Piston Slap: A Fusion of Malcontent?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap a fusion of malcontent

Casey writes:

Dear Sajeev,

I love your column! Anyway long story short I’m an idiot. When I met my wife she had a 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac that was in ROUGH shape inside and out, cosmetically and mechanically. She liked her truck though and it worked for us for a few years. Recently we (I) was tired of it. So I traded it in on a 2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6. It’s a beautiful car, black on black, lots of power and nice ride. I paid $7,200 for it with 108,000 miles.

The problem is, only about 5 months into ownership and 4,000 miles later several issues have revealed themselves.

The power steering pump is going out, something is going on with the ABS where whenever they engage (only 2 times since we bought it) the brakes take hours to recover, the oil pressure light comes on at idle, and the heater is to be described as tepid, at best.

I only owe about $2,000 on the car and could easily trade it in. My wife refuses to drive it so she took over my 2013 Camry and now wants a Camry of her own (likely a 2007 or 2008 on our budget). So what should I do? Stick with the Fusion for a while and then trade it in? Trade it in now? Or spend the I don’t know $2,500 to fix all the issues and keep it for the long haul?

I Feel Like an Idiot,

Casey

Sajeev answers:

Wow, where to start?

Let’s say all those problems have minor fixes: flush out the crap from the heater core (or repair/replace the blend door system), fix the leak in the power steering (i.e. the pump is still fine), flush out the ABS pump/accumulator, and replace the failing oil pressure sender/switch?

What are the odds of those problems being that easy? Is it more likely that a new heater core (pull the dash to do that), a new ABS accumulator, and a new engine are in your future?

Probably not, I covered two extremes without mentioning the likely middle ground. But who cares when it’s gonna cost a ton in diagnosis/repair relative to the value of a 8-9 year old car? You’re aching for another (used) Camry, so make it happen. And get a PPI to make sure it isn’t a lemon like this Fusion.

[Image: Shutterstock user Kudrin Ilia]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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  • Mechaman Mechaman on Jan 30, 2015

    There was an independent mechanic here in the Chicago area who used to advertise that he'd 'fix' $39.95 brake jobs. A reporter asked him why he worded the sign that way, and he explained that he fixed the shoddy work of other mechanics who didn't check thoroughly and fix properly. I'd add the '$19.99 oil change'. The last one of those I had, I found later that the drain bolt was stripped all the way up to a single turn and a bit of thread under the bolt head. The bolt fell into my drain pan catch screen with ONE turn. I might screw my car work up, but I'll be damned if I'll pay a professional money to screw up!!

  • CaseyLE82 CaseyLE82 on Mar 07, 2015

    Here's how it all turned out for those of you who care: We traded in the Camry, not the fusion, because my wife wanted a truck. We got her a very nice little Ford Explorer Sport Trac for half the price of the Camry. The Fusion needed the following: New Oil Pressure Sensor (guy said it was the worst one he'd ever seen) $156. Power Steering Fluid: $4 New Rotors: $400 Car is fixed, and I love it and my wife loves her nicer Sport Trac and all is happy.

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