Notes: The 2004 Ford Escape looks pretty good compared to other Ford Escape model years, but still has a trend of transmission problems, and engine problems from the NHTSA complaint data — so it's not a model year we can recommend.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
132,505 miles
Total Complaints:
13 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (6 reports)
  2. nothing, completely rusted out (4 reports)
  3. repair rusted wells (2 reports)
  4. repaired wheel wells (1 reports)
2004 Ford Escape body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Escape Owner Comments

problem #13

Jun 012017

Escape ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,200 miles


The wheel well is all rusted out. Started hearing a noise on the passenger side. Had it check out and need the wheel well replaced.

- , Victoria, US

problem #12

Dec 082016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 185,000 miles

I have an 04 escape. The left rear shock has completely broken through the wheel well. The estimated costs are ridiculous for that year model. From what I've read this is a serious problem Ford needs to address!

- , Booneville, MS, USA

problem #11

Sep 012016

Escape ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 171,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells

My car should be covered under the recall for Structural issues. Ford said its not, even thou it clearly is under the requirements. Called Ford, called recall line, reported it to the NHTSA, called the local dealers, etc. They all say its not an issue. I know that this car is highly unsafe to drive.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #10

May 102016

Escape XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


My Ford Escape has encountered a problem with rust in the rear wheel wells on both sides. So far nothing to significant, just rusting and starting to show on the outside. Other than this a great car though, this is the only non maintenance problem yet.

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #9

Dec 202014

Escape XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,361 miles

click to see larger images

excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells

inner wheelhouse rusted through

I purchased the truck from Freeway Ford in Bloomington, MN. They performed all maintenance on it from 2004 through early 2015. They NEVER mentioned this issue (and it did NOT develop overnight). It was a neighborhood shop I went to for a need it NOW repair when they were closed who reported the issue to me.

Not only was the wheelhouse rusted THROUGH but the hole was large enough we were lucky nothing fell out! The strut was in serious danger of coming THROUGH the floor of the cargo area (where my dogs ride) and we were definitely getting carbon monoxide IN the cabin (explained the drowsiness when driving more than a few minutes that also went away post repair).

I contacted the dealership, Ford, NTSB, Facebook rants, etc... This should be a recall issue. TWO (non dealer) mechanics and THREE body shops all said this is a notorious issue with the 2004-2005 Escapes and that it is always the passenger side rear. Screams design defect to me yet Ford does not stand behind their product and issue a recall.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #8

Dec 162015

Escape Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I took my Escape in yesterday for an oil change and tire rotation. The mechanic told me there was an issue with the passenger side rear wheel well. It looks pretty horrific.... I Googled the issue to see what the potential cost would be and stumbled on a BUNCH of complaints about this issue for the 2004-06 Escape. Today I called the body shop and he told me it would be $400 to fix and that they do a couple of them a month. He basically finished my sentence once I started telling him what the issue was. My question is.... I just had new tires, shocks, struts etc... done in March. Does it go that quickly? I can't imagine that there wasn't something starting to show at that time. Also, if this was "normal" then why wouldn't the drivers side show the same amount of rust? It's a horrible time of year financially for this to happen, but I guess it could be much worse. I was debating on just cutting my losses and looking for a different vehicle if the cost to fix was going to be too much. I still owe quite a bit on it and other than normal maintenance it's been a decent vehicle.

- , Dubuque, IA, USA

problem #7

Jun 202015

Escape Limited 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles


I am shocked at how many people have experienced the same issue that I am having with my Escape in regards to the right rear wheel well rusting out around the shock mount.

I initially noticed the issue when I heard a loud clunking noise in the right rear of the car. I thought there was something wrong with the rear shocks so I took it to a neighborhood mechanic. The mechanic told me that it was a frame issue and I needed to take it to a body shop. He also stated that it would probably cost hundreds of dollars to fix and some body shops would not be willing to fix it.

At this point, I am furious! I went to a body shop today on my lunch break and they told me it would cost upwards of $2,000 to repair. The guy at the body shop also told me that he has seen this issue on several 2004-2006 Ford Escapes and was well aware that this is an ongoing problem. I am so frustrated and agitated because I have taken very good care of this car, regular maintenance, and I have already spent $2k in the last year on it including 4 new tires.

By the way, Discount Tire failed to mention this problem to me when they installed the tires less than 2 months ago. Thanks a lot! I am so fed up with how irresponsible these huge million/billion dollar companies are. From what I have seen just in my little research that I have done today, Ford is aware of the problem, yet they refuse to establish a recall.

I called the Customer Care line at Ford and the representative that I spoke with told me very politely that there is nothing that they are willing to do about this issue and if I do get it repaired that I should be sure to keep the receipts just IN case they ever decide to do a recall so that I can be reimbursed!!! I think that's bull and as long as they are not forced to acknowledge the issue and admit that they are at fault, they are not going to. So hardworking tax paying people like me just have to bend over and pay thousands of dollars to repair an issue that the car shouldn't even have in the first place, or jump up and shell out thousands of dollars on a new car.

Ford doesn't give a crap and they will go on to continue make lousy cars and cheat hardworking Americans out of their hard earned money. I will never and I repeat NEVER purchase a Ford again!!! What they are doing should be illegal and they should be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law!!!

- , Plainfield, IL, USA

problem #6

May 072015

Escape Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Same right rear wheel well as everyone else. See 2005 Escape model complaints for more of the same. Loud thunk, burning rubber rattle. Had been getting worse for last month or so them went over pothole and sounded like exhaust pipe dropped and dragging. Shock mount fell off and hanging next to tire and sharp metal chunk it attached to is rubbing tire. Fell off because of extensive rust see everyone's pics, mine looks the same. Wheel well is gone needs replacing. Other wheel wells look fine no rust. There is rust around the inside of the lock for back hatch, not sure why it's inside car. Also around the running board and bottom of door and I think a bit near a fender. Other rust seems fixable. Low mileage so I'd like to fix. Waiting for price as just put in shop. Unemployed so can't get a new car and won't be able to get around without this one. Undriveable and unfixable according to one shop. Not hopeful seeing prices on this site since I'm in Mass.

- , Dorchester, MA, USA

problem #5

Mar 132015

Escape XLT 3.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells

Started to experience a rough ride and suspected new shocks were in order. When I looked in the right rear wheel well I was horrified to see that the wheel well had completely rusted through and the shock was hanging by a small piece of rusted metal. Brought it to a local autobody shop who wouldn't touch it for liability reasons. I am going to try another shop but will have to have the car towed on a flatbed to get it there. Has anyone had any satisfaction from FORD?

- , Matawan, NJ, USA

problem #4

Oct 012014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

click to see larger images

excessive rust in wheel wells

Took my 2004 Ford Escape to our mechanic because of a loud thud sound in the back right every time I hit the smallest bump. Was completely blind-sided when he showed me what he found. The entire rear right wheel well was completely rusted and corroded, looking like it would crumble at any minute. He told me it was unsafe to drive, which made me sick to my stomach knowing I'd been driving my 1-year-old in it everyday with this issue. I've talked to multiple mechanics/body shops saying they won't even attempt to repair it because it's a liability issue and if something were to happen they would be at fault. They said my best option is to sell it for parts, which would get me a whopping $800 if I'm lucky.

Meanwhile, I filed a complaint with Ford and have been in contact with a customer service manager who told me I should expect some rust with a 10-year-old vehicle. That's when I got angry. This is not just a small rust issue - I was told this could collapse at any minute and rupture my tire while driving. If this is considered "normal wear & tear" and Ford expects their vehicles to become safety hazards after 10 years, then I want nothing to do with this company.

I'm especially angry seeing there have been countless complaints about the exact same issue (always the right rear) which is clearly not a coincidence. It disgusts me knowing that Ford is well-aware of this issue and has done nothing about it. I understand that this may only affect a small percentage of customers and the chances of anything awful happening are slim, but heaven forbid it did! It's not a risk I'm willing to take. Now I'm left with an undrivable car that is worth next to nothing and have to go purchase a new vehicle that I can't afford. Thanks for nothing, Ford!

- , Trempealeau, WI, USA

problem #3

Aug 202014

Escape V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


click to see larger images

excessive rust in wheel wells excessive rust in wheel wells

THIS IS TERRIBLE - SO MANY AND FORD IS DOING NOTHING? I HAVE THE SAME ISSUE - EXCESSIVE RUST IN THE REAR PASSENGER SIDE WHEEL WELL, SHOCK HAS SEPARATED. CANNOT AFFORD NEW CAR OR ANOTHER CAR. What's worse? Mavis Tires put tires and then brakes on my vehicle and said nothing!!! Please help me and let me know if there are options for this other than my bank account.

- , Lynbrook, NY, USA

problem #2

Apr 212014

Escape XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

We just took possession of the Escape last week. Saw some paint /rust issue at rear latch.

Got the tags transferred and took it to a very good body shop for an estimate. First thing the owner did was look at right wheel well and showed us the outright hole and excessive rust there. He said that he sees that a great deal. And only in the right rear well. Ford has done nothing. Safety is now a great concern. Shock and strut are compromised and could cause an accident, according to the body shop owner.

- , Chassell, MI, USA

problem #1

Mar 192013

Escape Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Wheel wells rusting out. I have a 2004 Ford Escape - I leased it when it was brand new and then purchased it at the end of the lease. It's always been kept in a garage and washed every week. I commute only 1.5 miles to work. Everything was fine with it until March 19, 2013 - I started hearing a bumping noise and having a rough ride from the rear passenger wheel well. (I had taken to the Ford dealer March 18 to get the cruise control recall work done.) This continued to get worse. My husband looked at it and thought the Ford dealer must have somehow messed it up. Took it back to the dealer and of course they knew nothing! They took pictures and sent us a body shop estimate of $1790 plus to fix it. Our insurance company said not to use the dealer body shop, it's not a recommended shop. So we took it to a body shop owned by a friend and he and his staff looked at it. They even had our insurance adjustor look at it to see if caused by a pot hole. They said it's excessive wear and tear, only in that rear passenger wheel well and the car is not safe to drive because the wheel could fall off at any time! So, my vehicle that I have cared for and owned for 9 years and was worth $8,500 last week is now undriveable and worthless. The repair would actually cost $4,500 plus and probably would not hold. I am so angry the Ford dealer brushed us off even though he obviously knew the car was not safe to drive! He actually referred me to this website so I can see others have the same complaint, but Ford does not care. It's obvious they skipped a step on the assembly line on the right rear wheel but they won't admit it. I'm out $8,000 and have no car.

- , Omaha, NE, USA

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