really awful
Crashes / Fires:
8 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
88,006 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

Oct 012012

Escape 6-cyl

  • 86,900 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that she received notification of NHTSA campaign id number 12V353000 (engine and engine cooling, vehicle speed control) and took the vehicle to the dealer for recall repairs. The contact stated that approximately six months after having the vehicle serviced under the recall the vehicle began to exhibit acceleration issues. The contact was driving approximately 20 mph and the vehicle would not accelerate over 60 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they advised her that the catalytic converter failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 86,900. The current mileage was approximately 88,841.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #36

Sep 012010

Escape 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
I took off on a 4 lane highway one morning and depressed the gas pedal mostly as I was merging in traffic. When I attempted to let off the pedal, the car continued to accelerate. This was the second time this has happened to this car. Currently there have been two recalls regarding a random acceleration problem. The first was repaired when it happened due to an accelerator cable problem. This time, I quickly shifted to neutral and pulled over...coincidentally next to a state police officer. He assisted me in releasing the throttle body on this car as it was clearly stuck. The date I provided is not an exact date, however, I called Ford the day it happened and they said they couldn't do anything about it because the original recall was said to be fixed. I left the engine cover off up until today, which is because it's being fixed due to the current recall. This brings me to my current issue. I have called Ford once more since the incident asking them if they found the solution and if they would repair my cruise control cable, as it was damaged (which also is the description of the recall). They say it's a pre-existing condition which is very untrue because I have called twice about this issue, long before the recall. I verified that they do show record that I called. I want them to pay for this $35 cruise cable because it's their fault it broke, due from a safety issue, and I called about it long before this recall which should prove I have a legitimate complaint. Fortunately for Ford and myself, I was intelligent enough to know how to stop the vehicle prior to an accident.

- Montvale, VA, USA

problem #35

Nov 152012

Escape 6-cyl

  • 79,132 miles
Sudden and rapid uncontrollable acceleration after removing my foot from accelerator. Despite my best efforts to brake and arrest my movement the vehicle still was moving forward. I impacted the rear end of a truck that thankfully was heavy enough to completely stop my forward movement. I had this vehicle in my local Ford dealer to address the cruise control recall. I was assured by the technicians that it was indeed modified (that the plastic engine cover was fitted with new longer fittings/bolts). This uncontrollable acceleration incident happened after alleged recall/repair.

- Manlius, NY, USA

problem #34

Oct 252012


  • 157,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to the dealer to have NHTSA campaign id number: 12V353000 (vehicle speed control: Cables) performed, however the defect was not corrected. The contact stated that while driving with out the accelerator pedal engaged, the vehicle accelerated to 45mph and the RPM increased to 1,000. The vehicle was driven to the dealer for further inspection. The VIN was not available. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 157,000.

- Roanoake , VA, USA

problem #33

Oct 152012


  • 166,310 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated the vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for recall repairs associated with NHTSA campaign id number 12V353000 (vehicle speed control: Cables). The remedy part was unavailable at the time and as an interim remedy the speed control cable was disconnected and reconnected when the recall part became available. However, the cruise control failed to operate after the remedy repair was performed. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who informed they were not liable and the repair would be at the owner's expense. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 166,310.

- Ypsilanti, MI, USA

problem #32

Aug 082012


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that she received recall NHTSA campaign id number: 12V353000 (vehicle speed control:cables). The contact stated she took the vehicle to the dealer for repair in August of 2012 and was told that she would have to wait until the parts were available to get the vehicle repaired. The contact stated that she called back in October and was told that the parts were still unavailable. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure.

- La Place, LA, USA

problem #31

Oct 012011

Escape 6-cyl

  • 199,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while sitting at a stop sign, there was an increase in engine rpms up to 7,000. The contact mentioned that she shifted to park and shut off the engine in order to maintain control of the vehicle. After inspecting and restarting the vehicle, the contact realized that the failure was not caused by a stuck accelerator pedal since the engine remained revved up. The vehicle was towed to dealer who diagnosed that the failure was caused by carbon build up in the throttle body plates which kept the plates open and did not allow it to close. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 199,000 and the approximately current mileage was 217,000. Updated 8/30/12 updated 09/05/12

- Siler City, NC, USA

problem #30

Aug 042012


  • 97,016 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while attempting a left turn, the vehicle suddenly accelerated as if the cruise control was engaged. The contact lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a fence. The police were notified and a citation was issued. There were no injuries and there were minor scratches to the vehicle's front bumper. The vehicle was drivable after the crash. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 97,016.

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #29

Jul 202012

Escape 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
I had just stepped down on the accelerator (harder than usual) to pass two semi's. the throttle stuck in full speed. I was able to stop by turning the key off and pulling off to the shoulder. After calling the Ford dealer at albert lea Minnesota he suggested that I look around in the are where the rubber air intake is and if possible take the rubber intake off and feel around inside. While doing that I could see that the shaft at the end of the cruise cable had jammed up against the engine cover and locked up at full speed. I was able to force it back into drivable position and called the albert lea dealer to tell them what the issue was. Then I stopped at the Ford dealer in rochester Minnesota to take a look at tell me if the car was safe. They took the engine cover off and told me it was good to drive. Later I took it to my regular mechanic and he took it one step farther by disconnecting the cruise from the throttle control shaft. I will be insisting that Ford do the fix to raise the engine cover and replace the cruise control as the cable for the cruise is bent near throttle control end.

- Oronoco, MN, USA

problem #28

Jul 012010

Escape 6-cyl

  • 78,138 miles
While driving approximately 35 mph, I lifted my foot from the accelerator pedal as I approached a red traffic light at an intersection. The pedal stuck and the vehicle continued to travel at approximately 35 mph. The vehicle traveled partially through the intersection, before I was able to stop the vehicle by braking. Fortunately, no other vehicles were traveling through the intersection and I escaped being involved in a serious traffic accident. This vehicle's accelerator pedal has since stuck on other occasions.

- Kealakekua, HI, USA

problem #27

Jul 162012

Escape 6-cyl

  • 154,000 miles


Friend had just installed fuel filter on car. Was testing car - had car in park - floored accelerator, accelerator became stuck. Wouldn't budge. They opened up hood and had to cut cruise control cable to make shorter this auto had previously been recalled for vehicle speed control cable and been repaired. I believe the accelerator became stuck as a result of this not being done properly. I believe it was done before they corrected the way they were doing it.

- Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #26

Oct 122011

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph, the vehicle accelerated on its own. The contact had to place both feet on the brake pedal before stopping the vehicle. The vehicle was then towed to the dealer for a diagnosis. The dealer stated that they needed to replace the accelerator cable. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 98,000 and the current mileage was 103,000. Updated 8/23/12 the consumer stated the vehicle accelerated for 60mph to over 100mph in 2 miles. The engine reached 7000rpm. The brakes and parking brake locked. The vehicle was stopped by turning the ignition off. Updated 09/06/2012

- Long Beach , CA, USA

problem #25

Jan 192010


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the vehicle abnormally accelerated. The contact stated that he had to shift the vehicle into neutral and coast to the side of the road in order to stop the failure. The contact restarted the vehicle after allowing the engine to cool and took the vehicle to the dealer for inspection. The dealer cleaned out the throttle body and stated that ice was building up around the carburetor. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The failure mileage was 95,000.

- Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #24

Apr 172008


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the vehicle unexpectedly accelerated several times without warning. On one occasion, the contact was turning right at 20 mph and the vehicle accelerated before pressure was applied to the accelerator pedal. The contact stated that the vehicle continued to accelerate until it stalled. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer on several occasions, but they were unable to diagnose the failure. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 70,000. The VIN was not available.

- North Tonawada, NY, USA

problem #23

Feb 232011

Escape 6-cyl

  • 78,563 miles
I parked my car in my garage (as I always do, my car is garage kept)after returning home from a sporting event at a local arena. I was in my home for approximately 10-15 minutes, my dog started acting funny, then the smoke alarm went off in the house. I went to check it, saw smoke coming in my kitchen from the top of the door to the garage. My husband opened the door to find fire coming out from underneath the driver's side fender of my 2003 Ford Escape XLT. He grabbed the fire extinguisher located just outside the kitchen in the garage and proceeded to attempt to put out the fire. The fire extinguisher did nothing to help put out the fire and it just started to get bigger. I called 911 and was advised to exit the home. We went outside grabbed garden hoses to continue to put out or contain the fire but it kept growing. The fire department arrived and attempted to put out the fire. My entire garage went up in flames and was completely destroyed, my kitchen is completely burned as well. My entire house is completely destroyed from heat and smoke damage. The house and all it's contents are considered unusable and we have lost everything. The fire investigator confirmed the origin of the fire was the drivers side of the vehicle, but gave no indication as to what exact part.

- Lake Mary, FL, USA

problem #22

Mar 102008


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated the throttle body would become stuck in the open throttle position whenever the outside temperature was below zero. The contacts personal mechanic advised that the failure occurred because the throttle was freezing in the open position and seemed to be a manufacturing defect. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 70,000 and the current mileage was 90,000.

- Hixton, WI, USA

problem #21

Jul 072003


  • 145,000 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Escape, recently purchased pre-owned. After having the vehicle approximately 3 weeks, while putting it into reverse to back up, suddenly it was as if the accelerator got stuck, the motor was revving up to 4 grand....I put the vehicle drive thinking maybe my floor mat was stuck under it, as I pulled to a redlight, I almost ran through the redlight with oncoming traffic because acceleration increased and it took all I had to stop the car by pushing the brakes with both feet as hard as I could. The floormats were not the problem.... I pulled off the side of the road, with my one year old baby in the back seat. I then turned the Escape off, and restarted it, the engine sounded as if it were going to blow, it was revving up to 4 and 5 grand. I then called a mechanic I knew, he came to get my vehicle to drive it back to his shop. During his very very short drive, he never had to put his foot on the gas at all, and the vehicle drove 40 miles per hour by itself... so far, all we know is that the iac valve had went bad...(idle air control)....I have had it back a few days and not had any more problems at this time, although I am very careful and scared this will happen again.... during research, I found their were almost 500,000 2003 model Ford Escapes recalled for similar problems with the acceleration. I contacted 2 different people with Ford Motor Company, on 2 separate occasions, explaining what had happened. They both assured me that "my vehicle" was not one of the half million involved in the recall. I find something very wrong with this because this was not just a freak thing that happened. This is dangerous and could have cost me and my baby our lives. There are to many other complaints by people with the same exact thin that has happened to them, and they are being told the same stories. Something isn't right, and Ford Motor Company needs to investigate further into this potentially deadly problem.

- Haleyville, AL, USA

problem #20

Apr 102003


  • 145,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated when the vehicle is put into drive it would abnormally accelerate without depressing the accelerator pedal. The contact was able to stop the unintended acceleration by applying the brakes. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing or repairs. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 145,000 and the current mileage was 150,000.

- Blanesmill, VA, USA

problem #19

May 192010


  • 130,000 miles
2003 Ford Escape vehicle was driving down interstate highway when the vehicle began to accelerate uncontrollably. The driver accelerator pedal would not respond to being pushed/pulled while the engine revved. Brake was fully depressed and vehicle continued to accelerate through braking. Vehicle transmission was disengaged to neutral, engine revved to 5500 RPM. Vehicle was coasted to a shoulder and shut down. Vehicle continues to rev to 5500 RPM as soon as it is started without response from accelerator. Accelerator was not caught/stuck to anything just non-responsive. Vehicle behavior caused a near accident situation - failure to disengage transmission by another 10 seconds would have caused a serious collision. Vehicle has been towed & remains in a repair shop. Vehicle continues to exhibit behavior and mechanic has determined this is due to a stuck throttle cable. Ford dealer was contacted & service mechanic noted he has seen this issue before but a recall has not been issued. Dealer has refused to honor any type of warranty/coverage of repairs. Research of Ford website & NHTSA indicates no open/previous recalls regarding issue. Third-party site cites recall of throttle issue as recall id 57885 w/ Ford contact #, however.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #18

Mar 242010


  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated upon staring the vehicle, there was an abnormally increase in engine rpms. He proceeded to drive the vehicle, merging onto the highway. The vehicle accelerated without driver intent to speeds of up to 45 mph. The contact stated he had to use extreme force on the brake pedal in order to stop the vehicle. The dealer advised that he no longer drive the vehicle until it could be inspected. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where they replaced the iac valve in an attempt to remedy the failure. The contact had not experienced the failure since the date of repairs. The failure mileage was approximately 96,000 and the current mileage was approximately 97,000.

- Mantua , NJ, USA

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