My Escape From the Ford Escape

Jul/16/2013 6 Malia Lane
Ford Escape - Towing Issues

Since I’m still getting emails from readers of this blog and my website about the nightmare that began with my trusting Ford’s representation that the 2009 Ford Escape was flat towable, I wanted to post my last update here.  It details my last interactions with Ford’s not-so-helpful customer service people and how I finally was able to get rid of the Escape as my tow vehicle. Of course I’m still interested in hearing your own experiences, so always feel free to comment with them.

Me and Fit

 

In April, 2013, I treated myself to a birthday present by trading in the Escape for a Honda Fit and am loving it!

Facebook page with pictures and more info.  It’s public so you don’t need a Facebook account to view.

 

 

 

Recap of final disposition with 2009 Ford Escape

April, 2013:

Since Cathy Brewer (the Ford Customer Service rep who initially helped me in 2010), was no longer returning my many calls and email, I tried to reach Debbie Estes, the regional rep for Leif Johnson (my Austin dealer).  I couldn’t get her, but was told by Carmen that her role is to make sure my car is repaired properly by the dealership using all of Ford’s resources.  But anything about towing problems or buy-backs is not her role.

I asked who else I can talk to since Cathy Brewer is no longer responsive.  Carmen said in these cases, the customers are expected to work out these things with the dealer.  They do have a “replacement program” but my car does not qualify.  She said the extended warranty that Ford so “generously” provided for me expires on August 25, 2013 and they will stand by that warranty until then.  (Gee thanks!)

She tried to assure me that if I follow proper procedures for towing as outlined in the manual that I would have no problems.  She said the only customers that are having problems are not following the procedures step by step to the letter.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that and although I don’t discount that may be true in some cases, I towed a car for 10 years before I got the Escape, I know what I’m doing – I most certainly did follow every instruction to the letter, wrote them out with pictures and illustrations I looked at every time and had 3 dealers along the way that fixed the car verify that I was doing everything correctly and the transmission fluid level was correct.  But of course, that’s Ford’s “party line” and they even sound like the puppets they are when they recite it now.

The best help she could provide was to give me an address to send a letter to, but then said that would just end up with her and there is nothing further she could do.  Talk about Catch-22!  I informed her of how many letters I have written to several Ford departments, including two certified letters to William Clay Ford, Jr. and have never  even received the courtesy of a response, so I wouldn’t bother to spend the postage again.

Oh, she did add at the end, “Thank you and have a great day!”  That really made me feel a lot better – NOT!

Since I was getting ready for an extended trip to and all around Tennessee, I found an email I had from a friend last year that I forgot to post to the blog then, One Ford Complaint Resolution.  I found it interesting to hear that there are other avenues I hadn’t explored, but I also know that Texas’ lemon laws are harsher than Florida’s – another Texas law that does nothing to protect consumers but better serves the interest of big money (like the non-disclosure issue that prevented me from knowing pertinent details before I bought the car).

My further points to her:

Cathy Brewer did not say the case would be “closed” and I would have no further recourse.  She assured me I could continue calling her no matter where I was and that Ford would not abandon people who bought cars that they represented could be flat towed.  She assured me the engineers were working on a permanent fix. But the reality is, two years later, Ford’s only fix was to stop saying the Escape and Fusion were flat towable.

Now that I am faced with towing again, I no longer feel safe doing that because:

1.  After August, 2013 when I have no warranty, if the transmission fails again, or an axle falls off again in the middle of the road, I get no help from Ford.

2.  Ford is no longer representing that the 2013 models (with the exact same 6F35 transmission as previous years) are flat towable (see 2013 Ford Escape Manual page 195) , and there is lots of conflicting and misinformation about the 2012 models (some manuals said they could, then those unlucky people got later “supplements” from Ford saying they changed their mind).  So how can I be asked to trust that they will stand behind the years’ models that they most certainly did represent were flat towable at the time?  Hundreds of people bought these cars trusting Ford’s word, but they most certainly have not stepped up to the plate to handle this in a comprehensive or consistent manner to make those people whole.  They have side-stepped the issue, replaced transmissions repeatedly when they absolutely had to, argued about installing the Remco pump, have never addressed the issue publicly, and basically have shown no concern whatsoever for all the inconvenience and ruined plans they have caused us RVers.  They obviously don’t care about this market and just want us to go away.  I am extremely disappointed in this “made in America” product, but especially the greedy and unscrupulous company that won’t stand by their word.

3.  A three year warranty is not nearly enough compensation for the fact that I bought the car intending to keep it much, much longer and it will now cost me time and money I should not have to be spending now, including $1,000 for a new base plate.

So it is obvious that Ford as a company has thrown me and other RVers under the bus, so to speak.  I am happy with the final resolution that Leif Johnson Ford offered.  They made it possible for me to trade in the Escape for a Honda Fit at their dealership and I am more than happy with it!  I have heard from many others towing it and the CR-V that they also have no problems towing them.

It will be interesting to see what Ford does in the future for owners who bought the Escape (and other models) once their warranty (factory or extended) expire.  Based on my experiences and from hearing from so many others, I have absolutely no faith they will do the right thing once they don’t have to, but if anyone wants to share their own experiences (pro or con) I will certainly post them here.

It’s also gratifying to see that my website and blog come up in the top 5 (usually #1) for Google searches about flat towing an Escape.  I never intended to become a Ford-basher, but the truth is the truth and I’m happy to share and shed light on what I have learned from this experience.

Happy trails & towing!

Malia

  • Ray

    I have a 2011 Escape with fried transmissio #1. We are considering trading for an Escape Hybrid. Does anyone have any news, good or bad, on the tow ability of these 2010 or 2011 Escape Hybrids? Or do we just “lick our wounds” and spend the extra $$ for a CRV?? Thanks!

    • Ray, first I’m so sorry you’re a member of the Escape fried transmission club – not a happy place to be. When I was ready to hit the road again in 2013, I looked into trading for an Escape hybrid because from everything I had seen at the time, since it’s a completely different sealed transmission (eCVT vs. the 6F35), I didn’t see reports of problems with it. See FMCA forum discussion about the 2012 model: http://community.fmca.com/topic/4116-2012-ford-escape-towing/

      But that’s when I discovered they weren’t making the hybrid in 2013 and there were no earlier models available nearby at the time. Plus, I really didn’t want to buy a discontinued model given the way Ford had handled their previous representations that the Escape was flat towable. Just don’t trust them at all anymore. I figured if I had to bite the bullet and take the financial hit of trading much sooner than anticipated, I would go with Honda since I knew so many RVers who had been happy with them. I went with the Honda Fit and have been very happy with it.

      I truly wish you success with whatever you do and would insist your dealer go over and above “normal” service and trade-in deal given the misrepresentations and that you didn’t get what you were promised. I was happy with the way my dealer handled it since they arranged a trouble free trade with my Honda dealer, but there doesn’t seem to be any consistency or official Ford policy regarding this.

      • Ray

        Thanks for the quick reply. We love the size of the Escape and would not be too worried about buying a 2010 or 2011. The eCVT transmission seems to be fairly failure free. Have you had any other indications? I can’t seem to find much info for / against it as a toad. But then, I keep leaning towards a CRV too!

        • I also loved the size and other things about the Escape, but overall the massive problems I had (and not only with towing) convinced me it was certainly not worth it, especially after losing respect for Ford as a company.

          This 2011 forum discussion talks about people towing the hybrid with no problems.
          http://www.irv2.com/forums/f85/towing-a-hybrid-87093.html

          I saw some newer discussions on RV.net and if I were you, I’d go to the Dinghy Towing section – http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/listings/forum/31.cfm – and do a search for Escape Hybrid and see what they say. And do the same for the CRV because the only thing I’ve heard people complain about is some of the procedures you have to go through to tow it, although it didn’t sound that bad to me.

          I know how hard this type of decision is and how you can go back and forth till you’re dizzy, but it’s good to get as much research done as possible and learn from the experiences of others. That’s another cool thing about RVing – the community is so helpful!

  • Brian Winkler

    Thank you Malia for sharing your experience with the Ford Escape. We are bound to soon purchase a toad vehicle, during our research we initially thought a Ford escape would be a great vehicle for us. With a little research and having read your experience along with many stories of similar fate, we’ve decided to consider other brandsoads. Thank you again for helping us save from the trouble.

    • I really appreciate your taking the time to comment and let me know you benefited from the experience I shared. At the time I was researching before I bought one, I had not seen any negative experiences and Ford was still asserting the Escape was flat towable. Obviously, I and many others found out differently later and to our detriment. I hope you find just the right toad for you!