Piston Slap: Takata's In-Fusion of Customer Involvement?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
Mike writes:Hi Sajeev,I have a 2008 Ford Fusion V6 AWD with about 101,000 miles. Like many cars, it is one of the vehicles recalled under the massive Takata airbag recall/fiasco. The first recall letter I got from Ford said the car was subject to the recall and that they were still sourcing parts with no timetable for repair. The second letter advised that no one ride in the front passenger seat until repairs were made, but they still didn’t have a timetable for parts and/or repair.After a few months I got sick of waiting for Ford to contact me, so I contacted them – through chat – and asked what Ford was doing to help/compensate owners of recalled cars. Initially they had nothing to offer. After a few tries Ford agreed to give me a free loaner until my car was fixed. After about a month of back and forth with the dealer, they finally arranged a loaner. I dropped my car off and picked up the loaner – super easy.My concern is that now my car is just sitting at the dealership, they have no estimate when the airbag parts will come in. Should I be concerned that my car is just sitting there?I have had the loaner for almost a month now. I had to go back to the dealership last week to re-sign the car loaner forms (the service manager said he has to fill forms out every month and send them to Ford, or he doesn’t get reimbursed for the cost) and my car was blocked in by two rows of cars. I know that it hasn’t been moved or even started since I dropped it off.
  • Should I ask the dealership to periodically start it/drive it?
  • Is it their responsibility to do this? Even if they say they will run it – I can’t verify it.
  • Should I go up to the dealership and do it myself?
I don’t want to have the airbag finally fixed six months from now to also find out I have a dead battery and four flat-spotted tires. Any thoughts on this?Sajeev answers:I’m in a similar situation with my 2011 Ranger, only less concerning since it’s only the passenger unit: others must be parked, giving me pause months before your query.These recalls are an operational/logistical mess for everyone handling your recall (no picnic for you either, huh?) so I applaud your efforts in securing a loaner car through Ford’s customer support channels. I’d treat the Fusion as if this was long term storage, and get yourself involved in the process:
  • Inflate tires to the maximum pressure (on the sidewalls) to minimize the chance of flat spotting, obviously deflating to the correct pressure before leaving the lot.
    • But this isn’t a big deal: if they flat spot, I reckon they’ll right themselves after a few minutes on the highway. But whatever…
  • Disconnect the battery yourself.
    • If the battery is several years old/weakened, don’t bother and instead snag a discount on a new one from the dealer.
  • Put up a thick, reflective windshield visor so the interior doesn’t get baked.
    • Avoid car covers: that’s asking for someone to hop the fence, grab a stone and well… you know.
  • You can start (driving isn’t needed) the vehicle yourself and add fuel stabilizer, but neither is necessary during a six month window.
  • Depending on the service center’s capacity (lot size, staffing, workload, morale, etc.), don’t expect them to periodically start/run your Fusion, the person tasked with that duty will not be thrilled to partake, as they won’t be incentivized to do so. I wouldn’t even open that door, literally.
What say you, Best and Brightest?[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.
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  • CaptainObvious CaptainObvious on Jun 13, 2018

    Original poster here. I thought I would give a quick update - and thank Sajeev and everyone for their comments. I went to the dealer yesterday to check on my car. It had been moved from its previous spot. I unlocked it and tried to start it - dead battery. I talked to my service manager and she said they now have about 12 cars sitting on their lot - all waiting for the airbag to be fixed and all the owners are in rental cars. I mentioned the dead battery and she said they do drive them around the dealership. She told me they can't legally take them out on the highway (true/false?) so they just drive them around the lot. She said they would give the battery a jump. At this point they have no idea when the parts are coming in to replace the airbag - she said "maybe" September. So - I will continue to drive the free loaner - a 2016 Escape with about 38000 miles on it.

    • See 1 previous
    • CaptainObvious CaptainObvious on Jun 13, 2018

      @MatadorX Hi! Not sure what magic I have - but I did all of it through the on-line chat feature on Ford's website. Here is the chat transcript: Ebonee says: Hello Mike. My name is Ebonee. How can I help you? Mike says: I'm trying to find out when the airbag on my car will be fixed. Mike says: VIN: xxxxxxxxxxxx Ebonee says: I certainly understand your concern. Please give me a few moments to review my resources. Mike says: I received a letter from Ford saying no one can ride in the passenger front seat - yet on the website it says my car is safe to drive and makes no mention of keeping passengers our of the front seat. Ebonee says: Thank you for your patience, Mike. Upon my research, there isn't a timeline listed to when the parts are available. Once they do become available, you will receive a notice via the postal mail. Mike says: So - is the front passenger seat safe or not? Ebonee says: We recommend that no passengers ride in the front seat which will not deploy the airbag and eliminates the risk. Mike says: So it could be months before this issue is fixed? Ebonee says: We cannot confirm if it will be months since we do have the timeline of the availability of the parts yet. Mike says: Is Ford offering anything to owners to make up for loss of use of the vehicle? Mike says: I bought the car to carry four people. Mike says: Now I can't. Ebonee says: I do understand your position. Please give me a few moments to review the recall for any compensation details. Ebonee says: Thank you for your patience. At this time, Ford is offering a loaner vehicle until parts are available for the repair. Would you like to pursue this option? Mike says: Would there be any cost to me? Ebonee says: No, the loaner is free of charge. Mike says: Sure - I would be interested in that. Mike says: What do I need to do? Ebonee says: First, I will need to collect some information from you. Let me start off by collecting your full mailing address and phone number please. Mike says: xxxxxx Mike says: xxxxxx Mike says: xxxxxxx Mike says: xxxxxx Mike says: xxxxxxx Ebonee says: Thank you. May I also have the current approximate mileage for your vehicle please? Mike says: 98500 Ebonee says: Thanks for those details. Please write down this case number and provide it to any Ford dealership of your choice so they may assist you further with completing the rental process. The case number is xxxxxxxxxxxx. Is there anything else I can assist with today? Mike says: So - I just call up a dealer and give them this number? Ebonee says: Yes, that is correct. Mike says: Any specific department should I ask for at the dealer? Ebonee says: You can ask for the Service Department. Mike says: And will I leave my car at the dealership until its fixed? Ebonee says: The dealership will confirm the next steps for you. We only submit the requests here in the Customer Relationship Center. Can I find one in your local area to further assist you? That was it - it took awhile for the service manager to figure everything out - but it eventually worked. I hope this info helps!

  • CaptainObvious CaptainObvious on Jun 14, 2018

    One more bit of info/follow-up. Service Manager at Ford dealership now says parts "might" be in fourth quarter of this year. And: If I want to take my car back I need to sign a waiver that I won't let anyone sit in the front passenger seat.

  • Scott What people want is the Jetson Car sound.This has come up before.
  • Joerg I just bought a Corolla Cross Hybrid SE a few weeks ago, and I regret it. But not for any of the reasons stated so far. It drives well enough for me, gas mileage is great for a car like that, the interior is fine, nothing to complain about for normal daily use. I bought this relatively small SUV thinking it is basically just a smaller version of the RAV4 (the RAV4 felt too big for me, drives like a tank, so I never really considered it). I also considered the AWD Prius, but storage capacity is just too small (my dog would not fit in the small and low cargo space).But there are a few things that I consider critical for me, and that I thought would be a given for any SUV (and therefore did not do my due diligence before the purchase): It can’t use snow chains per the manual, nor any other snow traction devices. Even with AWD, snow chains are sometimes required where I go, or just needed to get out of a stuck situation.The roof rack capacity is only a miniscule 75 lbs, so I can’t really load my roof top box with stuff for bigger trips.Ironically, the European version allows snow chains and roof rack capacity is 165 lbs. Same for the US Prius version. What was Toyota thinking?Lastly, I don’t like that there is no spare tire, but I knew that before the purchase. But it is ridiculous that this space is just filled up with a block of foam. At least it should be made available for additional storage. In hindsight, I should have bought a RAV4. The basic LE Hybrid version would have been just about 1k more.
  • MaintenanceCosts Looks like the best combination of capability, interior comfort, and subtle appearance can be achieved by taking a Laramie (crew cab, short bed, 4x4 of course) and equipping it with the Sport Appearance, Towing Technology, and Level 2 packages as well as a few standalone options. That's my pick.Rebel is too CRUSH THAT CAN BRO and Limited and up are too cowboy Cadillac.
  • Xidex easier to buy a mustang that already sounds like that. love the coyote growl
  • Oberkanone Shaker motor on an EV. No thanks.