By on May 6, 2013

My experience with Ford’s Easy-Fill capless fuel system has been universally positive. It’s one of those why’d-it-take-so-long ideas and I’m surprised it hasn’t become the industry standard. It’s also certainly reduced the number of women drivers who leave the gas station with their fuel caps dangling or missing entirely.

On Saturday, however, the 2012 Edge SEL AWD currently being driven by my son’s mother experienced a most unusual issue: the Easy-Fill mechanism stopped working. And on further examination, it turns out that this malfunction isn’t as unusual as I’d thought.

Easy-Fill is more complicated than it looks at first glance. It locks the filler door in place unless the power door locks are released. It also won’t release unless a fuel nozzle of the appropriate size is inserted. Those are two Things That Can Go Wrong, of course. Naturally, this happened to the Edge in question when there was about two gallons of fuel left in the tank. Ford provides an additional plastic nozzle to be used in the Easy-Fill to facilitate the use of portable fuel canisters, so we placed said nozzle in the Easy-Fill and hammered it lightly, to no effect.

While I was busy experiencing defeat at the hands of a plastic nozzle, my partner in the enterprise was busy Googling for other occurrences of the issue. Although some of the issues are due to sheer stupidity, it would appear that sticking Easy-Fills aren’t that uncommon, with the cure usually being a vigorous hammering at the dealership.

After admitting defeat, we sent the Edge to the dealership, where the Easy-Fill promptly worked as designed and advertised. We have it on a two-year lease which is almost up, so we aren’t going to worry about it too much, but I’d think twice about buying a Ford with the feature unless I knew a good solid way to get the thing open in a pinch. It’s a complicated mechanism that might not be 100% ready for prime time in all circumstances. Ironically, the same thing’s been said about SYNC more than once.

It’s easy to admire Ford for relentlessly pushing technology into the marketplace, but it’s also natural to wonder if a little more caution wouldn’t be warranted at times. Not necessarily a Honda’s worth of caution; who wants five-speed automatic transmissions and Eighties-era in-dash displays? But a little more might not go amiss, eh?

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42 Comments on “Ford Easy Fill Isn’t Always Easy...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    It was for this very reason that I struck Ford off my test drive list when I was car shopping. Between this, SYNC, Focus wheel bearing and DCT issues, Fusion build quality issues, and Ford 6F35 transmission woes, I was scared off properly. Just seems like they push through cutting edge technology at the expense of reliability. Let’s see how the Focus2.0 DI engine holds up in regards to carbon buildup.

    • 0 avatar
      Kathy22

      I purchased a 2013 Ford Escape from Conroe Gullo Ford and on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014 after filling my tank with gas, was unsuccessful in removing the nozzle from the tank. I ended up unscrewing the nozzle from the hose and drove with the nozzle sticking out the side of my car. On Monday, I took my car to the dealership to have it removed. They kept my car for 5 days, charged me $142.00 to remove the nozzle, which they stated took them 45 minutes to remove, and also broke my fuel filler neck in the process. It was not until 4 days after receiving my car back from Conroe Gullo Ford when the service engine light came on. Since I received horrible service from Conroe, TX I was not going to return to them. The Humble, TX dealership was amazing. They replaced the fuel filler neck free of charge and provided me with excellent customer service. As soon as I am able to get rid of this vehicle, I am trading it in for a different make. I will never buy another Ford product as long as they have the capless fuel system. I have purchased gas for 38 years and never seen anything like this. Ford blames the nozzle and the gas companies blame Ford. I agree with the gas companies. Ford messed up big time when they put in this new system. I will take a gas tank with a cap any day for all the frustration I went through and the money I spent getting that nozzle out of my tank with the capless system. Ford should do a recall on this part.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Another failed fuel cap story from another time,
    I purchased a new 1977 Sunbird and arranged for delivery on a Friday evening. One of the features of the new car was a locking gas cap (using a key to open). I signed the papers and drove to the gas station. Now for the younger readers, in the 70′s it was a (preverse) game of car dealers to deliver a new car with as little gas as possible – just enough to get the car off the dealership. The key wouldn’t even go into the locking gas cap and I’m standing at 8 PM (in winter) with a car with little gas. The dealership is closed. I drove home, parked the car and didn’t go anywhere all weekend. On Monday morning, the dealer service department is approaching my brand new car with a screwdriver and hammer to get the gas cap key to operate. The gas cap was replaced with a non-locking version.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    For what its worth, I’ve had to use the Easy Fill in literally 150 different F-M-L vehicles and every single product line they offer it in and have never had an issue with any of them accepting fuel. Ever. Honestly, ditto with SYNC. I think once, SYNC dropped by Bluetooth connection in the middle of a call, but I’ve never had a serious issue with the system.

    Not being argumentative, just relating my experiences, too.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      When people say they are having issues with Sync, they usually mean MyFord Touch. Sync is pretty darn stable.

    • 0 avatar
      kjb911

      I’ve had my Focus since November 2011, currently with 43,000 Miles and have yet to have an issue with the easy fill unless a friend goes to use my car and gets confused. honestly I have not had a single thing wrong with my cars but I also have a manual se sport package with sync not my ford touch. the sync system has been bulletproof and the only system I’ve used capable of using my 32 gb flash drive. the only issues I’ve had are with rattles on the interior that I’ve had fixed at the dealer and myself. My Biggest Complaint lies with the headliner that has not stopped buzzing since day oneiI have taken it back twice to be reglued and finally using foam insulation around the sunroof managed to get rid of it. Fords answer is they have no idea why this happens and IM surprised more isn’t discussed about something so simple. however this doesn’t annoy me enough to put me off ford since I do enjoy my car. engine is still as responsive as the day I bought it but that might be because at least twice a week I go WOT on the highway. I do notice that the focus does not like 2ND tier gas, I usually stick to shell or mobile but whenvermy father borrows it he uses hess or stop and shop and there seems to be a slower response time and lag aaccompanied of course this could be my imagination….my dealer has been amazing so honestly that alone would keeo me coming back

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    An epic over reach when comes to redesigning a component to be more complex when the original design wasn’t broken in the first place. The result is more user frustration in an emergency and less reliability when the miles rack up.

    My biggest beef would be when trying to use a fuel additive, such as Techron.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      This. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A “regular” twist off gas cap costs less than $10 to replace at Wal- mart or Autozone if you happen to lose it. How much will the dealer charge you to get your Easy Fill working again once the warranty expires?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        $60. Any car with the easy fill system comes with a funnel so you can pour gas out of a gas can or add fuel additive.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “This. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

        It IS broke.

        When your “Check Engine” light comes on, the first thing you should check is your gas cap. Is the gas cap part of the engine?

        Now, let’s say you DO actually check the gas cap; give it a few turns, make sure it clicks. Does the “Check Engine” light go away? No, you have to drive for a while for the system to be satisfied enough to turn off the light.

        This is not user friendly and it doesn’t make any sense at all to normal people. I once worked with a woman that was literally in tears because the VW dealership refused to look at her car until she tightened the gas cap and drove around for a couple of days. She was convinced that her car would be ruined if she drove around with the “Check Engine” light on for days at a time. Guess who takes the perception hit? That’s right. VW. Her next car was a Toyota.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Yes, this.

          Heck, I knew all of this, and still took my car to the dealer for a gas-cap-induced CEL. The cap was on, but apparently not tight enough — and I drove around for about a week without it going off. Apparently wasn’t long enough.

          I’ve seen a small handful of cars with “Check Gas Cap” lights, but that doesn’t seem to have caught on, somehow.

          In any case, I’m sure the Easy Fill system results in less total dealer visits than traditional caps do. I could imagine a larger percentage of them being customer-paid in the long term, though.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Needing to re-tighten the gas cap once every couple years is an awfully broad definition of broken, even if it does confuse stupid women.

          Accepting that as broken for the sake of discussion, a powered gas cap that will expensively break in the future and can’t be jerry canned even while it still works is a pretty terrible solution.

          Dodge has a dash “check gas cap” warning distinct from the CEL catch-all. This requires nothing more than a little additional programming for the OBD and dash display that are already there.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I have never had a light come on for fuel cap. Seems like that is j

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I have never had a light come on for fuel cap. Seems like that is just as pointless at the ford system, gas needs to be able to vent properly, I realize there is a system specifically designed to do this, but a lose gas cap shouldn’t trigger a computer reading for something so unimportant.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “I once worked with a woman that was literally in tears because the VW dealership refused to look at her car until she tightened the gas cap and drove around for a couple of days. She was convinced that her car would be ruined if she drove around with the “Check Engine” light on for days at a time.”

          Wow, that’s an idiotic service department. Are they also willing to cover any damage if it turns out not to be a gas cap?

          Granted, I’d just use my cheapo Bluetooth-enabled OBD device from Ebay with my smartphone’s Torque app to reset a gas cap light, but not everyone does that.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Getting used to the check engine light going out a couple days after re-tightening the fuel cap precipitated an 80,000 mile engine replacement in a friend’s Mazda3.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’m interested in hearing the details of that story, CJ. I’ve never heard of a situation where a non-flashing CEL indicates a problem that will cause further damage if you continue to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The Mazda 3 had a history of inconsequential CEL issues. Often the cause wasn’t a loose gas cap, but a loose gas cap had been a cause and my friend re-tightened the gas cap and kept driving. I’ll see my friend tomorrow and ask her what caused the engine replacement. She called me when it stranded her and told me the CEL had been on before it started running rough and then died. I remember that it looked like a head gasket at first but there was additional damage revealed when they got the head off.

    • 0 avatar
      Dubbed

      One of the reasons Ford created this was to reduce evaporative emissions. It was to comply with new CARB regulations passed a few years ago.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    +1 to OldandSlow

    We must be approaching the point where we’ll “jump the shark” soon if the only automotive improvement left is to make gas caps unnecessarily complex. Adding technology to something and making it from carbon fiber doesn’t necessarily improve everything ever made.
    I put this up there with rain sensing wipers — I think I can handle it.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Here in Illinois, our emissions tests examine the fuel cap to ensure it works properly. The caps fail quite often. I’m sure for this, they would hook up the tester somehow to the Easy Fill as the venting of the gas tank would be handled elsewhere in the system.

    What happens when the Easy Fill fails? Replace the whole filler neck? No no, that would be too easy. I’m sure replacing the entire gas tank will be necessary.

    I must be getting old, as I see any new technology that comes out as somebody reinventing the wheel into a square.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “I must be getting old, as I see any new technology that comes out as somebody reinventing the wheel into a square.”

      With the problems that the new technology imposes I feel the same way myself sometimes, just look at how some carmakers are trying to make their cars noisy after spending 30 years making them quiet (VW for instance).

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        “I must be getting old, as I see any new technology that comes out as somebody reinventing the wheel into a square.”

        Ford has been doing that for years with failed results. Egoboost, My Ford Touchy, the new hybrids, (not so) easy fill, etc. how long until the stupid inflatable seat belts fail?

        Ford clearly takes the cheap route when designing this garbage. It’s better for them in the short term because they don’t spend much on design and better for them in the long term as when these parts fail, they get money from repairs.

        Talk about dishonest.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      This is the big issue I have with Easy Fill as well. When my 06 Miata surprisingly failed emissions, it was a simple fix..replace fuel cap. How much time and money is it going to cost to fix ‘Easy Fill’ when they start leaking vapors? EDIT… Meant to post under DUBBEDs post

  • avatar
    Dubbed

    This is going to be one of those things that 10 to 15 years from now folks will be having issues with this..

    Old technology was just a filler cap, rather simple. Easy to remedy or repair. When you get that CEL for this you can just check the cap or replace it. A very simple job.

    With this you can’t just check the cap. A dealer or shop experience is required. Which means a dealer or shop bill you can expect afterwards. And the expense and time that would be required if this system fails, sizable. Especially if dropping the fuel tank is required for replacement.

    This is another reason why a Ford vehicle of this era or after will not even be on my shopping list.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Typical Ford. Push something out that is fully designed and ready for prime time. Just like the failed and far too complicated MyFord Touchy.

    It’s a policy that should be condemned by the automotive press and the sheep that buy their appliances rather than celebrated. Innovation that makes life far more difficult is not what people need.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Until we see data showing that the easy-fill system is less reliable than other fuel cap assemblies, than everything else is just speculation. I haven’t had a problem with 3 cars that have had the easy-fill, but I have had issues with multiple VW and GM gas caps, especially the locking VW fuel door.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    On a related topic, I remember an automaker having a problem with the fuel nozzle clicking off prematurely. Was that Ford? (I vaguely remember having an issue with either a rental Escape or a rental Mustang.)

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      You can add Econolines and Town Cars to that list. Fuel fillers are definitely beyond Ford’s capabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Ford Windstars had this problem too. Pain in the ass to fill it, especially with the 25 gallon tank, unless you tilted the nozzle at the exact right angle and used the right amount of pressure on the pump switch.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I like my clicking fuel cap, thank you very much. Part of being a good motorist is sweating the details and developing good habits, like adjusting mirrors, checking blind spots with your eyes, using your signals, and turning your headlights on when its dark.

    I like having to remember to put the cap back on till it clicks. If you can’t remember something like that, what else are you capable of forgetting while driving? Do people forget to put the cap back on the milk or OJ before returning it to the fridge?

    Capless fuel systems encourage sloth and sloppiness. You know who also doesn’t have a cap? The DEVIL. Won’t someone think of the children?

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “Do people forget to put the cap back on the milk or OJ before returning it to the fridge?”

      In Soviet Russia, OJ caps you. No wait, that’s America with “If I did it…”

  • avatar
    200k-min

    That’s interesting that the Easy Fill won’t open if the doors are locked. Didn’t know that, and actually quite like that security feature. What I don’t like is the fuel door with the finger pull bumpout. I want a seamless smooth look and that little nub looks dated.

    My Honda has a simple cable operated fuel door release. I haven’t seen that on many newer cars lately. Assume cost savings to drop that and have a simple spring loaded fuel door. I see those failing in time. Also seems strange to have no fuel door security these days.

    • 0 avatar
      mmdpg

      My Mustang has a smooth door, you press it and it springs open, use the easy fill then press the door shut.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      The Infiniti G35 did the same thing with the locked doors. It was seamless without a nub, and you just pressed the fuel door to open it. If the driver’s door was unlocked, it would pop open, otherwise not.

      Similar idea with the trunk button — if the passenger door was unlocked, it would open the trunk, otherwise not.

  • avatar
    Timothy

    Went from VW (or as I liked to call it the CEL Special) to Ford a month or so back. I really like the Easy Fill. Works exactly as advertised. Wish they could get MFT to work as well. If my iPhone or iPad can respond immediately, why can’t MFT?

    • 0 avatar
      86SN2001

      Because the problem is two fold. One is Ford, the other is Microsoft.

      Neither company knows what they are doing when it comes to designing things that work. But even a blind squirrel gets the nut every now and then (Windows 7)

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’ve read the article and the comments. I’ve never had a gas cap issue, but this sounds like a good idea that is poorly executed. Maybe there’s some emissions anti-tampering regulation that is standing between Ford and a needed fail-safe that allows operators to add fuel. If that’s the case, then the good idea should have been abandoned. If it’s not the reason that the failure mode prevents refueling, then heads should roll.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Could be worse. I was talking some people I know that needed to replace the gas cap on a Piper Saratoga, which is a relatively common and not especially fancy airplane. It was going to be $700+ for a new one.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Judging by the rush from all other manufacturers to copy the Ford capless fuel filler system, I think it fair to say that Ford has attempted to solve a problem that does not exist.

    Here’s a real problem to solve: Cardboard flaps on cereal boxes that rip on opening and prevent the little flap thingie from working properly afterwards. Millions of people face this problem EVERY single day.


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