2011 Ford Escape Problems

2011 Ford Escape problems are far WORSE than newer models

If you are considering purchasing a 2011 Ford Escape, you should know it’s not the most reliable vehicle. While many 2011 Ford Escape problems are minor, some are a bit more complex and can be really frustrating (and expensive) to deal with.

Many owners of the 2011 version of Ford’s family-friendly Escape have reported having engine and transmission problems. Steering system failure, climate control inconsistencies, and leaks are other common issues with this vehicle. Keep reading to learn more about possible challenges you might face with the 2011 Escape.

What problems do 2011 Ford Escapes have?

As with most vehicles, the 2011 Escape isn’t void of mechanical problems. The most important thing to know is that the Escape got better over time, and you’re probably better off purchasing a newer version. For example, 2o15 Ford Escape problems were minor compared to the 2011. The problems of the 2017 Escape makes the 2011 model seem like an old and unreliable Yugo.

Anyway, if that doesn’t dissuade you, and you’re dead-set on your decision, I’ve detailed a few of the most common 2011 Ford Escape problems below. Proceed at your own risk:

Engine misfiring and leaks

The most commonly stated problems with the 2011 Ford Escape are with the engine. Because the engine is a major (and the most complex) component of the vehicle, it can be costly to repair.

The main frustration with current owners of this model is ignition misfiring. Ignition misfires happen when a cylinder or cylinders don’t get the spark they need to ignite properly. When this happens, you might feel shaky acceleration and could see a drop in RPMs.

Engine misfires can also prevent the engine from starting. If you ignore the issue for too long, you risk further damage. An illuminated Check Engine light could indicate an ignition misfiring issue – so if that light is on (and you feel a loss of power), take it to your mechanic ASAP. Depending on the exact cause of the engine misfire, you can expect to pay between $100 to $1,000 for repairs.

Other engine-related complaints with the 2011 Escape include oil leaks, unexpected acceleration, and engine stalls.

Ford Escape engine repair
You can almost hear this mechanic muttering expletives to himself as he digs into the mechanical bits of this Ford Escape.

Transmission problems

Of all the model years of the Ford Escape, the 2011 model sits in the middle of the pack for transmission troubles (2008 being the worst). Still, this model has its fair share of owner-reported transmission issues, most commonly jerking when shifting and accelerating. 

Some fixes for this issue are simple, including topping up the transmission fluid or draining what’s left and adding new fluid. If that doesn’t work, there might be a deeper problem brewing in the transmission that could lead to a costly repair – or total replacement.

Based on my findings, there are 14 transmission-related complaints about the 2011 Escape, with typical repair costs totaling almost $4,000. Full transmission replacements are common.

Steering problems

Some 2011 Ford Escape owners report steering problems. Power steering makes it easier for the driver to turn the wheel without exerting much effort. Unfortunately, the power steering system in the 2011 has proved to be somewhat unreliable.

When it fails, drivers might notice that they need to use more muscle to turn the steering wheel, especially at lower speeds. Slow steering response, difficult handling, and groaning or squealing when turning can also indicate a power steering problem.

In 2014, Ford recalled more than 1.1 million of its vehicles, including the 2011 Ford Escape, due to power steering failures.

Some owners have also had problems with front wheel bearings causing the steering wheel to lose responsiveness (or vibrate).

ford dealer sign
If you’re having steering issues in your 2011 Escape, steer your way to this sign ASAP. (Can I at least get a #golfclap for the clever caption?)

Water leaks

Other common 2011 Ford Escape problems relate to the windows and windshield. Most notably, owners report water leaking into the cabin through the windows or windshield when it rains or when they run the car through a car wash.

However, some vehicles are also prone to water pooling around the inside of the rear window. Ford Escape models with a sunroof may also experience water leaks into the passenger area. 

Rear window problems

The 2011 Escape tends to have issues with a delicate rear window. Although the issue was never sent to a recall, Motortrend reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated several complaints not long after the 2011 Ford Escape’s release.

Owners reported the rear window shattering upon opening or closing the hatch. I also recall one report of spontaneous window breakage for seemingly no reason at all – which had to have been more than a little scary.

In a Technical Service Bulletin released by Ford, the company instructed its dealerships to closely inspect the Escape’s liftgates for signs of damage and replace the liftgate glass if damage was found.

As these vehicles were new at this time, dealerships and owners could replace the glass for free under warranty. However, now-used models that haven’t received repairs may still experience this issue (and it won’t be covered under warranty).

Body and paint problems

Rust on a vehicle can affect its structural integrity, so it’s essential to look for signs of rust before making a purchase. The 2011 Ford Escape has had some issues with rust and bubbling paint (a sign that rust could come soon) – particularly around the rear wheel wells and tailgate.

A primary concern for owners is that paint and rust issues seemed to happen within a short time after their paint warranty became invalid. As you might expect, paint and bodywork on a car is not cheap.

Air conditioning problems

A faulty air conditioning system plagues some 2011 Ford Escape models. Owners experiencing this issue often noticed a problem within the first five years of ownership. Most commonly, the air conditioner fails to blow cold air on at least some temperature control settings. Most annoyingly, other owners report that the air conditioning doesn’t work at all when the outside air temperature is very warm.

In some vehicles, a refrigerant link could be the culprit. When refrigerant leaks, the air conditioning stops blowing cold air, fogs windows, and could create an off-putting smell while using the air conditioner system.

These situations may require an air compressor replacement. The average cost for this repair ranges from $720-$950.

ford steering wheel logo
If you’ve read this far and you’re still thinking about buying a 2011 Escape, I commend you for your unbreakable determination.

Are 2011 Ford Escapes reliable?

Overall, the 2011 Ford Escape is a generally reliable vehicle – at least compared to the competition. Ford has addressed the SUV’s most prominent issues (engine, transmission, and power steering) in recalls, allowing owners to get repairs or replacements for the affected parts free of charge.

JD Power rates the 2011 Ford Escape’s quality and reliability at an 81 out of 100, denoting a “Great” rating. This rating considers owner-reported design and function problems. Similar compact SUVs, including the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox and Dodge Nitro, received lower quality and reliability ratings.

How long will a 2011 Ford Escape last?

Generally speaking, a 2011 Escape can last a very long time if maintained properly. Escapes with completed recall repairs and regular maintenance can last 200,000 miles or more. In fact, several posters on the r/fordescape subreddit mention that their 2011 Ford Escape has passed the 200,000-mile mark.

Staying up-to-date on the latest recalls, fixing any problems that arise, and sticking to a maintenance schedule can help you squeeze more life out of your 2011 Escape. Enter your vehicle’s details in Ford’s maintenance schedule tool to learn more about the suggested routine for your particular model


The NHTSA lists the following 2011 Ford Escape recalls:

  • Electric power steering assist: Specific 2011 models experienced problems with the steering torque sensor becoming unable to detect steering changes, causing the electronic power steering system to turn off.
  • Fuel delivery module: A faulty fuel delivery module on some 2011 Escapes could crack easily, causing fuel leaks.
  • Front-wheel bearings: Front-wheel bearings manufactured in 2015 went to some 2011 Ford Escape models as replacements. These bearings had incorrect dimensions that could create dangerous braking and steering problems.

Learn more about these recalls and how to receive related repairs on the NHTSA website.

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