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Old 06-23-2015, 02:08 AM   #1
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2008 Escape Hybrid AWD as toad

We purchased a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid because the owners manual says you can flat tow it as long as it's in Neutral. The manual says this applies for both the Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and the Four Wheel Drive (4WD) models.

When we went to have the base plate installed we discovered a pretty significant flaking rust issue behind the front bumper fascia. The shop will go ahead and mount the plate on my say so, but it will invalidate any warranty if it appears that the failure was due to any rusted steel on the vehicle.

So I was just considering purchasing a tow dolly. But after researching this considerably I am reading a LOT of commentaries about folks with this setup that are experience burnt up trannys. So now I'm a bit leery about the vehicle entirely.

Of course, finding a definitive answer is impossible. For instance, the 2008 Ford Escape (non-hybrid) owners manual says a FWD vehicle should only be towed on a dolly and the AWD model should NOT be flat-towed at all. So I'm wondering if the problems folks are having has to do with the non-Hybrid models versus the Hybrid model. I'm also leery about flat towing the unit - without some form of lubricating pump - just on the word of the owners manual if it means I'm going to have to spring for a rebuilt tranny.

Any advice or experience?
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Old 06-23-2015, 04:31 AM   #2
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We have towed a 2012 Escape Hybrid AWD over 30,000 miles without an issue. Ford manual restricts the speed to 75 MPH. Put the transmission in neutral & turn the key to unlock the steering wheel lock. I have never heard of a Hybrid transmission failure. Ford went to a different transmission for 2013 & they at not flat towable.
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Old 06-23-2015, 06:07 AM   #3
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Thanks. I did discover AFTER posting this that the Hybrid model and the non-Hybrid models do NOT share the same transmission. Thus the reason for it being okay in the Hybrid Owners Manual.

So let me ask you. Shift into Neutral and take ignition to first detent. Am I going to need to remove a fuse or disconnect the battery to keep the idiot lights from running down the battery?

We've got a rather extensive trip coming up really soon. All the way out to the West Coast, up to Seattle and then home to Oklahoma. Planning on not driving more than 5 hours per day if it can be helped. I'm a big one for stopping every hour or so. I see a lot of posts of folks running the engine during stops. ???

Another question is the base plate for your Escape. In the pictures I've seen it appears to attach to the front frame right behind the bumper fascia. On my Escape there is a pretty significant peeling rust issue with a piece of steel running across the front in between the frame members. It may be part of the radiator support assembly. The dealership is "hesitant" to put the base plate on with that rust issue. When I asked if it would void any of the warranties they said "only if it could be proven that the failure was due, in part, to the rust issue". I'm pretty sure they have a way to "add a note" to their system so everyone will know of the rusted piece if I go ahead and have them mount it.

What I am now interested in doing is obtaining a tow dolly and drive the front wheels up onto it. Then put it in Neutral and tow away. It seems to me if BOTH axles can be on the ground with it in Neutral then there shouldn't be a problem with just the back axle being on the ground under the same circumstances. Whaddya' Think!?!
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Old 06-23-2015, 07:02 AM   #4
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No! If it is an AWD DO NOT tow it on a dolly. Only 4 wheels down or a trailer. My 2012 Ford manual specifically warns about damaging the transmission towing on an AWD on a dolly. Procedure: Start the car, put the transmission in neutral then turn the key all the way back, try to extract the key & I think you will find you can't. At this point the steering wheel will be unlocked & all power should be off. The gauges should go back to their rest position. The car will be 4 years old in August, original starting battery & never needed a jump start.
Like you we don't generally travel longer than 6 hours or so. Although Ford is silent on the issue I do start the car in the AM & let it run while I am unhooking the services to the coach & hooking up the tow bar. When we stop for the nite, if we are not using the car I start the car, put the transmission in park & remove the key. Just remember to put it back into neutral in the morning, forgot one time & dragged the car, in park, about 500 feet with no apparent damage.
As far as your base plate installation I think only you & your advisors can speak to the integrity of the car frame itself. Can't you install the base plate & with chains hook the base plate to another part of the frame, that way if the welds on the baseplate fail the chains should hold it on the car.
I have towed cars with lube pumps & drive shaft disconnects & towing this Escape is by far the easiest set up, but it must be a Hybrid, regular Escapes are hard on transmissions, many failures.
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Old 06-23-2015, 08:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purelysocial View Post
No! If it is an AWD DO NOT tow it on a dolly. Only 4 wheels down or a trailer.
Okay, then I'm confused again. If putting it in Neutral - as stated in the owners manual - allows both axles to free wheel...then why would it matter if the front axle is off the ground?
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:32 AM   #6
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I'm not sure but I don't think the axles "free wheel" like a true 4 wheel drive with a transfer case. Even with a true 4 wheel drive vehicle, you have to place the transmission in neutral & then also put the transfer case in neutral (I had a Ford Sporttrac & that was the procedure). With AWD you don't have access to a transfer case (if there is one)
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:39 AM   #7
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Never mind. Got tired of screwing with the whole affair. We're just going to take our chances and have the flat-tow equipment installed like we originally planned. We had the cost already budgeted anyway. If we HAVE a problem and if they WON'T cover it, then we're just out of luck.
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:09 AM   #8
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Final Answer...

Okay so we decided to just go ahead with the flat-tow system. Sure enough when they went to mount the plate the passenger side frame member was bent slightly outwards and had separate a bit (broken weld) from the cross-member. So, of course, CW would not continue the installation.

I did find out from the Parts department that the plate would fit a 2008 through 2012 model. So tried finding another Ford Escape. None available in my immediate area. One about 95 miles away and another about 120 miles away.

Called a Chevy salesman we had used before to see what they had on their Used Car lot. Ended up saying To Hades With It. Bought a 2015 Chevy Equinox LT/1LT. It's pretty easy to flat-tow for in the future. But for now we are just going to purchase a tow dolly and drag it along behind us that way. I checked on renting one from U-Haul and it was going to cost almost $1,300-. I can get a Master tow dolly with surge brakes brand new for $1,595- locally.

I would prefer the model with electric brakes but just don't the time left before we leave to have the controller mounted in the coach.

Thanks for the help everyone.
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