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Old 12-11-2014, 12:27 PM   #1
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Buyer's remorse with my Ford Flex

So we were pretty excited last year to get a new tow vehicle, but that has been tempered by some issues that have cropped up this first year. The car is an '09 with 90k on it now, and so far we have accumulated a disturbing number of repairs.

The latest one has been an issue with the gas tank. Apparently this car has a 'saddlebag' style tank, and an elaborate siphon system which moves gas from the far side to the side that actually supplies the engine, and that fails disturbingly often, judging by the comments online from other people who have had the same issue. The result is you will be driving along with a quarter tank left, and suddenly that drops to empty and you are out of gas. It left my husband stranded on the freeway a week ago, and then almost caught him a second time a few days later. Now it's fine as long as we keep it well above a quarter. The estimate to get this fixed is $900-1300 because they have to drop the tank to do it. The worst part is reports online of people who have had to have this repair done more than once!

So add that to the estimated $400 repair needed to get the second row seat to fold down, and the $900 engine fan that is 'throwing a code' though it appears to be cooling things just fine to me, and that's a lot of expensive repairs for the first year. Oh, and the tranny grinding noise which was fixed with a transmission fluid change. Otherwise it has been a really nice, comfortable driving car, but I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone run out and buy one.

Maybe the most disturbing thing is that all these repairs are being reported by lots of other owners - they are well-known issues. I'm sure they all have their problems, but we went with the Ford over more expensive brands because we were hoping to keep repair costs down, and our Ford Van had been so darned reliable. That doesn't seem to be working out for us right now, and there's been some discussion of trading it in. Except then we would be back to that 'choosing the RIGHT tow vehicle' discussion, and I was so glad to have that over with!
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Old 12-11-2014, 12:39 PM   #2
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I have one of the favorite tow vehicles, an F150. It's an '07 but with fewer miles than your Flex (just over 81k now) but I was unsure about buying a used vehicle that was primarily for long trips on which it would be decidedly inconvenient to have a mechanical issue. I bought the truck from Carmax, and chose to buy my first-ever extended service plan at the time. It's had an issue with the ABS sensors, a new AC compressor, a new transmission (!) and a problem with the satellite radio antenna. The transmission alone covered the cost of the extended service plan about 3x.

My point is that a) the purchase of a used vehicle is always a dice-roll, and b) modern vehicles have lots of complicated stuff that can break. The fuel-tank issue sounds like a design problem, though... I wonder who thought that was a good idea?
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Old 12-11-2014, 12:44 PM   #3
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Yeah, I see a lot of reports of transmission issues with the Flex as well, which worries me since we're towing with it. That might be a future expense.
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Old 12-11-2014, 01:46 PM   #4
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There is something to be said about the real value of simplicity.

This value is even more obvious when repairs are needed.


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Old 12-11-2014, 01:50 PM   #5
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Sorry to read about your issues. Thanks for sharing. 2009 was the 2nd model year of the Flex. I hardly see one in the wild so I wonder if sales are all that good.

Looks like others have had issues with this model year.

2009 Ford Flex Consumer Reviews

Hard to be a repeat Ford customer when you have such issues.

I purchased our 2010 Toyota Tundra Certified with a Toyota warranty. So far so good but I'm still less than 60k miles.

If you decide to replace it I hope you find something more reliable.

Good luck

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Old 12-11-2014, 01:56 PM   #6
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Ha, I went and looked at that site, and the third review is someone with the gas tank problem, and the next one down is someone with the exterior trim panels falling off, which ours is doing as well, but it doesn't bother me to get some trim tape and stick it back on, compared to the other major problems it is having. Sad...
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:02 PM   #7
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I would think Ford should have a recall over the fuel tank causing the car to run out of gas. If GM was made to recall over an ignition switch that would turn off the car if too many keys were on the keychain. File a complaint here.... https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:51 PM   #8
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Thanks, we have reported it. I also think it should be a recall.
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:05 PM   #9
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Sorry to hear you are having troubles with the Flex. I had a Ford Explorer for many years and found that Ford was unresponsive on safety issues until they were forced by feds to issue a recall. On my Explorer I paid to have sway bars replaced to address rollover concerns more than 2 years before they issued a recall. Same for a seat belt problem, collapsing seat back and a hatch door problem. I fixed them all and later when they were finally part of a recall I was unable to collect $$ for the funds I expended. Had I waited until the recalls were issued they would have been covered but I was unwilling to wait. Personal safety is too important....

It's likely that other car makers do business the same way but it left a bad taste in my mouth.
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:13 PM   #10
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Sorry to hear of your problems.

My 2010 Flex has been trouble free for 85,000km except for a bad fuel injector which was replaced under warranty. Ford service has been great for me but it's only been in the shop twice.

I have however had many problems with the Toyota Tundra all caused by the dealer.

Every car can have problems, hopefully you'll get things sorted out.
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:33 PM   #11
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Spares

When ya drive stuff this old ya got to be prepaired, but in 21 years have not had to walk yet, were out 14 weekends last year, more planned this year, wife retires in JUNE!!!!
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:34 PM   #12
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"You may not like what I have to say, but it is the truth."

Hi, working at new car dealers since 1968, I've seen lots of used cars and there is a reason they are there. I recommend that if you want a used Ford, buy it at a Ford dealer. And buy a "Certified" one with a factory warranty.

I'll use the Flex only as an example.

(1.) Flex traded in on another newer Flex usually means that the previous owner loved it.

(2.) Flex traded in on another Ford product usually means that they were happy with this car, but it wasn't the right vehicle for them.

(3.) Flex traded in at a Chevy dealer usually means that they were very unhappy with this car and changed brands.

(4.) Flex at a jippo used car lot usually means that the car is very high mileage, poor condition, [not good enough to put on a new car dealer's used car lot] or bought at an Automotive Auction. This car would be the biggest gamble for the seller and buyer.

(5.) Old mechanic's saying "A used car becomes someone else's problem."
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:07 PM   #13
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Good advice

Ours appeared to be this one

Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
(2.) Flex traded in on another Ford product usually means that they were happy with this car, but it wasn't the right vehicle for them.
- a local trade in at the Ford dealer. My guess was it was just finally out of warranty and they were ready for a newer car with a warranty. And it may have given them 70k trouble-free miles, and it was just time to trade it in. We just got it on the downslope.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:18 PM   #14
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"Oh, and the tranny grinding noise which was fixed with a transmission fluid change."

My guess: Keep enough money in the money market account to rebuild a transmission. Probably a good idea for anybody that tows though.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:51 PM   #15
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Sounds like bad luck Stef. Sorry to hear.

BTW, I have the consumers report mag in front of me. They have a "recommended" stamp of approval on the Flex although their used car verdict shows below average reliability. Also note it gets high marks for engine, drivetrain, and electrical. That is goodness. Brakes, body trim, audio system, and trans minor get a below average rating. Not bad overall and as good as many of the imports.

We bought our G35 from the Infiniti dealer and it was back to the shop a half dozen times the first year. One was a recall with the gas tank issue. All covered under the warranty. Luckily the problems settle down and it has been a great car for the 10 years we have owned it. Used car buying is a crap shoot for sure.

It is interesting that the trailer towing has caused no ill effects. The car did need a tie rod end and a wheel bearing but not a big deal for a 13 years old car with 250,000klm's on it.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:00 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=Stefrobrts;1552656]Oh, and the tranny grinding noise which was fixed with a transmission fluid change. QUOTE]


Hi, lock up type torque converters can slip, chatter, or shutter when the trans fluid is old and going bad. A proper trans service will fix this if caught in time otherwise the torque converter will need to be replaced. Trans fluids have friction qualities so the correct fluid for your trans is necessary. I personally have mine done every 30,000 miles.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:05 PM   #17
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I think from now on when I get a used car, a fluid change will be my first priority!
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:19 PM   #18
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Sometimes you just get unlucky with cars...There are good Yugo's and bad Toyota's in the world.
Sorry to see you having troubles.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:26 PM   #19
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Sometimes you just get unlucky with cars...There are good Yugo's and bad Toyota's in the world.
Sorry to see you having troubles.
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There are less of each in the world, though.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:41 PM   #20
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There are less of each in the world, though.
I actually had a Yugo once ...it was a fun little car to drive! Not a picture of reliability as I remember.
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