Brake System Software Reflash - 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Long-Term Road Test

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Long Term Road Test

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid: Brake System Software Reflash

February 05, 2010


Our 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid went to the dealer for a reflash of the software that controls the braking system. We have not yet experienced any problem with the car, but you don't want to mess around with brake problems, especially after we heard the first-hand description of the problem that Consumer Reports expereinced in their Fusion Hybrid.

Their car went into a fail-safe mode as one of their drivers rolled up to a stop sign. The regenerative system reportedly cut out and the car sailed through the stop sign, warning lights ablaze.

Before we took ours in, we first had to see if the fix applied to us. Ford started using the new software on the assembly line on October 18, 2009, so any Fusion Hybrid or Milan Hybrid made before October 17 has the old software. Our door jamb states only that our Fusion Hybrid was made in October 2009, so our car could fall on either side of the issue. A call to the Ford dealer was in order.

Us: "I'm calling about the brake software reflash on my Fusion Hybrid."

Them: "That's not us, that's Toyota."

Us: "Check your computer for Customer Satisfaction Program 10B13 or TSB number 09-22-11."

Them, after typing a few seconds: "Oh, yes. What's your VIN?" We tell them. More typing, "Yes, your car was built on October 4th. Bring it in."

So we did.

It was all over in ten minutes. It was a simple reflash of the software through the diagnostic port. No charge, of course.

But look what the invoice says ...


It says "RECALL" twice. Not "TSB", not "Customer Satisfation Program"-- it says "RECALL".

Of course it also lists our car as a Ford Escape, but that seems like a simple manual entry error. The VIN is the thing that ensures they're doing what's required for a Ford Fusion Hybrid.

If we have safety issues (and make no mistake, a brake problem that affects stopping is a safety issue) let's not beat around the bush and play semantics with the word recall. If recall is the internal word, and recall is a word that will compel owners to come to the dealer for a fix, then that had better be the way it is communicated to the public.

I've put a call in to Ford for an explanation. I'll let you know what I learn when they call back.

Update: Ford does not yet have an answer. They are researching the issue. They are just as confused by the "Escape" model indication as we are.

UPDATE 2: According to Ford sources, "10" stands for 2010 and the "B" in the 10B13 code stands for "customer satisfaction". Safety issues would have had an "S". "E" is for emissions. "C" is for regulatory compliance issues. There are others.

These codes are used to denote different types of service campaigns covered under warranty. They must appear on the invoice for a dealer to get paid. According to Ford, the use of the word "recall" here does not relate to the NHTSA definition of the word. A true NHTSA recall is something that relates to a safety condition, an emissions defect or a regulatory compliance problem: 10S, 10E or 10C in Ford-speak. The Ford spokesman I spoke to emphasizes the the B in 10B13 means this is a customer satisfaction issue, not a recall as NHTSA defines the term. But the Ford coding system for logging the fix and applying for repayment on such "B" customer satisfaction issues is shared.

That's all well and good, but I have a hard time with the premise that brake interruptions (loss of regenerative brakes in this case) can be anything other than a safety concern. If I blow through a stop sign, sure, I'm unsatisfied, but I might also hit something or someone.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,021 miles

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