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:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,674 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2001 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Jun 092015


  • 132,600 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. While driving approximately 10 mph and making a left turn, the vehicle veered to the right into oncoming traffic. There was no crash. The failure recurred on one other occasion. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the subframe was fractured and needed to be repaired. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 132,600.

- Joppa, MD, USA

problem #21

Mar 122015


  • 119,345 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving at an unknown speed, the air bag warning light illuminated intermittently and the power steering seized. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but the vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The contact was made aware of NHTSA campaign number: 14V597000 (air bags, seat belts). The failure mileage was 119,345.

- Papllion, NE, USA

problem #20

Aug 262014

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 77,700 miles
NHTSA 14V165/ Ford 14S02- brought 2001 Ford Escape to Ford dealer with steering failure due to failure of lower control arm separation at sub frame. Car was not drivable. Was told that recall covered bracket to secure control arm in case of steering failure. Steering had already failed. Was told sub frame assembly was rotted & separated. I have photos. Ford dealership attempted to replace sub frame under recall protocol but was prevented by Ford reps from doing so because the separation was not excessive enough to meet criteria. The lower control arm was off on separation, the front wheel was coming off, but that wasn't enough. I was told that the bracket placement under recall was the remedy to prevent steering failure. But this is after the fact, the steering and control arm had already failed and were unsustainable because the bracket at this time couldn't help. The recall I was told was to prevent loss of control of steering if parts failed and not to replace sub frame. Sub frame and lower control arms(left & right) were replaced at my expense so that I did not have to junk car. Car was at dealership ten days, no loaner car or rental was requested, but not offered either. Multiple calls to Ford Motor Company yielded no results, they approved the dealership to appeal the decision to not repair the vehicle from the recall department but I was told that once they deny a repair, they never rescind a decision. My issue is, what are we doing? blogs on same issue show numerous refusals to repair these vehicles by Ford Motor Company. These are specific vehicles in specific areas that they knew of the situations and failures, it is not isolated. I'd like to get some compensation towards the cost of this very pricey repair. Please address this for others with same critical situation.

- Purdys, NY, USA

problem #19

May 012014

Escape 6-cyl

  • miles


Here recently I have had several occurrences of my 2001 Escape stalling while driving. On 2 occasions I was approaching a stop light, slightly uphill and when I pressed the brake the car completely shut off losing all power and steering and I had to "stand" on the brakes to stop. A few other times it happened while I was turning a corner as well as going through a stop light turning right or left, not going fast at all. Pretty scary stuff. I have had no problem starting it back up after the occurrences, however it keeps happening.

- Newport, NC, USA

problem #18

Jul 022014


  • 205,430 miles
While driving, mainly on the interstate maintained speed of 70mph I feel the steering go very limp. It's been much like hydroplaning. Like there is air between my tires and the road. It lasts just a few seconds. I notice the steering column is rusted. The truck swerves in the lane and often going over line. The steering wheel is very loose when this happens.

- Col Hts, VA, USA

problem #17

Apr 102013


  • miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving 15 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to turn and the vehicle veered to the right. The contact crashed into another vehicle and the airbags did not deploy. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was confirmed that the vehicle was totaled. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. After the failure was experienced, the contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 and stated that the failure could have been related. The failure and current mileage was not available.

- Newport, MI, USA

problem #16

May 012014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 165,434 miles


As I was driving the car down the street I began loosing control of the steering. The steering wheel was facing a 90 degree right angle as I was driving straight and every time I would hit a bump the car would jump to the right. The steering wheel also had a lot of play while driving. I took the car straight to my mechanic and he informed me the car was not drivable or safe due to the lower control arm separating from the subframe which has to due with recall # 14S02. Is the subframe being replaced at some point? they put a crossbrace on the vehicle but it is still being deemed unsafe to drive.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #15

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 #14

Jul 132011


  • miles
It was happened about a year ago, especially under the hot weather condition. I am not sure that where the massive vibration sound comes from but most likely it feels through the steering wheel(steering shaft rod?) or brake pedal. When I first realized this problem, it was very hot summer day and air conditioner (ac) was on. I drove about for 15-20 minutes and parked the vehicle for a while (about 20 minutes or so). Then I started the engine again and tried to back up the vehicle from the parking spot, it was happened. After that happening, I was having same problem whenever I was driving with ac on(I did not have the problem during cold season at all). Now is summer of 2012 and this problem has been coming back most of time of driving no matter ac is on or off (it seems like getting worst?). past 10 years, I had several recalls with this vehicle so I really want to report the problem I have in case.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #13

Mar 242007

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
I stopped my 2001 Ford Escape and put the shift into park. The shift flew into park and the vehicle stayed in drive, which almost sent me into a bayou. I turned the ignition off and the shift was jammed. The vehicle was still in drive. I had to get it towed to the local dealership. I was told by one of the mechanics that the cable on the shift broke loose. He said he was surprised there hasn't been a recall on it yet because they are getting Escapes and escorts in their shop with the same exact thing happening.

- Thibodaux, LA, USA

problem #12

Jul 202004


  • 121,918 miles


While driving. The vehicle stalled. The consumer was able to restart the vehicle after pumping the accelerator pedal. The consumer could not control the vehicle due to loss of power in the steering wheel and no brakes.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #11

Jun 282004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,500 miles
While driving, the vehicle stalled. The consumer restarted the vehicle and pulled over. The consumer drove the vehicle to the auto service for inspection and the mechanic informed the consumer that the problem could not be duplicated. There was grinding and a round metal object snapped and broke off of the ac compressor. There were also problem with the air bag and the steering.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #10

Sep 092003

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
My wife got distracted and side swiped the trailer of an 18 wheeler while passing......a very bazaar accident......she was only slightly injured and her 2001 Ford Escape was destroyed..... my complaint is......her steering was completely connection between the steering wheel and the front end.... her steering wheel just spins around.... being a car guy I see this as a failure in the Ford steering.....I walked the accident scene and did not see one thing she could have hit to break her steering. Her impact with the truck should not have broke her steering either.....please investigate.

- Fairfield, TX, USA

problem #9

Aug 252003

(reported on)


  • miles
Consumer noticed that while driving at 10 mph and without any indication vehicle parts started falling from under engine department, resulting in loss of steering.

- Pico Rivera, CA, USA

problem #8

Nov 202000


  • miles
NHTSA:vehicle description: Sport utility vehicles. These vehicles may have a mis-assembled or incorrectly manufactured nut that attaches the steering wheel assembly to the steering column. The nut could be upside down in the steering wheel assembly, which could overstress the steering column shaft when the nut is tightened. In addition, some of the nuts may have been cracked during manufacture resulting in the nut fracturing when it is tightened during vehicle assembly.dealers will inspect and replace the steering wheel retention armature and, if necessary, the steering column to correct this condition.

- Bethel Park, PA, USA

problem #7

May 112003

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles
I was in a roll over accident in my 2001 Ford Escape while driving at 25-30 mph on a primary road in cresskill, NJ. The vehicle suddenly pulled hard to the right and I saw that I was going to hit a parked vehicle. I turned the steering wheel to the left, while breaking, but the Escape did not turn. I impacted the parked vehicle, flipped, skidded 64 feet on the roof of my Escape, and was able to remove myself from the car when he came to rest. I have interesting pictures of the front right wheel assembly and steering linkages.

- Cresskill, NJ, USA

problem #6

Aug 092002

Escape 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving only at low speeds, steering column will make a loud noise and it could cause future steering problems. Dealer notified. The cover on the bottom of the steering wheel was broken. The vehicle shimmys when applying the brakes. The brakes were inspected and the front rotor was machined and the front pads cleaned. Consumer states there is a pecking noise in the engine. Consumer states the accelerator pedal is hard to push because the throttle body needed replacing. The air conditioner stops while at idle. Also, when coming to a stop, the heater is not warm.

- Kettle Island, KY, USA

problem #5

Jul 112001

Escape 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving 30-35 mph, vehicle will shut off without any notice. Contacted dealer, who was not willing to do anything.. numerous parts have been replaced regarding the stalling, but the problem still exists, the engine light also illuminated, consumer stated the transmission was replaced in April 2002, the engine cooling fans were replaced, and also the rack and pinion was replaced.

- Peosta, IA, USA

problem #4

Jul 282001

Escape 4WD

  • miles
My Escape stalled 4 different times while driving down the street. My speed was 40 mph or less. There is the tightness in the steering and the engine light goes on and all power is starts up with no problem.

- Hilo, HI, USA

problem #3

Aug 012001


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While traveling 15-20mph on a neighborhood side street consumer ran into a parked car, causing vehicle to rollover 360 degrees. Dealer was contacted. Consumer suffered a fractured rib in the accident, consumer thinks that this vehicle should not have rolled over as easily as it did.

- La, CA, USA

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