Escape - Flat Towing Problems:
May 2010, I received a letter from Ford with a booklet entitled
"Recreational (Flat) Towing and Transmission Fluid
Level Supplement." Other than the new advice about
putting the air conditioner in recirculated air mode to
prevent exhaust fumes from entering the vehicle (which again
is misleading because if you push that recirculate air button,
it turns the A/C on, and you don't want anything on when
towing), the rest of the supplement was all about the transmission
There were pictures
provided indicating too low, too high, and "just right"
levels and how to read the dipstick. There are separate,
different instructions and pictures for "Checking transmission
fluid level for recreational flat tow operation."
below show the proper fluid level for recreational flat
tow operation. The booklet says,
recreational flat towing your vehicle, the transmission
fluid level may need to be set to a lower level. These guidelines
are designed to prevent damage to your transmission. Before
you recreational flat tow, your fluid level must be verified
by an authorized dealer. This fluid level is within the
normal operating fluid range and does not require that you
have your fluid level readjusted after recreational flat
referred to two different types of dipsticks and showed
how to check for both kinds.
When I first
checked, I had the Type A dipstick. When I first started
towing, I had 3 different techs check the level at different
times when I started having problems and it was almost
comical - all of of them reached different conclusions
- one said too low, one said too high, and the other
"looks right to me."
None of them
followed the instructions on how to get an accurate
reading according to this booklet, though.
booklet is very specific about the instructions on how to
check the fluid to get an accurate reading:
after driving the car 20 miles (to reach normal operating
on level place, put in Park, engage parking brake and
leave engine running.
fluid expands when warmed. If car has been operated for
extended period at high speeds, in heavy traffic or during
hot weather, turn off car for 30 minutes to allow fluid
to cool before checking.
Foot on brake pedal, start engine and move gearshift lever
through all gear ranges, allowing time to fully engage
in each gear.
dipstick and clean with dry, lint-free rag.
making sure fully seated; remove & inspect for level.
only tech who explained that you will get different readings
if the car is not properly warmed and if the motor is not
running while checking was Tim at Lugoff Ford, who performed
the last repair that included the redesigned left axle assembly
that had failed on me before.
He also installed
the new dipstick, and it was only then that I realized it
was a bigger deal than just a new dipstick, but included
a newly redesigned tube assembly.
that during flat towing, fluid expands and comes up through
the vent and instead of venting into the tube it's now vented
outside, preventing siphoning of the fluid and overflowing.
new dipstick is so much easier to read. Here he showed how
it reads a little higher when the car is not warmed up. I
checked later using the proper procedures and it read perfect!
Another person I talked
to at Ford's Customer Relationship Center who made a difference
was Kathy, the representative for the Lugoff, SC region where
I was at the time. Since I was certainly dissatisfied with the
response from the corporate office from the email form I submitted
from their website, I asked Kathy for procedures I could share
to get help from Ford as quickly as possible.
She said if you can't
get all the help you need from your local dealer, your first call
should be to Customer Service at 800-392-3673. That opens the
case and you are assigned a case number for follow up and escalation
as needed from there.
When I asked for a
contact at Ford that I could access from anywhere in the country
I travel instead of having to start over every time if I continue
to have the same problem, she explained that they are set up by
region, but that she would continue to be my first point of contact
and get me the help I needed no matter where I am.
I truly am hopeful
that Ford engineers have figured this out and this fix is a final
one for me!
hope that anyone experiencing these issues with towing the Ford
Escape will share
info on my blog with any comments, suggestions, etc.
let's stick together!