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Ford Escape Transmission Problems – Avoid the 2008 Ford Escape!

Ford Escape Transmission Problems – Avoid the 2008 Ford Escape!

The Ford Escape is a compact crossover vehicle that has been produced and sold by Ford since the 2001 model year. Sold over four generations, this car utilizes either a front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive layout in a 5-door SUV body style. Even with the popularity of this vehicle over the years, the Ford Escape transmission problems eclipse the worldwide recognition of this vehicle. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Despite the Escape being produced over multiple generations and decades, the reliability of this car is not on par with other similar vehicles on the market. Consumer Reports only gave the newest Ford Escape a predicted reliability rating of 2 out of 5 and a score of 62. JD Power gave the 2020 Ford Escape a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of predicted reliability, which is only above average.

Signs of a Faulty Ford Transmission 

  • Delayed Shifting

If your transmission takes a while to go into the proper gear or the shifting is not smooth and jumpy, your transmission liquid could be too low. Low fluid levels could be due to a transmission fluid leak, fluid contamination, or water intrusion. Make sure you stay up to date with your transmission fluid level’s routine maintenance to prevent Ford Escape transmission problems.

  • Slipping Transmission

Transmission slipping can be caused by low transmission fluid, contamination of the transmission fluid, or the lack of routine maintenance. Slipping can also be due to internal wear and tear on transmission parts inside of the transmission itself. If your engine is revving highly along with the slipping transmission, this is a sign that you have worn out clutches. Damaged clutches are a direct cause and symptom of Ford Escape transmission problems.

  • Burning Smell From Under the Hood 

If you notice a burning smell, this is a clear sign you have a problem that needs to be addressed. A burning smell is usually caused by a fluid leak in the transmission or a burning clutch. If you can catch and diagnose the fluid leak, you might be able to save the transmission from any further damage. In addition, a buzzing sound can also be an indicator of a bad internal sealing surface, a bad valve seal, or low transmission fluid.

  • Grinding Gears

One of the main Ford Escape transmission problems is the gears are grinding when you try to shift in your car. When your transmission grinds, this is directly related to the clutch not releasing, the shift synchronizer rings, or the shifter having an adjustment problem. If your transmission fluid and oil is too low, contaminated, full of debris, or is the wrong fluid altogether, this can also cause the problem in manual cars. 

  • Clutch Pedal Grabs Too High or Too Low

If your clutch pedal is engaging very low, this is usually an issue with the linkage or the hydraulic system. To fix this issue, a simple adjustment or bleeding of the system could solve the problem. If the clutch pedal is grabbing very high, this could be due to a worn clutch disc, worn pressure plate, and other Ford Escape transmission problems. 

Worst Ford Escape Model Years

Regarding the Ford Escape’s reliability, the worst model years are the 2005, 2008, and 2013 years. The top three concerns all relate back to the prevalent Ford Escape transmission problems, with the number one issue being the car stops working completely in the 2014 Escape at around 80,000 miles. 


The second most common issue across every model year is transmission failure in the 2006 Escape occurring at around 83,000 miles, with owners having to pay a hefty price of over $3,000 to repair or replace the mechanism. 


Lastly, the third-worst issue in the Ford Escape throughout the years is the computer,  powertrain control module, failure in the 2005 Escape at just over 100,000 miles. This electrical concern costs owners around $2,000 to repair, which adds on expenses to the money forked over for the Ford Escape transmission problems.

2005 Ford Escape

The 2005 Escape is known for its reliability concerns, with owners staying the car shut down while driving with no warning signs at all. Furthermore, the powertrain control module fries out at around 100,000 miles, with the Ford Escape transmission problems adding to the lack of safety.


The main categories of concern in this car are the body and paint, electrical system, engine, windows and windshield, interior accessories, and transmission. The top transmission issues are the transmission failure, the car not engaging in gear, the car not shifting into reverse, the car jumping to neutral, and the rough shifting.


One of the most severe Ford Escape transmission problems in any year of car is the transmission failure. Unfortunately, in the 2005 Escape, the transmission failure typically occurs at around 100,000 miles, with owners having a most common solution of replacing the entire structure for around $2,720. 

2008 Ford Escape

The top category of concern in the 2008 Ford Escape is the transmission category, followed by the steering, body and paint, engine, interior accessories, and the windows and windshield. The worst transmission issues are transmission failure, loss of second and fourth gear, the car lurching into gear, and the fluid leaking. The cost of fixing the transmission failure is to replace the transmission at around 87,000 miles, with the typical repair cost being $3,320.

2013 Ford Escape 

The 2013 Ford Escape has numerous issues – some of which have caused this year of Escape to be recalled due to safety issues, transmission problems, and engine performance unreliability. Along with the reports that this car was susceptible to catching on fire and antifreeze could potentially leak onto the engine, the Ford Escape transmission problems are expensive fixes that can affect the longevity of this car.


The main transmission concerns in the 2013 Escape are the premature transmission failure, the transmissions slipping and jerking, unexpected shifting, hard downshifting while driving, and shuddering while shifting. The most common solution is to replace the transmission for around $4,650 at nearly 72,000 miles.

Ford Escape Recall

In 2015, Ford recalled certain model year 2001-2008 Ford Escape and Mariner vehicles that were produced between March of 2001 and September of 2009 due to transmission problems. The affected vehicles all contained a 2.3-liter or 3.0-liter engine that was rebuilt between June and July of 2015.


These rebuilt transmissions contained a faulty lever bolt that affected the shifting, meaning that the bolt could not be properly tightened and the control lever could disengage without warning. If this occurred, the car would not be able to shift, leading to many more Ford Escape transmission problems.


If the shift lever disengages, a driver would be unable to shift gears and not tell the gear position of their vehicle. If the disengagement occurs while driving at high speeds, the gear indicator may show the car is in a ‘Park’ position when it is not. This can cause the car to unintentionally roll away and cause damage to the driver and other civilians. 

2021 Ford Escape Review

Regarding the latest model of the Escape, we have to analyze this car for any potential Ford Escape transmission problems to see if it is safe and lucrative to purchase. The 2021 Escape’s positives are the ample cargo capacity, the user-friendly infotainment system, the ride and handling, and the high predicted reliability rating.


The negatives of the 2021 Escape are the cheap and tacky cabin materials, and the transmission can sometimes not select the correct gear quickly and effectively. The Ford Escape transmission problems caused a lower rating in some metrics, while JD Power still gave the 2021 Escape a 4.5 out of 5 on the reliability scale. 


The 2021 Ford Escape earned the #4 spot in the Compact SUV category, a #10 spot in the Crossover SUV category, and the #7 spot in the SUVs with 2 Rows category. In addition, this car earned an 8.1 out of 10 on the US News Scorecard, making this a reliable and safe car to buy despite the Ford Escape transmission problems.

How to Prevent Ford Escape Transmission Problems


If you can tell your transmission is already on its last leg, there is only so much you can do to keep the car running smoothly. In the future, however, when you get a new car, certain precautions and safety measures can keep the transmission running longer. 


While it is very important to take immediate action as soon as you notice something is wrong with your transmission, you can take steps to prevent the problem, like routine maintenance and monitoring your transmission fluid levels. 


There are some factors that might be a little bit out of your control when it comes to the longevity of your transmission. Some of these aspects might be faulty issues with your Ford Escape, like poor design, recalls, or manufacturing errors that have harmed your transmission. In this case, the only real thing you can do about this is to research and educate yourself on the year of Ford Escape you are looking to purchase. 

  • Monitor Fluid Levels

Since lubricant is key for all moving parts to prevent friction and overheating, the transmission fluid does the same role in your transmission system. It is critical to have the right levels and quality of transmission fluid, ensuring that the transmission is working correctly and preventing Ford Escape transmission problems.

  • Driving Conditions

How you take care of your car while driving is key to the impact on how it maintains itself. The driving conditions that you put your car through and how you drive your car can determine your transmission’s overall health and lifespan. If you frequently drive in heavy traffic, stop and go very quickly, and drive on rough terrain, this can take a toll on your transmission and cause Ford Escape transmission problems. 

  • Weather

If you frequently drive in cold weather or winter conditions, this can negatively affect your transmission system. Cold weather can wreak havoc on a car’s transmission system, causing the transmission to slip and causing Ford Escape transmission problems, like rough idling. 

The Bottom Line

Determining the most prevalent Ford Escape transmission problems can help you make a smart decision when deciding which model year is best for you to buy! Like the 2005 and 2008 Escape, avoiding certain years can help you save money on costly transmission repairs and replacements.