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 1 of 4)

problem #62

Jul 162011


  • 113,319 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the vehicle would only shift into drive and would not shift into park or reverse. The contact was unable to remove the key from the ignition switch when the failure recurred. The vehicle was neither inspected nor repaired for the failure. The failure and current mileage was 113,319.

- Del Rio, TN, USA

problem #61

Jan 182011

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,760 miles
The automatic transmission on my 2001 Ford Escape V6 XLT suddenly downshifted into second gear while driving on the freeway at 65 mph. I exited at the first available exit, and drove the vehicle back home in second gear. Prior to the failure, the transmission exhibited no signs or symptoms of anything being wrong with it. At present, second gear is the only gear that still works in the transmission. It now sits inoperable in my driveway because I don't have the $3000-$4000 required to get it fixed. After much internet research, I've found that transmission failures in this vehicle and later years of the same model are quite common, with several people experiencing multiple transmission failures on the same vehicle. A common consensus, is that the failures are due to a four cylinder transmission being installed in a higher torque and horsepower V6 model. Ford must be forced to recall these vehicles and fix the transmission problems once and for all. It's really unfair that the consumer is required to pay huge sums of money to repair shops to get problems fixed that shouldn't be happening in the first place. I've written to Ford, and visited the dealership that sold me the vehicle and both are unsympathetic.

- Pollock Pines, CA, USA

problem #60

Jan 222007

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,080 miles
My over drive light came on suddenly and continually flashed during a ten minute drive home. The RPM needle spiked straight up a few times during the drive and it seemed like I "lost power". dean sellers Ford diagnosed an internal transmission failure requiring a whole new transmission for $3600. I have never used a service other than lapeer Ford and dean sellers. I bought the Escape (2001 XLT 4 wh) from lapeer Ford with 16,000 miles on it. The car never showed signs of this failure previous to yesterday. Dealerships. Searching the internet, I found that there was one transmission recall but when I put in my VIN it was free of recalls. Dean sellers charged me $89 to diagnose the car. I got another quote at american transmission in troy. They towed my car in. Ford test drove my car and electronically checked it. Previous repairs all done at lapeer Ford and dean sellers Ford: New tire at 16,000 miles; new ignition at 25,000; check engine light at 33,000; plug tire at 40,000; new windshield at 43,000; 4 new tires at 44,000 due to numerous flats (lapeer gave me 3 free); front brakes and wheel bearings at 55,000; tire nail at 60,000; new blades at 61,000; belt recall and tie rod and master cylinder at 69,000; crank case oil leak and rear brakes at 74,000; front brakes at 76,000; washer pump and multi-function switch and fuel filter at 78,000; rear wiper at 85,000; ABS light module, front brake pads, rotor pads right front ABS sensor at 86,000; air filter and battery cleaned at 89,000; license plate bulb and both front sway bar links at 90,000; front lights kept flashing, replaced daylight running lights control assembly at 93,000 and now at 94,000 the transmission. No one at dean sellers today told me that I might not make it home! but immediately upon leaving the dealership the transmission stalled especially during turns.

- Troy, MI, USA

problem #59

Nov 202006


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Vehicle is 2001 Ford Escape XLT 4X4. Full transmission failure and stall in overdrive on interstate with no advanced warning. Vehicle has under 70,000 miles. No wreck involved only by miracle. Cost of transmission is over $4,000. Happened to fast and with under 100,000 miles has got to be a defect.

- Newnan, GA, USA

problem #58

Apr 232006

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Stop right in street and no way could make it go if someone was behind me we would of been hit.

- Wormleysburg, PA, USA

problem #57

Dec 012005

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60 miles
For a few months now, my 2001 V6 automatic Ford Escape has had a problem trying to shift into the last gear at 45-50 mph. The vehicle's RPM's will be near 3000 for a good 30 seconds before it finally engages into the next gear. The problem is definitely worse on colder days, but it is still certainly noticeable on warmer days too. There is no smell emanating from the vehicle. I had a complete transmission flush at about 40K. The vehicle now has 65K on it. Have there been any similar reports filed and if so, could you please notify me? thank you.

- Ctr. Barnstead, NH, USA

problem #56

Oct 112005

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles


After the contact was pulling out from a highway on October 11, 2005 the vehicle acted like it was losing power. It would slow down, and then it would only go less than 10 mph. When this occurred the overdrive light started flashed. Three of the children in the car sustained minor injuries. The contact stated that seven months before she had the transmission flushed. There were no problems at that time. The contact took vehicle to the dealership, and they said that the computer showed the code P0733, that the problem was with the automatic transmission, and it would need to be replaced. The contact found that there were other people with similar transmission problem..

- Seneca Falls, NY, USA

problem #55

Aug 242005

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,500 miles
(1) [2nd failure] no warning. (2) transmission failure could have resulted in crash. (3) transmission replacement.

- Wayne, MI, USA

problem #54

Aug 252003

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,063 miles
2001 Ford Escape 33063 miles VIN [xxx] could have resulted in crash. (1) no warning (2) transmission failure (3) transmission was rebuilt by dealer under warranty. Updated 07/19/2012 information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Wayne, MI, USA

problem #53

Aug 182005

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
We are a leasing company and have had three (3) 2001 Ford Escapes to date that have had failed transmissions. Ford refuses to acknowledge our attempts to get reimbursement.

- Basking Ridge, NJ, USA

problem #52

Jun 272005

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Automatic transmission is starting to fail. The gear shifting is becoming more and more jerky. Grinding sounds are now audible during gear shifts.

- Palm Coast, FL, USA

problem #51

May 022005

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,915 miles
The O/D light started flashing.I drove the vehicle about 5 miles to my driveway.when I went to move the car it wouldn't go in reverse. Contacted dealer with no results. Sent car to transmission shop and had a rebuilt transmission put in.

- Lake Ariel, PA, USA

problem #50

Apr 072005

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles
Transmission failure resulting in unsafe operating conditions. Vehicle developed intermittent shudder during accelerations along with intermittent loss and slipping of forward gears. Hazardous conditions when merging with traffic or under normal driving conditions since condition was unpredictable and vehicle did not respond to driver's input. Appeared to happen mostly in cold weather conditions. Failure also resulted in non compliance with FMVSS regulations since shift lever did not correspond accurately to operator's intended vehicle driving mode (I.e no forward motion when shift selector was in drive position). Multiple technical service bulletins exist for this cd4E auto transaxle relating to this failure mode in Ford system and also on NHTSA website, so condition is known and is widespread on many vehicles. Created very hazardous driving situations before catastrophic failure resulting in inoperative vehicle.

- Holliston, MA, USA

problem #49

Feb 272005

Escape 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
Myself and a friend, deane griggs, have had the transmission fail in our 2001 Ford Escape, suddenly and without warning, at approximately 60,000 miles.

- Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #48

Dec 132004


  • 64,000 miles
The transmission would hesitate before accelerating in reverse. The dealership repaired the problem.

- Springfield, VA, USA

problem #47

Oct 212004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles
Transmission failed at 83,000 while driving on a highway at speed of 60mph. Was told by dealer this was a lack of maintenance and would cost approximately $3,800 to fix. Took to local mechanic who replaced trans. For $3,000. While taking apart old trans found that an internal component fell apart causing the entire transmission to fail. Said this was a defect in the transmission and not fault of 'lack of maintenance'. have contacted Ford since and they refuse to reimburse for expenses.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #46

Jan 032005


  • miles
The vehicle jerks and rapidly accelerates when pressing the gas pedal in reverse. When taken to get serviced they could not determine the cause of the problem.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #45

Nov 182004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,894 miles
Sudden failure of automatic transmission, necessitating replacement with complete new transmission and cooler.

- Bedford Corners, NY, USA

problem #44

Dec 082004

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles
Engine surge - Ford Escape 2001 - transmission failed at 54,000miles. In relation to intermit problems with the transmission, the vehicleS (often when placed in park setting) engine would surge causing that tachometer to race to about 5 to 6 thousand revolutions per minute. On December, 8, 2004 while in a parking lot and attempting to park the vehicle with the transmission set in D, the vehicle engine surged is the same manor as described above, and caused the driver to hold the brake with full force in order to keep the vehicle from hitting a parked car. The vehicle was taken to the dealer (freedom Ford, hampton va) when they replaced the transmission. They were not able to reproduce the engine surge.

- Suffolk, VA, USA

problem #43

Jun 152004

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,440 miles
Purchased Escape new in 2001. In 2002, with 30,000 miles, transmission had a severe shudder, so I took into the dealer and was charges over $100 for a transmission flush. Shudder came back about 3 months later, went back to dealer and they said that another $100 transmission flush was needed. I did not agree and left. In June of 2004, without any warning, transmission started whinning and would not shift. I was driving in the city at slow speeds. Managed to get it home(20 miles in about an hour!) and parked it. After that, it would not move at all. Had it towed to transmission shop(dealer wanted $120 just to run a check on it) and they said it needed a new transmission at a cost of $2600. Did not have the money, so it has been parked now for almost six months. Transmission is the cd4E, a problem child for Ford. I contacted Ford and they acted as if they had never heard of such a problem, and said they could not help me. Now, still making payments on it and with only 84,000 miles on it, I have no recourse but to let it sit until I can save the money to have it fixed.

- Gaston, IN, USA

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