really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
139,701 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.

2003 Ford Escape brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments

problem #8

Aug 022016


  • 182,060 miles


I began merging onto I 820 when my vehicle (by itself) floored the accelerator. I tried pressing the brake (it wouldnt press down, it was hard as a rock). I used both feet to no avail. At 75-80 mph I jammed it into neutral. The RPM's were still at max. By this time it had slowed (I was on the shoulder of the hiway) to about 20 mph, then jammed it in park. I looked at the instrument panel and all the instruments were on 0. I hesitated then gave the car some gas, it was still running! I couldnt even hear the engine until I revved it. I proceeded to turn off the ignition. The car did turn off. I noticed a 17 yr old boy dying back in 2012 -13 from the same act my car did. Its bad enough to lose a child but to lose a child because of a malfunction from a vehicle and the company stating they will have to look into it further, is nothing short of total negligence and refusal to accept responsibility for ones error and we want to know what has happened to our youth? look who's raising them and giving them excuses.

- Ft Worth, TX, USA

problem #7

Apr 272015


  • 118,546 miles
0N Apr 22, 2015 while driving from shady spring wv to princeton wv on I-77 to a drs appt, my wife and I noticed a popping sound coming from the right front of the veh when veering or turning right. I had to work that day after I returned from the dr and had planned to take the veh to a mechanic after I got off to find out the problem. While driving home from work on pluto road in shady spring, I rounded a curve to the right at 20 mph and something broke causing the veh to come to a sudden stop. I had the veh towed to a&R service ctr in shady spring and was notified that afternoon that the sub frame broke/ lower cv joint had came loose and that there was excessive rust and corrosion covering the whole underneath of the veh. I notified kc preowned auto whom I had purchased the veh from in Sept 2014. He went to the mech and looked at the vehicle and called me and stated the good news is there is a recall on the sub frame that had broken and could be taken to Mountaineer auto in beckley wv for repair. The veh was taken on Apr 27 2015, and after being sent to a body shop for a rusted and broken bolt, a new sub frame was placed on the front. My wife picked it up on Jun 20 2015 and noticed driving home a vibration coming from the front right and a grinding sound coming from the middle of it. I took it back to Mountaineer auto the next day and was told by the svc rep (J T) that Ford was not going to put anymore money in to this veh and there was nothing they would do. I notified the wv atty general for help and after trying to rectify the issue received a letter that nothing could be done. The veh sat in my driveway until Feb 3, 2016, when I saved up money to fix it myself. I took it back to Mountaineer auto and was told the carriage bearing was broke, and nothing could be done due to excessive rust and corrosion. Took it to 2 brothers and received the attached statement.

- Shady Spring, WV, USA

problem #6

May 152014


  • 148,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving 75 mph, the contact smelled smoke coming from the engine. The contact noticed the vehicle was smoking and rushed home. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the brake system module harness and master cylinder needed to be replaced. In addition, the ABS warning light illuminated and the braking system caught fire. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was 148,000. The VIN was not available.

- Sterling Heights, MI, USA

problem #5

Jun 202014


  • 127,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the brakes failed after the contact applied force to the brake pedal. The steering wheel began pulling to the right. The vehicle came to a complete stop after applying force to the brake pedal. The manufacturer was notified and did not offer a remedy. The vehicle was driven to a local mechanic, who diagnosed that the ABS anti-lock system needed to be replaced. The repairs were not completed on the vehicle. The failure and current mileage were 127,000.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #4

Jan 252014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 109,419 miles
We purchased the vehicle 30 minutes prior. We were in stop and go traffic until leaving the freeway 1 lights prior to the accident. When my daughter tried to use the brakes the pedal went straight to the floor. When she pumped them numerous times, there wasn't any change. She didn't have any brakes. She rear ended my newly purchased vehicle from the same dealership. Police were at the light where she rearended me. They confirmed no brakes, my husband did, the tow truck driver too. When it was received to the body shop on Monday morning the brakes were very soft according to the technician. After sitting for a week, the brakes worked fine. They cant determine why the brakes failed. The dealership was the first call I made at the accident and they told me they know it had legal brakes. Come to find out the brake fluid was black and has an outstanding recall with the ABS that had never been taken care of. There is also a recall on certain master cylinders which were faulty/leaking and the stock numbers. Unfortunately the stock number was removed from the master cylinder. We have a vehicle that never even made it to our home that is now totaled. The dealership is only going to "make it right" with proof that the brakes failed. The police report states such and I have the report from the bodyshop, but after waiting for the insurance to have the test done, they cant confirm loss of brakes. They can only state the fluid being black. We now are having to fight to not lose our trade in value and to not have a reportable accident against my daughter vs a mechanical failure. This is a nightmare both the dealership and the insurance are not making this easy. The most expensive vehicle I ever owned for 30 minutes is all I can say.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #3

May 312013

Escape 6-cyl

  • 201,708 miles
Loss of use of brakes while coming to a stop at a busy intersection. Jamming the brakes all the way to the floor brought the car to a stop, but was very slow to respond. Mechanic inspected hoses and lines and found the passenger front brake hose to be split and leaking. This was a horrifying experience as I had my young kids in the vehicle. Fortunately, I was not stopping from a faster velocity when this issue occurred. I have learned that the tight bends in the brake hose(s) on this make/model of vehicle may be a factor for his happening to various consumers, so this is worth investigating.

- Lagrange Park, IL, USA

problem #2

Apr 082013

Escape 6-cyl

  • 165,878 miles
The front brake line hoses blew out (R & L) while driving in the city. The parking brake was ineffective in slowing the vehicle as it was traveling down hill. With no means of slowing, the vehicle was turned into a parking lot in an attempt to get on level ground where it was more controllable and could be stopped more easily. The parking lot was not large enough to slow the vehicle and a choice had to be made to crash into a building or drive off the edge of the parking lot to another lot that was approximately 4 feet lower. The 2nd option was chosen. Once the vehicle had landed with great force, it was directed uphill where it eventually came to a stop and put into park. Unfortunately, extensive damage was done to the frame and underside of the vehicle including oil pan, exhaust system, engine mounts, radiator support frame and under body engine and transmission mounting points. I was told by the tow truck driver, the Firestone auto center and found in other research that Ford Escapes are known for rubber brake line failures. I have had vehicles much older than this and have never had a rubber brake line dry rot and rupture like these. This seems to be a known issue and should be addressed before more damage is done and more people injured or worse. We were lucky. This could have been much worse. Safety issues like this need to be addressed with an immediate recall.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #1

May 232012


  • 65,000 miles
While driving my Escape, the front brakes started to make a knocking/thumping noise. When I got home, I removed the tires and notice that both the front disk brakes rotors where de-laminating. With you finger nail you could pull off hunks of metal. I still have both rotors. And the brakes had only about 15,000 miles on them. Brake job was done by a Ford dealer. The disk where turned and they are original equipment.

- Middletown, CT, USA

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