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Service Fix For Towing 2009 Escape

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Thank all of you for the information on flat towing problems with the 2009 Escape Auto 6. I am at my Ford dealer where I refused to take "no answer" for the obvious problems and how to fix them. I finally conered the ast Service Mgr and showed him your comments on this forum. That motivated him to find a FORD Special Service Meswsage (SSM) #20836 dated 6/18/2009 titled "Recreational Flat Towing of 2009 Escape/Mariner and 2010 Fusion/Milan Venicles with 6F35 Auto Trans - Guideline To Prevent Transmission Overheating"

As reported by several the key to avaoiding overflow is the proper use of a replacement DIPSTICK [9L8Z-7A020-B] and the proper level of fluid.

So now that we have have the proper Ford #'s, you can talk with your service advisor or manager if need be to avoid future problems.

Hope you all find this info helpful and thanks again for bringing it to my attention before my first trip with my new potential toad.

Bob Harris

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Thank all of you for the information on flat towing problems with the 2009 Escape Auto 6. I am at my Ford dealer where I refused to take "no answer" for the obvious problems and how to fix them. I finally conered the ast Service Mgr and showed him your comments on this forum. That motivated him to find a FORD Special Service Meswsage (SSM) #20836 dated 6/18/2009 titled "Recreational Flat Towing of 2009 Escape/Mariner and 2010 Fusion/Milan Venicles with 6F35 Auto Trans - Guideline To Prevent Transmission Overheating"

As reported by several the key to avaoiding overflow is the proper use of a replacement DIPSTICK [9L8Z-7A020-B] and the proper level of fluid.

So now that we have have the proper Ford #'s, you can talk with your service advisor or manager if need be to avoid future problems.

Hope you all find this info helpful and thanks again for bringing it to my attention before my first trip with my new potential toad.

Bob Harris

Let us know how you tow with your Ford. I had the dipstick replaced also just two weeks ago and will be towing it for two hours Labor Day weekend. We are on our second transmission. I have a great service manager here in Florida who worked very well with me. I get hysterical just thinking that this can happen again. I bought this car for my retirement and don't want to trade it in for something that I don't want. We researched getting a tow vehicle very heavily and didn't like anything close to the Ford. We were looking for comfort , since my husband is 6foot 4 inches tall, and also an automatic transmission. We owned a 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser and loved towing that car on all four wheels. We refuse to use a tow dolly.

Good luck with your maiden voyage. Let us know please.

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We have a 2009 Ford Escape, purchased May 5, 2009. First towed for approximately 300 miles, started once on the trip. Was hot, the wrench was lit on the dash, which indicates a drivetrain problem. Transmission fluid all over back of car. Would not start until jumped. Took to Performance Ford in Omaha, they did the adjusting on the fluid level and dipstick. Towed to Rapid City, second day of travel even after stopping and starting the car, was hot again on the third stop. Again took to Ford when we got back to Omaha, they did a computer check and it indicated to replace the transmission. It was replaced on July 20, 2009. We just traveled a total of 1,400 miles, when we stopped at Effingham, Il and again tranny fluid all over car, wrench was again lit up, and wouldn't start. We are in Carthage, MO and going to take to the Ford dealer here tomorrow. We stopped every hour yesterday coming back to MO and started it.

I really don't think the dipstick adjustment has done the trick. We love the car, but we are fulltimers and it is our only means of transportation, so we are very much disappointed. I really think Ford has a problem. When Performance Ford worked on our car, they even had the Escape Engineer involved, and they assured us it was going to work. We have not exceeded the 65 mph speed limit.

The SSM 20836 didn't take care of the problem on our Escape.

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We have a 2009 Ford Escape, purchased May 5, 2009. First towed for approximately 300 miles, started once on the trip. Was hot, the wrench was lit on the dash, which indicates a drivetrain problem. Transmission fluid all over back of car. Would not start until jumped. Took to Performance Ford in Omaha, they did the adjusting on the fluid level and dipstick. Towed to Rapid City, second day of travel even after stopping and starting the car, was hot again on the third stop. Again took to Ford when we got back to Omaha, they did a computer check and it indicated to replace the transmission. It was replaced on July 20, 2009. We just traveled a total of 1,400 miles, when we stopped at Effingham, Il and again tranny fluid all over car, wrench was again lit up, and wouldn't start. We are in Carthage, MO and going to take to the Ford dealer here tomorrow. We stopped every hour yesterday coming back to MO and started it.

I really don't think the dipstick adjustment has done the trick. We love the car, but we are fulltimers and it is our only means of transportation, so we are very much disappointed. I really think Ford has a problem. When Performance Ford worked on our car, they even had the Escape Engineer involved, and they assured us it was going to work. We have not exceeded the 65 mph speed limit.

The SSM 20836 didn't take care of the problem on our Escape.

Rhino - I was wondering what the result of your stop in Missouri was. Please post and let us know. Thanks!

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Ok -update on towing our Escape. We just got back from our "test" tow. We went about 400 miles. The first 200 we stopped and started it every 50 miles, just to make sure we would have a vehicle when we got where we were going. No problems. Towed it back the full 212 miles, with no stops, and no hot smell, no lights, all looks good. However, it did look like there was a little fluid on the rear of the vehicle. My husband checked the fluid and it was higher than when he and the service manager had checked it. It was within the hash marks and not between the minimum line and the bottom of the hash marks (per SSM 20836) How did that happen? Turns out that when we took the vehicle in for another issue (less than a week after the transmission and dipstick were changed out and the fluid level was checked by our service manager and my husband together), the tech topped off the fluid! AAAGGGHHH. Anyway, at this point no damage seems to have been done. We have it in the shop for yet another issue. (Sigh) The only issue with this test was that we had a lot of mountain driving, and did not really get to tow at speeds up to 65 for many of these miles. We will be doing yet another test tow on Sept. 12th with all flat interstate driving, about 250 miles each way. If it makes it thru that, we will finally have confidence to go somewhere that we actually want to go and isn't just to test out the car.

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We Just joined Fmca for the second time. We had sold our first coach a couple of years ago. I was just wondering until this problem is fixed, I mean a permanet fix. Couldn't the motor run as it is being towed. I don't know how much gas it would burn at idle but at least it wont ruin a transmision. I realise that this is not a permanet fix but at least you could use it as a tow vehicle until a fix is made.That question should be asked a service manager if this would be possible I can't see that it would hurt the transmission in netural and idle being towed. We currently tow a HHR chevy we put it in netural put the key in acc. and pull a breaker. This works great

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Rhino - I was wondering what the result of your stop in Missouri was. Please post and let us know. Thanks!

Our stop in Missouri entailed a delay of approximately 11 days due to the tranny being burned up, and having to be replaced, so we are currently on number 3. I drove the car and husband drove MH to Branson, but will probably tow it when we go back to Carthage in a couple weeks. We had both the service manager and their transmission mechanic tell us that the way the transmission is currently made, no way can it be flat towed and not burn up the tranny. I don't know how many times Ford will replace the tranny. We also expressed a concern with it getting hot, of the possibility of catching on fire. The fix Ford has come up with so far doesn't work. They told me we could dolly it as far as we wanted, but that was not the reason we bought the car. I talked to the Remco place when the first replacement was being made to see if they had a transmission pump developed yet and he said no that Ford said it was flat towable, so they didn't have anything going. I suggested they start on something. Not good news.

AT THIS TIME I DON'T RECOMMEND PURCHASING A 2009 FORD ESCAPE FOR FLAT TOWING BEHING A MOTORHOME. IT'S BEEN A BIG HEADACHE.

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Our stop in Missouri entailed a delay of approximately 11 days due to the tranny being burned up, and having to be replaced, so we are currently on number 3. I drove the car and husband drove MH to Branson, but will probably tow it when we go back to Carthage in a couple weeks. We had both the service manager and their transmission mechanic tell us that the way the transmission is currently made, no way can it be flat towed and not burn up the tranny. I don't know how many times Ford will replace the tranny. We also expressed a concern with it getting hot, of the possibility of catching on fire. The fix Ford has come up with so far doesn't work. They told me we could dolly it as far as we wanted, but that was not the reason we bought the car. I talked to the Remco place when the first replacement was being made to see if they had a transmission pump developed yet and he said no that Ford said it was flat towable, so they didn't have anything going. I suggested they start on something. Not good news.

AT THIS TIME I DON'T RECOMMEND PURCHASING A 2009 FORD ESCAPE FOR FLAT TOWING BEHING A MOTORHOME. IT'S BEEN A BIG HEADACHE.

Did they replace your the tranny cooler as well? The first time that ours was replaced, they did not replace the cooler, but they replaced the cooler as well the second time. I'm still not sure that has solved our problem, but was curious to know if they had replaced your cooler. Our service guy seemed to think that was part of the problem. However, he also doesn't believe that this is a problem for anyone other than us.

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We Just joined Fmca for the second time. We had sold our first coach a couple of years ago. I was just wondering until this problem is fixed, I mean a permanet fix. Couldn't the motor run as it is being towed. I don't know how much gas it would burn at idle but at least it wont ruin a transmision. I realise that this is not a permanet fix but at least you could use it as a tow vehicle until a fix is made.That question should be asked a service manager if this would be possible I can't see that it would hurt the transmission in netural and idle being towed. We currently tow a HHR chevy we put it in netural put the key in acc. and pull a breaker. This works great

My husband believes that could lead to more problems. What if a fuel line or something broke? He just doesn't think it would be safe.

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My husband believes that could lead to more problems. What if a fuel line or something broke? He just doesn't think it would be safe.

Yes, the tranny cooler was replaced both times. Yes, we did pull it running for about 100 miles one day to get into Rapid City in July. You just don't have any way of knowing what the car is doing, plus it does rack up miles when running and towing. We will be towing this one in a few days again. I don't have any confidence in it working for very long. It sure appears a lot of people have had problems.

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We did do another trip of about 500 miles and everything seemed OK. Still think there may have been a small amount of fluid on the back, but the level tested the same when we returned. I'm hoping they are quietly working on a fix at Ford and the newer transmissions are better. Probably just wishful thinking. Please let us know how your trip works out. We will only be taking trips of less than 250 miles each way until next summer, so we're just keeping our fingers crossed at this point.

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Hi: I purchase a "09" Ford Escape 4WD to tow. First trip I got about 130 miles before the transmission burned up. Took 6 weeks to replace. Ford assured me that it could be towed without modification. Second trip about the same distance, once again, burned up the transmission. I left the car with a Ford dealer and told them that they would have to replace it with something that I could tow. Does the 4WD make the problem worse? Any help would be appreciated.

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Hi: I purchase a "09" Ford Escape 4WD to tow. First trip I got about 130 miles before the transmission burned up. Took 6 weeks to replace. Ford assured me that it could be towed without modification. Second trip about the same distance, once again, burned up the transmission. I left the car with a Ford dealer and told them that they would have to replace it with something that I could tow. Does the 4WD make the problem worse? Any help would be appreciated.

I think that alll the 6 cylinder whether FWD or 4WD seem to have this problem. Make sure you have the new dipstick and keep the fluid at the level in the Special Service Message. Do NOT let the dealer top off the fluid. I don't think it is a true "fix" for the problem, but does seem to help somewhat. It is VERY frustrating.

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I had not been following these events on FMCA. Sure wish I had. I lost my Tranny Friday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Fl. It was it's first tow since new. I had left Miami after completing the set up per the manual. First stop at rest area north of Stuart about 130 miles and all was well. I was flagged by a passing car in Daytona about 130 miles later and found smoke coming from under hood. Car would not start and had a burnt fluid smell. It was towed to Ford Dealer and they are telling me they haven't heard of any issues with proper towing methods with the '09 Escape. I am waiting for a factory rep to follow up on Monday. I really hate this occurring, because now I have no faith at all in towing this car. I like it a lot and bought it for this very purpose. We are fulltimers and our car must tag along behind us to be functional. Bummer

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For all you 2009 Ford Escape owners. The 4th transmission needed to be put in on our Escape. The last one got hot after 105 miles of towing. Anyway, we approached Ford about buying back the car, which they finally got the paperwork all done after approximately a month. Of course, they don't reimburse you for the base plate, a trailer hitch we put on so we could take our bicycles along, then they charge you mileage. They do reimburse you the sales tax. Of course, in buying another car, which we did a 4x4 Explorer Sport Trac, you then don't have a trade-in, so you get to pay the full sales tax. We really liked the car, other than it didn't do what Ford said it would do.

I figured it up and out of 90 days we spent 33 days waiting for transmissions. That is enough.

Heads up for anyone thinking of buying a Ford Escape to flat tow. DON'T DO IT, THEY DON'T WORK. I DON'T CARE WHAT A SALESMAN MIGHT TELL YOU. THEY DON'T HAVE A FIX FOR THEM YET.

I do believe this car problem and the frustrations with the people working for Ford on the buy back has been a most stressful and frustrating experience.

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10/21/2009

We bought a new 2009 Escape V6 FWD in May of 2009. Our story is like most of the others. The first transmission was gone on the first trip of significance. The mechanic who worked on the car at the dealership who replaced it said "this car should not be flat towable". But after replacing the dip stick and adjusting the fluid level, I was assured all is good. But, please stop every couple hours, start and run the car for 5 minutes, and take it through the gears before proceeding. I have been totally paranoid since, and have followed instructions to the letter and then some. Did relatively short days from Quad Cities - IL/IA in mid Sept. After leaving Orlando a week ago last Saturday, we drove to 30 miles east of Tallahassee. Took the car grocery shopping that evening-- all was good. Hooked up next morning, and all was good. Stopped for the third time in Gulfport, MS (342 miles) to "exercise" the tranny. found tranny fluid all over the rear of car, and it is locked in neutral. It did start and I got it to park where it locked up. shut it off and now it won't start. Had Ford emergency tow it to a nearby dealer. That was 12


days ago, and we are making little progress. I e-mailed Ford customer relations (2x) and called once. The POOREST treatment I have EVER received. They still deny that they have a problem, and are unwilling to even reimburse us for the rental car or discuss camping fees. I expect we will be another week getting back on the road, and we had commitments in Mesa, AZ that we have missed.

Have any of the others who have had similar experiences considered a group banning together in a class action suit to get fair treatment in this debacle???

mrgrc

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It's not only people that have had problems many like myself bought the Escape specifically for flat towing. I have not experienced any problems but have only towed 200 miles. I now am very concerned about towing it at all. The alarming frequency of people's experiences about fried transmissions and stranded miles from home or their destination is not acceptable. All Ford has done when I've talked to them is to tell me it's OK if anything happens it's covered under warranty. Wrong! I want a car that doesn't require warranty repairs and not be stranded. Our next tow in a couple of weeks is 1500 miles. Let's see 1500 miles divided by 200 miles for each transmission equals 7.5 transmissions. There is even suggestion that Ford is working on a resevoir, but will only change it if you have a problem. Again that is wrong headed thinking in that it leaves everyone who hasn't experienced a problem to have to hold their breaths and cross their fingers every time they leave home.

This seems to be the most active forum on this issue, we need to keep on top of this and if it takes combined pressure from all of us to push Ford into making the correct and proper recall and repair then that's what we need to do.

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I asked Ford Customer Service for the latest information on this-- this is what I received today 10/23/09.

Brett Wolfe

Thank you for your correspondence.

The information that you are seeking is not available in hard copy since the introduction of the 2010 model year Escape, but I took the liberty of copying relevant sections of the 2010 Escape owner guide which contain the information that you are seeking. The supplement provided guideline designed to prevent damage to the transmission due to overheating if a customer measured the transmission fluid at the wrong temperature:

1. Transmission fluid level must be checked at operating temperature of 185 °F - 200 °F (85 °C - 93 °C). At this temperature, adjust fluid level between minimum line and the minimum hole at the bottom of the hash marks on dipstick. This level is within the safe operating fluid level and does not require the customer to have the fluid level readjusted after flat tow operation. (Figure 1)

Figure 1 - Article 09-20-13

2. Maximum towing speed is 65 MPH (105 Km/h).

3. Do not flat tow the vehicle for greater than 6 hours at a time.

4. Start and run the engine for:

- 5 minutes before towing each day

- 5 minutes every 6 hours or less.

5. While running the engine at idle for 5 minutes, with foot on the brake, shift through all gears.

If your 2009 Escape was built prior to 10/28/2008, your transmission dipstick may not have the minimum and maximum lines outside of the hash marks. If this is the case, your dipstick can be replaced under warranty to assist with proper measurement of the transmission fluid if frequently four-wheel down recreational towing. The part number required is 9L8Z-7A020-B.

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I took my Escape into Ford to have the fluid level adjusted to the correct level. I would have done it myself but I wanted it documented. What I found was that the level after adjustment was not anywhere near the correct level as per service bulletin TSB 09-20-13. I don't know how they would have gotten the oil up to 185 - 200 degrees called for without driving for several miles which they did not and I know they didn't put it in gear, apply the brakes and throttle it up to heat it up. I don't think many dealerships have taken it very seriously, for each of them this is a very isolated occurance. It is very difficult to arrive at the right level, A) It's hard to get the transmission to 185-200 degrees especially in cool weather and :rolleyes: the fluid on the dipstick is very transparent and hard to read. What we are talking about is 1/2 a liter/quart one way or the other.

I have actually seen a 6F35 transmission disassembled on the bench (not mine). In discussing the overheating with the tech. we didn't see how an additional resivour would help, it would just provide more oil to spew out when it overheated. What is required is an auxillary pump to circulate the fluid through the transmisson as well as the cooler. On another note while looking at the transmission we decided if it wasn't for the overheating issue you couldn't hurt it, it's pretty well built.

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I took my Escape into Ford to have the fluid level adjusted to the correct level. I would have done it myself but I wanted it documented. What I found was that the level after adjustment was not anywhere near the correct level as per service bulletin TSB 09-20-13. I don't know how they would have gotten the oil up to 185 - 200 degrees called for without driving for several miles which they did not and I know they didn't put it in gear, apply the brakes and throttle it up to heat it up. I don't think many dealerships have taken it very seriously, for each of them this is a very isolated occurance. It is very difficult to arrive at the right level, A) It's hard to get the transmission to 185-200 degrees especially in cool weather and :rolleyes: the fluid on the dipstick is very transparent and hard to read. What we are talking about is 1/2 a liter/quart one way or the other.

I have actually seen a 6F35 transmission disassembled on the bench (not mine). In discussing the overheating with the tech. we didn't see how an additional resivour would help, it would just provide more oil to spew out when it overheated. What is required is an auxillary pump to circulate the fluid through the transmisson as well as the cooler. On another note while looking at the transmission we decided if it wasn't for the overheating issue you couldn't hurt it, it's pretty well built.

I went for the same procedure today. SInce i'ts a small dealer, I accompanied the mechanic. He took reading of the temperature with the engine connected to a computer. You're right, the mechanic had a lot of experience with transmissions, he put the trans in gear until we got the exact temperature 199F than he added oil and checked the reading very carefully. It's difficult to see since the oil is clean but we had the exact reading as required by the TSB o9-20-13. The dealer couldn't do more but he put the problem on the computer and will advise if Ford comes up with another solution

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Pierre, just to be sure: You said the mechanic ADDED oil. Shouldn't he be taking oil out to lower it to the bottom mark?

You're right. I forgot to say that he first made the oil transmission come to the right temperature and with the new dip stick he could see that there was too much oil so he removed some and then still at the right temperature( he had to warm up the oil transmission again) he added a little ( not even a quarter of a pint) to get the correct reading as in SSM 20836.

By the way, I haven't towed the car yet. We going to Florida next week but in those conditions we aren't towing the car. We're flying back home for X-MAS. Then we'll drive back to Florida in January. If Ford hasn't solved the problem, end of April we are coming back home, towing the car for a 1600 miles trip. Will it take a couple of weeks coming home? We live in Quebec.

Let's hope that they will find a solution. We're not a big concern for Ford but still my mechanic told me that a transmission is 8000$, maybe that will make them work harder.....

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Picked up our car in Daytona today. The transmission has been replaced under warranty and we are on the road again. I had to ask for a copy of the TSA outlining new procedures for flat towing and didn't get any assistance from the service manager to understand anything not outlined in the new instructions. I decided that it would be best if my wife followed me on to Miami rather than to risk another blow up. I plan to visit my selling dealer this week to discuss possibilities for solving this issue. I like this car but I'm seriously disappointed in it's apparent failure to live up to it's advertised ability to flat tow. I am considering other recourse if the dealer can't give me some satisfaction.

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I wish I had found this site before towing my 2010 Mercury Milan. It has been sitting in the dealer for over a week now with a transmission totally smoked. They have the replacement transmission, but the melted wiring harness is on national back order and will not be in until the "week of June 28th". By time it gets to the dealer in Las Vegas, I will be back at home in Michigan. Ford customer service said save my receipts, and they will repay me for any related expenses. I'll let you know how all that works out. I think I am going to request that the car be shipped back to Mich. I can't see myself taking additional time to flying back to NV, and the driving it back to MI.

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Update on 2010 Milan. The Las Vegas dealer finally finished the car on July 23rd. It was taken in on June 7th. Ford did, in fact ship the car back to me in Michigan, I picked it up on July July 30th. After all of this, it does not appear that the tech replaced the dip stick, nor set the fluid level correctly. I am going to take it back to my local dealer to have that done again. The other issue was that the inside of the car was filled with smoke when the trans failed. The dealer didn't clean it before shipping it back to me. When I picked it up, I could not see out of the windows for the smoke film. It took me two hours to clean all the interior surfaces of the car, It seems to have worked, the burned wire smell is pretty much gone now. During this ordeal, I spoke with the transmission engineer at Ford Motor Company. He is adamant that lowering the fluid level will cure this heat problem.

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