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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
34,120 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2001 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #42

Dec 072001


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Nar 02/13/2003. The automatic transmission would shift to drive from over drive, the vents automatically switched to frost. The vehicle completely stalled on a separate occasion, the relay assembly was replaced. The cruise control was inoperative from the time of purchase. The windshield wipers stopped working, the consumer continued to experience problems with the transmission and the gas mileage was poor.

- Mars Hill, NC, USA

problem #41

Nov 272004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,500 miles
2001 Ford Escape began having transmission shudder during shifting at approximately 20,000 miles. At 30,000 miles, dealer performed transmission fluid flush which resulted in the shudder going away. Recently the shudder has returned. The vehicle has approximately 56,000 miles. The transmission failed while traveling at highway speeds resulting in a sudden loss of power. The rpms suddenly jumped up to between 5000 and 6000. The vehicle is no longer driveable.

- North Bend, WA, USA

problem #40

Oct 242004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
Just driving, came to a slow are and when accelerating it feels and sounds like the transmission wouldn't shift gears or it would stall in the gear. Took it to the don kott Ford for service and they charged me for a transmission service. I took it back and after one day it had the same symptoms. This problem has been ocurring several times. I'm just waiting for it to fully break down because I need this vehicle for transportation and I don't have the time or money to get it repaired. I feel like I got ripped off for a useless transmission service. To this day the transmission seems to feel like it has a problem. What I'm doing to get it to work is starting the engine and putting it in drive. I press on the overdrive button that is located at the end of the gear shifter. This will get me going as I start to accelerate. However, if I didn't press on the overdrive button to get going, the acceleration would be poor and sometime not go. There were several situations when the vehicle was put in reverse to back up and if it need some acceleration to get going nothing would happen when I pressed on the gas pedal. You could hear the engine reving up but no acceleration. Another time was when I was making a left turn and upon acceleration the gears didnt' seem to kick in. The vehicle made the oncoming cars either stop or slow down or swerve. Luckily I'm use to knowing how the vehicle operates and I make sure that I have plenty of time before turning. I believe this is a flaw in design and workmanship and that Ford should be looking into this and even compensating those who have this problem before someone gets seriously hurt and a lawsuit ensues.

- Torrance, CA, USA

problem #39

Sep 252004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Early failure of transmission. Ford Escape 2001 cd4E transmission failed shortly after Ford recalled it and reprogammed PCM. This had been meticulously maintained and the product failed early. Ford should bear the burden to repair this and they refused. Poor product and numerous design flaws are documented on line.

- Shoreline, WA, USA

problem #38

Jul 182004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Transmissions shifts roughly (jerks) when going into overdrive. 2001 Ford Escape with less than 40,000 miles. Asked service manager about problem he said they were unaware of problem.-

- Sanford, NC, USA

problem #37

Aug 122004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
Overdrive on/off light flashing coincidentally with the illumination of the check engine light after driving on the highway at 60 mph for 5 to 10 miles. While off the highway the transmission shuttered while accelerating from a stop. Driver took truck to dealer and was told an internal bushing on the transmission failed. Dealer said the transmission needs to be replaced at a cost $3,000. Vehicle is 3.5 years old with 63,000 miles.

- North Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #36

Jun 162004


  • 80,000 miles


While driving 30 mph transmission failed, and vehicle popped out of gear. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- Ripton, VT, USA

problem #35

Jul 152004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,500 miles
Transmission failure- while driving my od light started flashing. When I started car after 8 hours, could drive approx. 100 yards. Transmission fluid pump failed without explanation, causing troque converter to fail, causing burnout of low gear. Vehicile is inoperative. Needs trans. Rebuild or replacement $3,000. - $3,500. Service dept at dealer can't offer an explanation for pump failure. Vehicle has 60000 miles. To soon for this kind of problem!

- Brier, WA, USA

problem #34

Apr 172004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles
Stalls when shifting gears taken to dealership repeatedly. Problem can not be found, take car home still stalls!

- Brownstown, MI, USA

problem #33

May 032004

(reported on)


  • 20,000 miles
Vehicle is equipped with automatic transmission. When it is in a inclined position the vehicle will roll backwards.

- Mulberry, AR, USA

problem #32

Apr 032004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,173 miles


While driving the odometer light blinked on and off. Driver stopped the vehicle and shut off engine. Then, attempted to start vehicle, but it would not move forward. Transmission would work only when cold, once the system warmed up all gear selections were lost. Vehicle was taken to dealer, who explained the transmission would have to be rebuilt. Consumer stated that transmission fluid was not burning, clutches were okay, but a couple of the bushings were seized to the drums. This problem occurred with two days of slow city driving.

- Canada, 00, USA

problem #31

Jun 012001

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
Premature transmission fluid failure causing a shuddder in the transmission as the gears shift from 3rd to overdrive.

- Carrabelle, FL, USA

problem #30

Feb 022004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,750 miles
I own a 2001 Escape XLS with V6, auto and 4 wd. Have 29K miles on it. My transmission is completely ruined because of an internal failure which burnt off all the transmission fluid. This transmission (cd-4E) seems to have a history of problems in various Ford and Mazda vehicles. It is ridiculous that something like this is happening frequently. I would like somebody to look into this transmission and the various problems it has created.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #29

Jan 142004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
My 2001 Ford Escape has a cd4E transmission which has a long history of problems. It burned up at 60,000 miles which is consistent with many other complaints that I have seen with regards to that model. One web site registers 25,000 complaints about that transmission. The problem seems to be consistent across the board, that the transmissions are not kept cool enough and the main shaft ruptures. The time table is also consistent. Ford talks to me as if they have never heard of the problem before. How can they replace 25,000 of the same thing and have never heard of it until I mention it to them? the cost to me is $3,031. This is far less than the implied life of the part, in my opinion, and those of every transmission person I have talked to.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #28

Feb 012004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,500 miles
O/D light flashes, transmission will not engage in D, sometimes in 2 or 1. reverse works fine. If car moves starting in 2nd gear, then it can be shifted to D and all gears work normally, even if restarting from a full stop.

- Fountain Hills, AZ, USA

problem #27

Nov 192003

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Transmission shudders and shakes when accelerating on highway, will not go into reverse when in four wheel drive half of the time. Ford service never finds anything wrong with it and says since there are no codes onto the computer it must be ok.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #26

Jul 312003


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2001 Ford Escape transmission went out after the vehicle kept stalling out!

- Va Beach, VA, USA

problem #25

Nov 032003

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles
While driving at 30 mph consumer heard a loud noise. Vehicle engaged in neutral. Driver behind him helped push the vehicle out of the road. Vehicle was towed to an independent shop where they replaced the automatic transmission at the owners expense of $2400. There are two technical service bulletins containing information on how to fix the transmission.

- Colonial Heights, VA, USA

problem #24

Oct 152003

(reported on)


  • 42,000 miles
Automatic transmission failed. Prior to this incident, while driving at 40/60 mph, vehicle failed to accelerate for approximately 2-3 seconds when accelerator pedal was depressed. Manufacturer was aware of this issue.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #23

Oct 072003

(reported on)


  • 30,000 miles
The vehicle shutters and vibrates between 30 to 50 mph. The driver has to slow down for vehicle to stop vibrating.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

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