really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,940 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #27

Nov 162016


  • 53,800 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the air bag warning indicator illuminated. After securing the seat belt, the indicator remained illuminated until the engine was turned off. The contact did not feel safe while driving the vehicle. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 53,800.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #26

Sep 012005


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While in park, the air bag warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer on two separate occasions where it was diagnosed that the air bag connector underneath the front passenger side seat needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired both times; however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Eastover, NC, USA

problem #25

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 #24

Mar 242015


  • 160,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving at 67 mph, the cruise control failed to disengage. As a result, the contact crashed into an embankment and the vehicle rolled over multiple times. The air bags failed to deploy. The contact sustained minor scrapes and bruises and the two passengers in the rear of the vehicle sustained bumps, bruises and scrapes that required medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The VIN was included in NHTSA campaign number: 12V353000 (engine and engine cooling, vehicle speed control). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 160,000.

- Sand Point, ID, USA

problem #23

Nov 132014

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
2003 Ford Escape XLT. Airbags didn't deploy when the consumer hit a deer. The consumer stated the front of the vehicle caved in, upon impact.

- Fife Lake, MI, USA

problem #22

Jan 122014


  • 68,000 miles
TL * the contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, she heard a loud popping sound and lost control of the vehicle. The contact mentioned that the vehicle went across four lanes, rolled over twice, landed into incoming traffic and none of the air bags deployed. A police report was filed. The driver sustained three broken vertebrae, and lacerations to her head. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 68,000.

- Peterstown, WV, USA

problem #21

Feb 122014

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the air bag warning indicator remained illuminated. The dealer was notified of the failure however, they stated there were no recalls. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 112,000...updated 08/11/14

- Fancy Gap, VA, USA

problem #20

May 192014


  • miles
My airbag light stay on, had Ford dealer check out the problem, inform of the defect with the seat belts harness is not working up to stander. If I got into a crash, the seat belts would not hold me back.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #19

Apr 302014

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 0 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the air bag failed to activate when the seat occupant was utilizing the seat. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic where the failure was unable to be replicated. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unknown and the current mileage was 230,907. Updated 09/02/14 the consumer stated the vehicle was taken to be repaired. It was advised that the spark plugs needed to be replaced. The failure continued. Updated 09/12/2014

- Warner, NH, USA

problem #18

May 012012

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 133,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape XLT. The contact was traveling 35 mph when the air bag warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 133,000 and the current mileage was 133,400. Updated 8/28/12 cn updated 08/29/12.

- Clinton, OH, USA

problem #17

Feb 182009


  • 35,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact was driving approximately 40 mph and the SRS warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel until the engine was turned off. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the wiring harness was replaced. Most recently, the malfunction recurred. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 35,000.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #16

Oct 082011


  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated the air bags light illuminates and there was a constant beeping sound in the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who ran a diagnostic test and there was a code#B1869 stating the wiring harness for the driver and passenger seats and body harnesses needed to be replaced. This would be an expense of $686 to the contact. The manufacturer was notified who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 86,000.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #15

Nov 172011

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
Airbag warning light repeatedly flashes warning code#47. Lic mech can clean connector contacts and reset computer code but if won't reset, bag(s) may not deploy. Mech advises prob is well known occurrence w/ 1999-2005 Ford Escapes. Codes#46/47 (drivers seat/rt frt passenger seat) appearing as a result of original equipment defective wiring harnesses for airbag/pretensioner seat belt system. Only fix if light stays on and can't be reset is to replace wire harnesses; cost $550+ (must remove seats, pull up carpet to gain access to harness and replace same). NHTSA investigated issue in 1999 (action# SQ99026 Nov.'99-May.-2000) but closed case with no further action. Internet inquiry indicates large number of complaints about above and also failure of airbag deployment in accidents. Internet indicates issue involves Mazda tributes also as Ford associated with Mazda and uses same harness and system. Ford apparently has a replacement harness to fix problem but owners must pay for part and labor as Ford doesn't acknowledge defective original equipment.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #14

Feb 182011

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 136,000 miles
We have a 2003 Ford Escape the airbag light has came on and went off sporadically in the past 3 years but went out. This time it has stayed on so we took it to the Ford dealer and they said the seat belt wiring harness on both the front seats was bad and if there was an accident the air bag might not deploy the vehicle has never been in water so there is no reason for the wires to be bad other then they where inadequate to begin with. They said to fix it they would have to take out the seats pull the carpet back and replace the harnesses.

- South Jordan , UT, USA

problem #13

Oct 252009


  • 56,900 miles
Aug 2007- air bag warning light came on. Dealership found defect in driver/passenger air bag circuit located under front seats (dtc code - D1990/D1994). Replaced connectors & harness($490). Suggested cause was motion of adjusting power seat. Now, Oct 2009 (mileage - 85,000) air bag warning light is on again. First flashing, then off for a few days, then solidly on again. Is this circuit located in a place where it shouldn't be" is this why there are complaints about Escape air bags not opening in a crash? can someone check out the location of the wiring for this circuit? is it causing air bag failure in Escapes? do we need deaths? has Ford made changes in the new Escapes"

- Sterling, VA, USA

problem #12

Jul 212009


  • 63,899 miles
Purchased 2003 Ford Escape 04/05/08. Air bag light came on a week later returned vehicle for other minor fixes was told light was not important as the bags would not deploy. During oil change on 12/08 told Ford service dept. Again about air bag light same answer. Also inform them about car shaking was told it was because I waited too long for oil change. Took vehicle in for oil change 07/08/09 was refused vehicle told it was dangerous for me to drive found rt front lower balljoint loose in steering knuckle worn out steering knuckle need to replace both lower ball joints and rt front steering knuckle probably cause of why vehicle was shaking and would cost about $1700 and were not sure if extended warranty would cover. They were rude and I broke down. This car has had the shakes since I bought it. I finally took my vehicle home to bring it back the next day. I picked it up on the 15th once Ford stated all repairs were completed vehicle was road tested and engine light was gone except they did nothing for the air bags. This shop is $12.07 miles from my home approx halfway through the engine light came on and the car started shaking between 45 and 50mph. I called them when I got home gave me another appointment different diagnostic. No one in this shop can tell me if any recalls have been done on this vehicle. I have a handicap daughter who gets her medical care at the veterans administration hospital an hour away. I need a safe vehicle. My family cannot afford another car. These people never give me a straight answer and put down whatever they want on their invoices. This shop is run by a husband and wife team no one cares if my vehicle is safe they just want to make money off of us. Can you please help me find out what has been corrected on my vehicle VIN. Thank you very much.

- Gales Ferry, CT, USA

problem #11

Feb 252009


  • 100,321 miles
I have a 03 Ford Escape, and the trouble is endless. The car will not start at times and it is a strong smell of gas when this happens. I have had it in and out of the shop about 6 times and has had the car for only 2 years. The failure to start is scary because you don't know if the car is going to explode or what. The dealership tells me that it is a sensor that goes out and tells the car it doesn't have to start. Been replaced 6 times and the other day it did it again. I hate to go out of town because of the fear of getting stranded on the highway. And another thing the smell of the engine is crazy my daughter has asthma and talking about a problem for her it is. I can go to work and go back 30 minutes later to my car and you can tell that it is still smelling of course where I got it from they told me that it was no concern it was due to the fact of them dropping oil when they did a change, come on people 2 months later. I fear that one day it will explode I just pray to god that my family is not in there. The airbag light will not go off and from reading in here I am scared to death. Something really needs to be done about this problem before some family loses a member.

- Big Spring, TX, USA

problem #10

Oct 112008


  • miles
Problem with air bag light, take by to dealer on numbers time (5). Every two weeks for the time of purchase (10/11/2008) can't seem to get it right the dealer stated the bag won't work when need.

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #9

May 152007

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The air bag light goes on. Some times it will remain on and sometimes it will flash. I had the air bag module replaced ($600) and it was ok for 2 months and started to happen again. The problem went away and has since reappeared. I have searched the internet and found alot of other Escape owners who are having the same issues. I believed that this is a safety issue and should be look at.

- Holbrook, NY, USA

problem #8

Mar 292007

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I own a 2003 Ford Escape up to now I have not had any problems I guess knock on wood I have been lucky. Lately the airbag light started blinking and then it stays on. From reading some of the complaints there might be several reasons as to why this happens. I have read that there are many people having this same problem, maybe Ford should take the first step and recall the vehicles to get this fixed.

- Miami, FL, USA

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