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AUTO ADVICE: More Flex please; not-so-good vibrations

Q: I have a 2009 Ford Flex with 163K on it — 2009 was the initial production year for this vehicle — and I have heard rumours that Ford plans to faze out this vehicle which they don't advertise. I have never seen a used Flex for sale in the newspaper.

However, for my purposes, this vehicle is perfect — particularly the visibility out the passenger side when I'm backing up with the front passenger seat folded flat — and, of course, Ford's sales slogan is — Go Further. Bottom line — I’m 72 years old and I plan to Go Further. My question is — Ford is producing a 2019 model but what's going to happen after that? Is my 2009 model going to be a collectors’ item in about 25 years?

Garry

A: Every time I ask the manufacturers about future vehicles, I always get the same response: “We don’t comment on future products.” So what is the future for the Ford Flex? I am guessing, but having looked at sales figures, the Flex is low on sales compared to other Ford SUVs, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flex is dropped from the Ford lineup in the near future.

Having said that, I think the Flex is a great vehicle. It rides great, has amazing passenger space that can fit adults in the third row comfortably and has good power, especially with the EcoBoost V6 engine.

The boxy styling of the Flex may stop some shoppers from looking at the vehicle, but if they drove it I am sure they would be impressed. As for your 2009 model becoming a collector item, I don’t think so.

It will probably just be a typical used vehicle. It is difficult to predict what will be collectible in the future — some rare cars are collectible but so are some built in large numbers ones — like a vintage Mustang.

I just don’t think the Flex will be among that group.

Q: I have a question relating to my 2018 Nissan Rogue SL AWD, which currently has 21K on the odometer. Since the car was new, March 2018, I have noticed a rumble/vibration coming from the front end. This doesn’t occur all the time, but only on occasion, and never at highway speeds.

At first this would happen when the car was first starting off, at between 50 and 70, and would then disappear. Now, in the colder weather, I notice that the vibration is not present at those speeds until the car has been driven for a while, especially if it has been shut off and then re-driven.

I have had the car back to the dealer for this problem, but it would not happen on a test drive with a mechanic aboard.

I tried revving the engine in neutral and there was no noise or vibration. This noise seems to be coming from the drive train or transmission.

On-line research shows Nissan has had issues with transmission problems on certain vehicles, but I don’t know if this is the case with the Rogue. I would appreciate any advice that you can provide.

Patrick

A: A vibration between 50 and 70 is typical of a tire problem, either balance or irregular cord construction. However, this problem should be there all the time. Therefore, it is most likely in the drivetrain.

To help diagnose the problem, there are a couple things to try when the vibration occurs.

First, shift the transmission into neutral while driving with the vibration but keep the engine rpm at the same speed.

If the vibration is still present, then it could be coming from an accessory component such as the alternator or air conditioning compressor. These items are balanced, but a loose or broken mount can cause them to vibrate at certain speeds and it can feel like a tire imbalance.

Also, try shifting the transmission into “low” range when the vibration occurs. If the vibration changes, then it is more likely caused by the transmission.

There have been problems with vibrations or shudders from this transmission (it is used in other Nissan vehicles as well) and they have extended the warranty on some models.

Your car will still be covered by the new-vehicle warranty for any vibration problem other than a simple tire imbalance.

Jim Kerr is a master automobile mechanic and teaches automotive technology. Send your questions for Jim to [email protected] or mail them to: Herald Wheels, 2717 Joseph Howe Drive, P.O. Box 610, Halifax, N.S. B3J 2T2

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