+ My 2012 Ford Fusion
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MY 2012 Ford Fusion

My wife purchased this Fusion brand new. This is the first brand new car she has ever owned. It's a nice car, very comfortable on the road, and the 4 cylinder engine averages 33 MPG. Unfortunately, she was never able to get comfortable driving the car. Placement of many knobs and buttons is strange, and visibility to the rear is limited. After my PT was totaled by a deer, we decided to buy her a slightly newer Camry, and the Fusion would be my car.

PLEASE NOTE: My practically free inside door latch repair is further down the page under "PROBLEMS".

My Fusion Photo

I had not driven the Fusion very much. We drive our own cars, even when we ride together. It's one thing to hear that the knobs and buttons are a little strange, quite another to start driving this car every day. The designers must have been smoking weed when they laid out the controls on this car.
For Example:

A few quirks are expected when jumping into a different car. I drive a lot of rental cars when traveling for work. This is a longer list of annoyances than I can ever remember having with any other vehicle. Some things, like the headlight switch, do become non-issues after driving the car for a few weeks. It's just sad that so many basic things seem so poorly designed.

It isn't all bad. There are plenty of things to like about this Fusion.

THE GOOD LIST:

  • Driver's Seat - The power adjustable seat is extremely comfortable, and makes a long drive far more enjoyable. Both front seats have plenty of room and still provide good side support for fast corners.
  • Comfort - The Fusion is a much more comfortable car to drive than the PT Cruiser. Cross-winds don't push the Fusion around nearly as much. There is less road and wind noise. Road trips are much less tiring.
  • Huge Trunk - Simply huge, and the lid swings well up out of the way for loading and unloading.
  • Plenty of Storage - Glovebox, Console, Overhead, In-Dash, and that unique bin on top of the dash, all within easy reach of the driver. Very Well Done!
  • Headlights - Another Well Done! The new sharp cut-off headlights seem to have baffled many manufacturer's. Ford got it right on the Fusion. The low beam headlights provide plenty of light, far enough down the road. On many other cars, that annoying line-of-darkness makes low beams almost useless.
  • No Rear Wing - Yes, this is a PLUS. I fail to understand the popularity of those little rear spoilers. Do all auto designers start out designing shopping carts? It's not like the little wings serve any purpose at less then 80 miles per hour.
  • Excellent Value - Compared to other mid-size sedans this Fusion was the best value at the time. We looked at six different brands of the mid-size sedans, and it was a toss-up between the Fusion and the Camry. The Ford dealer we ended up buying from was more willing to make a deal.
  • Fuel Mileage - Already mentioned above, it bears repeating that this car has been getting 33 MPG minimum. An average tank for me is spent about 50% interstate, 25% secondary highway (55 mph), and 25% city driving. We rarely go anywhere at a time when we might end up sitting in traffic.
  • Power - The 4-cylinder engines typically get bashed pretty hard in reviews. I'm not sure what the testers expect from a mid-size sedan, but I've never had any problem when I need to pass slower cars on secondary highways. We live in the country and run a lot of miles on secondary two-lane highways. The engine in this Fusion actually makes about 25 more horsepower than the PT Cruiser. First gear is much lower than cars with bigger engines, so the Fusion launches well and has no trouble getting my utility trailer moving.

Our Fusion Photo

PROBLEMS:

Automatic Transmission - The automatic transmission in the Fusion has been difficult to drive smoothly. Going from coasting to accelerating often causes the car to lurch. On a winding road, it can be difficult to get on the throttle smoothly when accelerating from the apex of a corner. This is improving as I learn how the transmission reacts to throttle input. It may be possible to tweak the transmission programming to better match my driving style.

Right Windshield Wiper - The right wiper arm appears to be bent. The passenger side wiper does not "park" below the level of the hood like the left one does. It sits up on the windshield with the switch off. This can be seen in the first photo above. FIXED IT! Do you believe the wiper arm is a simple tension fit, and the bolt came loose? On older vehicles these parts were splined or keyed so they couldn't slip.

Engine Noise - Within a few thousand miles the fuel injectors started getting noisy (rackety rackety rack). The new engine definitely was not this loud when we went for the initial test drive. This is beginning to get embarassing.

Drivers Inside Door Release Broke -

A web search proves that broken inside door handle assemblies have been a known issue since the 2006 model year, and the replacement parts are no better than the original parts. It's hard to believe Ford would continue sourcing and installing the same poorly designed part on these cars for several years! It was going to be several days before I could get to a parts counter, so spent a total of about 10 minutes studying the broken latch, and came up with a cheap way to temporarily fix the broken part.

My Temporary Fix for Broken Inside Door Latches on 2006 to 2012 Fusion, Milan, MKZ - The problem is an obvious design flaw. The mechanism consists of an assortment of small plastic pieces, springs, and pins. The large handle is supposed to lever the small lock button to unlatch the door, but the plastic is too thin and the back side often breaks completely off. The big lever now isn't attached to anything. The door will not unlatch from the inside, and loose parts can jam the lock button so it won't lock either. As plastic parts age and get more brittle, this problem will only get worse. After studying the broken part, it is obvious the designers did not apply the KISS principle. The latch mechanism is far too fussy and complicated. Here's a photo of my broken latch.

Broken Latch

The cluster of loose parts at the bottom of the photo are not what broke. Those small parts became "extra" and jammed the lock button when the inner end of the latch broke off. The circle on the image above indicates where the small parts are normally located. The toothpick is just to give an idea of scale.

The door is locked, unlocked, and unlatched by moving only one cable. That cable can be operated by hand once the latch has been removed. Push the cable all the way to the back, the door locks. As the cable is pulled forward, first it unlocks the door, then it unlatches the door. The cable attaches to the back of the tiny lock lever. The larger lever is supposed to provide leverage to pull the small lock lever, and unlatch the door. Once that is understood, all we need is to come up with a new way for the large lever to pull the small lock lever.

Added #8/32 bolt and two nuts
Added #8/32 bolt and two nuts

These two photos show where I added an #8-32 pan head machine screw with two nuts, and washers. The nut and a jamb nut are stacked on top of the large lever, behind the small lock lever. The two nuts replace the skinny plastic original part that had to reach all the way around to operate the back side of the small lock lever. By watching how the parts move, it was easy to figure out where the new hardware needed to be. With both levers fully closed, trace the exposed flat part of the latch lever with a Sharpie. Then, with both levers held fully-open, trace the exposed area on the larger lever again. The bolt and nuts must be completely inside the part of the larger latch that is never covered by the smaller lock lever. The hole also needs to be just far enough in from the edges that the head of the screw will fit.

Drill just slightly larger than the screw threads so the screw fits tight. Install the screw, washers, and two nuts loose. Mark any extra length so the machine screw can be cut off flush with the second nut. My wire strippers have holes for snapping #8-32 screws. The threaded hole then re-forms the threads where the screw was snapped. I clean the end up with a flat file. You could also thread a nut on the screw, cut with a hack saw, then twist the nut off to fix the threads.

Finished Latch Repair

My repaired latch, reinstalled on the car, appears completely normal from the side.

Finished Latch Repair

Viewed from the front, the nuts that now pull the small lock lever to unlatch the door do become visible. The new screw is attached thru the strongest part of the latch lever, much closer to the pull point. This is a much stronger way to pull the smaller lock lever and cable. If Ford had designed it something like this it would not have broken.

If this all seems too complicated, and you have some rope, you could always do this.

Barnyard Repair

Only Jed Clampet would think this is a good solution, but it does work.

This problem has been around since 2006. Maybe Ford has come up with a better design. Maybe there is a recall to replace defective inside latch mechanisms? The local dealer's service manager looked up my VIN number. There is only one recall for the power steering. We do have the extended warranty, but that does not cover "cosmetic" items like door handles. Seriously? Cosmetic? The dealer quoted price was $74.95 for a new inside latch release assembly. I left without the part. The Ford Parts On-Line web site lists the same part for $58.70. A little more searching found the genuine Motorcraft part, new, for $17.95.

A quick swap and I can now open the door from the inside again. The chrome button that popped off the old handle was broken. I mixed up a small batch of JB Weld and used that to permanently "glue" the chrome lock knob to the black nub underneath. I am completely puzzled why that little knob was made as two pieces. Maybe it was supposed to use less plastic? Whatever, the original part is fixed and hanging on a nail in the shop in case the replacement part breaks.

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