Ford Escape Problems: 5 Known Issues (Explained)

Ford has been selling the Escape since 2000, with three generations of the SUV available today. The second-generation of Escape came out in 2008, and then the third-generation which launched in 2013.

There have been a couple of issues with the Ford Escape. We are going to cover three of those problems: they are the transmission problems, the electrical problems, and the engine problems.

Let’s get started!

Transmission problems

These problems manifest mostly as heavy shuddering, which has never really been explained by the manufacturer. The shift seems to make a noise when changing gears, but there are also problems with the automatic gearbox.

This is apparently a latent defect in the 2014 – 2016 models which wasn’t given sufficient attention at the time.

It seems that the transmission has typically lasted only 70,000 to 90,000 miles before having to be replaced at a cost of around $4,000 at the time. There were instances where Ford wanted the owner to pay between $9,500 to $6,000 for the transmission at 60,000 miles, after rejecting a warranty claim.

Drivers also experienced failure at 45 miles per hour. The automatic transmission was hard shifting into 6th gear while driving. Sometimes, it would jump between 2nd and 3rd gears, or between 5th and 6th gears for no reason.

This is a consequence of poor acceleration because of the transmission causing trouble.

There was often a serious loss of power, making it difficult for the driver to accelerate out of danger, and reach the side of the road out of the traffic flow.

Other issues were experienced with transmissions overheating and cracking the housing. It seems this could be a result of a loss in transmission oil which poured out past gaskets or an already cracked housing.

Electrical failures

The problems got really bad when drivers experienced smoke, fires and the automatic shutdown of vehicle electronics.

This again has never been explained by the manufacturer.

This allegedly got particularly bad in other countries when the fires started and the doors automatically locked with the electronics failure. So, imagine that, locked in a vehicle while it burst into flames. This creates pictures of WWII pilots burning in their cockpits. It was the greatest fear they had in that day.

One driver explains how, after two weeks of purchasing the vehicle, the radio starts turning on and off by itself. The radio would just change stations by itself.

It sounds like a horror movie.

Other drivers told stories of how, when using the phone on Bluetooth, the car screen would freeze. All electrical power would stop while driving – all lights, ignition system, everything electrical stops while driving – even if at high speed. Other drivers reported how all the dashboard lights went off while driving, even the rear camera not turning off after switching from reverse and driving forward.

There were other, more serious failures, which had been experienced. The factory ‘remote start’ would stop working due to low battery.

After replacing the battery, the ‘remote start’ then lasts for only 10 seconds further before shutting off.

Other drivers reported smoke suddenly coming from the car – even though it had been standing in the parking lot for quite a while. The smoke started coming from the front of the car, and the fire department was called and after putting out a fire, reported the cause of the fire was due to a malfunctioning electrical.

Other drivers reported the smoke coming from the car while driving through moderate traffic.

When they tried to move the vehicle to the emergency lane, the hazard lights would fail. During an independent assessment, they found a wire bundle that was not sufficiently insulated from chaffing and had contributed to the smoke.

This was obviously an electrical short which could have built into a fire if not noted.

Engine problems

The cars can sometimes overheat or the low coolant warning light might come on, and just shut the car off soon after being started.

Sometimes a noise is heard from the front of the car, and after investigation, it was found that the coolant valve was not flush and needed replacement.

Often diagnostics were run on the cars, but no faults were found.

The dealers either insisted there was no issue or did a repair with subsequent failures being experienced on the road.

Another driver complained that the engine block cracked after the coolant failed for a third time after being repaired twice.

It seems that the block cracked from overheating even after a first recall. Other instances occurred where the plastic covers over the engine melted after the engine overheated, and there were even times when the coolant had mixed with engine oil which is an indication that the head gasket failed.

Cracks and pealing paint

We also have reports about problems with the paint across Ford SUVs.

Also on the Ford Escape there has been reports of issues with bubbles in the paint which can be pretty costly to fix. Check our article above (about general Ford SUV problems).

GO BACK > problems for all Ford models.

References [accessed 2019.10.22]

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.