Introduced back in 2009, the Ford Flex crossover SUV quickly gained many fans and admirers. Boasting solid handling and a lot of interior and cargo space, it’s a flexible and functional family vehicle. However, just like any other car on the market, it has its problems, too, including issues with the alternator and steering system.
This guide will take a look at some of the most common issues with the Ford Flex.
Issues with the Alternator
The alternator is one of the most crucial components of any vehicle. It’s responsible for keeping the vehicle’s battery charged up and the electrical systems, like headlights and infotainment screens, operational. Unfortunately for Ford Flex owners, this car has a history of alternator faults and failures.
In fact, some 2018 Ford Flexes had to be recalled due to poor connections with the alternator which increased the vehicle’s chances of suffering an electrical fire. Luckily, most Flex alternators aren’t likely to burst into flames anymore, but some of them still have issues. Common symptoms include flickering headlights and faults with other electrical components, like the power windows or radio.
Cars with weak alternators also tend to need their batteries replaced more frequently than usual. This leads to added costs for the owner, as new batteries don’t come cheap, which is something to keep in mind if you’re considering a Ford Flex on a budget.
Weak Rear Toe Link
Alternator issues weren’t the only cause of major Ford Flex recalls. Many of these cars also had to be recalled by the manufacturer due to issues with the rear toe link. For those who are unfamiliar with this particular component, the rear toe link is a rod that holds the rear wheels in place while you steer, keeping the vehicle steady and stable.
Unfortunately, in some Flexes – specifically, certain units released between 2013 and 2018 – the toe links are liable to fracture, and that can be very dangerous. If the links fracture, the wheels no longer have stable suspension, and drivers can quickly lose control. Of course, this issue isn’t present in the vast majority of Ford Flexes, but it’s still something for prospective buyers to be aware of.
Stuck Lug Nuts
Ford Flex owners also need to be aware of common problems with the car’s lug nuts, which help to secure the wheels in place. Traditionally, most lug nuts tend to be made of a single piece of steel. However, for the Flex and certain other models, Ford used a different approach, with a steel core and aluminum cap.
It didn’t quite work out, as the cap has a track record of swelling up when it gets hot. It’s also prone to corrosion. This can make it really difficult to remove the lug nuts from the wheels. The issue was so bad and widespread that Ford owners filed a class-action lawsuit against the company back in 2017.
Faulty Electric Steering System
The Ford Flex boasts Ford’s Electronic Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) system. This is designed to make steering smoother and safer, especially on winding roads or rough surfaces. However, a lot of Flex owners have reported issues where the EPAS randomly turns itself off, even in the middle of driving. This is particularly prominent in Flex units made between 2011 and 2013.
Naturally, it’s quite dangerous when the EPAS turns off unexpectedly. This suddenly puts more pressure on the driver to keep the car under control. It should still be drivable, even with the EPAS switched off, but there’s also a risk that the engine will fail soon after the EPAS. So, if your steering suddenly feels stiff or strange while driving a Ford Flex, it’s best to pull over and seek assistance.
Failing Fuel Pump Modules
The Ford Flex underwent another big recall due to problems with the fuel pump control module in certain 2013-15 units. The fuel pump issue in the affected models could potentially fail without warning, possibly causing accidents. In other cases, it triggered sudden stalls or made it impossible to even start the engine.
In detail, the fuel pump control module is responsible for controlling the flow of electrical energy to the fuel pump. The pump ensures that fuel is stored at the right pressure levels and delivered to the engine as needed. However, a fault with the module makes it unreliable, meaning that fuel doesn’t always flow to the engine, leading to unexpected stalls and other issues.
Door Ajar Light Stuck On
This issue isn’t anywhere near as serious as some of the others listed above, but it can still be frustrating. It causes the “Door Ajar” warning light to appear on the dashboard and stay there, even when all the doors are closed. It’s believed that this issue is connected to the door latch switches, causing the car to respond as if the doors are open, even if they’re not. It was found in 2013 Flexes.
Center Console Latch Easily Broken
Many Ford Flex owners have also reported that the latch on the central console can snap or break. This can lead to the lid being impossible to close or popping off entirely. Like the “Door Ajar” issue, this one isn’t too serious and won’t make your Ford Flex impossible or dangerous to drive. However, it’s still a source of annoyance.
Grunting and Grinding Brakes
Owners of Ford Flex models made between 2009 and 2013 also need to listen out for grunting or grinding sounds from the brakes. The sound is usually caused by worn-down brake pads and rotors. Some of the earlier Ford Flex models have defective anchor brackets which make the pads and rotors degrade faster than normal.
The Ford Flex: A Flexible but Flawed SUV
Overall, the Ford Flex is a mostly reliable vehicle that has received good scores in expert reviews. It’s widely considered to be a safe and flexible option for many buyers. However, as this guide has shown, it’s not immune to problems, with the earlier models (2009-13) at risk of various issues. Be sure to keep that in mind if you’re considering investing in a Ford Flex.