Even though Edsel shared its basic technology with other Ford products, a number of issues caused reliability problems, mostly with the 1958 models. Reports of mechanical flaws with the cars surfaced, due primarily to a lack of quality control and confusion of parts with other Ford models.
Ford never dedicated a stand-alone factory solely to Edsel model production. The first-year (1958) Edsels were assembled in both Mercury and Ford factories. The longer-wheelbase models, Citation and Corsair, were produced alongside the Mercury products, while the shorter-wheelbase models, Pacer and Ranger, were produced alongside the Ford products. Workers assembling Fords and Mercurys often found the task of assembling the occasional Edsel that moved down the line burdensome, since it required them to change tools and parts bins, then switch back to resume assembling Fords or Mercurys after completing assembly on the Edsel.
The workers were also expected to accommodate Edsel assembly with no adjustment in their hourly quota of Ford and Mercury production. Consequently, the desired quality control of the different Edsel models proved difficult to achieve, even when the Fords and Mercurys were satisfactorily assembled on the same lines.
Many Edsels actually left the assembly lines unfinished. Uninstalled parts were placed in the trunks along with installation instructions for dealership mechanics, some of whom never installed the additional parts at all. Some dealers did not even receive all the parts.
In the March 1958 issue of Popular Mechanics, 16% of Edsel owners reported poor workmanship, with complaints ranging from faulty welding to power steering failure. In its test car, Popular Mechanics tested for these problems and noted others, such as the trunk leaking badly in a storm and the odometer showing fewer than actual miles traveled.
Production Line - Sommerville, MA (Source: EDSEL.com)
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