Q: I got a recall notice for my 2008 Ford Fusion because of an ABS hydraulic brake (HCU valve) problem. I originally received a letter in January 2020 stating that parts would be available late in the first quarter of 2020, and then got another letter in October 2020 saying the parts still weren't available.
In December, my wife tried to brake at a stop light during wet conditions. The brake pedal went down to the floor, but did not immediately stop the car, causing it to swerve. Fortunately, she didn't hit anything. On a test drive, my mechanic experienced the same problem but could not repair it without the proper parts. I also took the car to a Ford dealership for diagnosis. The dealership said they could diagnose the problem for $150 but also could not fix it until parts are available.
In the recall letter, Ford states that: "If the HCU valve is stuck open, this may result in extended brake pedal travel required to stop the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford has not issued instructions to stop driving the vehicle under the safety recall." The car currently is being kept in the garage. I opened a trouble case with Ford Motor Co. and filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Do you have any other suggestions?
A: Don't drive in inclement weather. I apologize if that sounds glib, but until the parts become available, it's the only safe solution. As you know, the ABS system "pumps" the brakes when road conditions are poor, giving the driver better control. When the roads are clear, the ABS system is not activated, so you should be OK using the car then. Otherwise, there is not much I can add to your endeavors to get the car fixed.
Driver, not car, needs spin
Q: During the past year, we have driven our 2011 Ford Escape only once a week to the grocery store, five miles away. A friend thinks it would be good to take it onto the freeway occasionally to get it up to speed for a few miles. But another person thinks this is unnecessary. What do you think?
A: Although this isn't necessary for the car, I still do it just to get a change of scenery on a sunny day.
Diluted oil a problem
Q: We are very satisfied owners of a 2021 Subaru Ascent with 3,300 miles on it. It has the 2.4-liter turbo boxer engine. We plan to use it to tow a single-axle, 3,300-pound travel trailer. But we have just learned from a friend who owned a 2019 Ascent with the same engine that he had to trade in his vehicle because of an oil dilution issue. Are there any "symptoms" we should be watching for?
A: The problem you mention is when the oil gets diluted with gasoline, which reduces its lubricating ability. The quickest way to diagnose the problem is to check the dipstick. If the level is above the full line, or has a gasoline odor, there is a problem.
Bob Weber is a writer, mechanic and ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician. His writing has appeared in automotive trade publications, Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send automotive questions along with name and town to firstname.lastname@example.org.