Ford Escape Years to Avoid (Revealed)

The Ford Escape is a compact SUV known for its roomy cabin, smooth drive, and wide selection of powertrains and configurations.

That said, the Ford Escape has had its fair share of problems over the years. So if you’re considering buying a used Escape, it’s important to understand which years are the most reliable and which ones you should be giving a swerve.

In this article, we’ll look at the best and worst Escape years. We’ll also provide a short summary of the main issues faced by every Escape model in the last 15 years.

Which Ford Escape Years to Avoid: Quick Answer

There are plenty of Ford Escape years to avoid, but the worst ones have to be 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014. Aside from exhibiting the largest amount of problems overall, these model years suffer from serious engine issues that can lead to catastrophic damage and expensive engine replacements.

The 2006 Ford Escape is an example of the problematic first-generation, of which pretty much every model year apart from 2004 and 2007 should be avoided. A faulty engine prone to failure and a transmission that goes hand in hand with it are only the tip of the iceberg. They also have problems with brakes that tend to get spongy at random, potentially leading to accidents. Finally, being over 15 years old, they have severe rust issues.

Ford Escapes of the second generation are even more problematic than their predecessors. The worst of the bunch are arguably the 2008 through 2011 models, but none apart from the 2012 models deserves attention here. Faulty transmission, the engine that stalls while driving, faulty power steering, gas leaks, and various electrical system failures are some of the most common problems with the second-gen Escapes.

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The third-generation Ford Escape is less problematic than the first two, but the inaugural 2013 and 2014 models follow the trend their predecessors had set. Faulty transmission and power steering failure are present here too, and so are various electrical system issues. Meanwhile, the most prevalent problem of the third-gen Escapes seems to be the defective engine design where the coolant tends to leak into the cylinder, potentially causing catastrophic engine failure.

If you’re looking into buying one of the newer Ford Escapes, note that the early fourth-gen 2020 models already showcase a potentially worrying trend of electrical system problems.

Which Year Escape is the Best?

2019 is the best Ford Escape year to buy thanks to the high reliability scores from J.D. Power (80/100) and Edmunds user reviews (4/5). Furthermore, it boasts the best PPMY index score (0.17) of all Escape years within the past 15 years and has been affected by a single recall.

2018 is fine too, although it exhibits a slightly larger number of complaints. Being the last couple of years of the third-generation Ford Escape, it’s not surprising that 2018 and 2019 stick out as the most reliable. Most issues were ironed out by then, and only the mentioned coolant leak remained unresolved. However, the number of complaints related to that particular problem had fallen significantly during these two years.

If you’re, on the other hand, looking for an older and more affordable model, then 2007 is the way to go. It does suffer from the same set of serious problems as its first-gen brethren, albeit on a much smaller scale since the number of complaints is much lower here.

Do Ford Escapes Have a Lot of Problems?

Ford Escapes tend to have a lot of problems overall, but some model years are still as good as the best vehicles on the market.

The most reliable models tend to be the ones marketed near the end of the generation. By then, most issues that plague the early models end up getting fixed.

Meanwhile, new models within every Ford Escape generation exhibit a worrying number of severe problems.

Ford Escape Problems by Year:

Further below, you’ll find some of the most common problems of Ford Escape models over the years.

The data was collected from carcomplaints.com and NHTSA.

2020 Ford Escape Problems

  • a rearview camera and various other electrical systems malfunction
  • car shuts off and requires a reboot to start again Total complaints: NHTSA 131, car complaints 17.

2019 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage

Total complaints: NHTSA 79, car complaints 19.

2018 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage Total complaints: NHTSA 175, car complaints 62.

2017 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage
  • paint peeling off
  • brakes squealing and rear rotors rusting Total complaints: NHTSA 484, car complaints 109.

2016 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage
  • transmission shudders and prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure

Total complaints: NHTSA 362, car complaints 170.

2015 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage
  • transmission prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • various electrical system issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 442, car complaints 109.

2014 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage
  • transmission prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • various electrical system issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 1286, car complaints 303.

2013 Ford Escape Problems

  • coolant can leak into the cylinder causing catastrophic engine damage
  • transmission prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • various electrical system issues
  • excessive fuel consumption

Total complaints: NHTSA 2070, car complaints 452.

2012 Ford Escape Problems

  • engine shuts off while driving
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • prone to rusting
  • the rear window is known to leak when raining Total complaints: NHTSA 508, car complaints 247.

2011 Ford Escape Problems

  • engine shuts off while driving
  • transmission jerks and is prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • faulty fuel delivery module may cause a fuel leak Total complaints: NHTSA 1126, car complaints 230.

2010 Ford Escape Problems

  • engine shuts off while driving
  • transmission prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • faulty fuel delivery module may cause a fuel leak
  • various electrical system issues
  • the rear window is known to shatter for no apparent reason Total complaints: NHTSA 1977, car complaints 270.

2009 Ford Escape Problems

  • engine shuts off while driving
  • transmission prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • brakes tend to get spongy at random
  • various electrical system issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 1515, car complaints 341.

2008 Ford Escape Problems

  • faulty throttle body
  • transmission prone to failure
  • steering assist prone to failure
  • brakes tend to get spongy at random
  • various electrical system issues

Total complaints: NHTSA 2288, car complaints 617.

2007 Ford Escape Problems

  • catastrophic engine failure
  • transmission slipping and prone to failure
  • brakes tend to get spongy at random

Total complaints: NHTSA 379, car complaints 170.

2006 Ford Escape Problems

  • catastrophic engine failure
  • transmission slipping and prone to failure
  • ABS prone to failure
  • prone to rusting

Total complaints: NHTSA 699, car complaints 275.

What Is The Most Reliable Escape Year?

2019 is the most reliable year when it comes to Ford Escape. It boasts the fewest complaints among all years observed in the article, together with some of the highest scores from J.D. Power (80/100) and Edmunds user reviews (4/5) alike.

Aside from the coolant leak issue, the 2019 Ford Escape doesn’t suffer from any major problems.

Of all model years, 2019 also features the best “problems reported per thousand vehicles per year index (PPMY)” score of 0.17. The PPMY index is one of the more important user satisfaction measurement tools as it takes into account several factors. Aside from the sheer number of complaints and problems, it also includes the vehicle’s age and production totals into the equation. Naturally, the larger the production numbers, the higher the number of problems. Similarly, older vehicles tend to break down more often than brand new ones, so that has to be taken into account as well.

You’ll find a table of “problems reported per thousand vehicles per year index (PPMY)” for the past 15 Ford Escape model years further below.

  Model Year  Number of problems  Sales Figures  Vehicle Age  PPMY Index
  2020  184  178,496  2  0.45
  2019  112  241,388  3  0.17
  2018  227  272,228  4  0.18
  2017  618  308,296  5  0.29
  2016  446  307,069  6  0.28
  2015  546  306,492  7  0.32
  2014  1,613  306,212  8  0.54
  2013  2,768  295,993  9  0.99
  2012  667  261,008  10  0.29
  2011  1,563  254,293  11  0.71
  2010  2,798  191,026  12  1.23
  2009  2,046  173,044  13  1.2
  2008  2,175  156,544  14  0.7
  2007  309  165,596  15  0.21
  2006  552  157,395  16  0.26

Ford Escape Reliability By Year:

The Escape isn’t the most reliable of Ford’s models, but some model years fare surprisingly well. The following rundown of Ford Escape reliability by year comes from the data found on Car

 Problems, J.D. Power, and Edmunds user reviews.

J.D. Power uses a scale from 1 to 100. Edmunds user reviews use a scale from 1 to 5.

Car Problems PPMY index is simple – the lower, the better.

2020 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 77
  • Edmunds rating: 4.0
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.45

2019 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 80
  • Edmunds rating: 4.0
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.17

2018 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 80
  • Edmunds rating: 3.9
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.18

2017 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 82
  • Edmunds rating: 3.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.29

2016 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 81
  • Edmunds rating: 3.7
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.28

2015 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 82
  • Edmunds rating: 3.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.32

2014 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 80
  • Edmunds rating: 3.6
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.54

2013 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 74
  • Edmunds rating: 3.5
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.99

2012 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 78
  • Edmunds rating: 4.1
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.29

2011 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 81
  • Edmunds rating: 3.8
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.71

2010 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 80
  • Edmunds rating: 4.2
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 1.23

2009 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 81
  • Edmunds rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 1.20

2008 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 81
  • Edmunds rating: 4.2
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.70

2007 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds rating: 4.5
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.21

2006 Ford Escape Reliability

  • J.D. Power rating: 79
  • Edmunds rating: 4.4
  • Car Problems PPMY index: 0.26

Final Thoughts – Ford Escape Years Not To Buy

Ford Escape doesn’t provide the expected reliability rating of class-leading vehicles but has its moments regardless.

2019 arguably represents the least painful way into Ford Escape ownership, with 2018 closely following. If you’re aiming for a more affordable Escape, then 2007 might be an option. Maybe even 2012 if the first-gen models aren’t too appealing to you.

However, you should avoid 2008 through 2011 models like a plague. While you’re at it, do yourself a favor and skip 2006, 2013, and 2014 Escapes too. They’re nothing but trouble, and you’ll likely be forced to spend thousands on engine replacement before long.