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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
83,310 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Ford Escape steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #33

Jul 232016


  • 64,958 miles


While driving, the front right tire felt like it was going to fall off the vehicle. I took it to my mechanic who stated that the sub-frame was cracked and Ford had a recall in place. I had it towed to the nearest Ford dealership who stated that it would be covered under the recall. Instead, they put a cross-bar on the cracked sub frame because they determined it was "not broken" only "cracked". the sub frame had "rusted and corroded" due to Ford's own admittance of "faulty parts". I asked if the vehicle was safe and they stated "no". I asked if the vehicle would pass inspection and again they stated "no". I asked if this was a "bandaid" that they put on to make themselves feel better about the fact that anyone operating the vehicle could lose total control. I asked to speak to a manager, who told me there was nothing he could do. He did state he would makes some calls and called me a day or two later to say, that his manager said if I wanted the vehicle fixed, I could pay $1,200 for the part and an additional $600-$800 in labor to fix the vehicle, or I could trade it in. I am beyond frustrated that Ford will not back up their product. The vehicle has less than 65,000 miles on it!

- East Pembroke, NY, USA

problem #32

Feb 172016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving approximately 20 mph and turning right, the vehicle made a clunking sound. The contact had to turn the wheel to the left in order to drive straight. When slowing down to approximately 5 mph, the vehicle made a clunking noise from the front passenger side. The contact exited the vehicle and discovered that the passenger side wheel was slightly detached from the vehicle. The vehicle was towed, but was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Cape Elizabeth, ME, USA

problem #31

Nov 152015


  • 138,100 miles
I was driving home from work on a highway(60mph) when my steering became loose, weaving left and right. Had to slow down to 20mph until I got home. The vehicle was inspected, found that the passenger side subframe had broken in 2. Ford is recalling 385,762 2001-'04 Ford Escape SUVS because a rust problem may cause the lower control arm to separate, potentially resulting in diminished steering control. Ford dealers will install a reinforcement crossbrace on the affected Escapes. The subframe has broken apart due to the corrosion, and it's unsafe to drive. Since Ford is aware of this, they should have both subframe replace as a recall and not adding a crossbar as a recall. Currently the vehicle is parked on my driveway. The estimated cost to repair was too costly.

- Chelmsford, MA, USA

problem #30

Nov 302015


  • 109,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving at a high speed, the vehicle veered to the right and failed to remain in position. The contact had to steer the vehicle in excess in order to keep the vehicle in position. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who repaired the vehicle under NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 (structure); however, the local dealer stated that there was corrosion around the attachment area and the subframe needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 109,000.

- Latrobe, PA, USA

problem #29

Nov 052015


  • 107,000 miles
My wife owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving it down the road she noticed the steering was getting uncontrollable. She pulled the car off the road and called aaa for a tow. The car was towed to midas where we usually have our work done on our vehicles. Midas looked at the car while still on the tow truck. They said that it should be covered by the recall on the car. Midas called waikem Ford and was told to tell us to bring it there. We had the tow truck driver take it there. This was on 11/05/15. I was called on 11/6 and told they would not be able to look at the car that day and Monday 11/9 they would look at it. This was in a message to my phone. Monday I received another message from a guy named craig that he had taken pictures of the problem and sent it to Ford Motor Company. That was all the message said. Tuesday I received a message from craig that the car was done and we could pick it up anytime. I took my wife over to get the car and she drove it home which is three blocks away. She didn't notice anything wrong do to the short trip and slow speed. Saturday 11/14 she took the car out and once again the steering felt uncontrollable. I went over to waikem Ford and ask why the car wasn't fixed. I was told that Ford Motor Company had denied the fix on the car. Cross brace was installed which is what they do on the recall. How ever the frame rusted out where the control arms attach and the cross brace did nothing. The car was released to us without being told that the problem wasn't fixed. We were not told Ford Motor Company had rejected the request for repair. This is a known defect in the car, and Ford should have authorized the fix. Ford Motor Companies decision along with waikem Ford releasing that car to us put my wife and the public in danger.

- Massillon, OH, USA

problem #28

Oct 122015


  • 60,000 miles
Steering lose with little control. Mechanic states a separation of the lower control arm due to excessive corrosion in frame. Matches Ford recall 14S02. Yet recall was performed June 2014. So safety recall failed.

- Collingswood, NJ, USA

problem #27

Aug 182015


  • 150,000 miles


When pulling out of my parking spot my car steering itself sharply. I pulled the wheel back to straight. As I was doing this, I heard a crack. I have been hearing similar cracks in the past months when I go over bumps at slow speeds. I came upon recall #14S02. I brought my car to apple Ford in apple valley, mn to get my brace installed. My tech said the cars sub frame failed inspection. The frame was so bad you could stick a pen though it. He submitted photos to Ford Motor Company to get a new frame approved. Ford denied the repair as the sub frame is not broken all the way through. This fix is on the customer for $2200. I cannot pay that. I asked, since my frame was so bad if it was safe" it was recommended I stay off the highway, or stay under 60 mph. This is not a solution. I don't feel safe in my car anymore. I understand that Ford is only legally liable for the solution they came up with as a fix that the NHTSA approves. That is the brace only. Please look into making Ford replace significant corrosion to the frame instead of a complete break. I should be able to drive as normal with this recall fix. Now, I have a car that I want to get rid of. Who will want to buy this car for what it would have been worth if it was 100% road worthy" please take another look at this recall. I have repair documents and my Ford technician says he will be happy to speak with anyone who needs his input. He was very surprised the repair was denied due to the poor condition.

- St. Paul, MN, USA

problem #26

Jul 052015


  • 75,000 miles
My daughter was driving at a slow rate of speed and the front wheel fell off the truck. There had been a recall on this part and we had the service completed. Ford added a cross member to the part as the parts were rusting. This was done within the year. The truck is now at a Ford dealership and the Ford Motor Company refuses to pay for the repair. I am grateful that my daughter was not hurt however this is the second time this wheel has fallen off. A year earlier during a service visit a Ford certified mechanic forgot to put a bolt back on. That dealership did pay to have the truck repaired and apologized. Again it was fortunate that my daughter was not hurt.

- New Hartford, NY, USA

problem #25

Apr 062015


  • 99,000 miles
A recall on our Ford Escape was performed last August.the recall was for rusted frame/cradle area that holds front suspension the time of the recall I informed the dealer that the cradle was weak and very rusty over and above any other rust on car.the dealer installed a brace between the two rails of the frame and told me that was the extent of the recall.the other day while driving the cradle gave out and the engine, the steering gear dropped down a few inches rendering the car undriveable.I was able to maintain control and get it to the dealership. I was told they are only responsible for the brace not the weak cradle. I guess my question is how can this recall stop anyone from a wreck or damage when the entire cradle is affected by this problem. This recall had to be approved by someone im sure. This brace will not stop a car from being out of control at any givin time as the cradle rot will affect a lot more than just the lower control arm area.I understand its an old car but Ford knows there is a serious rust issue with this part.if Ford and the NHTSA feel this bandaid repair is good enough for safety of my family then I have my doubt on whether there is anyone in either organization that knows anything about a car or safety at all.

- Fairview, PA, USA

problem #24

Mar 042015


  • 88,000 miles
Vehicle went in for control arm brace recall in 2014 due to poor metzl used on the subframe, March of 2015 it failed leaving limited control of steering, Ford was contacted and stated that they are only responsible for the control arm recall and to contact the dealer. They said they did what they were told to do and the rotted subframe was not a part of the recall. Ford needs to recall the subframe part before someone gets seriously injured or killed.

- Machias, ME, USA

problem #23

Mar 072015

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 91,500 miles


Had my 2003 Escape in to the dealer for a wheel bearing problem, while it was in the shop they did the open recall 14S02 sub frame brace installation. Drove the car 2 times. The wife decided to drive to the store on a 3rd time and called me to say car was pulling hard to the passenger side. After getting the car home I remove the passenger front tire thinking that we had a sticking brake caliper and could see right away that the sub frame had ripped apart right where the lower control arm bolts up. After more investigation and many photos it appears to me that the bolt that was used to install the brace per the recall has cause the upper part of the frame to rip apart from the lower part (split it open) there is significant rust on the frame but this really looks like the bandaid caused a bigger problem. I called the dealer, they said to call Ford, I called Ford they said take it back to the dealer and they would evaluate it. But after reading comments here I decided against that and will probably just haul it to scrap yard. What a waste.

- Austinburg, OH, USA

problem #22

Jan 272015

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 133,000 miles
Daughter driving her vehicle home from work noticed severe vibration in front of vehicle and gradual loss of control of steering. Following day, vehicle brought to repair shop for inspection. Discovered that right lower control arm broken. Discovered that there was a massive recall for exact issue. Remedy said to be support brace/cross member. Vehicle brought to Ford dealership for repair. Recall device installed, however, dealership failed to advise vehicle owner of rotting sub frame in right front of vehicle. Inspected by independent auto shop after install and severe rotting and structural defects found in right front sub frame. Support brace supplied by recall essentially useless as it bolts in to rotting sub frame. Independent shop advises that vehicle is unsafe to drive for both occupants and other drivers due to serious likelihood of loss of control. Note that there are multiple complaints on same issue. Also note that a significant number, (over 50%), of these complaints reveal severe rotting and structural failure to right front sub frame. Contacted Ford about sub frame issues and concerns and was referred back to Ford dealership. Advised to express concerns over workmanship! Ford dealership installed the replacement cross member just fine. But they bolted it to a rusted defected sub frame!! come on people. Do we have to wait until some young unsuspecting mother with a car load of kids loses control of her vehicle and hits a tree, or a pole, or oncoming traffic before the real issue is addressed? I can only imagine the lawsuits!! certainly have enough people for a class action.

- Silver Creek, NY, USA

problem #21

Dec 172014


  • 135,000 miles
While backing out of drive felt an unusual tug of steering wheel, and steering wheel was rotated approx. 30 degrees. Drove it to repair shop where they discovered the lower control arm had rusted away from the subframe mount and the subframe was significantly rusted. Also was notified of safety recall 14S02. Made appointment and slowly drove vehicle to Ford dealership to have recall addressed. Dealership replaced only sub frame crossbrace as directed by Ford Motor Co. Subframe is still rusted in other areas surrounding newly installed crossbrace and unsafe to drive. Dealership wanted over $2000 to replace subframe.

- Jonesville, MI, USA

problem #20

Oct 292012


  • 46,000 miles
Severe corrosion caused steering failure. I had taken the car in June 2014 for recall from Ford Motor Company that sever corrosion may cause steering failure. They installed a new bracket. Apparently the new bracket did not help because it still failed 6 months later. Love driving a car you can not steer safely. Ford will not take any responsibility to actually make their car safe. It is heading to the junkyard with 46,000 miles on it. Case 5501030 denied by Ford. If you are driving an Escape, look out. It will fail and Ford will do nothing to help you. You may die.

- Berea, OH, USA

problem #19

Sep 182014


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact received a recall notice for NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 (structure: Frame and members). The contact took the vehicle to the dealer to have it repaired according to the recall. The mechanic installed a newly designed reinforcement cross-brace; however, the mechanic could not complete a front end alignment due to an excessive amount of corrosion present. The front end alignment was an enforced procedure per the manufacturer, which was included in the remedy for the recall. The manufacturer was notified and informed the contact that nothing could be done. The contact had not experienced the failure listed in the recall; however, the steering became affected due to the recall. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Windsor, NY, USA

problem #18

Aug 212014

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
At a slow speed, steering all of the sudden became erratic. It could not be driven, so my local dealer took a look at it. He is a certified Ford mechanic. He said the subframe was damaged and it was directly related to the recall #14S02 which is for a crossbar to the subframe due to a potential loss of steering. We had to have it towed to the only Ford dealership in our area, oneonta Ford. The put the crossbar in and performed only the specific recall work. They are telling me now that it still cannot be driven as the subframe is damaged. This is directly related to the issue and the recall. I don't feel I should have to pay for this. Oneonta Ford is not doing the right thing.

- Delhi, NY, USA

problem #17

Aug 042014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 102,000 miles
Driving vehicle and heard a loud pop and sudden loss of steering. Limped the vehicle home and took to dealer who contacted Ford for further instructions. They installed a cross brace that does not fix the problem. Ford will not do anything to the subframe because it has not fully detached. There is no steering control at all over 15mph and in their eyes it is safe to drive. Service manager at the local dealership drove the vehicle and experienced for himself that there is no control over the vehicle. The recall has not fixed the problem at all.

- Greenville , PA, USA

problem #16

Jun 212014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 79,000 miles
I am writing about a recall for my Ford Escape. This recall included the front control arms and the subframe. They were being recalled for corrosion on the control arms and if separated from the subframe it could cause significant steering loss and loss of control of the car and increasing chance of an accident. I took my car in for the recall fix, they installed a reinforcement part and sent me on my way. After this, slowly, my steering wheel started becoming cock-eyed. After driving it like that for a few days, I noticed that after I take a left turn the car would jerk as the steering wheel straightened. I immediately called the Ford dealer that fixed the recall, since the recall clearly stated that it could lose steering control and asked them to look at it again, thinking that he recall was not fixed properly or something else to do with the recall is failing. They looked at it and said that the subframe is corroded and it has nothing to do with the recall. And that it would cost 1800 dollars to fix. I asked why it wasn't included in the recall since the steering is effected, they said that the subframe wasn't included. I have read several documents about this recall and several of them state that the subframe is included. So I called Ford customer care, they stated that the recall only included the subframe if the control arm separated from it before the recall was fixed not after. I think this is so unfair, since clearly the subframe was corroded when they did the recall fix. They had to have seen that, just because it wasn't separated at the time doesn't mean it shouldn't be included. Anyway, I ended up taking it to my own mechanic who can fix it for alot less, but it is still costing me 1400 dollars!! I can't afford it, can something be done about this, I think it should be fixed for free, and that the sub frame should be included. Please help, thanks. Recall 14S02.

- Oneida, NY, USA

problem #15

Jun 112014

Escape 6-cyl

  • miles
Hi, I took my 2003 Ford Escape into the dealership to have a recall fixed and since the repair the vehicle has gotten worse, the recall was for a steering stabilizer and my steering has gotten more wobbly....I have email both the dealership and the company and so far nothing and that has been since the beginning of June. Thank you.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #14

Jul 172014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 104,407 miles
The enclosed form with the things fixed should help. I was turning and the wheel almost fell off. I was in the parking lot so nothing was hit or hurt.

- Cato, NY, USA

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