2012 Ford Escape Problems

in Problems

Owners weigh in on the most common reliability issues

Photo of 2012 Ford Escape

When Ford introduced the Escape, it was a step away from the traditional style of sport utility vehicle made popular with vehicles like the Explorer and Bronco. The Ford Escape is a compact, car-based SUV that Ford developed to compete with vehicles like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which both saw extremely high levels of success with the buying public.

2012 represented the final year for the 2nd generation Ford Escape. It was getting ready to trade in its rugged SUV looks for a more sleek and refined model for 2013. Even though this model is generally fairly reliable, it does have some issues that should be addressed when considering a second-hand purchase.


Here are the most common issues with 2012 Ford Escapes as reported by owners on forums such as Reddit and repairpal.com:

  • Ignition Misfires. Cost to fix: $150
  • Check engine light with hesitation under acceleration. Cost to fix: $100-$150
  • Transfer case issues with 4WD models. Cost to fix: $500
  • Rust issues. Cost to fix: $1,200

Should You Buy A Used 2012 Ford Escape?

Yes - overall, the 2012 year model of Escape is very reliable compared to other year models.

How Reliable Is The 2012 Ford Escape?

The 2012 model of the Ford Escape is less prone to major mechanical failures than most other year models, making it one of the most reliable year models of the Ford Escape. Here are the most common problems with 2012 Ford Escapes as reported by owners to complaint sites:

Most Common Problem With 2012 Ford Escapes: Transmission Problems

Photo of 2012 Ford Escape transmission

With over 30 user complaints on carcomplaints.com, 2012 Ford Escape owners report transmission issues as the most common problem with their vehicles.

The most commonly-reported transmission issues are complete transmission failure and rough shifting/gear slipping when changing gears.

The average cost to fix:

Depending on the exact nature of the issue, it might cost $3000+ for a complete transmission replacement.

If you encounter a used Escape with transmission issues, don’t buy it - repair costs will likely cost you more than the vehicle itself.

Another Common Problem With 2012 Ford Escapes: Ignition Misfires

Ford Escape Key Ignition

Image source

The community over at RepairPal.com reports several glaring problems with the ignition on the 2012 Ford Escape:

  • Check engine light due to misfiring cylinders
  • Failure of the ignition coil due to high humidity
  • Ignition coil short-circuiting and damaging other electronics

The issues with the ignition coil appear to be related to condensation that may form when the outside temperatures are excessively hot or humid. Since this is a norm in many parts of the country, it’s best to expect that there may be an issue. Another reason to keep an eye out for this problem: There seems to be a tie-in to damage of other components when the ignition coil short circuits.

Cost to fix:

Luckily, the cost to replace an ignition coil on a 2012 Ford Escape is relatively affordable, ranging from about $108 to $152. Count on a higher price if other components are damaged due to the short circuit.


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Owners of the 2012 Ford Escape have reported issues with acceleration and hesitation due to a faulty EGR valve. Over time, the sensors within this valve incorrectly measure the exhaust gas recirculation pressure and erroneously signal the engine to cut power. When this issue does present itself, the entire part must be replaced and not rebuilt.

If you think you might be experiencing this issue or need some information on what to look for during a test drive; these are the most reported issues that relate to the check engine light and the EGR valve:

  • “Engine light came on. Notice some hesitations and stumbling while driving, almost as if the car was missing some cylinders.”
  • “Stumbling while re-accelerating into traffic or changing lanes.”
  • “Hesitation and stumbling while driving, check engine light on.”

Cost to fix:

The cost to repair this issue ranges from $108 to $152.


Wondering what to look out for when buying a used car? With such a large purchase, it pays to be a cautious shopper. Check out this list of red flags to look out for when buying a used car.

What Are The Problems With The Transfer Case On 4WD Ford Escapes?

Transfer Case On 4WD Ford Escapes

Image source

The primary allure of purchasing an SUV over a passenger car is the availability of an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive system. The 2012 Ford Escape is no exception and was offered in a part-time all-wheel-drive system. However, this system is known to have issues, and owners on RepairPal.com all seem to report the similar problems:

  • It sounds like a failed bearing at low speed (hums and drones)
  • Changes to a clicking sound at higher speeds.

The part must be replaced entirely and not simply rebuilt. Since the issue is so prevalent, the internet has plenty of video tutorials about this specific issue. Here’s a great video that shows the part in detail and why the part consistently experiences problems.

Cost to fix:

Replacement cost for this part ranges greatly but generally between $400 and $550.

Rusting / Structural Issues

Another common issue of the 2012 Ford Escape is the dreaded excessive rusting. According to CarComplaints.com, this is the number one issue that 2012 Escape owners should keep an eye on. Frustrated owners reported the rust on many areas of the Escape, including the rear wheel arch, lift gate and front fenders. In addition, some owners noticed some bubbling on the paint job, which is an indication of rust forming from within.

Perhaps, one of the most upsetting parts of this rust issue is that it may happen at around 50,000+ miles. Therefore, many owners suspect that this was due to Ford’s design flaw and use of low-quality materials. Many have reported this issue to a dealership, only for them to have zero or only half cost coverage. Considering how widespread this issue was, it’s baffling that Ford didn’t issue a recall for the Escape’s severe rust formation.

The potential fix is cleaning or replacing the affected components altogether, which can be very expensive.

Cost to fix:

The cost to repair this issue is typically $1,200, which may include repairing or replacing the wheel well, rear quarter panels, and liftgate.


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How To Avoid Buying A Used 2012 Ford Escape With These Problems

Your best weapon against a potential headache down the road is to ensure that you are doing all possible due diligence before committing to a car. This starts with a thorough test drive, where you can put the car through its paces and ensure that all interior parts are completely functional. Accelerate and decelerate aggressively, perform a U-turn, and drive at freeway speeds to ensure the mechanical elements are in top shape.

After a thorough test drive, your next step is to take your potential new purchase to a trusted, local mechanic for evaluation. This crucial step can uncover issues with the car that are under the surface and beyond what you may be able to see. Once the vehicle is up on the lift, a mechanic can see everything from rust on the chassis to evidence of oil leaks. It’s a crucial step and one that could save you thousands of dollars and hours of hassle.