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.

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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.

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Brian Jones

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
  • William L

    I bought a 2020 Ford Escape SEL leftover In March 2021. I’ve been driving it every day for fourteen months with no problems. It’s the best car that I’ve ever owned. And I love the fact that the 3 cylinder engine sips fuel.

  • Christina P

    In July 2020 we purchased a 2020 Ford Hybrid and loved it until this year. The first thing that happened was very scary. My husband was accelerating as he entered the freeway when the car suddenly lost power. He was able to pull over before getting rear-ended. The car just died. He sat there a few minutes looking at the manual which had nothing helpful. Ten minutes latrd he decided to try starting the car again, and it worked. Called dealer and had to wait 3 weeks to have it checked out. They said there was no error in the onboard computer and they couldn’t find anything wrong. The next event happened about a month later. We were out running errands, started the engine and the sync screen showed the map only – we could not use the radio, navigation or any other function. The next day it was working again. Took it to dealer and again they could not find anything. The Ford app has not worked since the vehicle was purchased – we get an error message that the car is in deep sleep mode. Today we are locked out – key fobs don’t work, numerical code doesn’t work key doesn’t work, app says the car is in deep sleep mode. It was driven yesterday,! Called dealership. We have to have the car towed to the dealer – they will try to diagnose tomorrow – it will be at least 3 weeks for a service appointment!!!

  • Lynne L

    This is our second cord escape. Had a 2017 which we liked, then traded it in for a 2020 in May of 2020.. I don’t like it. Seems to have quite a few electrical issues. For some reason on longer trips the navigation system will get a brain fart and all of a sudden the GPS stops working and I am driving in the middle of no where. I have my speedometer in km/hr. It will just switch to mph on its own. I have to go into the nav settings and change it back. Today, I stopped of at my son’s for about 5 minutes. When I came back out, the vehicle had a total electronic melt down. All the warning lights were on and the mob shifter(which was in park) was flashing. AND it wouldn’t start no matter what I did. I sat there for 10 minutes…..nothing was happening. I went inside to call road side assistance. Came back out and it started. Not happy with all the glitches, even though I like ford products

  • Brendan

    2020 Ford Escape titanium

    In October of 2020 I purchased a new Escape Titanium from a local ford dealership. Within the first week of ownership the backup camera stopped working, or would just intermittently give static images. (was not told until after i bought the vehicle that the back up camera had a recall) It took 2 months to get this camera fixed. The subwoofer also was loose and rattling right off the lot! The dealer replaced subwoofer, since then I have personally dismantled the car and tightened the subwoofer 4 times. The wireless charging pad randomly stopped working at 8000 km. Back to the dealership we go. Sync 3 system is unreliable at best. Sometimes the GPS screen will put me in the middle of a field even if I’m on a major highway. System freezes, sometimes reboots while I’m driving showing the ford splash screen. Fast forward April 2022… Driver side door hinge spot welds broken totally away from door, Car has 23k KM. car currently at dealers again. Waiting to hear what resolution is. Stay far away from FORD! This has been a nightmare.

  • AMB3611

    I’ve always driven GM vehicles, this is my first Ford, and at first I loved it, until this weekend. I live in the country and I was headed home when all of the exterior lights went completely black. No other cars on the road, no lights anywhere period. I quickly pulled off to the shoulder, since it is a rather winding road and I could not see past the dash (which ironically still had lights but made the darkness outside that much worse). I was able to turn off the Escape and turn it back on, which turned all of the exterior lights back on and I was able to make it home. It was a terrifying experience and I did end up scraping the front passenger panel on a guardrail when pulling over in blackness, but it could have been so much worse! I’m petrified to drive this thing at night now. I’ve only seen a couple others complain about this issue, but I’m curious as to what would cause such a thing!

  • kenneth b

    My 2020 Escape had been in the shop off and on the first year for ver 7 weeks. Finally received a buy back from Ford but it wouldn’t even pay off the note. My Ford app and indicator light shows I’m having an improper connection/engine crankcase. It has been back to a ford dealer 3 times since November 2021 and they can’t seem to fix the problem. They get the indicator light off on panel but it shows back up within a few days. When I start my vehicle from the Ford app, I have a faint smell of gas when I open the door. The right rear window fell down and I had to suction cup the window back in place until the Ford dealer could get me in. As I read in an earlier comment, my front driver door is know popping and having a hard time while opening and closing the door. Then the driver window will not roll down more than a couple of inches. I was told today that they can’t figure out the problem, so they have to go to Ford to see if there has been a problem with this issue.

  • David B

    I bought a 2020 Ford Escape SEL, after owning a 2014 Ford Escape. I drove my old Escape 95,000 and never even changed the brakes. I do like my new Escape, but at 21,000, it needed two new rear shocks. The mechanic said given the fact that both went out at the same time, they were probably defective from the factory. Not encouraging. I paid 34,000 for the car.

  • Robert M

    Has anyone had a windshield crack from the inside dealer says no way must have been hit by a stone FROM THE INSIDE speedy glass says they have never seen that before. They feel the crack on the inside not the outside I have not fixed it yet.

  • Debra P

    I have an issue right now with the Collision system. I took it the dealer & they want me to pay for repair when I did nor to my vehicle. It has had this issue for about a month or more. It started when I was driving & my cruise control was not working right either. Come to find out 2days ago the part broke off &the dealer wants me to pay for it or put on my car insurance. I didn’t do anything wrong & if I put on my insurance my rates will go up. I’m stuck as I think it poor coverage by Ford as it right under the license plate where all kinds of road debris especially in winter plugs up your grill & you never know what can hit you. It seems that this Escape has had more recalls electrical issues than Carter has liver pills. I can’t afford to fix this quote of 1500 – 2000 to fix.

  • P. A

    I have the 2020 Escape and I love it. I have had a couple of recalls, all minor, and didn’t even notice an issue. I have the Hybrid, I get 40 milles to the gallon and it’s quiet as a mouse.

  • Robert C

    I purchased a 2020 Ford Escape on April 2020. I have a loud ticking noise appear to be from the speedometer. You can see the speedometer click similar to a second hand on a watch. I immediately took it back to the dealer who said they couldn’t find anything wrong, no hear the noise. I then recorded the noise and returned the vehicle again. The manager agreed it is pretty loud, and suggested I raise the volume on the radio. When I returned to pick it up they said the noise came from the electronic fuel pump. I’m pretty sure it’s the speedometer, but my complaints have gone unanswered.

  • T. S

    I purchased my 2020 Escape SEL in July, 2020 and so have had it nearly 16 months. It now has 20,000 miles. I have never had any issues with the car. Fit and finish is very good, and other than a minor rattle in the far left rear when on a rough road, there have been no issues. I have changed the oil in the 2.0L Ecoboost between 3,200 and 4,200 miles since new, and have changed all PTU, RDU, and transmission fluids recently. I have nothing but good luck with the 2020 Escape SEL.

  • 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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