pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
161,000 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace frame (4 reports)
2003 Ford Escape steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments

problem #4

May 152017

Escape LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 269,000 miles


Lost steering suddenly after hitting a pothole and had to be towed to local repair shop. He said the subframe was completely rusted out and needed to be replaced. Ford wanted $2900 for the subframe part alone so the mechanic looked around and found one that, while rusted, will work. The addition of a cross bar as result of recall #14S02 is nonsense. They essentially bolted a cross bar to a seriously rusted subframe and probably exacerbated the problem by drilling holes into a rusty frame. I don't know if it is the metal they used for this subframe or the condensation from the AC dripping constantly onto the subframe, but the recall should have covered the entire subframe and maybe a reroute of the AC condensation. It seems ridiculous to me that the fix was "well...you're subframe is going to rust through and fail so we're going to install a cross bar onto your rusty frame so that your steering won't be completely gone....mostly gone but not completely." I got the complete song and dance from Ford Customer Care///'we're so sorry but there's nothing we can do" This'll be my last Ford.

- , Sandwich, IL, US

problem #3

Jan 232017

Escape XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

Pretty much the same as others with the same issue; rusted out sub frame. Dealer was amazed that it was being driven (as if we were supposed to know the potential danger from a few rattles?). Curious as to why this wasn't spotted when it was in for the 'control arm' recall. I'd pay for the part no problem if Ford would cover the labor. Quoted $800.00 to fix this.

- , Barron, WI, USA

problem #2

Dec 032016

Escape Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

click to see larger images

corroded frame, detached control arm

This vehicle 2003 Ford Escape had a recall for faulty sub-frame in 2014. The fix was to bore holes in the rusted to crap sub-frame and then install a steel reinforcement bar to hold everything together when the sub-frame eventually failed so you wouldn't crash too hard when you lost your ability to steer a little bit. Well I being a mere girl, I probably don't really understand engineering issues and what seems to me to be like putting an infected band aid on car "cancer" was probably their best effort to engineer around actually fixing the problem. So you have a rusty sub frame and you drill holes in it.. OK that sounds like a good plan. But won't that make it fail even faster? Oh I see you need to save money and not necessarily lives. Great plan then.

So this awesome "fix" has now failed. Surprised? So I call the dealer that performed the repair. I told him the repair failed since the part now rusted through at the point of the drilled hole on the passenger side. He says "Oh no! Well when they get that bad, there is nothing we can do. You will probably need to get a new car." So I call Ford and they say that their only responsibility was to install the "fix" and they have performed their duty there. Oh and some other crap about how they understand how I feel and the blah blah blah kinds of lies that service people are trained to spout.

So anyway, their fix caused my car to fail and they won't do anything about it. I told them they should all be ashamed to work for Ford. And I told them to send their engineers back to school to learn about rust and how it works.

They told me to take my car back to the dealer to have it fixed. But I said why would anybody do that. Your engineers don't know how to build a car that doesn't rust where it really matters. And your repair people don't know that drilling holes through a rusty sub frame might not really be a good idea. Then I told her to hang up so I could take the survey they promised me when I called and she hung up but I never got to do the survey... wonder why?

Update from Dec 21, 2016: Took the car to a local repair shop. When they put it on the lift, they could see that the new reinforcement bar was attached to the sub-frame with some square steel reinforcements on top of the sub-frame. This I would assume was because they were not able to attach it to an already rotted sub-frame. But the new bar being as strong as it was, pulled the bolt and the steel reinforcement plates right through the sub-frame. So the front wheels now are sitting at an outward angle and the steering wheel is off kilter by about 45 degrees from straight up. It will cost about $2,000 (estimate) to repair. They are buying a used sub-frame from a southern state where there is no salt on the roads and then trying to get all of the rusted bolts and parts out without damaging anything else. Cheaper than a new car, but Ford should be sharing in this expense. They know they used defective metal - -possibly found it in a cow-yard nearby and got it real cheap. Saved them money and didn't weigh much so they got to sell it at a higher profit and declare a higher MPG rating since it didn't weigh any more than a cardboard cutout would have. Shame on Ford!

My sister offered to sell me her 2003 Ford Windstar, but I checked and it also had a recall for the exact same problem, so Ford knows they do not have good metal in their 2003 vehicles. I know I will never buy another Ford no matter what the year.

Oh, and to add to my complaint. My Dad is 95 this year and broke his hip. If I had a real car, I could go see him and spend Christmas with him. But sadly I don't have a real car, I have a Ford. So my Dad will have a lonely Christmas thanks to the idiots that designed, manufactured and "repaired" my little rust bucket. I am sad!

- , Chisago City, MN, USA

problem #1

Dec 262015

Escape XLS 3L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles

The day after Christmas 2015, I was driving home from work through a rough part of town when I suddenly lost control of my car. I was only two miles from my home but knew I could not make it. I had to call a tow truck and eventually had it towed to a Ford dealership where they said the subframe had corroded and the control arm separated from the subframe. After waiting 2.5 weeks to hear back from Ford, they will not install a new subframe, only adding a reinforcement cross-brace. I have read online that this cross-brace does not provide much support.

Anyone with similar issues? The car was included in the recall #14s02

- , Syracuse, NY, USA

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