Defective air cleaner assembly?

Having a problem with my 2002 Focus SE Wagon:
I've tried, without success, to remove the lid of the air cleaner assembly to replace the filter. What has happened is that two of the four threaded
"nuts" affixed to the bottom half of the assembly have broken free and now turn with the bolts holding down the cover. To make matters worse, these nuts are smooth-sided, so I can't get a wrench on them. I'm able to hold the front nut with a pair of Vice-Grips, but the rear nut is inaccessible.
I took the car to a Ford dealership (it's still under the bumper-to-bumper warranty), but the dealer has accused me of breaking the assembly and refuses to do a warranty repair. I called Ford customer service, but they have basically said they side with the dealer in situations like this and that I'll have to work it out at that level (not likely to happen).
I'm curious if anyone else has had this problem, because it really seems like a design flaw in the air cleaner box assembly.
Thanks, Carl
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wrote:

Hi Carl
Unfortunatly the dealer is right to say what he did. Whilst the car is under warrenty the only things you should be touching under the hood are those marked by yellow lids tops etc. i.e. water and oil levels.
Andy
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Once you get this sorted out, make sure that you put some anti-seize on the threads of the screws before you tighten them. The nuts will break loose of the soft plastic, as you have discovered.
I assume that you used some penetrating oil on the nuts and let it soak in. I forget if you need to open the air box first to get to a fastener to remove the assembly. If you don't, you should remove the hoses and then the air box so that you can hold the "nuts" with a vice grip while you remove the screws. Then get new screws and nuts.
If you can first locate an air box from a junk yard car, you can break the screws to allow you to take your present air box off.
Gary
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Thanks, Gary--appreciate the tips.
Carl

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