Q: I saw your article about the gas tank problem. I own a 2004 Ford Escape with 43,000 miles. My tank just about fell off (thought it was my muffler), and I took it to a muffler shop for repairs. Total cost: $240, parts and labor. Do I have any recourse with Ford?
A: Ford has had a recall on gas tank straps, but not on your vehicle. The Ford recall is for F series pickup trucks. The Escape has recall for other fire hazards, but not for the gas tank straps. I do have a suggestion for you, however. I would report the problem to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration. Next, I would try to get the rotted straps back from the repair shop, then I would appeal to the Ford dealer where the car vehicle was purchased for reimbursement consideration. If the dealer won’t help out, ask to set up a meeting with a Ford corporate executive. I am fairly confident that if you follow the above steps, you will get partial, if not full, consideration. Further, if other Ford Escape owners are experiencing the same problem and report it to NHTSA, this could indeed start a recall for similar Escapes experiencing the same problems. I suggest you have your dealer or a shop with access to corporate recalls do a check on your car for any outstanding recalls. It is my feeling that no vehicle is perfect. However, many manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and made the safety problem corrections.
Q: Due to my recent medical situation, I have a car that won’t be driven for six months. I intend to start the engine a couple of times a week during that period. Is there anything else I should do? I put Sta-Bil in the gas tank, which is three-quarters full.
A: This is a great question to publish. At my shop, I have been asked the same thing numerous times. Also, many others have been put into the same situation, but didn’t know where to turn. Let’s start with the start and run for five or 10 minutes a few times a week. I do not recommend that at all. The engine never reaches the full engine temperatures, and moisture and contaminants that develop in an internal combustion engine never really get a chance to burn off. A battery tender to keep the battery at full charge is a good idea. A 15-minute ride every 10 days by a friend or relative will keep all the seals lubricated and will rotate the tires to a different position. I suggest you do not park on dirt or grass. Moisture coming off the lawn can be the start of a rusting problem. Finally, consider leaving the windows open just a crack. Without fresh air, you may end up with a moldy car.
Car Care Tip: If your car has a moldy smell, consider a box of baking soda under the seat. Just drill or poke a few holes in the box, and you should be pretty safe from a spill.
Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears periodically on Tuesdays. Write to Larry at Gloucester Daily Times, c/o Auto Scanner, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.