2018 Ford Escape Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Vehicle speed control, electrical, steering and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Small SUVs are high on everyone’s list right now as they begin to take over the streets. Ford produces several SUV models to suit driver’s wants, including the Escape. The newest lineup features the tagline, “Always Unstoppable” and we find that to be true of the 2018 Ford Escape for many reasons, but none of them good. In fact, among engine issues, electrical complaints and steering trouble, drivers find the SUV can accelerate on its own.

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Problems with the Engine

When driving a newer vehicle, it’s expected that the engine will hold up and provide years of reliability. Unfortunately, that’s not the experience that many Escape drivers have.

This person wrote on Edmunds, “After 12000 miles of easy living, the engine block for my 1.5 liter EcoBoost is being replaced under warranty. Wow. I’ve driven various Fords since 1995 without any serious problems, owning one for 11 years. The company’s reliability has fallen apart. Now the dealer will try to rebuild the engine around the new block? That’s complicated for a local guy. What are the chances this is going to work out well?Very, very disappointed.Years to go on the loan. At least the power train warranty is long.”

Ford addresses multiple engine concerns through the Service Bulletins. One of these communications numbered #SSM 47937 talks about a problem with the auto start/stop system that prevents the car from starting while setting a diagnostic trouble code. This issue requires a revised crankshaft position sensor, but many owners aren’t that fortunate. Numerous complaints exist like the one above where the driver needed a new engine – in their new car.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Escape Engine Problems:

I PURCHASED A BRAND NEW 2018 FORD ESCAPE IN JANUARY OF 2018 FOR WHICH I PAID IN FULL.ON 8-25-18 THE CHECK ENGINE WARNING APPEARED ON MY DASH WHILE DRIVING ON AN EXPRESSWAY.I TOOK IT IN FOR SERVICE AND WAS INFORMED THAT IT NEEDS A NEW ENGINE DUE TO AN INTERNAL OIL LEAK WHICH WARPED THE CYLINDER HEAD. I DIDN’T GET MY CAR BACK UNTIL 9-22-18.ON MARCH 2, 2019 I HAD TO PULL OFF TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD WHILE DRIVING ON A CITY STREET BECAUSE I HEARD A VERY LOUD NOISE AND THERE WAS A DISTINCT ODOR OF BURNT RUBBER.THE CAR WAS TOWED TO THE DEALERSHIP AND WAS THERE FOR FIVE DAYS.THE DIAGNOSIS: BAD HEAD GASKET, BAD WIRES, BAD TRANSFER CASE AND FRONT DRIVE SHAFT LEAKING GREASE

2018 FORD ESCAPE WITH AROUND 10,000 MILES STARTED HAVING ENGINE TROUBLE WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY. ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON AND WAS TAKEN DIRECTLY TO A FORD DEALERSHIP TO DIAGNOSE THE ISSUE. THEY STATED THAT COOLANT IS LEAKING INTO THE CYLINDERS. THEY DID A COOLANT PRESSURE SYSTEM TEST AND REPLACED A SPARK PLUG. AFTER RECEIVING THE VEHICLE BACK AND ONLY DRIVING ABOUT 300 MILES, THE SAME ISSUE HAPPENED AND THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT CAME BACK ON. TOOK BACK TO THE DEALERSHIP FOR REPAIR. THIS TIME THEY REPLACED THE HEAD GASKET ON ONE SIDE ONLY. AFTER RECEIVING THE VEHICLE BACK AND DRIVING IT FOR ABOUT 1,500 MILES, THE SAME ISSUE HAPPENED AND THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON AGAIN. TOOK BACK TO DEALERSHIP ON 4/3/19 AND AS OF TODAY, 6/26/19, IT STILL REMAINS IN THE SHOP.

WITH ONLY 18,000 MILES ON MY CAR, THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON AND IT OVERHEATED. THE DEALERSHIP MISDIAGNOSED THE PROBLEM AFTER HAVING THE VEHICLE FOR 2 WEEKS. WITHIN A DAY OF ME HAVING IT BACK, THE SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN. THIS TIME, THE DEALERSHIP HAD THE VEHICLE FOR OVER 2 MONTHS BECAUSE PARTS TO REBUILD THE ENGINE WERE ON BACKORDER. ONCE I RECEIVED THE VEHICLE BACK, IT NEVER DROVE THE SAME BUT I LIVED WITH IT. HERE I AM 3 MONTHS LATER AND THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON AGAIN! FORD SHOULD BE ASHAMED. WILL NEVER PURCHASE ANOTHER FORD AGAIN IN MY LIFE.

Problems with the Electrical System

If you think the electrical system in a vehicle isn’t important, you would be wrong. Not only does it control everything you enjoy in the cabin, but it’s also a valuable component of your engine, battery and transmission. Electronic equipment is found in every aspect of your vehicle, which is why it must all run properly.

One person wrote this on the NHTSA website, “I was driving to work this morning and a strong smell of burning plastic/rubber filled the cabin. I did make it to work and had several coworkers sit in the vehicle to make sure I was not imagining the odor. Also lifted the hood to check engine for any melting hoses etc. and did not see anything. I took the vehicle in that morning, the service manager and technician did a check and did not notice a smell and told me that the smell was the leather seat covers that I installed.”

What’s interesting about that diagnosis is that the owner continued to state that those covers were installed months prior and couldn’t have caused the smell. The automaker seems quiet about this problem but has discussed several other electrical malfunctions. Service bulletin #SSM 47467presents trouble with the SYNC 3 system that leads to performance concerns from the navigation system, display operation, voice recognition, Applink, Phone Pairing and Travel Link. So, drivers can experience glitchy in-cabin systems or a burning smell, neither of which sound desirable.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Escape Electrical Problems:

2018 FORD ESCAPE TITANIUM PROBLEM HAS OCCURRED 2 TIMES WITHIN ONE MONTH. BOTH TIMES FORD DEALERSHIP STATED THEY COULD NOT DUPLICATE PROBLEM.WHEN TRYING TO START CAR. THERE IS NO POWER WHATS SO EVER. ONCE IN MY DRIVEWAY AND 2ND TIME AT A RESTAURANT. CAR WAS STATIONARY BOTH TIMES. TRIED JUMPING CAR BUT NO LUCK. CALLED ROADSIDE ASSIST TO TAKE TO FORD DEALERSHIP. THIS TO ME IS A SAFETY ISSUE AS OTHER PEOPLE’S COMPLAINTS INDICATE LOSS OF POWER WHILE DRIVING AND HAVING NO CONTROL OVER CAR. I’VE OWNED THE CAR 4 MONTHS. THE FIRST INCIDENT INCLUDED NO POWER BUT ALSO THE STOP/START FEATURE WOULD FAIL TO RESTART THE MOTOR AFTER BEING STOPPING FOR A STOP SIGN OR A RED LIGHT. THIS HAPPENED AT LEAST 35 TIMES WITHIN 4 MONTHS…SECONDLY THE REAR HATCH WOULD NOT LOCK PROPERLY AND THE USB PORTS WOULD NOT CHARGE MY IPHONE. THE DEALER INDICATED THE BATTERY SHOWED A FAILURE AND REPLACED BATTERY, BUT STOP/START FEATURE CONTINUES TO FAIL. THIS VEHICLE IS STILL UNDER FACTORY WARRANTY.

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 FORD ESCAPE. WHILE DRIVING 60 MPH, THE INSTRUMENT PANEL GAUGES ILLUMINATED AND THEN DIMMED. THE FAILURE PREVENTED THE CONTACT FROM READING THE SPEEDOMETER. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO METRO FORD OKLAHOMA CITY  WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED, BUT THE CAUSE OF THE FAILURE WAS NOT DETERMINED. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 200.

Problems with the Steering

As someone drives down the road, it’s expected that the car’s steering will respond as the wheel gets turned, but that’s not what’s happening.

In fact, read this review from a user on the NHTSA website. “I was beginning to accelerate after stopping at a stop sign, when the steering froze then violently turned to the right. When the steering turned to the right, I inadvertently pressed on the accelerator pedal speeding up slightly to approximately 15 mph. During the split second that this happened I was able to wrestle the vehicle back towards the road barely missing a telephone pole, but I did strike the guide wires that support the pole. This caused about $800 in damage to the vehicle and no defect could be found by the service station. When the steering did go out it was the most difficult thing to steer that I have ever driven including old large truck with no power steering.”

Among the steering concerns, Service Bulletin #SSM 47638 discusses steering wheel vibration, pull and drifting that owner’s experience. The only fix that the automaker offers is to inform customers how the lane departure warning system works. We don’t personally expect every consumer to be an expert on advanced driving systems, but the majority of people do understand that this setup shouldn’t cause massive vibration, pulling or drifting as the company suggests. If this were true, all modern vehicles would be drifting around on the highway, causing large-scale accidents.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Escape Steering Problems:

I WAS DRIVING HOME WHEN MY VEHICLE SUDDENLY SWERVED HARD TO THE RIGHT; I HAD NO CONTROL, & IT CAUSED ME TO HIT A PARKED UNOCCUPIED CAR. THERE WAS NO WARNING. I HAD NOT HIT ANY OBJECT NOR POTHOLE. VEHICLE IS 6 MONTHS OLD. SUSPENSION GAVE WAY. PARTS OF SUSPENSION WERE LAYING ON THE STREET. RIGHT FRONT WHEEL WAS AT A 90 DEGREE ANGLE DUE TO SUSPENSION FAILING. MY HUSBAND WAS IN THE CAR WITH ME. I WAS DRIVING 15 MPH.

I WAS BEING TO ACCELERATE AFTER STOPPING AT A STOP SIGN, WHEN THE STEERING FROZE THEN VIOLENTLY TURNED TO THE RIGHT. WHEN THE STEERING TURNED TO THE RIGHT I INADVERTENTLY PRESSED ON THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL SPEEDING UP SLIGHTLY TO APPROXIMATELY 15 MPH. DURING THE SPLIT SECOND THAT THIS HAPPENED I WAS ABLE TO WRESTLE THE VEHICLE BACK TOWARDS THE ROAD BARELY MISSING A TELEPHONE POLE, BUT I DID STRIKE THE GUY WIRES THAT SUPPORT THE POLE. THIS CAUSED ABOUT $800 IN DAMAGE TO THE VEHICLE AND NO DEFECT COULD BE FOUND BY THE SERVICE STATION. WHEN THE STEERING DID GO OUT IT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING TO STEER THAT I HAVE EVER DRIVEN INCLUDING OLD LARGE TRUCK WITH NO POWER STEERING.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

When a driver presses the gas pedal, the SUV is expected to move forward. What happens when the vehicle does this on its own? That’s what people find with this Escape.

One person wrote on the NHTSA website, “My car accelerates at a fast speed by itself, I have taken to the shop three times and they can’t find any codes, they tried to say it was my floor mats. Well, those have been replaced and once again my car is accelerating without my foot on the actual gas. When it does that my engine makes a loud noise which the service manager said was from high RPMs.”

As is to be expected, the automaker remained silent about this complaint. While something like this might warrant a recall, there have been two others related to this SUV. One is for brake hoses that chafe and the other is a defective airbag inflator component. Ask any owner that’s experienced this problem and they’ll likely agree that the automaker should have been more proactive to remedy the situations. Instead, they proceed to “educate” customers about the way the automobile works.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Escape Vehicle Speed Control Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 FORD ESCAPE. WHILE MAKING A RIGHT TURN AT APPROXIMATELY 5 MPH, THE VEHICLE INDEPENDENTLY ACCELERATED. ADDITIONALLY, WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS REVERSING, IT INDEPENDENTLY ACCELERATED. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. KELLY FORD WAS CONTACTED AND A DIAGNOSTIC APPOINTMENT WAS SCHEDULED. THE FAILURE RECURRED TWICE. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOT NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 4,000.

MY CAR ACCELERATES AT A FAST SPEED BY IT’S SELF, I HAVE TAKEN TO THE SHOP 3 TIMES AND THEY CAN’T FIND ANY CODES, THEY TRIED TO SAY IT WAS MY FLOOR MATS, WELL THOSE HAVE BEEN REPLACED AND ONCE AGAIN MY CAR IS ACCELERATING WITHOUT MY FOOT ON THE ACTUAL GAS , WHEN IT DOES THAT MY ENGINE MAKES A LOUD NOISE WHICH THE SERVICE MANAGER SAID WAS FROM HIGH RPM’S

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About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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17 COMMENTS
  • joni

    Bought a 2018 Ford escape, brand new, have had the car not quite 3 yrs now. I do have 80,000 miles on it, but probably 75,000 all highway miles due to ill ess in my family and needing to drive 2 hrs 1 way daily for 8 months. I bought the extended warranty, have kept up in ALL maintenance issues, as my husband is very vigilant on those things. Just recently had oil change due come up on screen. It was 2 days after the warning I was taking it in for the change. I was taking my grandson to school, approximately 1 mile down the road, and suddenly this light appears on dash saying engine overheating, slow down and co.e to a stop. Immediately I called the dealer, had it towed, and a week later received a call saying it was going to cost me 8400.00 to repair if the extended warranty doesn’t cover it. Repair shop said the water pump burnt up causing motor issues. First of all WHY did it NEVER show an overheating issue on dash. And WHY after only 2 1/5 years of owning it, would it even have overheating issues. As I said before my husband was ALWAYS on top of general maintenance on all our vehicles including and not limited to ALL fluid checks, tire rotations etc!!! Now I’m driving a replacement car, with no means of paying 8400.00 for repairs if the inspector through the extended warranty company “decides” they will not fix it…so I am now without a vehicle, have multiple heath issues myself, o means to pay for repair, AND still in a loan over this vehicle! Don’t know where to turn for help and am in a MAJOR PANIC!!!…….SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP!!!

  • Latasha

    Power train malfunction light came on for my 2018 Ford Escape an of course it’s over warranty time so this leaves me screwed it doesn’t shift correctly an it seems like I’m not the only person having transmission problems with this year

  • Roger F

    I too bought and paid for a 2018 escape with 98000 miles . put about 1000 miles on it then it started misfiring . i changed sparkplugs. It stopped for a day then started missing again . then i bought 2 coilpacks figuring that would fix it . no change. Then it started to overheat , so i bought a new water resivore tank n cap . it helped for about 3 days . it overheated again .took it to dealer and they said it needed a new engine . ford goofed up when designing this motor !
    So it keeps loosing coolent then i bought some bluedevil engine fix treatment . that helped for a month and now the car is missing n doesn’t have any power ! As soon as i start it the high heat light pops on .
    I am so discusted with ford , i WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER FORD !!! Dam junk

  • Jacqueline L

    I have a 2018 Ford Escape Eco Boost and I have the save problem with the engine! I am so disappointed. I am going to Ford today to get some solid answers on what I can do to trade.

  • Kurt

    My 2018 Ford Escape had a alarm start digging. A light came on saying engine overheating,pull over safely and stop. Took it to the dealers. They checked it and said it needed a short block. It was getting coolest in the no 2 piston. Got it back 10 days later on a Thursday. On Monday I’m driving down the highway at 50 miles an hour. I hear an awful grinding noise. I pull off the road and look and there’s oil and stuff all over my right front wheel. I look under the vehicle and one of the guards under the car is bent all the way back dragging on the road. They tow it back to the dealers and I’m informed the half shaft on the axle blew a seal. They replaced the whole axle. Now my wife and I are concerned about driving the vehicle. I’ve contacted Ford Motor Company customer service. Should here from them tomorrow

  • Connie C

    First new car since 19932018 Ford Escape has had three engine failures in 13 months. Dealer said there wasn’t anything else they could do. Corporate never allowed new engine components always “rebuilt “. In my emotional state I traded the Escape for a 2019 Ranger new. Because I no longer have the Escape I am not eligible for any compensation or anything. I am in for a car payment for more than a mortgage. Let me know if I can speak on behalf of my problems to help someone avoid what I have gone thru.

  • Nic

    My 2018 Ford Escape was “found on road dead” after all the engine coolant leaked out all over the engine. Had to get a tow. Was lucky to have phone service where I was driving. Dealer told me this is a big problem with the 2018 escapes. When I took mine into the dealer for a repair, it was the 4th 2018 Ford Escape brought in that day for the same problem. Needs a new engine.

  • RZ

    Just bought a 2018 Escape on Sunday 03.01.2020, engine light came on. Went on line and saw all the reviews I was floored. Took it to the dealership yesterday 03.04.2020. Was told today 03.05.2020 new engine is needed. I am so bummed, mad, disappointed and every other emotion I have. Haven’t bought a car in 12 years and this happens….
    Now to decided if I want them to just take it back. This should not happen….

  • Lee M

    Took my 2018 Escape in for the recall issued in January 2020. They “fixed” it and two days later I have a coolant leak. Dealer isn’t being very helpful either.

  • Michelle A

    2018 escape with 28,000 miles , check engine light came on. I need a new engine. Ford told me 2 1/2 weeks for the engine to come in. Im now at month and a half.

  • Robert

    2018 ford escape 1.5L had my engine rebuilt under 30 000km, then had an engine replaced at 30 000km, had it in twice cause still ideling rough and ticking no solution given, finally get ut in this week and they said engine was misaligned but no surprise it is still not fixed.

  • ELENA C

    I am having the same issue check engine light came on, leased my vehicle Dec. 3rd 2018. check engine light came on end of October. My car has been in the Shop since 11/1/2019 only 18,000 miles. I was informed Engine would need to be replaced and would take up to 3 months to have my vehicle returned. i was given a rental problem is I am unable to leave the state for the holidays, and have trips planned! Dealership as well as Ford Headquarters have been 0 help!!!

  • Heather P

    I’m going through the same thing with my 2018 ford escape. Bought it in June 2018 and in Oct 2019 22,000 miles they have to replace the engine. Being told I may only get a 12 month manufacturer warranty with the new one. First new car in my life. I’m worried the same thing will happen with the new one. Any of you had resolution with yours?

  • rodger s

    Bought a 2018 Ford Escape in May 2019. October 2019 Major engine problems with the 1.5 liter engine. Dealer said it is a cracked block. Put on a waiting list with no response to a fix. Not a happy camper with FORD. Think they are hiding a major problem.

  • Eddie C

    Engine fail on my 2018 escape and service manage said this is a known problem with the escape

  • Susan H

    Me, too, Don S. 2018 Escape barely over a year old and needs a replacement engine! I see on the internet that I am not the first. Can’t believe it – my first new car in 25 years and now this. So disappointing.

  • Don S

    Our 2018 ford escape with 10000 mi had the same problem Blown head gasket. They are replacing the whole engine. Short block. They know what the flaw is but wont tell us

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