunroof assembly. Likewise, if you replace the sunroof assembly with a new one, that new one will have the aluminum parts. Data gathered from the list indicates that less than 2% of broken Cougar sunroofs are from from '01 and '02 model Cougars, so it appears that the design flaw has been corrected.
One might think that Ford Motor Company, with it's "Quality is Job 1" motto, would be embarrassed at this obvious quality gaffe, and would go out of their way to, at a minimum, make this repair somehow less expensive for its customers.

0

How much will it cost to have this repaired at the dealer?
The retail price for the replacement sunroof assembly is currently around $950 USD. The labor cost obviously varies, but price quotations reported range from $1200-$1500 including parts and labor. If the Ford Service Manager only makes you pay for labor, expect the bill to be around $300 USD.

0

Why are you so upset about this -- if the warranty is up, shouldn't you expect to pay for the cost to repair your car?

  1. It's an engineering defect.
  2. They know it's a defect because they fixed it in the '01 model, replacing the plastic parts with metal ones.
  3. Beyond the poor engineering of the defect itself, the sunroof track is also badly engineered because it is not serviceable.  So a $1 piece of broken plastic translates into a $1300 repair bill for hundreds of Cougar owners.
  4. Instead of losing some money and standing behind their product, Ford not only sticks their customers with the bill, but they profit from their own poor engineering.
    • large markup on retail cost of part (you can buy it yourself for more than $200 less).
    • profit for dealers performing service.
    • not even waiving the diagnostic fee (approx. $75) to people who won't pay for the repair.





Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional


Valid CSS