2020 Ford Escape Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, structure and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

The 2020 Ford Escape is a completely redesigned model that is supposedly, “Built for Style, Comfort, and Most Importantly, Fun.” However, customers have received nothing but trouble with this model. In fact, the structure, visibility, powertrain and electrical system create more problems than they solve.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2017  2018  2019  2021

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Problems with the Structure

If the bones aren’t good, it’s impossible to have a relaxing drive. With the Ford Escape, customers can’t stop complaining about structure-related concerns that appear to affect the integrity.

Here’s one such complaint left on the Edmunds website. “Seemed nice on a test drive. After driving for a week, I noticed the poor seams and finishes. The window seals and seams have visible gaps. The plastic pillar trim is very loose and doesn’t even meet the window rubber trim. Doors take a lot of force to shut fully. Way more than should be necessary. Loud engine noise at 30ish MPH.”

It turns out, this isn’t the only structure issue. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V633000 discusses the defective seats that prompted a recall. It turns out that almost 640,000 vehicles have recliner mechanisms on the seats that could be missing an important component for strength. If this is missing, the occupant might suffer a larger injury during an accident. Of course, they still have the air bags to protect them. Nope, that’s a problem too. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V415000 says that some vehicles are also equipped with an improperly crimped diffuser in side curtain air bags, which could prevent deployment. Interestingly enough, the Escape tagline doesn’t mention being built for safety, because this is one area it can’t deliver.

Problems with the Electrical System

Moving away from the structure, it’s time to look at the electrical system, which runs throughout the entire vehicle. Again, Ford simply can’t make good on promises when installing defective equipment inside the SUV.

One NHTSA complaint lists a bunch of features that simply don’t work. “Back-up camera erratic, blind-spot indicator on passenger side mirror erratic, lift-gate opens sometimes just by walking behind vehicle or will come down on its own when open. Once, the SYNC 3 screen was extremely hot to the touch and the controls were frozen. This happened after start-up and the screen took a long time to boot up. Our local Ford Service Department is aware of these problems (and actually saw the back-up camera go spastic). Apparently, Ford is aware of the camera problem, but the replacement cameras give the same problem.”

Even Ford talks about troubles with Service Bulletin #SSM 48833. It states that the app doesn’t actually remotely start the vehicle as it should. This is something that Ford engineers will need to work on. In relation to the other issues, replacing bad parts with more defective components isn’t going to solve anything, but at least Ford recognizes the problems. That’s the first step in any self-help program.

Problems with the Transmission

With the powertrain consisting of the transmission, customers will issue complaints if the drive isn’t smooth. However, the problems go beyond that with the Escape.

One more Edmunds review says, “Never paid this much for a vehicle but I test drove the Escape and loved it. 1000 and the transmission went out. Took the dealership 30 days to install one. I take my 2 little 5 lb chihuahuas everywhere with me but they said I could not put them in a loaner car. 30 days I had to leave my babies behind. Car is driving very rough but they said that is to be expected with new transmission and I have to give it 500 to 1000 miles before it will be smoother.”

Additionally, Service Bulletin #TSB 19-2386 says that there could be intermittent reverse engagement problems due to a contaminated main control valve body separator plate orifice. Again, there’s no sense in Ford trying to hide the trouble and it’s commendable that the company acknowledges how much of a lemon this vehicle is. However, it might be time to “escape” this SUV once and for all.

Problems with the Visibility

Rounding out the list are some concerns with the visibility. Without proper sight around the SUV, anything could go wrong.

That’s what’s discussed in this NHTSA complaint. “Nothing has happened yet…but a few very close calls. The equipment that the rear view mirror is attached to is huge and the mirror is such that it blocks a major part of the view to the right, especially when I am on a curvy road. It literally blocks anything in that area, anyone on the sidewalk etc. When I need to look to the right I have to bend down or lean over. I am going to hit or kill someone. I have tried calling Ford, but have been told they have no safety department. I have spoken to people in every country who do not know how to get me to the right department. I have left my phone number etc. I also asked if the mirror can be swapped out for a smaller one. I have had to resort to putting the mirror up and down vs. the way it is sold.”

This is the only time that Ford has chosen to remain quiet. There are no communications related to the visibility concerns presented above. Instead, the company hopes no one will notice and will simply focus on the “style, comfort and fun” instead. Of course, these are three things that don’t talk about integrity, durability or safety – all of which the Escape fails with.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

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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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5 COMMENTS
  • Bradley S

    I have had trouble with the sound system sub woofer vibration of the whole wheel well plastic sounds horrible. Took it back to dealer told it was working in parameters. Not happy.

  • Mike G

    My 2020 Ford Escape has had numerous problems that started with windshield wiper fluid always running low. Now I’ve had to have it towed to a Ford dealer and has 19 error messages involving the PCM and the CPU. Now Ford is saying that it is deep water intrusion and refuses to do any work stating that the warranty does not cover water damage. We have never driven through any high water.

  • Mark A

    we are a courier department and have 11 Ford Escapes, years 2017,2019 and 2020. All 3 new 2020 models have the exact same issue with the front drivers door hinge. The welds that hold the hinge in place have come loose. None of our earlier Model year Escapes have had this issue. Ford fixed the first 2 under warranty, but the 3rd vehicle, with the same problem, was about 5,000 miles out of warranty and they wont repair it. This is obviously a design flaw, all 3 had the same issue within a month of each other. Because we are a courier department, the doors get opened a lot more then the average vehicle, but again, none of our older Escapes have this issue. Ford claims they don’t have other reports of this issue on the 2020’s… so, Just FYI

  • Patricia R

    I had a 1997 escape for 12 years with no problems. Decided to trade in and get a 2020 expecting close to the same or even better I’ve had the car 18 months still under 12,000 miles and has been recalled 3 times plus additional problems. First recall had a computer chip problem, next brake recalled, next rear camera recall. At the same time 3 different times my car wouldn’t start. Pushed ignition and got a flashing green light and multiple err codes came up on dash. Took at least 5” for them to clear and car to start. Mechanics didn’t know what it was and eventually reset all error codes. Now at 18 months the vinyl on the driver seat is tearing away at the seam.
    How did you get Ford to reimburse you. I hate this car and would love to look elsewhere.

  • Tony H

    I purchased a 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid Titanium in July. Test drive was pleasant and the promise of 40+ mpg was enticing. I quickly regretted this decision as I immediately started having problems with the heads up display. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. Took back to have checked with initial try to repair was re-soldering some wiring. Didn’t fix. Try #2 was to replace the whole heads up display, didn’t fix. Try #3 was to replace a wiring harness, didn’t fix. Car was at dealership 2 out of the first 3 months I owned it. On top of all of that before I took it back initially I went to pop the hood to out in sone rain x washer fluid and the hood popped loudly because it the A pillar on one side so hard it chipped paint off. I had to loosen the bolts holding the hood on and adjust it myself. The back hatch was also crooked and had to be adjusted. The passenger leather seat cover had a fairly big wrinkle in it and felt like it was missing some padding. Body seams all over the vehicle didn’t line up well or had uneven gaps. I would be extremely unhappy but after contacting Ford while the car was sitting at the dealership they approved a buyback. So while I’d vehemently advise against purchasing a 2020 Escape I must give Ford kudos for doing the right thing. They completely paid off the loan and I was able to walk away from the vehicle. But I am extremely disappointed in Ford for allowing these vehicles to go to market with so many problems. The quality control is severely lacking. I have since purchased a Volkswagen Tiguan and the fit and finish and quality of build is heads above the Ford Escape, no comparison.

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