DIY maintenance on ford E450 utilimaster stepvans

Discussion in 'FedEx Discussions' started by HomeDelivery, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    changing the oil & filter on this vehicle is so simple, the contractors/owner-operators can DIY at your own driveway...

    1st, if you're not a fat slob as some of those Ground drivers you've seen recently on this forum, you can just slide underneath the vehicle without jacking it up to reach the oil drain plug & filter...

    Drain plug n filter.JPG

    just past the I-beam on the passenger side


    Drain plug n filter2.JPG

    a view on the driver side

    drain plug is 16mm so have a wrench or socket/ratchet on the ready for that

    after draining is done, clean and replace... don't forget to torque it to 17 ft.lbs (3/8" drive torque wrench can be rented from your local parts store if you don't have it)

    as for the filter, if the previous grease monkey didn't lubricate the o-ring on the oil filter, it may be hard to spin it off by hand & you'll need an oil filter wrench:

    Filter wrench.jpg

    since the filter is mounted on the vehicle vertically, pre-charge the filter by pouring some oil into it so the filter won't be dry & don't forget to lube that o-ring! tighten by hand 2/3-3/4 turn after the o-ring contacts the mounting surface is all it needs to stay on

    this 5.4L ford gas engine takes 6 quarts of oil so don't forget to fill it


    as for checking/ filling other fluids, that's part of your pre-trip inspection anyways, so i won't go into detail about that...

    lubing the chassis

    well this particular stepvan only had grease fittings on the outer tie rod ends

    Tie rod ds.jpg and Tie rod ps.jpg

    as well as the pitman arm & drag link

    PItman n drag link.jpg and pitman n drag link2.jpg

    WTF, Ford went cheap on you guys and they didn't put a grease fitting on the upper & lower ball joints!

    9-766-007.jpg can be used to "inject" some grease when you see the boots being dried out to prolong service to those balljoints


    also, the fresh air intake filter for the HVAC is pretty simple to yank out and wash off:

    HVAC box.JPG

    if you don't want to read that label, then just yank out the filter & wash it w/ a garden hose or w/ the kitchen sink spray hose:

    HVAC INTAKE screen.JPG

    not too hard, eh?

    finally, grab either a can of WD-40 or a small oiler & lubricate the hinges of the hood, back roll up door, bulkhead & sliding side door latch mechanisms... easy as pie!

    now roll up your sleeves, DIY & save that money for your drivers as a bonus pay! (or let one of your drivers who knows how to do this type of stuff easily & pay him to work on the vehicles on a Monday)

    bonus: hose out the cargo area for them so they can walk into a nice clean truck

    PS: there are 2 drain holes by the roll up door that needs to be cleared out w/ a flathead screwdriver so the water can drain out of them faster...


    now to show other weaknesses of this utilimaster stepvan chassis besides the no-zerk-fittings on the balljoints

    Bad ac hose placement.JPG

    AC hose is sitting right above a metal brace & they just put a rubber tape on the brace; NOT GOOD ENOUGH! the contractor spent $400-500 for an ac system & this will probably leak at this point after the limited warranty of 3 years/ 36K miles are up.

    Pipe_Insulation.jpg get some of this & wrap it over that hose (secure w/ zip ties or electrical tape) to make sure you won't lose your low-side hose due to that metal brace rubbing over time


    the door latches on the sliding driver and passenger side doors are beefy, but the bulkhead door is made of thinner metal & probably not heat-treated enough to stay straight:

    Bulkhead.jpgLatch ds.jpgLatch ps.jpg

    they're already being bent inwards due to multiple slamming of these doors.

    yes i do open/close them between stops, not like some other drivers who keep the bulkhead door open all day long...

    the rubber weather stripping on it is also coming apart from it's double sided tape so i just used some clear packaging tape to secure it


    rearview camera doesn't stay on at all times, only when you shift to reverse. needs a switch for the driver to turn it on/off as needed just to make sure there are no hitch-hikers on the rear bumper (kids like to hop on for a ride back there on some suburbia settings) older stepvans has this on at all times...
    Drain plug n filter.JPGDrain plug n filter2.JPGFilter wrench.jpgOil.jpgTie rod ds.jpgTie rod ps.jpgPItman n drag link.jpgpitman n drag link2.jpg9-766-007.jpgHVAC box.JPGHVAC INTAKE screen.JPGBad ac hose placement.JPGPipe_Insulation.jpgBulkhead.jpgLatch ds.jpgLatch ps.jpg
  2. You're a pro. The only problem is.... liability. I'd use a mechanic for even the simplest of things. Save the receipts, and make copies for your own file. If something ever went wrong, which is a small chance, and it turned out you had worked on that part who do you think would be to blame? It ain't Freddy, it may be the contractor, but it's most likely the overzealous "non fat" HD guy who be fixin in his driveway. Not such a big deal with oil you say. But what if said overzealous HD/Ground guy is fixing his brakes and one day the brakes went out, resulting in a minor, or God forbid, a fatal accident? If a certified mechanic didn't work on it, who's going to be the scapegoat? nothing wrong with a little pride in your job, but take EVERYTHING to a mechanic! Better yet, let the contractor take it in and get a different vehicle. Your down time is YOURS, not Freds.
  3. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    this can be documented easily w/ a quick google search for a work order template...

    i'm no pro, but have a diploma at one of those one-year vo-tech schools for this; so i can make money on the side for simple things like this. some of those "certified mechanics" aren't really certified ~ they just have a diploma from a local vo-tech shcool or "school of hard knocks/ backyard mechanics" (unless you're talking about ASE certifications, which i already have a few under my belt)

    Some contractors, single owner-operators can do this as well & just document it for their tax purposes... and as proof of Preventative Maintenance

    Episode7 had to change his brake pads on-the-road; now that's a crappy situation to do that WHILE ON DUTY... i'd rather do that on one of my off days like on a Monday for me.
  4. I am just less trusting of Freddy than you. HD is a prime example of the cost saving benefits of self maintenance, but I'm liability minded.
  5. CJinx

    CJinx Well-Known Member

    Engine work or brake jobs might be worth having a mechanic work on it, but why pay $40 to get the oil changed by a mechanic when you can do it yourself for far less? Especially considering how often your trucks need their oil changed!
  6. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    eggsactly! as long as you have receipts of the parts & documentation of the labor, you won't get in trouble...

    ps: one of my ASE certs is also on brakes & steering/suspension. i adhere to the torque specs on them & actually clean & relube the sliding brake caliper pins that other "mechanics" neglect to do. contractors in my local area trust me to do a better job than a local mechanic

    & anything that would take over 8 hours of work, i'll refuse because i have other things to do on my days off. & that's when they have to pony up & go get it done themselves or at a shop

    PPS: if you can't even change a light bulb or a wiper blade, you not a man!
  7. STFXG

    STFXG Well-Known Member

    Blah. I'd rather sit at the dealership, drink a cup of coffee and have a muffin. Maybe I'd change my oil if I lived close to a river and could easily dispose of it.
  8. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    oh, you're that kind of contractor... ps, don't dump used oil into the river. parts stores take used oil to be recycled FOR FREE

    MAKAVELI Well-Known Member

    Dude you're not funny don't quit your day job.
  10. If I were a contractor, I'd change it myself. But I'm not. I'm not working on my own time if it doesn't save me any money.
  11. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    i do all of it for 1/2 that! win-win for both of us
  12. overflowed

    overflowed Well-Known Member

    I hope you are getting paid for this. You seem like a good kid. I'll leave it at that.
  13. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    i am... i quoted Cjinx's statement $40 for a standard oil change/ filter & you won't know if they greased the chassis or other things. i do it for $20 so i give the standard "ripmeoff" rate, like other things that this opco gets away with...
  14. If Fred got the chance, he would kidnap you and clone you. You would be every Ground/HD driver. I bet you are some manager from Memphis posing as the "play by the rules" young guy who is also able to have a rapport with the guys who take risks. The guy in the middle who follows a straight line, but also won't rat out his buddies. Everyone likes that guy. Your upbeat attitude and devotion to the HD/Ground contracting model is beginning to make me doubt the validity of your identity. Your name is "HomeDelivery" and your avatar is a very well dressed delivery guy who is punching and making different graphical designs with the power of his strike. Fred will have us believe that people like you are the majority... young "hip" guys who are devoted to the model. But you are the minority.
  15. I meant no offense by that. If you are real, and enjoy what you do.. more power to you. You deserve 1,000 golden falcons and an endless supply of purple pens.
  16. overflowed

    overflowed Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you say that. I was praying you'd say that. Like I said, good kid.
  17. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    no problem... i'm not a purple kool-aid drinker, my LOCAL management & contractors are pretty decent & they do treat most of the drivers w/ respect around here. if you scan my other threads, i didn't partake in that dog-pony show about the "chairman's challenge"

    I also don't like cheapskate contractors who don't value their own workforce. But some routes are pretty bad to have high turnover of both drivers & contractors. FredEx is too cheap to pay those certain routes a decent settlement to make it both profitable for the contractor & better than min-wage for the driver... other contractors are waiting to see if they'll make more routes instead of them carrying the burden of running supplemental routes & breaking even or operating at a loss.

    For example, this week a driver quit on the spot & i have to cover that area... too many stops & it takes 1.5 hours to get to the service area to start flinging out the stops. I reached my max limit of 14 hours on-duty time & had to DNA 15 packages (that's with not counting the load/sort time). Now i gotta wait 10 hour rest period so i'll have another late dispatch tomorrow. I don't blame that driver for quitting since that route sucks so bad to have ~3 hours non-paid for the driving to/from the service area. I had 200 miles from start-to-finish today.

    but come Labor Day, i'll be out of the contractor pay structure & back on to getting an hourly pay once i set foot in the door...
  18. Is it considered falsifying DOT times to not count the sort and the drive to the hub?
  19. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    yes, and that's part of your name!

    when I'm done, though, i don't RTB; i go straight home... some routes is as little as 10 miles away while others, like the one i was covering the past week, was a 2 hour drive home (65-75 miles ~ it was the same time to drive back to the hub)

    the previous driver that quit this route was getting scammed out of free labor for 3-5 hours a day! driving to/from the service area was 3-4 hours total depending on traffic

    the pre-load/sort are compensated for the contractors, but some of them don't pay their drivers to load/sort their own vehicles & pocket that part of the settlement for themselves. I've read about one terminal that actually pay their drivers a flat fee to preload/sort their own vehicles, which would be the right thing to do... and they wonder why i switch back to being an hourly during peak.

    During peak, it's best to get in the building as early as possible so you can wrap up your vehicle and be on the road (you're fighting against daylight time since winter sucks as dusk is at around 1630-1700). so they'll sacrifice waiting on the packages for up to 3 hours or more unpaid! As an hourly-temp, i walk in & the temp agency starts paying me as i sort/load my vehicle... if they have late freight or late wrap-up of the sort, cha-ching for me, but sucks for a contracted driver

    back on topic, watch out for one of the heater core hoses; they zip-tied it to a metal brace & that's going to rub over time... use that foam insulator as a spacer as talked about w/ the A/C hose earlier
  20. HomeDelivery

    HomeDelivery Well-Known Member

    even new, these vehicles like to burn oil & coolant... i just drove a brand new one on sat & the coolant level went below the min-line by the end of the day (under 1000 miles on it & i put 200 miles for that one day)

    ​make sure your drivers are doing their pre-trips & topping them up or you'll be paying for a new engine!