Notes: With questionable safety ratings, a faulty power control module (PCM) and a rear subframe that can rust out, the first model year Escape is known for problems. But the worst one of all? A design flaw that carried through multiple model years and caused dangerous unintended acceleration.

A lack of clearance between the engine cover and the speed control cable connector meant the throttle could get stick open when the accelerator was fully depressed. Following a petition from the Center for Auto Safety, NHTSA opened an investigation and eventually issued a recall to fix the sticky throttles in the 2001–2004 model years.

Even with the throttles fixed, the 2001 model year could still have trouble stopping due to multiple problems with leaking brakes.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
112,507 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.

2001 Ford Escape drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2001 Ford Escape Owner Comments

problem #19

Dec 012016


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the transmission failed. While driving 70 mph, a grinding noise emitted from the front end of the vehicle and the gear independently shifted into reverse. The contact was able to engage the brakes and exit the highway. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Lake Station, IN, USA

problem #18

Jul 012016


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. While driving approximately 70 mph, the transmission suddenly switched to reverse and drove backwards. After the incident, the vehicle would not operate in reverse. The cause of the failure was not diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Lake Station, IN, USA

problem #17

Jul 132016


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. While accelerating from a stop light, the vehicle shook, stalled, and all the lights on the instrument panel illuminated. The vehicle was restarted, but the failure recurred twice. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 04V175000 (power train). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 115,000. Updated 09/08/16

- Safety Harbor, FL, USA

problem #16

Mar 072016


  • 267,000 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. While parked, the vehicle failed to move when the gear stick was shifted from park to drive. The failure occurred constantly. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. In addition, the contact mentioned that the check engine light illuminated. It was detected that oil was leaking onto the exhaust manifold. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 267,000.

- Waterford Twp, MI, USA

problem #15

Jan 012003


  • 100 miles
Backing out into empty road, stopping and turning vehicle with steering wheel is very difficult applying pressure to turn, straighten wheels. While driving and applying brakes to stop, the car shakes and the amount of pressure applied to brakes is enormously difficult to make car stop. With normal driving there is a grinding sound in the bottom of vehicle (drive train?). all these issues have been addressed with no apparent help!

- Stateline, NV, USA

problem #14

Mar 012015


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. While driving at an unknown speed, the transmission seized into second gear. The contact was unable to shift the vehicle into park or any other gear. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 150,000. The VIN was not available.

- Lafayette , IN, USA

problem #13

Sep 012014


  • 170,000 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds and attempting to reduce speed, the vehicle stalled. In addition, the contact stated that on several occasions while at a stop light, the engine stalled. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not included in the NHTSA campaign number 04V165000 (power train). The failure mileage was 170,000.

- Mattituck, NY, USA

problem #12

Jan 072014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 151,000 miles
While accelerating on the interstate, vehicle approached 50 miles an hour when it felt like the transmission was about to fall out of the vehicle. After talking with a lot of people and doing research, they call this shudder. It fills like when you drive off the edge of the interstate white line and hit the rough pavement. It would stop if I let up off the gas. I have no check engine light or transmission light showing on the dashboard. No error codes when the code reader was hooked up on the vehicle. This vehicle has already been to the dealership twice for this issue. The first time we had all of the gaskets and vacuum hoses replaced cost was over 1400 dollars. The second time we had the whole transmission serviced by the dealership over 700 dollars along with other items. The dealership has still not been able to identify the cause for the problem. There was a tech bulletin that came out a while back on the cd4E shudder problem and appears that NHTSA should force Ford to do a recall on Ford Escapes for the shudder problem they have since the tech bulletin has come out and no solution has been done. All the research I have done seems to point to the torque converter which is not an easy fix and is costly. There needs to be a recall on this.

- Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #11

Jun 042013

Escape 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Fifth time vehicle has been to the dealership for the same problem. Vehicle is stopped at a red light or in traffic, the vehicle lunges forward with the brakes applied. Daughter took it back to the same dealership and they thought they fixed the problem. She was on her way back to college...4 miles from the house at a red light. She called and said the vehicle was still doing what it was doing before. This needs to be investigated and a recall issued.

- Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #10

Aug 082013


  • 109,050 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the gear shifter failed while reversing from a residential drive way. The gear failed to shift out of reverse and caused the contact to lose control of the vehicle, crashing into a parked vehicle. The front air bags failed to deploy. The contact suffered injuries to the right side lower back. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was towed to a salvage yard and was not diagnosed for the cause of the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure and current mileage was 109,050.

- Detroit , MI, USA

problem #9

Jun 122013

Escape 6-cyl

  • 140,204 miles


My PCM has failed. I understand that this is a known problem with the Escape for over 5 years. I would like to see if there is any adjustment or recall for this as I know of many failures. I enter my complaint to see if it will help others, and perhaps initial a recall and a credit for this very expense repair.

- Union Bridge, MD, USA

problem #8

Jun 282013

Escape 6-cyl

  • 147,200 miles
When vehicle is at a stop with the brakes applied at either a red light, stop sign, or traffic, the car jerks to move forward. This does not happen all the time, it has been doing this since the beginning of the year. Ford dealership replaced an ABS ring that was cracked. They said, this is causing the vehicle to move forward because the ABS is trying to engage.

- Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #7

May 072013


  • 252,901 miles
Dear sirs, as you are aware, this past weekend on the san mateo bridge in hayward ca, a horrific accident/fire occurred with a limousine, where five individuals were trapped and killed due to a vehicle fire. Upon seeing and hearing about this horrific tragedy, my wife insisted that we have all of the recalls performed on our 2001 Ford Escape. Much to my surprise, when I took our Escape into fremont Ford on May 7th, [xxx], the assistant service manager, told me that he was refusing to perform all of the recalls on our truck, because they have expired. As the original owner and primary driver of this vehicle, please explain to me how recalls involving safety issues expire" is this a Ford company policy or a fremont Ford dealership/service policy" when I picked up our Escape on May 8th from the dealership, I documented on the paperwork that they refused to perform these very important recalls. I am not comfortable driving this vehicle in light of the tragedy that occurred this past weekend. Please advise how you would like to move forward concerning this very important matter. Thank you for your assistance. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #6

Jul 062012

Escape 6-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that he received notification of NHTSA campaign id number: 12V353000 (engine and engine cooling) and took the vehicle to the dealer for repairs however, the dealer refused the recall repair and did not provide a reason why. The contact notified the manufacturer of the incident and the contact was advised to take the vehicle back to the dealer for recall repairs. The contact had not experienced a failure. Updated 09/11/12 updated 09/14/2012

- Gautier, MS, USA

problem #5

May 182011

Escape 4-cyl

  • 79,000 miles
My "stick shift" 2001 Ford Escape tends to stall when the clutch is pushed in, clear to the floor. The engine would die and leave me stranded everywhere. Even if you are driving down the road at 45mph or higher, once you push in the clutch to change to the last gear, it will still stall at high speeds. The engine completely cuts off, but only when you push in the clutch. Once this happens, it will not stay running. It will restart for just a few seconds, (not the battery or starter) then it will die again, repeatedly. It would get towed to the nearest dealership with no luck. They could not "duplicate the problem". once, the car cools off, then the problem disappears. There is a valve the heats up and gets stuck open. If the valve cools down, it can close and then it is fine. Now, if I make alot of short stops (errands) where the car doesn't get a chance to cool off, say ten minutes or less, then it won't stay started. If you turn over the ignition, it will start, but immediately dies. However, if I let the car sit for say a couple of hours, say 4-6 hours. It will start back up just fine and stay running like nothing ever happened. The key tip is: Don't put ethanol in the gas tank. If I buy the most expensive gas, the problem tends to clear up on it's own. It started doing it again this summer. Once I changed to the primo (most expensive) gas, it has now stopped without taking it to a dealership. Personally, I think gas containing ethanol has too much moisture in it causing this problem. Even the dealership told me that this Ford Escape car is not designed to run on "ethanol" products. This all mostly happens when it is very hot and humid outside. Was just wondering if anyone else had this problem and if it would qualify for others as a recall item?

- Papillion, NE, USA

problem #4

Jun 092009


  • 111,732 miles
Gearshift cable broke.

- Swansboro, NC, USA

problem #3

Sep 132002

Escape 4WD

  • 51,000 miles
I was traveling at 70 mph when I heard a noise, the transmission quit working, I had the vehicle towed to the dealer. He called and said the snap ring popped out of the servo case causing the transmission to fail. They repaired it and said it was fixed, started home and got 15 miles when it blew again. Had it towed back and they tried to repair it again but said they could not, needed a new tranny. I questioned them that a 51,000 miles, the part should not have failed, they could not give me an answer. I took it some where else to be repaired. The person said that there is to much pressure that it blew it out. I feel that the part was defective. **dimsii IVOQ entry posted after 12/12/02 cut over to artemis**768335

- Lonsdale, MN, USA

problem #2

Feb 012003

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,438 miles
I just bought a used 2001 Ford Escape V6 on Dec 13th 2002. On 1 Feb 2003, while driving down a hill, the car's engine stalled completely. With much difficulty, due to loss of all power, I was able to stop the car before it entered the intersection on a red light. I put it in park and it did start up again. I called the westland Ford service dept. They said they had never heard of that happening. I asked if they could put it through a diagnostics check and find out what's wrong. They said unless it's happening when the car is there they probably wouldn't find anything. I called the Ford customer service and they also said they had never heard of that happening. They agreed that it would be hard to diagnose the cause. They said they would submit my complaint to engineering... since I bought the car used, it's not under warranty. I feel that they sold this car to me knowing that it had a problem. Do I have any recourse? help!

- Ogden, UT, USA

problem #1

May 172002

Escape 4WD

  • miles
While driving at about 40 mph, with both children in the car, my car stalled in a busy intersection. My brakes, steering, accellerator, and electrical(radio and speedometer) went out. I was forced to coast down the street to find somewhere to pull over. I have sent it to the dealership and they acted like it was my fault that it happened and that they hadn't heard of such complaint. I am scared to drive it even after they said it is fixed. I have heard of this happening, after I did some reasearch and people have reported it happening again. I would like some kind of trade or reimbuirsement. My reason being is for the saftey of my children and myself. The car is only 11 months old.

- Middletown, OH, USA

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