2021 Ford Escape Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2021 Ford Escape is meant to offer a fun ride for the family, with the automaker claiming it will help owners “stand out in the crowd.” However, there’s only one reason this SUV stands out and it’s due to the defects. The new Escape has a defective engine, malfunctioning fuel system, bad powertrain and a terrible structure design. .

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019  2020  2022

Problems with the Engine

The Ford Escape has been plagued with engine problems and the 2021 model is no exception. It seems the automaker has learned nothing about building an SUV with a reliable motor.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The contact’s daughter owned a 2021 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while her daughter was driving at an unknown speed, the coolant warning light illuminated. As the contact’s daughter began to pull over, she began to lose control of the vehicle as a black smoke started coming from the engine. The vehicle caught on fire once the contact’s daughter had exited the vehicle. The fire department arrived at the scene and was able to extinguish the fire. A fire report was filed. There was no injury reported. Due to the failure, the vehicle was initially towed to a tow yard however, the current location of the vehicle was unknown. The contact’s daughter notified the dealer of the failure and a week later and she was informed that an investigation would be started. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was destroyed. The failure mileage was unknown.”

Just recently, the Ford Motor Company was hit with class-action lawsuits because of the same problem with the 2013-2019 Escape engines. In those models, coolant leaked into the engine cylinders, causing a fire. It’s unclear whether Ford doesn’t care about customers’ safety or if the company is just ignorant, but it’s obvious that the SUV isn’t going to protect anyone. However, owners will be able to “stand out in a crowd” because they will have the only SUV that’s on fire.

2021 Ford Escape Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Service Brakes
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Fuel System, Gasoline
Fuel/propulsion System
Power Train
Service Brakes, Hydraulic

Fuel System Problems

There are multiple reasons for car fires in the 2021 Escape. Another issue appears to be caused by the faulty fuel system.

Here’s another NHTSA complaint worth reading. “Vehicle was being driven down the road. Vehicle stalled. Check engine light came on. Attempted to restart vehicle but vehicle stalled again. Smelled fuel. Heard a boom then fire ignited. Fire came from the underside of vehicle and flames were rising on driver side of vehicle with black smoke. Attempted to exit vehicle from driver side door but was unable to do so due to flames. Crawled over to passenger side of vehicle and exited the vehicle. Fire department extinguished the fire with water. Fire reignited and fire department extinguished fire again. Insurance company inspected the vehicle but was unable to determine root cause of fire.”

Ford isn’t attempting to hide any problems and has even issued a recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V625000 states that affected SUVs have a fuel delivery module that leaks into the fuel tank, leading to low pressure and a stalling engine. Whenever fuel leaks, there’s also the chance of a fire. It seems that Ford was so concerned the Escape wouldn’t stand out enough that the company made sure there would be a higher chance of car fires than usual.

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Problems with the Powertrain

The powertrain in the Escape is just as faulty as the engine and fuel system. In fact, these three major systems together are creating the majority of the complaints.

Here is a complaint left on the Edmunds website. “Two weeks after I picked it up, the check engine light came on and I could no longer drive the car in Reverse. I could go forward if I wanted to, but silly me, I thought I was going to have a car that could do both. Took it to the dealership, but by the time they saw the car, the check engine light went out and it could go in Reverse so they could not fix what they could not see. Today once again the check engine light came on and once again, the car would not go in Reverse. Another trip to the dealer and a wasted five hours (getting a ride home took up the majority of that time) of my time before they determined that a part needed to be over-nighted. So here I sit at home waiting for an overnight part delivery. I do not have a vehicle to get to work tomorrow and who knows when I will have transportation again. I do, however, have a really nice lease payment to make, so there is that.”

Service Bulletin #TSB 21-2268 also discusses the MIL illuminated with trouble codes and the inability to move in Reverse. The problem stems from a contaminated main control valve body separator plate orifice, requiring the technicians to clean off the debris. Without a fix, owners could simply drive forward at all times, ensuring that there’s never a need to go backward, because that’s what people pay good money to do in Ford’s eyes.

Structural Problems

When it comes to engineering a good SUV, it’s become evident that Ford can’t be trusted. Even the structure of this vehicle is in bad shape.

A final Edmunds review reveals this complaint, “I was really disappointed when my headlights fogged up in 7 months due to the supposed air flow and Ford said that it is normal and they won’t replace them. My new car now looks years old.”

Does Ford even know how to build vehicles? At this point, one should question the automaker’s ability. Service Bulletin #TSB 21-2236 even acknowledges that the seats weren’t properly installed on many vehicles from the Blue Oval. The seat might be loose, move or cause clunking noises during turns. To repair it, the dealerships need to install a reinforcement. If nothing else, these issues should “reinforce” that it’s time for owners to switch to another car brand before something terrible occurs.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Ford pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Diane M

    I just traded in my 2018 Ford Escape SEL because Anti-freeze was leaking through a valve seal #3 cylinder was showing bad. I traded for a 2021 Ford Escape SE to drive it home fine. The next morning as I am backing out my brakes make a horrific screeching noise every time I apply the brakes. I sold one escape to find out I may have the same problems. Dealership said they tested the brakes it was normal due to high humidity. I took it back down to the dealership said they put some bearings in the brakes. I still have the horrific screeching noise when backing up applying my brakes. Do I have another LEMON and has Ford just gone bad?

  • Rich

    I leased a 2021 Ford Escape SE I took the vehicle in for two recalls, the brakes and the oil separator. The vehicle was also in twice for air seal leaks. They repaired the leaks but caused an interior rattle by performing the work. The brakes now coat the rims with thick black brake dust and make loud creaking noises. They would not fix the issue so I had to buy myself out of the lease.

  • Rod T

    I just traded my 2019 F150 for a ’21 Escape. The F150 4-wheel drive system has gone out twice in a year and a half! Same thing both times! No more F150’s in my life! Now I read about these Escape problems and I was just bent over the table for one!!! THAT’S JUST GREAT!

  • Lee G

    I am so happy to read this article. My name is Lee I purchased my 2013 Ford Escape May 2019. From the moment I drove it off the lot the truck started jerking. I had to return the vehicle over 20 times since then. The existing problem is while I’m driving the gauge goes to H…high a message pops up saying Engine to hot slowing down for safety. Then stalls. I’ve been stuck in remote places up to 8 hours one time. After getting towed Consistently to the funding company I was told my warranty is expired because I had to many miles. I’ve been paying for repairs and making difficult car note payments. Please help me. I recently just paid 500 yesterday and 300 last week to the funding company. I alerted them of a recall. I need legal help as I have 5 grandbabies who rides in this vehicle and I’m scared to death they wi get stuck with me someday.

  • Nancy R

    I own a 2018 Escape, 34,500 miles on it. As I write this, my car is in the shop at the Ford Dealership getting it’s THIRD engine!! Not a happy camper!!

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