really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
118,520 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Ford Escape Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #56

Nov 192016


  • 165,000 miles


My 17-year-old son was driving the car home from work and after making a right turn the car severely jerks to the right. He almost went off of the road. We took the car to our local mechanic and were told that there was corrosion and separation of the control arm and we would need a brace to complete the repair. The mechanic said when he took the car for a test drive the steering wheel is out of alignment and he almost hit a mailbox when the car jerked to the right. When investigating how to get a used part I discovered that there is a recall for this exact issue (Ford recall #14S02). My car fits the same model year and purchase/registration locations as indicated in the recall, but Ford refuses to make the repair under the recall. Currently we are completely unable to drive the vehicle because it is unsafe for my son and other drivers on the road for the car to be driven. Had my son been driving faster when this happened there could have been a terrible accident.

- Reed City, MI, USA

problem #55

Nov 102016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. Upon exiting a parking area, there was an abnormal suspension vibration near the front of the vehicle. The front subframe fractured and impacted the front passenger side tire. The contact and a mechanic inspected the fact that there had been premature rust and corrosion associated with the underbody, subframe, and the bar that was connected to the frame. The vehicle was unable to be driven and was towed by the mechanic. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and provided no solution other than for the contact to take the vehicle to the dealer. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign numbers: 14V165000 (structure) and 15E045000 (suspension). The failure mileage was not available.

- Ashtabula, OH, USA

problem #54

Dec 012014


  • 107,317 miles
The front passenger side lower control arm failed while my son was driving the vehicle. He was going straight, and the right front side just buckled under while he was in motion. Luckily he wasn't on a heavily-travelled road when it happened, because there would have been a serious accident. The vehicle, although it is a 2003 Ford Escape, is not part of recall #14S02. Why, I don't know? no one at Ford can explain this to me, as it is exactly what has been happening with this make and model/year. We had it repaired at great cost to us, with exactly the parts/labor that Ford had been describing in the recall. Our mechanic even got the replacement crossmember from Ford! Ford themselves wanted nothing to do with the repair. In addition to the lower control arm, and crossmember, the tire had to be replaced, along with the right front axle assembly, as they were severely damaged from the frame failure. I would really like an answer as to why my vehicle is not included in the recall, when the recall describes exactly what has happened to my vehicle.

- Barker, NY, USA

problem #53

Sep 232016


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving approximately 33 mph and attempting to turn, the front passenger side wheel failed and the vehicle became difficult to control. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The contact was able to pull the vehicle over to the shoulder and discovered that the front passenger wheel was rusted and twisted outward. The failure caused the rear control arm to almost fall off. The vehicle was not diagnosed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 140,000.

- Bloomfield, MI, USA

problem #52

Aug 192016


  • 1,360,026 miles
While driving on highway the steering started to become unstable and loose. Moments later the lower control arm (sub-frame) on passenger side separated causing loss of control almost ending in crash. Never received notice of the recall below to fix this problem which was issued about two years ago. Dealership contacted. They are dragging their feet on an answer as to whether they'll fix. Recall # 14S02 2001-'04 Ford Escape recalled for rust, steering problem Ford is recalling 385,762 2001-'04 Ford Escape SUVS because a rust problem may cause the lower control arm to separate, potentially resulting in diminished steering control. | April 8, 2014 | Ford Motor Company recall title: Front subframe crossbrace installation NHTSA recall number: 14V165000 Ford recall number: 14S02

- Tallmadge, OH, USA

problem #51

Jul 232016


  • 64,958 miles
While driving, the front right tire felt like it was going to fall off the vehicle. I took it to my mechanic who stated that the sub-frame was cracked and Ford had a recall in place. I had it towed to the nearest Ford dealership who stated that it would be covered under the recall. Instead, they put a cross-bar on the cracked sub frame because they determined it was "not broken" only "cracked". the sub frame had "rusted and corroded" due to Ford's own admittance of "faulty parts". I asked if the vehicle was safe and they stated "no". I asked if the vehicle would pass inspection and again they stated "no". I asked if this was a "bandaid" that they put on to make themselves feel better about the fact that anyone operating the vehicle could lose total control. I asked to speak to a manager, who told me there was nothing he could do. He did state he would makes some calls and called me a day or two later to say, that his manager said if I wanted the vehicle fixed, I could pay $1,200 for the part and an additional $600-$800 in labor to fix the vehicle, or I could trade it in. I am beyond frustrated that Ford will not back up their product. The vehicle has less than 65,000 miles on it!

- East Pembroke, NY, USA

problem #50

Jun 192016


  • 145,000 miles


In may of 2016, I took my Ford Escape in for repair of a recall. My understanding of the recall was to prevent a failure of the lower control arm as I read the recall notice and the conversation that I had with repair center agent. A month later the lower control arm separates. After I had my vehicle towed to Ford, it was expressed to me that recall was not to prevent failure but merely to stabilize the vehicle in the event of failure. Had I not had the recall performed on my vehicle they would have repaired the Escape at cost to them, but because I had the recall performed then I most pay for it. Why would Ford authorize such a ridiculous recall effort. First of all if it's know issue, why not repair the issue. Secondly, had I know the ramifications, I would never have had the recalled performed. The control separated while driving and I hit a bump.

- Phoenixville, PA, USA

problem #49

Jan 152016

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While the vehicle was being serviced for routine tire maintenance, the contact was informed that there was severe corrosion to the rear axles of the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 150,000. Updated 07/12/16

- Mascoutah, IL, USA

problem #48

Feb 072016


  • 145,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. The contact stated that the vehicle had a recall on the frame and was repaired. While driving 20 mph, the vehicle shook and the steering wheel wobbled. The front driver side wheel was straight while the front passenger side wheel faced outward. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the subframe was completely fractured and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 145,000.

- Dekalb, IL, USA

problem #47

Feb 012016


  • 167,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving approximately 10 mph, a loud thumping sound came from the front of the vehicle and the steering malfunctioned. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the subframe seperated due to severe rust and corrosion, which caused the lower control arm to fracture. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 167,000.

- Edwardsburg, MI, USA

problem #46

Nov 152015


  • 138,100 miles


I was driving home from work on a highway(60mph) when my steering became loose, weaving left and right. Had to slow down to 20mph until I got home. The vehicle was inspected, found that the passenger side subframe had broken in 2. Ford is recalling 385,762 2001-'04 Ford Escape SUVS because a rust problem may cause the lower control arm to separate, potentially resulting in diminished steering control. Ford dealers will install a reinforcement crossbrace on the affected Escapes. The subframe has broken apart due to the corrosion, and it's unsafe to drive. Since Ford is aware of this, they should have both subframe replace as a recall and not adding a crossbar as a recall. Currently the vehicle is parked on my driveway. The estimated cost to repair was too costly.

- Chelmsford, MA, USA

problem #45

Dec 102015


  • 121,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving approximately 40 mph, a thumping noise was heard from the passenger side of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the subframe was severely rusted and fractured. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact also stated that a brace was placed on by the dealer in the subframe as part of a recall in 2014. The approximate failure mileage was 121,000.

- Goshen, IN, USA

problem #44

Dec 032015


  • 50,000 miles
My Ford Escape had recall 14S02 completed, which was supposed to "fix" the rusting out sub-frames made of inferior metal due to salt-belt states salting of roads, by installing a flimsy brace across the sub-frame, but I'm honestly not sure what it does besides prevent your car from "completely" losing control. Ford refuses to truly fix the problem and it posses a serious risk to me, my family, and others on the road. If the sub-frame does detach on my car, which it is one nasty pot-hole away from detaching, than I will lose control of my car when the control arm breaks off the sub-frame and I will be in a potentially life threatening situation. My local independent mechanic warned me of the danger of this problem just recently while it was stationary, but Ford did not. Ford simply brushed me off and didn't explain to me how dangerous this supposed "fix" is. I am student, and in order for me to fix this on my own the cost will be unbearable. I do not think this is fair or following federal law, and I don't know how this pathetic brace held on by a couple of bolts was considered a real fix for a very dangerous problem. The manner in which Ford has handled this situation has been deplorable as well, and I have received nothing but rudeness from their service department, and customer service representatives. The danger of this particular problem is that when the car is in motion and it does detach, especially on a highway, then I, and others will be at a risk due to loss of control of steering.

- Winchendon, MA, USA

problem #43

Nov 162015


  • 90,470 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving at various speeds, there were abnormal noises coming from the front of the vehicle. In addition, both front tires leaned inwards. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the front control arm, sway bar, and tie rods needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the mechanic also stated that the subframe corroded and needed to be replaced. A week later, while reversing at a low speed, the contact heard a loud noise coming from the front of the vehicle. Upon inspection, the contact noticed that the control arm and axle fractured. The contact was aware of NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 (structure) however, the VIN was not included. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 90,470.

- Kankakee, IL, USA

problem #42

Nov 052015


  • 107,000 miles
My wife owns a 2003 Ford Escape. While driving it down the road she noticed the steering was getting uncontrollable. She pulled the car off the road and called aaa for a tow. The car was towed to midas where we usually have our work done on our vehicles. Midas looked at the car while still on the tow truck. They said that it should be covered by the recall on the car. Midas called waikem Ford and was told to tell us to bring it there. We had the tow truck driver take it there. This was on 11/05/15. I was called on 11/6 and told they would not be able to look at the car that day and Monday 11/9 they would look at it. This was in a message to my phone. Monday I received another message from a guy named craig that he had taken pictures of the problem and sent it to Ford Motor Company. That was all the message said. Tuesday I received a message from craig that the car was done and we could pick it up anytime. I took my wife over to get the car and she drove it home which is three blocks away. She didn't notice anything wrong do to the short trip and slow speed. Saturday 11/14 she took the car out and once again the steering felt uncontrollable. I went over to waikem Ford and ask why the car wasn't fixed. I was told that Ford Motor Company had denied the fix on the car. Cross brace was installed which is what they do on the recall. How ever the frame rusted out where the control arms attach and the cross brace did nothing. The car was released to us without being told that the problem wasn't fixed. We were not told Ford Motor Company had rejected the request for repair. This is a known defect in the car, and Ford should have authorized the fix. Ford Motor Companies decision along with waikem Ford releasing that car to us put my wife and the public in danger.

- Massillon, OH, USA

problem #41

Oct 302015


  • miles
I own a 03 Ford Escape and when driving at about 30mph my tire started rubbing the fenderwell and pulling hard to the right I had to fight to keep my car from hitting things and about 5 seconds after all of a sudden there is a very loud clunk sound from my passenger front tire. And my front end dropped and wheel locked up. Causing me to lose control of my vehicle. Nearly missing parked cars. I was told my lower control arm separated from subframe. Which has a corrosion issue (this is a know problem with this model, recall reference number --- 14S02).. I was advised by a private mechanic that my subframe needed replaced. I googled and found out about this recall and had it taken to my local Ford dealership and so far have heard nothing.. this is ridiculous. And because of this safety recall, it damaged my car even further, broke my C/V joint. Probably messed up the axel

- Wellsville, OH, USA

problem #40

Jul 082015


  • 160,000 miles
The right front sub-frame is dangerously rusted through, and my mechanic says it's not safe to drive as it may collapse an any moment. I took it to the Ford dealership in North canton, Ohio this summer (approximately June or July) and they said the VIN number wasn't on the recall list, so they refused to fix it. The situation is such that I have a vehicle that is unsafe to drive, and Ford Motor Co. Will not fix it. As of now, I am afraid to use this vehicle. The question is: Why has Ford recalled and repaired most of these rusted sub-frame problems, but not mine?

- E. Canton, OH, USA

problem #39

Oct 122015


  • 60,000 miles
Steering lose with little control. Mechanic states a separation of the lower control arm due to excessive corrosion in frame. Matches Ford recall 14S02. Yet recall was performed June 2014. So safety recall failed.

- Collingswood, NJ, USA

problem #38

Oct 022015


  • 148,000 miles
I was driving along a highway getting ready to turn when the frame broke and I was barely able to get off the road when it stopped because I found out later the frame that kept the C V joint in place came apart and my tire twisted into the wheel well. The recall that was to keep this from happening had been performed but the repair did not keep this from happening to my vehicle.

- Grand Ledge, MI, USA

problem #37

Sep 302015


  • 100,078 miles
Went to get car inspected and the exhaust Y pipe and engine cradle subframe has corrison. Called the Ford recall and for some reason my vehicle did not have a recall, but there were other 2003 recalls for the control arms and corrison of the frame and members. This seems to be a problem with a lot of Ford vehicles but not on the recall list and should be. Vehicle has 100,078 miles. There is also noise come from an area around the tires not sure which one.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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