Piston Slap: Goodwill Repairs to Hit 'em With That Flex?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
Jay writes:


I’ve been enjoying your work on TTAC for several years and (unfortunately) have run into a situation where I think I need your help.

After reading Mark’s review of the Ford Flex several years ago, I test drove and fell in love with one — a 2012 Titanium Ecoboost model, to be precise. Fast forward to last month, and I am driving down I-395 when the car starts to lurch; $1,900 later, I have a new fuel injector and a picture of a leaky turbo (rrg). In hopes that Ford would have some type of pity on a 5.5-year-old car with only 53K miles on it, I took it to the dealership. $167 later, we’ve added a transmission seal issue to the running list and they’re asking more than $5,000 to square everything away.

I’m hoping you have a magic bullet for this one or, barring that, something snappy to say that will make me laugh.

Sajeev answers:

Magic bullet? Make you laugh? I’ve made enough Panther Love jokes alongside my cheap shots at the D3 chassis during the Panther’s demise. The original Five Hundred/MKS was an easy target, but hopefully Ford Motor Company throws goodwill repairs your way. They should if you’re the original owner: age and mileage is right at the border. So ask for it.

None of this is surprising. A turbocharged/direct-injected engine has more moving parts, more seals/gaskets to wear out relative to the base V6 Flex. Also, big vehicles with 300+ horses and front-wheel-drive-based transaxles with power take-off units are under more pressure than the same size vehicle with rear wheel drive inefficiency a more conventional transmission with room for beefier internals. That said, your Flex uses an upgraded transaxle, so hopefully the new seal is all you need for now.

Get that goodwill repair cash from Dearborn, fix whatever you feel comfortable repairing, get second/third opinions from independent mechanics, and trade it in for the Next Big Thing whenever the repair bills on this relatively complex machine overwhelm you.

Because there’s always a new big thing, son!

[Image: Ford]

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.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

More by Sajeev Mehta

Join the conversation
4 of 55 comments
  • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 10, 2018

    To the overall article, the only thing I can say is that Ford is living up to my experience with the brand; anything but reliable or.... Found On Road, Dead. Even now, I'm driving a "garage find" '97 Ford Ranger that had a fluid leak in the hydraulic clutch that required a complete system rebuild on a truck with less than 20K miles on it at 18 years old. That repair cost me more than it should, all things considered, but Ford has never made their vehicles cheap to repair since the old Model T. But it's not the cost of repairs that I complain about Ford, it's their reliability. Not once have I owned a Ford that was reliable. The only reason the Ranger I'm driving isn't nickle and diming me to death is the fact that so far I've only put about 3,000 miles a year on it since I acquired it, vs the previous owner barely breaking 1000 miles. I can say that finally, FINALLY, the little engine is finally broken in and it's running pretty smoothly and, I think, showing its full 112 horses. Don't get me wrong; Ford has made some nice looking and good performing cars over the years. The Flex is one of the few current models I like for its look (the early versions, anyway) but I simply don't need the expense of a 3-row when I almost never use a second row, much less haul around capability I don't need.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mburm201 Mburm201 on Mar 10, 2018

      I have four Ford manufactured vehicles right now (two Fords and two Lincolns), with a total of 1,010,000 miles on them. Ford makes a lot of reliable vehicles good for the long haul, but all of mine are naturally aspirated with other proven technologies. If you want a car to last 300k, it pays not to be on the cutting edge.

  • Erikstrawn Erikstrawn on Mar 12, 2018

    Try for the goodwill, but manufacturers' warranties aren't worth much unless you have every service done at the dealership. I do my own maintenance and I couldn't get the local Ford dealer to hear my suspension popping while it was under warranty. As soon as it was out of warranty they found the problem and wanted $800 to fix it. I spent $400 and an afternoon, fixed it myself, lowered my car, and added camber adjustment. They did fix my car's no-start condition one week out of warranty, but only because I'd had it in two weeks earlier for the same problem. You can't ignore a no-start condition.

  • RobbyG $100k+...for a Jeep. Are they selling these in fantasy land?Twin turbo inline 6 paired to an 8-speed transmission. Yet still only gets 14mpg.Whatever money you think you would save over a V-8 will be spent 2-3x amount fixing these things when they blow up.
  • Alan Well the manufacturers are catching up with stocks. This means shortages of parts is reducing. Stocks are building around the world even Australia and last year had the most vehicles ever sold here.
  • Larry You neglected to mention that the 2024 Atlas has a US Government 5-Star Safety Rating.
  • Alan Why is it that Toyota and Nissan beat their large SUVs (Patrol/300 Series) with an ugly stick and say they are upmarket? Whilst they are beating the vehicles with an ugly stick they reduce the off road ability rather than improve it.As I've stated in previous comments you are far better off waiting for the Patrol to arrive than buy an overpriced vehicle.
  • Alan How many people do you see with a 4x4 running mud tyres? How many people do you see with a 4x4 running massive rims and low profile tyres? How many people have oversize mirrors for towing once in a blue moon? How many 4x4s do you see lifted? How many people care what tyres they run to save fuel? The most comfortable tyres are more or less the most economical.