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Ford Flex: What Are The Common Problems?

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Ford Flex has been one of the most successful lines of vehicles. The line started in 2009 when Ford discontinued several other models and took parts from all of them to create a new vehicle that would be more competitive in the market. Though the line has been hugely successful, it has not been without its issues. We've done the research to pull together the most common problems with the Ford Flex.

A lot of the quirks that you will find with the Flex seem to revolve around the electrical system. Here is a list of the most common problems with the Ford Flex:

  • Swollen lug nuts
  • Engine failure
  • Door ajar light will not turn off
  • MyFord Touch technology is faulty
  • Throttle body failure
  • Cooling fan module
  • Electrical system
  • Power assist steering disables
  • Airbags
  • Cracked fuel delivery module

No line of vehicles is without its issues. Anytime you have to rely on mechanical or electrical systems, there are bound to be problems. Components fail designs get improved upon all the time. Keep reading to find out more about these common problems. 

This post has been updated to reflect current market information. 

A blue Ford Flex parked on a car dealership, Ford Flex: What Are the Common Problems?

Ford Flex Common Problems

Some of these problems have been worse than others. Worth noting: the following information is not broken down in terms of importance or danger. Of course, there are other issues, but in this case, they were not frequent enough to include in this list. Follow along with us as we explore ford Flex problems.

The early years of the Ford Flex, namely 2009 to 2012, had some issues that are typical in new designs. Ford addressed some of these issues via recall. Others have been reported by owners and not acknowledged directly by Ford. The 2013 to current model years have had some problems but relatively few compared to their competition.

Swollen Lug Nuts

Swollen lugnuts sound a bit funny, but it was bad enough that a lawsuit was filed against Ford. The complaint was that the lug nuts would swell and lock. This condition made it difficult, if not impossible, to remove them.

It may not have been such a big issue for the folks at tire shops or mechanics that had tools to remove them. But you can imagine the frustration that exists for the person that had to try and change tires on a busy interstate.

The lawsuit against Ford was dismissed. As it turns out, the actual lug nuts were not the issue. Ford came up with a new design, and they kept each lug nut with a metal cap for decorative purposes. The caps themselves would swell up, limiting access to the actual lug nuts. It was deemed not to be a genuine safety issue. Everything has been adjusted now. 

Engine Failure

A red Ford Flex at a dealership

This problem has actually been a reasonably prevalent issue with the 2010 model, the V6 EcoBoost. There were several issues with the design of this particular vehicle.

Ford did place a recall on this. The issue stemmed from battery cables that were not secured. This problem caused an electrical arc and disabled all of the electronics on the vehicle. In some cases, owners reported pressing the brake pedal while in traffic and completely losing power in the unit. Luckily there were no deaths or injuries, just frazzled nerves.

Door Ajar Light Will Not Turn Off

This problem is more annoying than it is a safety concern. On several models of the Flex, the sensor on the door fails, and the vehicle continually thinks one of the doors is open. When owners would step on the brake and come to a stop, the vehicle's electronic warning system would advise the driver to place the vehicle in park and shut the door.

For a while, the accepted solution was to clean the sensor. The actual solution turned out to be replacing the entire door and sensor assembly, as the original sensor was faulty.

MyFord Touch Technology is Faulty

A dark blue colored Ford Flex for sale at a dealership

Electronic issues have been a big hit to the Ford Flex line and the automaker in general. There are several claims that the automated system that controls entertainment and various functions of the vehicle is slow or unresponsive. This defect has caused fuel mileage problems, navigational issues, and general complaints about the reliability of the unit.

A large portion of these consumers complained that there are no real knobs or manual radio controls, and all of the commands are reliant on touch screen technology. As of now, the solution to the issue is that Ford will provide software upgrades, making the reliability of the system better.

Throttle Body Failure

There have been reported issues of the throttle body failing in the Ford Flex. This has not been a frequently reported issue; however, it has happened, and it has spanned over several years.

The mechanics in the throttle body bind up and cause the engine to shut down. This issue can happen while you're driving, and it will affect your ability to accelerate. The consensus is that some of these components fail, and there is no particular rhyme or reason to them.

There have been reported cases where this issue will cause a total engine shut-off. You should be aware of this when purchasing a Flex because it spans throughout its entire existence. In the event of a full engine shut off, you will lose complete power. That includes steering and acceleration.

Cooling Fan Module

There have been instances reported of vehicles overheating while in traffic. When the vehicle accelerates to average speeds, the temperature usually returns to normal. This problem appears to be intermittent and can come and go at any time.

The usual solution to this is to have the module replaced. This fix was determined through a lot of trial and error by mechanics. Ford did not provide a suitable solution to this problem as it was just a variable and there was no specific pattern.

Electrical System

Just about everything in the Flex is controlled electronically. There has been a reported issue with just about every sensor in the vehicle. Keep in mind these reports are widespread.

When you sell so many models of a vehicle over the years, it's bound to look bad just by sheer numbers alone. There has been no single cause pinpointed. Most owners have new sensors installed. There has never been an official recall by Ford for this.

Power Assist Steering Disables

This could have fallen under electrical system issues, but the severity of it warrants its mention. In some models of the Flex, namely the 2013 model, instances have been reported where the power assist steering will disable. When this happens, steering becomes difficult, if not impossible. The power steering is controlled electronically in most Fords.

There have been reports of this coinciding with total engine shutdown and loss of control while driving the vehicle at speed. Most reports of this happening occur at slower speeds. The vehicles have been able to pull over to the side of the road. However, in a couple of instances, people were stuck in the middle of interstate traffic and blocked lanes.

The cause of this has never explicitly been discovered; however, it is comedy most mechanics and shops start targeting the relay system. Ford has provided no specific solution to this.

Airbags

There have been some instances in the 2009-2011 Flex where the airbags did not inflate correctly after deploying. Ford did issue an active recall and will work with dealerships to replace them as needed. The cause of the problem was never publicly disclosed, but it has been fixed.

The vehicles that were affected were built with the Takata airbag. If you suspect that there may be an issue, take your vehicle to an authorized Ford repair facility to have this looked at.

Cracked Fuel Delivery Module

A white Ford Flex at a car show

Issues were reported about the fuel delivery module developing a crack. This would allow fuel to leak. This recall affected the 2013 Flex police interceptor model in particular. It presented an immediate fire hazard, as the fuel would leak into an area containing active electrical circuitry.

Ford has worked with its dealers to fix the issues. If you have purchased a model such as this, you should take it in and have it inspected.

In Closing

As the design has progressed over the years, several improvements have been made. Plans change, materials change, the market is always about change. The Flex has remained relatively unchanged over the years. There are some new trim packages, some different motor configurations, and electronics are ever-evolving. However, the base design has hardly changed.

This is a great vehicle to own and drive. If you are looking for a car that is going to provide you room and towing capacity, this is a good contender. You should always be armed with the most up-to-date information when you're considering a vehicle. Safety is still the first priority, no matter how good the deal may be.

Before you go, check out these posts that may be of interest to you:

21 Types Of Ford Cars [And That’s Without Trucks!]

10 Awesome Seat Covers For Your Ford Flex

Judy Housand

Thursday 28th of April 2022

I have a 2012 Ford Flex and I love it. It's a great begone. It was amazing on a trip from California to Montana a few summers ago. Comfortable and not bad gas mileage for a packed car, 2 cats plus 3 adults.

Unfortunately, the internal water pump went out and because it is poorly designed as an internal engine component it was a 12 hour labor charge @ $215/hr plus a $230 part, to fix it at a cost of more than $3000.

I drove it perhaps 4 times after getting the water pump replaced at the dealer when driving on the freeway at 10 pm, the clip in the connector on the fuel line failed. I went to accelerate to pass a car when it suddenly lost power.

I was able to get it over to the shoulder before it came to a stop. There was a very strong gas smell and saw a pool of gas on the ground on the front passenger side of the engine. I had just put $100 of gas @ $5.69/ ga. to fill it up earlier that evening and I sadly watched as it was all pouring out onto the ground.

After waiting until 3am for two different tow trucks failed to show up, my husband ( who came to meet me) and I decided to go home. I had to babysit at 6am for a friend who was taking her husband to the hospital. Later that day we went back to retrieve the car and discovered the license plate had been stolen.

We eventually were able to get it towed to the dealer to get it fixed. My husband had determined the the 1 in plastic clip on the fuel line had failed cause the fuel leek. This was confirmed by the dealer. I was thinking, cool, quick fix, yeah! Boy was I wrong....

According to the dealer they couldn't locate a replacement clip. Then we were told the entire connector could not be replaced due to the connector being attached by being crimped onto the line by the manufacturer. So the entire fuel line assembly would need to be replaced at a cost of $500 not including labor.

Next we hear from the dealer that they cannot locate the fuel line assembly due to Ford discontinuing the part. What kind of company that sells hundreds of thousands of a particular model vehicle for over 10 years discontinues a part as crucial as a fuel line??

It's been now almost 4 weeks that my Flex has been sitting at the dealer and I'm told they have been unable to find the part to repair my car and my options are to trade it in for another vehicle or to donate it.

I was angry about the cost of the water pump because of the poor design and the outrages cost to replace it. Now I'm really mad that my really nice vehicle that I've invested $10,000 in loan payments and repairs, still oweing $5000 on the loan. After owning it for only a little more than 3 years and having only 128,000 miles on it is now basically worthless!

I have contacted Ford several times with no answers to this situation other than see if the dealer will take it in a trade in for a new car.

I getting close to calling my attorney to file suit against Ford for 1) selling a vehicle designed so that normal repairs like the water pump cost 10x more than basically every other car with an external waterpump. 2) that Ford would discontinue the fuel line assembly on such a popular vehicle. There are no aftermarket parts available anywhere that can be found.

I'm have been disabled for 20 years. So going out to buy a new car is not an option. After investing $10,000 and still owing $5000 on the car is a heartbreaking situation. I also wonder what amount would the dealer offer in a trade in for a vertically worthless vehicle?? I don't know what I am going to do. I have not been able to do go to crucial doctors appointments or anywhere else for the past month not having a working vehicle.

I'm curious to find out if anyone else has run into this problem. I can't believe I am the only Ford Flex owner in America that needs a fuel line assembly which has been discontinued?

At this point, fearing I would not get the trade in value to cover the remaining loan in addition to a down payment on a replacement vehicle. I suggested to the dealer that I could buy a new connector, cut the nylon fuel line and attach the new connector myself or have their mechanic do so.

As I write this I am waiting for the dealer to call me back with the specs for the connector.

Why is this even an issue? I keep thinking. It's just unbelievable. I also wonder what Mr. Henry Ford would think of my situation and how his company is being run?

If I recall, Mr Ford developed the assembly line which allowed him to manufacture his cars faster and cheaper, allowing the average American family the ability to afford to buy his cars. No longer the company philosophy it seems....Wow

J. Pribila

Friday 28th of January 2022

Has anyone had an accelorator problema? It accelorates and really is a problem at times. Slamming hard and quickly on the brake is necessary. Called Ford and they didn't have an answer.

Isaac Huddleston

Thursday 27th of January 2022

Is anybody having lower back pains with their Ford Flex besides me??

Dennis Garrett

Monday 28th of December 2020

Thanks for the heads up on trouble shooting my problems 2009 Ford flex & tips my personal opinion is the mechanic that will work on it certified for the big should know the status , milage, and situation on my unit with an accurate quote to make repairs baised on twhat happed as well

Jan Achey

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

We have a 2011/ford flex and have been very happy with it. We live in the Jopli, Mo area and have made trips to California, Louisiana, several times, and many trips. We average about 26 on our trips and about 20 to 22 in town depending on whether we leave it running in cold weather or got weather while one of us run into a store or something. My husband and I are both tall and have long legs and we are very pleased with the leg room and the adjustable seats etc. This is the most comfortable car we have owned. We've owned Lincolns, mercury marquis, mercury murder as well as other vehicles. We wanted to trade our 2011 in on a 2020 since Ford won't be making the Flex anymore but now I'm hesitant. We have had exceptionally good luck with our Flex.