Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
94,647 miles
Total Complaints:
27 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. paid for expensive transmission replacement (13 reports)
  2. replace transmission (5 reports)
  3. no resolution, traded car. never buying another Ford (3 reports)
  4. not sure (3 reports)
  5. transmission rebuilt (3 reports)
2003 Ford Escape transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #27

Nov 092015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles


On my way to a WIC appointment. This is a program for families to help with baby formula and some food. Noticed when I turned the car on the O/D light blinked. Thought it was weird but decided to go on to my appointment. I was pulling out of the driveway at work and the road goes down hill. Reached the stop sign and turned onto the next road and noticed the car was not driving faster. Pulled over and turned the car off. Started it back up and it would not go into any gear but reverse. I had to drive back to my office in reverse to park my car. Luckily I made it back without any major traffic issues. It is going to cost $2800 for a rebuilt transmission. This is coming at the worst time. I have two kids (two year old, nine month old). My fiance and I pay $1000 a month for daycare. I can't afford a new car payment or I would trade this piece of junk in. My only option is to use credit to have it fixed. Which will charge a huge interest rate. I WILL NEVER OWN A FORD AGAIN!!!!!

- , Cleveland, USA

problem #26

Sep 082014

Escape V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,400 miles

The car started showing signs of failure by going down (reverse) if I release the brakes while fully stopped on an inclined street (garage entrance, etc). Then it just started slipping. Took it to a shop and it was repaired in 2 days.

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #25

Sep 012010

Escape Sport 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,603 miles



- , Calgary, AB, canada

problem #24

Sep 112013

Escape 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,274 miles


Why oh why do we have 2 2003 Ford Escapes??? Now we know why they say: Ford = Fix Or Repair Daily!!

- , Surrey, BC, canada

problem #23

Sep 012013

Escape XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 195,000 miles

I bought my Escape on 7/30/13 used. I had no idea that they seem to have horrible transmission problems. I was on my was home (on Labor Day) on the expressway when my transmission started to slip I thought it was low on fluid so I pulled over and checked but the fluid levels were fine. The motor smelled hot (over worked) so I allowed it time to cool down. I started back on my trip home and the transmission started to slip in and out of gear, but worse than the first time. So AGAIN I pulled over to check the fluid and this time the smell coming from the engine compartment smelled like burnt transmission fluid. I tried to limp home but had to call my dad to come and towe me home the rest of the way. The next day I contacted the dealership I had bought it from and they told me they could rebuild and or replace it for $1800 to $1900. I called around and the cheapest I could fine was a transmission place in Grand Rapids, Michigan for $1800 to $2200 depending on the parts needed. I also checked for any recalls on my car per my VIN number. None showed... I called the people who issue the recalls and they said that it is Ford's call to issue the recall. I did forge a complaint with the national saftey whatever it is call. I then called Ford directly and was told that the Escape is one of the best cars they make I did in fact tell him that he was lieing because there were several recalls for this year of Escape. Then I forged a complaint with him because like I told both of these men that this was a saftey issue because I was on a busy expressway and I was nearly hit twice by semi's not to mention other cars traveling on the expressway. I was extremely pissed to say the least because NO ONE was willing to admit to wrong doing or blame. All maintance should have been done prior to my buying this car! If everyone on here and anyone else were to forge a complaint with both of these places like I did MAYBE and I say MAYBE something will get done and WE can be heard.

- , Newaygo, MI, USA

problem #22

May 262012

Escape LTD 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

O/D Off light began flashing while on highway, 15 minutes later transmission was cooked. After researching this on interrnet, seems to be an all too common problem with Ford

- , Blacksburg, VA, USA

problem #21

Dec 002009

Escape 3.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,030 miles


Don't get me wrong, I love my money pit. That is exactly how I look at my escape A Money Pit. But I love to drive it when it runs. I went through TWO trannies on it. Both times they were rebuilt. The engine also revs up and down when it idles. The brakes are crap. I also replaced the power steering belt and alternator.

- , Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada

problem #20

Oct 052011

Escape XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,827 miles

new gearbox $3999 and topull out and replace another $3999 from Range ford maddington , I ask them too check and when I ask John Hughs park ford I was quoted $8500, I would never buy another one again not new or second hand ever again . Its a pitty because itis a great off roader for a small suv.

- , Perth, WA, Australia

problem #19

Jan 062012

Escape XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I can't believe so many people have transmission problems with this car and Ford has done nothing to recall it. My transmission mechanic is licking his chops ,because his shop rebuilds a Ford Escape transmission at least 1 every week. He even let me know about the stronger Torque converters that replace the factory one. I really think Ford is cowardly about ownership of their transmissions in this vehicle.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #18

Jan 102012

Escape V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I'm on my way to work its 3 am in the city of DETROIT and without warning my transmission just goes out on my car. I have kept the maintenance and servicing of the car up to date,,I have taken really good care of this car and out of the blue it just stops going into gear I had to find some one to help me push it out of the road it's 3am in the city of Detroit and my car decides to just stop working not only is this just down right wrong its also dangerous. I really thought that this car was the one for me being that my father worked for ford for over 28 years I always wondered why he never owned a Car made by ford..I see why know and i bet he was rolling over in his grave when I brought this piece of sh*t ass car I found out its going to cost me $2500 just to get the car fixed im so upset about this I ve just decided to trade the car in and get a foreign car something I know will run longer than any ford I could buy..This is the last Ford I will ever buy or drive again Fords are not worth the time money or effort just a big ass joke...I'm done Sorry Dad.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #17

Jun 302011

Escape LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


The problem is the same as the previous people describe. Drove the vehicle to a restaurant and the 4X4 light flickered just as we were parking. Came out of the restaurant about 2 hours later and drove off without a problem. The 4X4 light did not flicker. Got about a mile away and the transmission very suddenly and without warning stopped working, I mean no drive, reverse, nothing. Plenty of fluid in the transmission and no filings in the fluid. Towed to a dealership. They said the transmission and cooler needed to be replaced for $6,100.00. Our families have purchased more than 20 fords over the past 10 years. This is likely the last for us.

- , Blaine, MN, USA

problem #16

Sep 072010

Escape XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I bought this vehicle in June 2010, from a relative in another state who had to give up driving. The car was in pristine condition, regularly serviced at the dealership where it was purchased (I have all the paperwork). They never had any trouble with it and loved the vehicle. About 2 weeks after buying the car, I took it on a 2 week roadtrip. On the return trip, I noticed it did not always engage right away, which made me hesitatnt to pull out into traffic unless I had LOTS of room. In September, I was heading to an appointment and was driving on an expressway when suddenly the vehicle would only rev and not engage. Fortunately I was able to coast off an exit, but got stuck at the top of the exit ramp (at 5pm on a weekday). Fortunately (Again), someone stopped and helped me to push the vehicle off the road and into an empty parking lot. I called AAA and had the car towed to their car care center since I had no local dealer. The car was taken to a local and very reputable transmission place, and after a week or so, I had my car back. However, it is still not right.

It is once again in the shop because all of a sudden it will not go in reverse. I also own a 2003 Camry, and I have spent more money on the Escape in the past year than I have in 7 years of owning the Camry. THe Escape SEEMED to be the perfect car. It held lots of cargo (including a wheelchair, walker and luggage) and was comfortable and had great features. I was happy to buy a Ford (having only owned Japanese cars), but this has certainly changed my mind. I will certainly not look at the Fords again, and am already thinking of trading this vehicle in on a new Toyota or Honda.

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #15

May 012011

Escape XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,500 miles

We'd just gotten married and were driving to the hotel for one evening before leaving on our honeymoon the following afternoon. On the way there, out of nowhere, the O/D (overdrive) light starts blinking repeatedly. The car was running fine and didn't show any other symptoms that we noticed. When I shut the car off to check into the hotel, and got back in, the O/D light wasn't blinking and appeared to be working correctly, so I thought it was just something strange. The fluid was fine, and the filter had been replaced and the system had been flushed in the last 6 months. The next morning, we got up for breakfast and drove less than 1 mile and stopped in front of a 7/11 to get directions to a restaurant. We'd been stopped for maybe 10 minutes, and the car was in park. When I tried to put it in reverse to leave, the car rolled backward (due to a natural incline), but giving it gas didn't do anything. I put it back in park, tried the other gears, and got nothing! I turned the car off, waiting 10 minutes, turned it back on and this time actually got into a gear just long enough to coast into the hotel parking lot. The transmission was going in and out at this point, and I noticed shifting at high RPMs, when it shifted at all.

I had to rush to get the car towed to a transmission shop, on a SUNDAY and still make our cruise in the next two hours. Since no shops were open that day, I browsed online and then had AAA tow it to a shop with the keys in it. I called the shop and left voicemail about dropping the car off and what was wrong...also let them know I'd be out of town for the next 5 days.

When I got back, I found out the car needed the tranny rebuilt. I figured as much, but it still sucked!

Thanks for letting me vent.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #14

Jan 052011

Escape XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

The problem started out same as before, that when you shifted into gear it was slow to engage. When it finally went into gear it "slammed". The colder the day the slower it went into gear. Finally, we took it to a reputable nearby transmission shop who confirmed that we needed a new transmission...again! So I called the Ford dealership we bought it from, who had installed a new transmission under warranty at 52,000 miles! I wanted to know if it was under warranty this SECOND failure at 102,000 miles. I was told by the service manager that if we hadn't visited them for service within the past 18 months, they have no record of us! Second of all he would not accept the diagnosis of the shop we took it to...he wanted us to tow it to his shop 12 miles away. I dug up the record of the first repair (luckily I saved it) for them and drove to the Ford dealership. Was informed the warranty was only good for 36,000 I was out of luck. The service manager stated that HAD I been a regular customer and have had the transmission serviced there, he might have called Ford to plead my case. But since I hadn't been there for the past 18 months I was out of luck! I AM SO DONE WITH ANY FORD PRODUCT>>>>EVER!!!!!! I've had 4 Fords in my lifetime I'm ashamed to say!!! We will escape my wife's Escape as soon as my Toyota Yaris is paid for. And I will sell my Ford F150 pickup right along with it! Hopefully someone will be stupid enough to buy them.

- , Marion, MT, USA

problem #13

Aug 272010

Escape XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

Took car to Tanner Transmissions and it took them a month to fix it and the bill was about $3,000 to fix it. Ford dealership was about the same cost and would have been a lot quicker. Ford transmissions have a bad reputation for failure, especially on the escape and Mazda Tributes.

- , Clearfield, UT, USA

problem #12

Jul 122010

Escape XLS 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

I'm feeling fairly lucky that mine lasted as long as it did. When I put mine in reverse it would say "Huh???" Then it would eventually go. I bought my escape used in 2005 and bought the extended warranty. I didn't have any major problems till after the warranty expired of course. Unfortunately I still owed on the car. I was told it would cost approximately $2,500.00 to fix. I traded it instead. (I was upfront with the ford dealer why I was trading.) I have heard since that there have been recalls on some escapes for transmission problems. Unfortunately mine hadn't been yet.

- , Eden Mills, VT, USA

problem #11

Nov 122008

Escape XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,950 miles

After fully maintaining my 2003 Escape XLT, and having driven it only in 2WD without ever adding extra stress to the transmission (such as towing and/or bad shifting habits), and only putting its mileage on it via S. CA freeways, my transmission completely failed without any warning signs. Without much hope I will be contacting Ford Corporate to pursue re-compensation for costs... in excess of $3700. To add salt to the matter, my warranty expired only two months earlier. I had opted to NOT renew it because I had fully maintained the vehicle and had not experienced any other problems worth mentioning beforehand. My dealer simply states that there is nothing else to do about it, besides a complete transmission replacement. He then quickly stated that the new Escapes have a "much better" transmission installed. I am presently disgusted with Ford's Neanderthal approach to customer service and plan to publicly take them to the mat for such egregious and calculated disservice to their previously repeat customers. Just read the other complaints on this page... very similar indeed! It's no wonder they are in the hideous financial mess they are in now! I recommend a full corporate leadership replacement to Ford.

- , Santa Monica, CA, USA

problem #10

Sep 132008

Escape Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

I can not believe that my Ford Escape would have transmission failure. I, like so many others who have posted complaints, maintained my car per guidelines and always took it to my local Ford dealership for maintenance work. Car made a popping noise and things got progressively worse while my husband and I were returning from dinner with friends across town. Every time I had to stop at a red light, it was touch and go to get the car to engage and move forward. Finally it refused. This was at 11 pm. Had to have car towed 40 miles to my local Ford dealership. Have talked with service manager and he indicated that we are looking at a rebuilt transmission to the tune of $3000. That, plus the car rental and towing, is just horrible. I believe that Ford needs to investigate the cause and offer to repair the transmission for free. I keep my cars a long time and have never experienced any transmission problems with cars I have owned that had 250K miles and more. In reading the other posts I was astounded to see this problem occuring in Escapes with less than 100K miles. Unbelievable!

- , Conyers, GA, USA

problem #9

Jul 262008

Escape XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

I was driving with my fianc´┐Ż to get our picture taken for our wedding when I was changing lanes and all of a sudden we felt/heard a sort of pop. I tried to accelerate and it would just rev the engine. So, now we were coasting on the highway at about 70. We had to coast across 3 lanes of moving traffic to the breakdown lane. I then tried to put the car in drive and reverse and nothing happened, we just sat there not moving. So, needless to say we had to cancel the picture and our dinner plans that night. Got it towed to the dealership who said that they had to tow it to another dealership because their "transmission guy" wasn't there this week. How does this happen? I have kept up on all scheduled maintenances and have had no problems with the car. I just don't understand how this happened with only 77k miles on the car.

I was given 2 options on how to fix the car. 1) Transmission rebuild with a warranty for 1yr/12k miles on only the parts they would fix. 2) A whole new transmission with a 3yr/75k mile warranty. The price difference between the two options was only like $600 and since I don't plan on getting rid of this car anytime soon I opted for the new transmission b/c of the warranty. After the cost of the transmission and the cost of the rental car for the week it is going to cost me $3,500+. This is the 3rd Ford my family has purchased within the last 15 years and Ford has offered no help what so ever in dealing with this matter.

- , North Providence, RI, USA

problem #8

Jul 252008

Escape XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I've raved to everyone I know about my Escape until last week. That's when the transmission failed. Vehicle has been properly maintained and there was no warning that the transmission was about to go out. Then, all of a sudden, it wouldn't upshift in the mountains, started leaking fluid and then no 1st or reverse gears. $3100 later...That's it, no more Fords ever. It's no wonder they're losing business. Japanese vehicles from here on out.

- , Centennial, CO, USA

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