Ford Escape Transmission Problems [6 Common Issues]

Your new Ford Escape transmission isn’t shifting properly. You aren’t sure whether you are operating the transmission wrongly, or the system has developed an issue. So, you are searching for information to clear your doubts.

If this sounds like you, you are in the right place. This article will help you determine if your transmission is faulty. You’ll also learn how to resolve the problem.

Ford Escape

First off, here are the common causes of transmission problems in a Ford Escape:

  • A broken gasket.
  • A faulty driveshaft bearing.
  • Low transmission fluid levels.
  • Weak driveshaft joints.
  • A defective PCM (Powertrain Control Module).
  • A bad torque converter.
  • A faulty shift bushing.

Ford Escape Transmission Problems

1. Transmission fluid leaks

A pool of reddish-brown fluid underneath your car might mean that your transmission fluid is leaking. This is one of the most common transmission problems in a Ford Escape.

Transmission fluid leaks often occur due to a broken gasket on the transmission oil pan. The gasket is the rubber surrounding the transmission fluid pan, and it exists to keep the fluid within the pan. This is why your transmission fluid leaks out when the gasket breaks.

You can resolve this problem by replacing your gasket. But first, you’ll need to check whether the gasket is actually broken. Locate your gasket above your transmission pan.

A faulty driveshaft bearing can also cause your transmission fluid to leak. Your driveshaft bearing has a seal that holds transmission fluid within the bearing. When this seal wears out, your transmission fluid will leak.

If your transmission fluid keeps leaking after you’ve replaced your gasket, change your driveshaft bearing. You’ll find the bearing at the center of your driveshaft.

2. Harsh shifting

Does your transmission often shift roughly to the next gear? Then, the transmission is faulty.

Your transmission might be shifting roughly because your transmission fluid level is low.

When transmission parts are poorly lubricated, they often need more effort to change gears. The extra force these parts apply while shifting gears produces the slam you feel as your car moves to the next gear.

To resolve this problem, you’ll need to add transmission fluid to your car. But first, you should confirm that your transmission fluid level is low.

Here’s how to check your transmission fluid level:

  • Open your hood and remove your dipstick.
  • Wipe the body with a rag.
  • Then re-insert it into its container.
  • Remove the dipstick again.
  • Check where the fluid is marked on the dipstick.
  • If the fluid is marked below Full, your transmission fluid level is low.

In that case, you’ll need to refill your transmission with new fluid.

Please note that you might have to flush the transmission before adding a new one. If you don’t know much about cars, you may damage your transmission when flushing it. This is why we recommend hiring a repair guy to refill your transmission instead of doing it yourself.

Another culprit behind harsh shifting is a weak driveshaft joint. Weak driveshaft joints often vibrate when the vehicle is moving. The instability of these joints may affect the transmission, causing the system to move roughly while changing gears.

Consider replacing your driveshaft joints if your transmission shifts roughly after you’ve added new fluid to the system.

3. Transmission won’t shift into the next gear

You can tell that your transmission is problematic if it won’t shift into the next gear.

This issue may indicate that you have a bad PCM (Powertrain Control Module). Your transmission relies on your PCM to tell it when to shift gears.

If your PCM goes bad, your transmission won’t know when you are trying to change your speed. As such, it might stay in the same gear no matter what you do.

You can resolve this problem by replacing your PCM. Search for your PCM inside the engine.

If your transmission doesn’t shift gears after changing a faulty PCM, the transmission might be dead. Change your transmission to fix this issue.

4. Overdrive light keeps flashing

Another common indicator of transmission issues in Ford Escape cars is a flashing Overdrive light.

Your Overdrive light is supposed to stay solid whenever it comes on. If the light starts flashing, it means your transmission is shot.

The only way to fix this issue is to replace your transmission.

5. Transmission shudders while accelerating

If your transmission shudders whenever you increase the speed of your car, the system may have developed a fault.

The most likely culprit behind a transmission shudder is a faulty torque converter. Your torque converter transfers the rotating power of your engine to your transmission. This ensures that the transmission keeps working smoothly.

If your torque converter develops a fault, it will become unstable. An unstable torque converter will disrupt the regular rotation of the engine and deliver improper torque to your transmission. This incorrect torque makes your transmission shudder while changing gears.

Replace your torque converter to prevent your transmission from shuddering. You’ll find your torque converter between your transmission and engine flexplate.

6. Rollaway while in Park gear

You can tell that your Ford Escape transmission is faulty if it keeps rolling away after you’ve parked it. This problem usually occurs you shift your gear to Park without applying the parking brake. You may also notice that the car moves forward when you’ve selected the Reverse gear.

According to Ford, the rollaway issue is a result of a manufacturing defect in the shifter bushings of some 2013-2021 Ford Escape model years. This error prevents your transmission from shifting to the gear you’ve chosen.

You’ll need to replace your shifter bushing to resolve this problem. That said, Ford has recalled all affected Escape models produced between 2013 and 2021. So, if your car belongs to any of these model years, your Ford dealer will fix the issue for free.

Ford Escape Models with the Most Transmission Problems

Here are the Ford Escape models with the highest number of transmission problems:

  • 2008 Ford Escape
  • 2009 Ford Escape
  • 2014 Ford Escape.

Data from shows that the 2008 Ford Escape is the most notorious model for transmission problems. This model received 149 user complaints about transmission issues, which is 20 more than any other Escape model year.

117 negative reports place the 2014 Ford Escape’s transmission on the spot for the second most problematic transmission. The 2009 Ford Escape is another model that is more prone to transmission issues than most Escape models.

Ford Escape Models with the Least Transmission Problems

  • 2019 Ford Escape
  • 2020 Ford Escape
  • 2021 Ford Escape.

According to, no user of the 2021 Ford Escape reported transmission problems in the car.

Compared to most Ford Escape models, the 2019 and 2020 models also got few complaints about transmission problems. While the 2019 model received four reports about transmission issues, only three users of the 2020 model complained about problems with their transmissions.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Ford Escape Transmission Problems?

Depending on the severity of the damage to the transmission, it may cost between $476 and $6000 to fix a transmission issue in a Ford Escape.

Tips to Prevent Ford Escape Transmission Problems

  • Change your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles.
  • Don’t shift to Park gear while driving.
  • Remember to apply your parking brakes when parking your car.
  • Avoid overloading your vehicle.
  • Service your transmission regularly.

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Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve confirmed that your transmission is problematic, it’s time to resolve the issue. Take your vehicle to your dealer and suggest the solution we’ve recommended to him. If you are handy with cars, you can try fixing the problem yourself.