Wanna Sell Me A(nother) Mercury?

I own a very well equipped 2004 Mercury Monterey. Yes… it’s a mini-van, but gosh darnit, it’s pretty handy the many times we need to jam seven people in for a trip. It’s a very nice vehicle overall, although I’ve never been able to get better than 18 mpg on the highway, even with no extra weight, no hills and cruising in light traffic. I can’t see how it would ever get 23 mpg as rated unless I was going downhill with the wind behind me.

My car just spent five days at the local dealer getting a few items fixed under warranty. One of these items is an apparent malfunction in the climate control system. When I turn on recirculate and/or the seat heating and cooling, it randomly cuts off after 10-45 minutes. The A/C still runs but it starts pulling in fresh air and simultaneously turns off the seats. The seats have both heating and cooling and it doesn’t matter if the each seat is set to cool or heat, they still turn off.

My car has three zone controls for the climate control system – driver, passenger, and rear. Each one can be set independently to a specific temperature.

The dealer is telling me this shutting off behavior is normal operation. To paraphrase, “It’s a feature, not a bug.” When running in auto mode, once it senses I’ve reached the desired temperature, it is programmed to disable both recirc and the seat heating/cooling.

To me, this sounds like BS.

First, the front has independent zones. My wife likes it toasty, I like it cold. If my side gets toasty, I get sleepy. If me and my wife are set to
different temps, why would BOTH seats cut off at once? Also, why would seat heating turn off because of the air temperature? We got the seat heating because my wife feels it adds comfort on long road trips.

I like to leave it on recirculate because there are lots of diesel trucks on the road during my commute. The fumes are pretty strong when I’m drawing air through the a/c. I can’t imagine why it would turn off this function instead of just turning down the blower to modulate temperature. My little Saturn L300 works in just this manner and I never have to push the little recirculate button.

Reading the manual that came with the vehicle, I learned that when set to auto, it is supposed to automatically control the recirculate setting, despite the fact that the instruction booklet states the recirculate control is for “manual control” of that function. However, if it is supposed to control the recirculate function automatically, shouldn’t it periodically turn the thing ON? The fact that it only turns it off indicates to me it is indeed broken. Coupled with the fact that BOTH seats disengage at the exact time just confirms that observation for me.

Now, if the auto setting is allowed to control the recirculate, smart engineering would indicate that if the occupant purposefully turns it on, it should stay on no matter what. The blower can always be lowered to compensate for the extra air flow. Lets face it, recirculate does more than just cool the car quicker, it keeps noxious fumes outside the vehicle where they belong.

For that matter, the seat heating and cooling is not really even related to the air temperature in the vehicle. Cooling makes the leather tolerable on bare legs in the Florida sun and the heating is more of a comfort feature than a temperature control feature.

The bottom line for me is that if they really did program the system to function this way, I won’t be buying another Mercury. Why pay extra for a feature that has to be turned back on every 20 minutes? That’s just idiotic. And if they didn’t program it that way, why was the service department blowing smoke up my ass? Smoke I don’t need. I want cold air on my ass. Sheesh.

Wanna sell me another Mercury? Fix this one.

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