Piston Slap: Takata’s in-Fusion of Customer Involvement?


2006 Ford Fusion Interior, Image: Ford

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.