The Ford Escape is one of Ford’s most popular vehicles — second only to the F-150. The compact SUV has become very competitive over the last few years, and the Escape is one of the best-selling vehicles in that class. Its longevity in the market is a testament to its popularity. The first Ford Escape was introduced in 2000 as the model year 2001 vehicle.
The Escape typically ranks high in both safety and reliability, and owners typically give the vehicle high marks for customer satisfaction. However, there are a few problems that Escape owners commonly report. Some of these issues are relatively significant. Keep reading to learn about the most common problems with the Escape and which model years have the most issues.
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Common Problems With The Ford Escape
Ford Escape owners are generally satisfied with their vehicles, although there are some problems that seem to be reported much more than others. Some of the problems even led to Ford issuing recalls to fix the issue. Here are the most common issues reported by Escape owners and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
— Transmission Failure
One of the most common issues reported by Ford Escape owners is a transmission problem. Unfortunately, Ford has had some transmission issues with other vehicles besides the Escape as well. Some owners with a manual transmission reported that the clutch needs replacement, while those with an automatic transmission reported that a total transmission replacement is the most common solution. Some owners were able to rebuild their transmission, but most required replacement.
Thankfully, Ford Escape transmission problems did not plague every year model of the vehicle. The issues were most common in the 2006 – 2008 models and the 2014 model. Ford even issued a recall to replace a faulty transmission control module on some vehicles.
Unfortunately, transmission repair costs are not cheap. Unless your vehicle is covered under warranty, you will likely face a bill over $3,000 for a transmission replacement. We will dive into the specific cost of repairs later in this article.
— Engine Stumbling
A stumbling or stalling engine is one of the complaints with the highest volume. A few hundred owners have reported this problem, and the Ford Escape engine either stumbles or completely stalls. In some cases, the engine died while driving. As you can imagine, an engine shutdown could quickly lead to a dangerous condition while driving in traffic. In most cases, the stumble was also accompanied by the check engine light.
The consensus seems to be that the cause of the stumble or stall is a faulty EGR sensor. This sensor causes the exhaust gas to not recirculate properly, and the exhaust gas pressure is not maintained at the proper level. When the pressure is off, the engine will either stumble or stall.
Thankfully, the sensor replacement often appears to correct the issue. EGR sensor replacement is not an extremely expensive repair, although it will likely cost you a couple of hundred dollars. Once the sensor is replaced, you should no longer have to worry about the engine shutting off while you are driving.
— Transfer Case Issues
Many owners have reported transfer case problems on their four-wheel drive Escape models. Luckily, not all Ford Escapes have this issue. Since the two-wheel drive models do not have a transfer case, this issue will not be present in those models. When owners report this problem, they usually report a howling or whining noise from the transfer case. As the condition worsens, it typically becomes a clicking noise while driving.
Unfortunately, the issue seems to be due to normal wear and tear, and there is not an easy fix for the problem. Some owners have reported being able to rebuild the transfer case, while others need a total replacement of the unit. Replacement of the unit could cost you a few thousand dollars, so this could be an expensive repair.
Worn tires, especially mud tires, can mimic the howling sound of a failing transfer case. The sound of the tires might get even louder at high speeds. For this reason, it is crucial that you have a mechanic diagnose the problem. Otherwise, you might spend money repairing something that is not truly a problem.
— Ignition Misfire
Ignition misfires are the most reported problem by Ford Escape owners. This particular problem plagues many different year models — mostly from 2001 through 2013. While the issue seems to be corrected in the newer EcoBoost engines, some of the early EcoBoost engines still had this problem. In most cases, the driver can feel the engine misfire as the engine skips when the problem occurs. In some cases, the problem might also be accompanied by the check engine warning light.
The cause of the issue is related to faulty ignition coil packs. The coil packs do not fire properly, thus leading to misfires in the engine. Replacement of the coil packs will correct the problem in most cases. However, you should perform this repair as soon as you notice the issue. Waiting too long could result in damage to other parts, like internal engine components. You don’t want to end up with a blown head gasket or worse simply because you ignored the problem.
— Loss Of Power Steering
Power steering plays a critical role in driving your vehicle, especially at high speeds. Unfortunately, some Escape owners have reported a loss of power steering even at high speeds. There seems to be a problem with the Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system on some Escape vehicles. In some cases, drivers would see the power steering warning light on the dash.
The issue appears to be a faulty design of the EPAS system, and Ford claims that a refresh of the power steering control module will fix the issue in most cases. If you experience a loss of power steering, you should definitely head to an automotive repair shop right away. Driving without power steering could be quite dangerous, and you could end up in an accident if the problem is not corrected.
— Brake Problems
Some of the newer Escape models have gotten quite a few complaints about noisy brakes. While squeaking brakes are an annoyance, they present no real danger in most cases. However, a few owners have reported brake failure on these models as well. These owners state that the pedal becomes too difficult to press, and they are almost unable to stop the car.
The cause of these issues is different. Squeaking brakes are usually caused by brake pads, and replacement of the pads will almost always fix that problem. The cost to replace brake pads runs about $200 to $300. A hard brake pedal, on the other hand, is caused by a bad brake booster. In that case, the booster will usually have to be replaced. This will usually cost you $300 to $500.
Ford Escape Model Years To Avoid
Some model years of the Escape have many more problems than others. If you are looking for a used Ford Escape, you need to know which years to avoid. So, which ones are the worst? Surprisingly, the early Ford Escape models did not have as many problems as some of the later models. The worst year for the Escape seems to be the 2014 year model. Transmission issues were common in that model, and that year also experienced engine problems. Specifically, loss of acceleration was a big problem for the 2014 Escape. Not only did the 2014 model have several issues, but these powertrain issues were typically expensive problems.
Beyond the 2014 model, the 2006 to 2009 model years also experienced a high number of problems. Ignition misfires and transmission problems were some of the most common issues during these years. Ford has done a great job of improving the Escape model in recent years. If you plan to purchase a used Escape, you should stick with a 2015 or newer model. The complaints surrounding 2015 and newer Escapes are significantly fewer than those for older models.
Overall Ford Escape Reliability
So, how does the Ford Escape compare to its competitors when it comes to reliability? The Escape ranks near the middle of the pack in the crossover or compact SUV market. While it is not at the bottom of the list, there are other models that rank ahead of the Escape. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 rank near the top of the list for reliability of compact SUVs. The Mazda CX-5 ranks about the same as the Escape for reliability.
Thankfully, if you are in the market for a used car, the Escape could be a great option. Many Escape owners report having over 100,000 miles on their Escape, and some have even surpassed the 250,000-mile mark. If properly maintained, the Escape can last for many years without any problems. If you plan to purchase a used Escape, you should try to get the service records associated with the vehicle. Failure to perform the proper maintenance might cause the Escape to have severe issues early in its life.
Similarly, you should always test drive the vehicle before purchase. Make sure that the transmission shifts smoothly and the brakes operate properly. Take the vehicle on an extended test drive to make sure there are no overheating problems or coolant leaks. The Ford Escape blends great fuel economy with an economical price, and many owners have driven their Escape for years without issue.
Cost To Repair Common Ford Escape Problems
One of the most common problems with the Escape is the failure of the transmission, and this is not a cheap repair. Unfortunately, most owners have reported that complete transmission replacement is the only fix for the issue. Depending on your year model, it could cost you $4,000 or more to replace the transmission. Having the repair done at a dealership will usually cost you more than at an independent auto repair shop.
Some other common problems with the Escape are not as expensive to repair as the transmission. For instance, replacing faulty ignition coil packs will usually only cost you about $200 to $400. Similarly, replacing the brake pads should cost around $300, while replacing a bad brake booster is likely to run you $300 to $500.
Another common issue that is expensive to repair is the transfer case problem. Since the transfer case must be replaced to fix the issue most of the time, the repair is likely to cost you $1,500 to $2,500. Replacing a transfer case is not cheap, and the Escape is no exception to this rule. Thankfully, the Escape does not have many reports of electrical system problems or issues with the new Infotainment system. Those types of problems can sometimes be expensive to fix, depending on the root cause of the issue.
The Bottom Line
The Ford Escape is a strong player in the compact SUV market, although there are a few common issues with the Ford Escape. Transmission problems, transfer case issues, and engine stumbling are the most common problems reported. As you might imagine, these issues are not cheap to repair in most cases. Transmission replacement could cost you over $4,000, although you might be able to fix the engine stumbling problem for around $300 by replacing the ignition coil packs. Stay away from the 2014 model and any model from 2006 to 2008. The 2015 and newer Escapes tend to have far fewer problems, and the overall reliability of the vehicle is pretty high.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Ford Escapes have a lot of problems?
Ford Escapes have an average number of problems when compared to its competitors. Although they are not problem-free, Escapes do not have the most problems in the market either. Depending on the year model, the number of complaints ranges from a few hundred to less than a hundred. Unfortunately, some of the most common problems are fairly significant. For example, transmission failure is one of the issues reported frequently.
Is the Ford Escape a reliable car?
The Ford Escape is generally considered a fairly reliable car, and the vehicle usually ranks in the “average” category for reliability. However, the Escape does not rank as high as the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. One key to getting your Escape to last a long time is to perform regular maintenance. Failure to keep your Escape maintained properly could lead to an early breakdown. Many Escapes have exceeded 200,000 miles when properly maintained.
What was the best year for the Ford Escape?
Most of the newer year models seem to be the most reliable Escapes on the market. If you are considering a Ford Escape, you should try to get a 2015 or newer model. Model years 2015 and newer are considered to have far fewer problems than older models. You should likely avoid the 2014 model as well as the 2006, 2007, and 2008 models. The highest number of problems have been reported with those year models, and some of the problems are major.