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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,886 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.

2004 Ford Escape steering problems

steering problem

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2004 Ford Escape Owner Comments

problem #18

Sep 092016


  • miles


My vehicle was serviced for recall that was issued. The recall was for the subframe rusting through where it meets the control arm resulting in steering failure. My vehicle had this problem under way and was rusted through to the point of separation. The dealership performed the recall and installed a "brace" on the subframe but advised that the vehicle was not safe to drive because of the separation, which is exactly what the recall is designed to prevent. The dealer stated that since the failure/separation had already begun they could not repair it and gave me the vehicle back in a condition which is "unsafe to drive", according to the word of the dealership. My concern is that my vehicle is experiencing the safety issue for which the recall was issued and the vehicle manufacturer will not resolve the recall issue.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #17

Feb 012016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Escape. While driving various speeds, the power steering failed and the manual steering would activate without warning. The contact stated that the vehicle would have to be turned off and restarted in order to activate the power steering. The failure recurred. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and informed the contact that the vehicle was not included in a recall and no longer covered under warranty. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Tripoli, WI, USA

problem #16

Jul 012016


  • 99,987 miles
Had a recall from Ford shortly after buyiny car in 2014 about subframe rust.Ford said they fixed problem.about a year later the subframe broke complexly making frone wheel wobble and pull to right I went off the road into some brush before I got control of car!!I made it home and saw the (fix)a piece of flat steel holding left frame to right not a repair at need to replace complete sub frame.Ford blamed it on will not speak to me about it.I also had promlem with right rear shock coming up through floor no recall on that.lucky no injury or death.

- Centerville, MA, USA

problem #15

Jun 112016


  • 101,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Escape. While driving 30 mph, the contact lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the subframe for the steering was deteriorating. The contact stated that the vehicle was repaired per NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 (structure); however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 101,000.

- Solon, OH, USA

problem #14

Feb 102016


  • 143,000 miles
Engine cradle, part of the frame is under recall, is broke. Dealer applied "band-aid" manufacturer declines to replace broken cross-member, even though it is under recall. Recall #14V165000

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #13

Sep 052015


  • 59,000 miles
Ford's 14S02 recall was to deal with excessive rust on a subframe unit. If the recall inspection of the subframe did not result in characteristics warranting replacement, Ford instructed dealers to install a cross brace. Approximately 13 months after our 2004 Ford Escape had the cross brace installed the subframe unit failed while we were driving. The car violently jerked to the side and if there had been another car or any obstacle on that side of our vehicle we would have hit it. I contacted Ford several times and on each occasion was told Ford would not cover the cost of the repairs because they had already installed the cross brace - which was not the part that failed and was not the part for which the recall was initiated. The repair cost over $800. At the time of the incident the Escape had fewer than 60,000 miles. During each on my calls to Ford, and after being told Ford would not cover the repair costs, I asked to speak with a supervisor. Each time I was told they could have a supervisor call me 1 business day later, but they would not give me a time when I could expect the call so I had to be available at any time throughout the day. To summarize, the band-aid Ford put on to deal with the subframe problem (the cross brace) did not fail. The part for which the recall was initiated did fail even with the cross brace. Ford is denying coverage for the repair costs.

- Chagrin Falls, OH, USA

problem #12

Jun 092015


  • 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. He also stated that I should drive slow because the shock mount is completely rusted out. 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 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.

- Plainfield, IL, USA

problem #11

Apr 032004


  • 12,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while attempting to start the vehicle, the rpms increased. In addition, the contact stated that the head lamps and interior lighting dimmed intermittently and there was a noise coming from the steering wheel. Upon further inspection, the contact noticed that the steering fluid was leaking. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The vehicle was previously repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 (structure). The manufacturer was not notified of the failures. The failure mileage was 12,000. Updated 11/01/16

- Cottage Grove, OR, USA

problem #10

Mar 102015


  • 118,400 miles
While driving on a rough road I noticed a rattling in the rear compartment that I had never heard before. When I investigated I found the right rear wheel well had disintegrated from rust damage and the shock is now floating basically freely which is causing the noise. I am concerned for the safety and handling of the vehicle at this point. This seems to be a very common issue with Escapes and always the right rear wheel well. Why has Ford not issued a recall? this is clearly a systematic failure.

- Massillon, OH, USA

problem #9

Sep 012014

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • 123,481 miles
On a trip to upper peninsula, Michigan this past week we experienced a failure of the front subframe crossbrace, a near catastrophic event as the piece broke. We were in grayling, Michigan and were stopped near an independent service provider who showed us the damage and attempted to find a used part. The one he found had the exact same rust and break as ours and thus he ordered a new one from Ford. In the meantime we were forced to rent a car and continue on to our vacation destination. After we returned home I learned that there had been a recall of these vehicles for just such a failure. I took the car and the broken crossbrace to mike castrucci Ford in alexandria, ky where the warranty officer informed me that our Escape was not part of the factory recall. She was able to tell me why and was very helpful although clear that nothing could be done. The argument was presented that the failed part in the recall was made by a particular manufacturer and used in certain plants or vehicles. I get the point but I have a car that failed in exactly the same way due to excessive rust and presented the same risk of catastrophic failure that we narrowly avoided by luck. The repair replacement cost over $1000 plus labor. I believe vehicles like mine should be part of the recall. Our front wheel could have totally collapsed while we were traveling at high speed.

- Newport, KY, USA

problem #8

Aug 222014


  • miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Escape. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 14V165000 (steering) but the part to do the repair was unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure.

- Tipton, IN, USA

problem #7

Oct 042012

Escape 6-cyl

  • 40,423 miles
July 26,2014 in October 2013, I could not get my car inspected ( Ford Escape 2004 ) because the sub frame in the front was so badly rusted the steering rods was falling off and would not pass inspection. This was before the recall notice. 14502/NHTSA recall 14V-165, so I had a new subframe installed. Reference # 10547199. [xxx] at clarion Ford would do nothing because there was no recall at the time. I have sent all the information, and cost, to Ford in June 2014 and have not heard nothing from Ford. Is there anything that you could do that would have Ford contact me? thank you information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Lamartine, PA, USA

problem #6

Jun 022014

Escape 6-cyl

  • miles
2004 Ford Escape. Consumer writes in regards to lower control arm rust recall notice. The consumer stated while driving on the interstate, he heard a loud noise from the rear wheel well on the passenger side. He pulled over, and discovered the shock was hanging down. He was unable to pull it of. So he drove back home, and upon further examination, he discovered there was no fender left on the shock. Also, the trunk lid was rusting. The consumer he was able to remove the key from the ignition while the gear was in drive. The consumer stated he pulled into the driveway, shut the engine off and placed the keys in the console. He exited the vehicle to remove items from the back seat. Soon after, the vehicle started to roll backwards. Updated 06/01/16.

- Deerfield, OH, USA

problem #5

May 062014

Escape 6-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
I was driving down the road and hit a pothole, after hitting the pothole there was a loud clunking noise coming from the rear. After inspection the entire shock mount had rusted away from the body and became separated. It was free to jolt around and cause further damage. Not safe to be driving this vehicle now.

- Hopkins, MN, USA

problem #4

Feb 042014


  • 94,122 miles
Steering failure.

- Rapid River, MI, USA

problem #3

Aug 292013

Escape 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Escape. The contact stated that while driving 25 mph, the steering wheel seized and the brake and accelerator pedals would not respond to pressure. The contact was able to move the steering wheel after much effort but shortly after, crashed into a utility box. The contact was not injured. A police report was not filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The failure and current mileage was 90,000. Updated 04/22/14 MA when the consumers daughter crashed into the electrical box, it caught on fire, and spread to the vehicle. Updated 04/24/14

- Del Mar, CA, USA

problem #2

Sep 062005

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,500 miles
On two separate occasions while driving no more than 30 mph on city streets, I have lost power steering on my 2004 Ford Escape XLT. The first time this happened was 8/11/05 while I was 207 miles away from home on vacation. I made a right hand turn after stopping at a traffic light and all of a sudden I lost power steering. It was very hard to steer, but I managed to ease to the right hand lane. Fortunately, no one was behind me. Once to the side of the street, I placed car in park and started trying to turn the steering left & right until I felt the power steering return. I stopped at a Ford dealership to check the vehicle before the trip home. Dealer only looked under hood to check fluid and look for any obvious problem. No problem was found, and we made it home safely. The second occurrence was 9/6/05, same situation. I lost power steering after making a right hand turn after stopping at a stop sign. I managed to move to the side of street again, placed car in park, tried turning steering wheel until I felt power steering return. Drove to local dealership where they once again found no problem after checking wiring, pressure pump, power steering rack, & module. Nothing was replaced. I voiced my concern to service advisor that this was 2nd occasion and fortunately I wasn't on freeway or no one was behind me these two times. On both occasions I had my children in the car. We may not be so lucky the next time. I also asked service advisor about just replacing parts since can't find a problem, and he advised Ford doesn't allow them to do that since they didn't find a problem. This is the 2nd Ford/Mercury vehicle that has caused me nothing but problems, and I do not feel that we are safe in this vehicle.

- Folsom, CA, USA

problem #1

Dec 082003

Escape 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42 miles
I purchased a 2004 Ford Escape XLT on 12/8/03. On the way home from the dealership, the vehicle pulled strongly to the left, and an appointment was made to have the vehicle serviced. On 12/17/03, the left rear power window had an electrical short and would not close. It went into service and the electrical short was repaired. On 12/19/03 we brought the vehicle in to service for the pulling to the left. They tried an alignment on the vehicle, and it still pulled to the left. The service people told my wife to drive it for 400-600 miles to see if it corrects itself. On 12/22/03 I brought the vehicle back to the Ford service department to have them correct the problem; as I did not feel that continuing to drive it was a proper solution. The service tried the alignment again, tried to rotate the tires, changing the tires, but nothing corrected the vehicle from pulling to the left. They contacted Ford who advised that the trouble may be the steering rack. On 12/26/2003 I brought the vehicle back to the service dept, and they put on a new steering rack, but the vehicle still pulled to the left. The informed that they have no idea why the new 2004 with now 600 miles on it still pulls to the left. The informed that they will have a Ford engineer come out to see the vehicle to see if they can figure out what the issue is. I have spoken to the Ford salesman that sold me the vehicle and the sales manager on my concerns on buying a new vehicle with these issues right from the start. They informed that there is nothing they can do until the Ford engineer comes to check the vehicle out. Our concern now is that the vehicle pulls to the left for unknown reason that the Ford service experts cannot figure out, these problems are occuring when the vehicle had only 42 miles on it.

- West Haven, CT, USA

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