2003 Ford Escape Subframe

Tiny
JAMES093816
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 FORD ESCAPE
  • 3.0L
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 140,000 MILES
Hello, the other day I was driving my 03 Ford Escape to the gas station and when turning I heard a sound that sounded like my left front tire rubbing the inside of my fenderwell. I figured it was no immediate danger. So I continued on. Not long after that my cars wheel locked up and brought me to a sudden stop in the middle of the road. I got out to inspect what happened and here my wheel was basically snapped off the subframe. My lower control arm split into two. My cv joints got ripped off. My tire rod was the only thing holding my wheel on. My car is of course older, and the model I have is known to have a rust problem with the subframe that could lead to bad corrosion and then causing the lower control arm separating. (Ford had a recall on over 300.000 escapes from 01-04)

I live in the "salt belt" so the corrosion was sped up.

I was told my car is most likely totaled. But I want another opinion

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Friday, October 30th, 2015 AT 8:41 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
This is unbelievable. Everything comes in pairs. Two cars today need a rack and pinion steering gear. Two cars today had a flat tire. Two cars today have a radio problem. This has been happening to me for over 25 years.

I just addressed this same issue for this same model, year, and mileage about an hour ago.

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2003-ford-escape-problem

Rebuilt half shafts today are very inexpensive. I just bought one for my '88 Grand Caravan for $64.00, brand new, not rebuilt. Your flexible brake hose appears to be okay. The lower control arm comes with the ball joint so it's a maintenance item and can be expected to need to be replaced periodically. Building parts this way increases our repair costs quite a bit, but it makes the cars faster to assemble, which saves the manufacturer money, not you, and it's a more expensive part to buy, which makes the manufacturer more money, but that's what's important, right? Certainly the first concern is not for the well being of he customers.

The issue now has to do with body damage and what must be replaced so the control arm can be reattached. If that means cutting and welding on structural components, that is going to add to the cost. If it means replacing bolted-on parts, that takes less time so labor costs will be lower.

The term "totaled" really doesn't apply here. That refers to an insurance company not paying to repair a car when the cost to do so is higher than its value. In this case no insurance company is involved, so you're free to use new or used parts, and to fix as much or as little as you choose. The first thing I would recommend is calling the dealer to see what kind of help they can offer. I know in the case of Chrysler products, when they supply parts for a safety-related recall or an emissions-related recall, those parts have a lifetime warranty. That covers labor too, but it doesn't extend to other damage. If this was a Chrysler product, they would pay to get the control arm back on and make the steering and suspension systems safe, but you are required to have the car inspected periodically. This would have been caught before the disaster occurred. The additional damage they wouldn't cover would be to the body from the tire hitting the fender.

Ford has a real bad history with steering and suspension problems going way back to the mid '70s when some bean counter figured out they could save 20 cents per car by leaving four critical grease fittings off. That's a real big deal when you build a million cars. Most recently this has included rear axles falling off Windstars. The way Ford chooses to address these problems is not by fixing them. Instead, they bolt on straps and brackets to catch things that fall apart so you don't loose total control as you limp to the side of the road. In most cases they will make the repairs after that has happened and you're left without a vehicle. They're betting a good number of vehicles will never show up for the repairs, so again, they win, owners lose.

There have even been what we called "killer cars" that were not involved in recalls. Most notably the '80s Ford-built Escort, Tempos, and their Mercury twins. Outer tie rod ends failed VERY commonly at 15,000 miles, well before you would expect to need annual steering and suspension system inspections. Depending on which one separated first determined whether the car skidded into oncoming traffic or the ditch. These cars were filled with embarrassing and dangerous design defects, some of which could not be corrected by the best-intentioned mechanics.

My first reaction is you should look at this as an opportunity to trade the car for something safer. This is coming from someone who is emotionally-involved with a rusty trusty '88 Grand Caravan that is so rusty, the carpet is the only thing holding the front and rear halves together! I can afford to buy something better, . . . I mean "different"!, but I realize a lot of people aren't that fortunate. My next concern is if you live in an area like I do where they throw a pound of salt on an ounce of snow, how long will it be before the same thing happens on the other side? Your car is only 12 years old. My van didn't start getting really rusty until it was well over 20 years old. It has never been kept in a garage and it never got washed to get the salt off. No 12-year-old car should have such a serious safety problem, so again, my vote is to trade it. If a person can't afford a different car, repairing the same problem when it occurs on the other side is also going to be a burden, and one that will leave you with a driveable but rusty car. Why not put that money toward a driveable but NOT rusty car?

If you really like the car, see what the dealer can do for you first, then visit a tire and alignment shop for a second opinion. What you should not do at the tire store is tell them what the dealer is going to do. That will sway their recommendation to outdo the dealer or make them look bad. Instead, just let them look at the car if possible, or describe what happened, and ask them if they've done this type of repair before and how well it held up. In some cases the aftermarket industry does a real good job of developing ways to repair design problems, especially when it pertains to a popular model where they have a chance of selling lots of their product. Dealers are required to do only Ford-approved repairs with Ford-approved or supplied parts when the car is under warranty or involved in a recall. In those cases Ford is paying for the parts. The problem is there is often a better alternative, and it could be one that would be less costly to you but more costly to the manufacturer. Independent repair shops are not limited in their options to Ford-approved anything. They are free to use aftermarket parts that are usually superior in reliability, cost, and effectiveness. Once they can tell you what they can do for you, you can weigh future safety and reliability, value, how much longer he car should last, against the cost of those repairs. If the scale is balanced, that's when you can factor in emotional issues that have no monetary value.

Also, while I know I can't do this myself, I often tell people the cost of repairs compared to the car's value is irrelevant unless you plan on selling the car. A thousand-dollar repair is going to cost a thousand dollars whether the car is worth a hundred bucks or $30,000.00. It's the value of the repair that must match what you're paying for it, not the value of the car. This applies if you plan on keeping the car. Another way to look at it is a lot of people have no problem spending $800.00 on repairs every six months. Many of my students ran into this with their GM front-wheel-drive cars, and they grew up thinking this is normal. (It is not). They reasoned $800.00 is not much to repair a car that's worth $10,000.00, but they forget to consider they're commonly paying that four times in the two years they're my student. To them, $3,200.00 is an outrageous repair bill, but $800.00 isn't too bad. Hmm.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, October 30th, 2015 AT 10:01 PM
Tiny
JAMES093816
  • MEMBER
Hello, just thought I'd give an update.

I took my car to Ford, they over looked my car and said they are going to replace the subframe at no cost.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Monday, November 2nd, 2015 AT 5:47 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. If it is bolted on, that shouldn't be a real big job.
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 AT 5:46 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides