2017 Ford Escape Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Engine, Electrical and Transmission issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

TuRbO_J from Adelaide, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Three main traits define the Ford escape: Versatility, economy – and unreliability. Although the compact SUV offers many desirable characteristics, such as generous cargo space and available all-wheel drive, it’s also terribly untrustworthy. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, the 2017 Escape has several problem areas. The most common are the powertrain, electrical system, and engine.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2018   2019.  2020

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Problems with the Transmission

Ford has had nothing but problems with its dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCTs) since the unit’s introduction in 2008. Unlike a traditional automatic, which uses planetary gearsets, these transmissions employ gears mounted on opposing shafts, like a manual transmission. Each shaft has its own clutch, hence the term “dual clutch”. But instead of the driver manipulating the gears, like a traditional stick-shift, the car’s onboard computer handles that task.

Certainly, this sounds like the ideal scenario – a manual transmission without the cumbersome clutch pedal. And it would be if it were reliable. Sadly, the DCTs in Ford vehicles, such as the Escape, are full of problems.

On the Kelly Blue Book website, one owner complains, “I haven’t had my car for 10 days and it’s already having transmission issues. When I put it in reverse it starts going backwards then hits a snag, and the entire vehicles jerks.”

Another, on Edmunds.com states, “I just bought a 2017 Ford Escape in April and had to have the transmission replaced two days after buying it. Now 3 months later there is white smoke pouring from my tailpipes. And it kicks every time I back up. This car is poorly made. I’m so upset with this purchase. I will never buy a Ford again.

If Ford can’t get DCTs right, it should just go back to making traditional automatic transmissions. So far, the automaker hasn’t issued any public recalls or technical service bulletins (TSBs) to address the concern.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Ford Escape Transmission Problems:

Out of nowhere, the transmission started seeming to slip in my 2017 Ford Escape while we were driving down a city street. A minute later, the system message “transmission fault service now” came up and the car would not accelerate beyond 35 mph. It has since been at the dealership waiting to be repaired. We were out of state visiting family as well, so this has been a huge inconvenience for everyone involved as my husband has had to miss two weeks of classes to take care of the vehicle and i have had to miss several days of work due to this situation. It broke down March 18th and it is now April 6th and they still have not received the part to fix the vehicle.

Transmission failed and was rebuilt by route 23 Automall. Once getting it back the transmission intermittently slips out of gear often times after stopping at an intersection or traffic light or during city driving. No error codes when bring it back to dealer. Car is unsafe as i almost got hit while crossing an intersection because the transmission slipped out of gear. Escalated to the dealership and ford and they refuse to fix it because it is intermittent and no codes shown on the computer.

I bought this 2017 Ford Escape SE Ecoboost 4wd in February, and since then every time i change gears from park to reverse, i hear a rough ‘thud’ noise from the rear. I only happens when i go in reverse and it never happens while the escape is in drive while in motion. It happens often hearing a hard knock when going in reverse. Since this is a 4wd escape, im thinking its coming from the rear differential when the rear wheels are ‘kicked’ into gear using the rear wheels power to pull it in reverse. It does have ‘intelligent 4wd’ where when the escape is driving on normal roads, the front wheels are only active, but then all four wheels are activated when going on rougher roads. I have done research about this and other owners from 2017 with 4wd have been having this problem to an uncertain end not knowing if this is going to damage the escape in a few years or in a year…basically the ford escape i have makes a hard rough thud noise when going into reverse thinking its a defect. I have contacted ford through their Facebook page and they said they did not find any recalls on it, but it is still is a real problem for me and other ford escape 4wd owners. Please figure this out. Thank you.

Problems with the Electrical System

Remember the good old days, when cars had mechanical throttle linkage? Well, those times are long gone. Nearly all vehicles now use what’s referred to as an electronic throttle body (ETB), otherwise known as drive-by-wire. This design uses sensors, a computer, and a stepper motor to measure driver input at the gas pedal, then move the throttle blade a corresponding amount.

Ford has been having problems with their ETB for years but has done nothing to fix the problem permanently. That’s why the issue carries on in the 2017 Ford Focus.

“This vehicle should be classified as a small van. Handles like one too! I have 300 miles on mine and it’s been in the shop 3’xs. I’ve had an ongoing throttle body issue and the power window switch has been replaced. The quality of the vehicle is very poor. Interior plastic is cheap, carpet is flimsy, and the body dents very easily. Finally after 6 attempts the vehicle was a casualty of the Lemon law, writes an owner on Edmunds.com.

Another writes on the NHTSA website, “Vehicle went into limp mode with no throttle response the first day I owned it. It left me on interstate I 90 having to shut off the car and try to restart it. The dealer could not fix the problem it happened 4 times in 12k miles. I returned the vehicle to the dealer as they could not find the problem after replacing several defective electronic parts. The vehicle was going to get somebody killed it was not going to be me and my 14 year old son. I understand that they have auctioned this vehicle off after dismissing the safety concerns.”

At this time, Ford has not issued any recalls to address this safety concern.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Ford Escape Electrical Problems:

TL* The contact owns a 2017 Ford Escape. While activating the automatic parallel parking assist, the vehicle failed to parallel park and crashed into a parked vehicle. The automatic parallel parking assist deactivated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. A police report was not filed and there were no injuries. The vehicle was towed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 150.

The vehicle was parked and would not turn on. Lights and radio worked but engine would not. Electronic control module was replaced. Two weeks after picking it up from the dealer same thing happened when it was parked. Next day the car would turn on. Tried to turn it on again 15 minutes later it would not turn on. Had it towed to the dealer. Electronic control module replaced again. One month later same thing happened while parked. Called for tow truck to have it towed. While waiting for the tow truck after 2 hours tried turning it on and it did turn on. Still had it towed to the dealer.

As my boyfriend was turning the corner at an intersection, the engine suddenly stopped. He was able to stop due to his low speed. I reminded him to put his foot on the brake to restart, and he did that and it started right up. He didn’t do anything to make the engine stop. The only thing that was happening at that time was that a text was coming in on my Samsung phone, which was charging and connected via bluetooth.

Problems with the Engine

Automatic start/stop, a feature once only found on hybrids, is now common on many modern vehicles, including the 2017 Ford escape. Boththe turbocharged engines offered in the SUV come equipped with the technology, which cuts the fuel delivery when the car comes to a stop. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver takes their foot off the brake pedal.

The main benefit of auto start/stop is increased fuel economy. When the system is working correctly, it’s an effective way to boost gas mileage. When it malfunctions, however, like it often does in the Ford Escape, it can be both an inconvenience and a safety Hazard. There are many accounts of the SUV not restarting after a stop.

“So many experience that I’m driving and we’re on a stop light or stop sign waiting to go and the engine will completely shut off by itself and here I am to push the gas pedal to go and the car won’t go or drive, very dangerous and car behind me will honk or almost get hit me so I have to put the car on park and start the engine again just to go. When I do that the map radio will completely blank black no sound of music or your navigation will disappear. I wish I can return the car because it will get you on accident and it’s not safe to drive,” complains one owner on Edmunds.com.

On the NHTA website, another writes, “Driving in stop and go traffic when stopped at red light, the auto start/stop will turn the engine off. Stepping on the accelerator pedal the car will not restart and a message comes on the dash saying shift to park and manually restart the engine. In all cases, the engine does restart but it does cause delays in busy intersections and hesitation on the driver to pull into traffic. Problem is intermittent two to three times a week in daily driving.”

So far, Ford has not released a recall for the concern. Instead, it responded to complaints in an NHTSA communication (SSM 47043) by saying, “Some 2017 Escape vehicles may exhibit an auto stop/start concern when the vehicle does not auto restart. The concern can occur at a stop where the vehicle will perform an auto stop/start event. Upon attempting to restart, the instrument panel may display a message instructing the customer to shift the vehicle to park and start the vehicle manually. This concern may be intermittent and difficult to duplicate. Do not attempt any repairs at this time. Engineering is investigating, monitor OASIS for updates.”

Hopefully, the engineers can find a fix soon before someone gets seriously hurt.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2017 Ford Escape Engine Problems:

My check engine light came on at 5:30 pm on 8/11 and, when i got home, my husband saw that the car had been leaking oil and I was low on oil despite the fact that i had an oil change one month prior. While I was driving to the dealership at 10:45 am on 8/12, the car was not accelerating normally and the mpg readings were all over the place. As i was getting off the highway, the car began to lose its ability to accelerate well, the steering wheel began to shake and eventually the car lost the ability to accelerate completely. I was driving through a toll booth at the time the car lost the ability to accelerate so i coasted through and saw a parking lot for toll booth operators. As I was trying to make my way to that parking lot, smoke began to fill the car through the vents. I coasted into the parking lot and shut off the vehicle. I turned off the vehicle and ran out at which point i noticed that there was a fire under the hood of the vehicle and flames were escaping through the grill, under the hood and out the bottom. The state police arrived immediately thereafter and used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. No warning notice came across the dashboard until the car lost acceleration ability completely at which point the screen said to shift to “P” and manually restart. At that point, however, the car was filling with smoke so i immediately vacated, shut off the vehicle and ran away from the vehicle. I do not know what caused the problem. I have filed an insurance claim and am awaiting contact.

Vehicle went into limp mode with no throttle response the first day i owned it. It left me on interstate I 90 having to shut the car off and try to restart it. The dealer could not fix the problem it happened 4 times in 12k miles i returned the vehicle to the dealer as they could not find the problem after replacing several defective electronic parts. This vehicle was going to get someone killed it was not going to be me and my 14 year old son. I understand that they have auctioned this vehicle off after dismissing the safety concerns. This is the second report i have filed on this website.

SUV regularly overheats when accelerating up hill in warm weather. The SUV was purchased with the largest engine because we live in the mountains in warm California. When car overheats power is lost and we lose the ability to accelerate in an emergency safety condition. The car also runs rough and jerks once it cools down and power regains. The manufacturer has been contacted and even though they have been able to pull codes verifying the problem have not fixed it (or even attempted to fix it each time it is brought in. The car has a 3500 pound trailer rating. If a trailer was attached we would be on the side of the road in dangerous weather. Very unhappy with my $36,000 car with less than 17,000 miles on it.

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23 COMMENTS
  • Kelly

    My 2017 Escape’s power steering went out at 36,100 miles. I bought this car second hand with 8,000 miles on it. Regular oil changes, and maintenance. I was told it would be over $3,000 to fix the power steering. Now, I keep getting a message about a roll over warning. Anyone else have this issue? I need help please.

  • dani

    engine won’t crank..new battery.dash lights flicker when I turn the key. but no engine cranking.wrecker is picking it up today. suspect its the ignition switch . not a dependable car. will trade for a Nissan soon

  • Robert M

    2017 Escape. Bought brand new . At 64k trans went up . Dealership said warranty expired at 60k. Told me 8 grand to fix . . I ended up replacing it myself with a low mileage used trans . 40 k later the flex plate cracked. I once again removed the trans and replaced the flexate. Now it has not been 5 thousand miles and the torque converter went up . . Iam done as soon as its back together its gone. . . P.S. iam a mechanic.

  • Corey

    2017 1.5 se went in on November 22 2020 for transmission issue with 51k miles. It’s now march 2 2021 and I just picked up my 2nd loaner car after putting 7k miles on the 1st one. No idea when I’ll get it back. Called FORD MOTOR COMPANY. They are working with the Ford dealership to get my transmission replace not just repaired. Can’t wait to get it back to trade it off.

  • steve

    2017 Ford Escape. Transmission out $4000 for a rebuild. This is what I get for buying Ford garbage. Never again. It’s my mission in life to warn everyone I know and meet about Ford trash. If anyone is reading this. Don’t buy a Ford. They are garbage and this company won’t stand behind their products.

  • warren B

    2017 Escape SE 4WD Factory tow package. Got to replace 2000 mustang GT 5 sp. Convertible Wife’s ride.
    I use it to tow trailer 4 track day car total package 2978 lbs. Tow 170 miles 1 way. Don’t push till up 2 temp.
    Drive with my brain engaged at all times. change oils well before needed use factory products or better.
    Act like it matters/keep cars at least 20 years. enjoy driving have good experiences with Ford products.

  • Jeff R

    We bought a 2017 Ford Escape titanium second hand from a Ford dealership with around 40,000 miles on it. Around 67,000 miles the motor started to overheat. We brought it to a Ford dealership, the manager of the garage told me it would likely need a new motor before it was even inspected. The gentleman went on to explain the Ford had a series of bad motors in the 2017 Escape. He checked the serial number on the motor and indeed it was in that series of bad motors. The manager told me it would likely take quite a while to get the work done because there were 10-15 Escapes ahead of our car that needed the same work done. He told me that Ford had been helping with the cost of work being done on these cars. A few days later the manager called me to say Ford would not help with any cost to replace the motor. The reason they gave was the motor was out of warranty, which I can understand for normal break downs but in my opinion, this was a Ford issue. After many phone calls that got me no further than a call center in a foreign country. I went back to talk to the manager I had been dealing with. He brought me to his office and said he felt bad for what was happening to us. He went on to say the reason Ford wouldn’t help was that it was a second-hand vehicle. He offered to help with the cost but I decided I was done with Ford. We had the motor replaced by an independent garage.

  • Ann S

    We have a 2017 Escape that is out of warranty by 269 miles. It needs a new engine. This is our 3rd Escape with major engine troubles.

  • Rex G

    2017 ford escape, leaks antifreeze, a leak that the dealer cant find, in Feb, 2018, the leak gets worse, take it back, dealer finds small leak, where the head and engine mate up?, they order parts, go a couple weeks through the Dec,2019, Christmas holiday, stop in, Escape needs a new engine, wont be here until mid Feb,2020, luckily we started this whole thing in Feb 2018, so there was a record, at the dealer,Ford says they will pay and fix, wife pissed, granny has tons of doctor stuff going on, major inconvenience, got a nice, 150 pickup loaner, but gotta take it back and get a car, I guess, hope its a good one, only a month and a half, before the engine gets here, then install time also, nice car, leather, compfy, creature stuff, wife loves all that stuff, I just wished the dang motor was up to code, looks like theres been lots of this with the Escape, thats to bad for Ford, glad there fixing it though so I can trade it off ASAP, just need to get some down money for another vehicle, will be reviewing, vehicles alot this next go round.

  • Brandon C

    Transmission failure. Bought 2017 Ford Escape SE new in the Fall of 2016. Just recently had to have the transmission rebuilt which cost $2684.00 The warranty was up so all cost was out of pocket. At the time of purchase I also bought a “Platinum ” extended warranty which turned out to be useless. The dealership scammed me out of an additional $3600.00 during the vehicle purchase process. On top of all that the “check engine ” light is also on. I would not recommend purchasing this car to anyone. It’s been a huge headache and loss of money.

  • Connie C

    2017 ford escape with approx. 29,000 miles (still under factory warranty) bought brand new. On highway going up mountain passing cars when lost all power, engine light on, had to make way off road, took to dealer right away, found nothing, Started idling rough, engine light on, then off, took to dealer found nothing. Running rough, engine light on took right to dealer, NEEDED ENGINE REPLACED. When I took car to dealer was told they had 3 waiting for engines, when I picked up car, was told 12 more escapes came in needing engines. Car will never be the same after engine replaced. Was told factory defect allows antifreeze to go into engine causing engine to need replaced. Spending approximately $24,000 on a brand new car that needed a new engine within 2 years is UNACCEPTABLE. Please help. Thank you, Connie

  • Ann M

    My 2017 Ford Escape Titanium constantly has interior moisture on the entire front windshield along with drivers door window and passenger door window. Also rear tail lights fog up with moisture. The auto on/off has shut off on 3 occasions and wouldn’t restart. The sensor system goes crazy for no reason without any vehicles around. So many problems for a newer car. Is this a lemon?

  • Tomas M

    We have leased a 2017 Escape Titanium, Light Engine turn on, Took the Car to the Dealer . After 48 hours of nobody contacting me I decided to call, they explained that there was an Engine problem and I need it to have anew one. They explained that the ford escape 2017 has a knowing problem and the head casket failed causing antifreeze to go into the ( oil) piston. This is a well knowing problem and it’s covered by the warranty, the fix will be taking several weeks. Considering this I requested a loaner to compensate my Lease payment. They told me that this was only complementary and provided me with a Compact Car (Fiesta) and I explained that this car was not equivalent to my Escape considering especially Safety. I spent days trying to get an answer from Ford, escalated this matter to Ford Corp thru BBB. I did try to get out my lease considering a breach of contract on their behalf Ford jerks people around sending me to different areas. Today I decided to get my car from the dealer and drive the car until someone from Ford call me to provide me a car transportation alternative or to cancel my lease

  • Kacey B

    Ford Escape 2017 se 1.5 liter eco boost engine

    Transmission is getting replaced and experiencing electrical issues with stop start and cross sensors

  • Dennis S

    Our 2017 ford escape head casket failed causing antifreeze to go into the ( oil) piston ..we had purchased the extra insurance to cover transmission ,motor etc…but we ended up with a used motor 14,000 miles otherwise we would have had to pay ove 2,000 out of pocket for a new one and the garage has had it now for over 2 weeks … i feel our insurance should not have been the one to pay for this and i feel we should have gotten a new engine from ford…i will not purchase another ford…

  • Michael S

    I have a 2017 Ford Escape. The head Gasket failed which caused the Antifreeze to mix in with the oil.
    I needed to wait 6 weeks to get the ok from Ford to have the engine replaced and another 6 weeks to receive the new engine and have it installed. Guess what a week after it’s in I’m getting an engine warning light on the dash. Another blown engine? I’ll be back to let you know.

  • Eric

    Not sure where you get your information from, but the Escape does NOT have the problematic dual clutch (aka Powershift) transmission.

  • Michael J

    I just purchased a used 2017 Ford Escape 2.0l Ecoboost and checked my spare tire storage area and it was full of water. What’s up with that?

  • Lori L

    Daryl,

    I went to leave for work yesterday (1/24/19) and when i hit my key to unlock my car ( 2017 Ford Escape) the passenger head light was out. When i opened the door to get in my car was filled with toxic electrical smoke and all my belongings in the vehicle covered in black and destroyed. Was towed to the local Ford dealer. Cant wait for the outcome.

  • Teresa D

    Today while driving my 2017 Ford Escape titumiam it started to shake and did not wont to to go. I was getting I85 to head to work and got so scared I took the first exit off and went straight to the local dealer. By this point it was hardly going and check engine light was on. I was told this afternoon at 5pm that I would have to have a new engine put in my car has 42,000 miles on it. They are not sure why said they sent pictures to Ford. I paid a lot of money for this car and now I am worried that I will have trouble from this point on!!

  • Daryl

    My 2017 escape caught fire in my driveway this morning and burnt beyond recognition. I started it with ford app and 15 minutes later it was up in flames

  • Peter A

    Battery runs down after washing on my ford escape 2014 model se

  • Patricia R

    stop start mode, stop at light shut off message said put in park and restart. happened 3 times on way home. think Ill trade it in and get a chevy.

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