Rumors of 2013 Fords with electric problems

Just yesterday after we did a set of tires on a SUV in our repair shop, we took it to the Ford dealer to get an alignment. When the alignment was done, I went inside to grab the keys and pay for their work.

There, I overheard a conversation between the service writer and a technician which might have escaped the notice of someone that does not work in auto repair. What I heard surprised me.

The service writer asked: "Why didn't you charge the battery on that car? Don't you know with any of the 2013s the battery goes dead in three weeks?"

The tech responded: "Well, yeah I know."

Service writer: "Even two weeks!"

Technician:  "Well, we have to reflash the BCM on them whenever it happens too."

Now, if I had better hearing or a greater proclivity to being nosey, I would have heard more. Essentially, what I was able to gather is that 2013 Ford models have very high "Key Off Engine Off" battery drains. They must have a lot of onboard computers that stay on and draw power, even when the car is off.

Apparently they drain the battery so badly that computers need to relearn information that they forget when they lose their power. The tech mentioned "reflashing" (reprogramming) BCMs (Body Control Modules). Whether he was actually changing the software on those modules or merely doing relearns or adaptations with the Ford factory scan tool, I don't know, but he used the word "reflash."

Granted, a battery going dead in as little as two weeks is going to mean that these new models are going to be extremely inconvenient for customers that park their cars for any extended period of time. It also means that the Ford batteries that are made in Mexico are going to have much shorter life spans due to the constant battery drains. Nonetheless, cars with a lot of modules, like BMWs, have higher-than-normal battery drains, which is why a lot of OEMs are moving over to glassmat batteries and improving software strategies to make sure the computers drain less power when they're not being used. Ford will probably come up with something to address the problem, whether it be improved batteries or new software to better manage the onboard computer systems draining all of that power. 

New cars often have major quality control issues that are dealt with before they become common knowledge. One of my good friends in the business was a head mechanic of a VW-Audi dealership last year, and they would actually test drive brand new vehicles right off the truck and regularly repair them. Apparently, some OEMs have major quality control issues in the manufacturing process.

So, if anything ever comes from this supposed 2013 Ford drained battery mess, who knows. It's just another thing I overheard working hard in the automotive business.