Ford Tells Hybrid Owner to Hit the Gas

3/4 front view of a Fusion Hybrid on a white backdrop

Lisa Sweeney bought a Ford Fusion Hybrid because she wanted to do her part to help the environment. But now her car has a problem. Good news: there's an easy solution. Bad news: that solution defeats the reason she bought a hybrid in the first place.

As first reported by Jen White on CBCNews, Sweeney's Fusion Hybrid has developed a thick sludge under the oil cap. After going back and forth to a dealership in Canada, her car has been out of commission for almost three months.

I'm not sure what the dealership is up to because there's an easy explanation here, and it's a common problem for hybrid and gas engines.

Short Trips Are Bad for Car Engines

Ms. Sweeney admits she only uses the car for short trips to and from work, under 10 miles each way. When a car's engine isn't allowed to fully heat up, it can't burn off excess moisture.

Excess moisture + oil = milky, sludge like awfulness.

That problem is only compounded in cold environments, like Canada.

An Easy Solution That's Much More Complicated

Ford told Ms. Sweeney she needs to drive her car at highway speeds for 15-30 minutes with the defroster blasting to engage and heat the gas engine every so often. But Ms. Sweeney says she doesn't have any need to drive on the highway, so making that trip is just a waste of gas. Gas she thought she'd be saving by buying a hybrid.

Who's to Blame?

Is it Ms. Sweeney's fault for not recognizing what she really needs is a plug-in hybrid that can get her to and from work on a single charge?

Is it Ford's problem for not specifying that a certain amount of driving is needed to maintain the vehicle?

One thing's for certain, the dealership shouldn't have taken so long to diagnose the problem.

Ford Canada said it is working with Ms. Sweeney to develop a solution. Meanwhile, she wants them to buy her vehicle back. Who's side are you on?

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