As you may have deduced from previous posts, I am a big fan of the Ford Flex. It drives like car but hauls people like a van, and it gets great mileage for its size. I’ll bet its cost-per-Orwig-hauled ratio could beat just about anything out there. It looks cool, too. The next time someone starts taking unfair shots at the ability of the “Detroit Three” to innovate, they ought to be challenged to test drive a Flex (or an Edge or a Fusion, for that matter).
Lately my Flex and I have been under some pressure. Due to child care issues and Sarah’s schedule, I’ve been hurrying to and from work without my usual ability to stop for gas. Then yesterday I was actually allowed to go out without any kids along, but it must have thrown me because I completely ignored the fact that the Flex was running out of gas.
As I pulled into the driveway last night I saw the “Distance to Empty” indicator change from 1 to zero. I’ve seen that before, though, and those things always underestimate gas. Besides, I could solve the problem using the large container of gas I keep for the lawn tractor. I had been meaning to use that gas anyway, rather than letting it age all winter.
As you might have guessed (because you are reading it here), things didn’t work out as I planned. Rather than complain I decided to do something more constructive: Draft a potential addendum for the Flex manual specifically designed for people like me.
Your Ford Flex requires fuel to run. While we design the vehicle to be as efficient and convenient as possible, current technology does not enable the Ford Flex to make allowances for the fact that you haven’t had time to stop for gas because you’ve been hurrying home to relieve babysitters. It is also unable to take into account that when you drove to the grocery store over the weekend (driving past several gas stations) you were engrossed in a particularly good interview on NPR’s Fresh Air and didn’t notice the Distance-To-Empty gauge helplessly trying to get your attention.
Therefore, this addendum is here to offer the following information and advice:
- This vehicle is equipped with the new No Bull Distance-To-Empty gauge. That means when it reports “0 miles to empty,” you are actually out of gas.
- This vehicle is equipped with a new Dorkfree Capless Gas Hole. We learned years ago that people like you tended to unscrew the gas cap and leave it on the roof of the car when you drive away. So we tried tethering the gas gap to the gas hole, but found that you would still forget to screw it into your gas hole and would drive around with it hanging on the side of the car. Yes you did. We saw you do that at least once. So this latest attempt to save you from yourself removes the gas cap entirely. Instead a special valve is placed over the gas hole itself. This valve will only open when the proper sized nozzle is inserted into the gas hole, and it seals tightly when you remove the nozzle.
- A plastic lawn-mower gas can does not have the right size nozzle. So when you attempt to put extra gas into your car from a gas can in your driveway on a dark winter night, you will discover in the morning that the gas simply ran down the side of the car and melted all the snow in that area of the driveway.
- As mentioned above, the gas hole valve seals tightly. This means that in the morning, when you attempt once again to pour gas into the car using the wrong nozzle, ALL of the gas will run uselessly down the side of the car. Your personal assurances to yourself that “some of it must have gone in” are incorrect.
- Your best course of action at this time is to remain in the driveway and read the instruction manual. You, of course, won’t. You’ll figure you can make it a few miles to the gas station.
- When you ignore the Distance To Empty warning and neglect to read these instructions, there will be no further warning when the last drops of gas are finally burned. The dash will not begin showing “-1 miles to empty” or “You’re bummin’, Dude”. When your Ford Flex starts to stagger and stop moving forward, that is your indication that you are, in fact, bummin’.
- At the first indication that you have starved the engine of gas, you should use your last remaining lurches of motion to pull safely to the side of the road. Do NOT attempt a U-turn back toward home (particularly not in an intersection of your subdivision) as you will stall in the middle of the turn, blocking traffic much more effectively than if you had simply pulled over.
- When you ignore that advice, turn on your hazard lights so your neighbors know you are a dork stuck in the middle of the intersection with car trouble, rather than an even bigger dork who decided to park in the middle of the intersection for some reason. The hazard light switch is located in the center top of the dashboard. It’s there, look again. No, higher. There you go.
- By now you will likely have figured out that no gas actually is getting in the tank when you try from the gas can. Attempts to hold the gas hole valve open with foreign objects like straws and pencils will fail.
- While you are trying to force open the valve with foreign objects, you will eventually notice there are little pictures drawn on the gas hole door. We didn’t have much space to work with, but tried to communicate via pictures that you should not attempt to force open the valve with foreign objects. You should use a special funnel instead. We also tried to get across that you should read the manual for more instructions.
- As you are looking for the manual, please refrain from profane complaints about the inconvenience of having to bring along a funnel. First of all, the need for the funnel is explained in this manual, so you can hardly blame us. Second, we have anticipated your lack of preparation and have provided a funnel for you. It is conveniently located alongside the spare tire, which is in the far back of your Flex under the twin stroller, preschool papers, and empty pop bottles.
- You should really return those pop bottles.
- On your way to the gas station, you will panic as you can’t remember putting the twin stroller back in the car. You can stop picturing it sitting in the middle of the intersection. You didn’t screw that one thing up today and the twin stroller is safely in the back of your car.