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Old 09-20-2021, 04:45 AM   #1
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2021 Ford Escape Hybrid flat tow transaxle heat

We took this rig on our first significant trip last week. 200 miles of freeway each direction. 65 mph max speed. At our destination after the first 200 miles I noticed the transaxle on the Escape was hot. Not extreme heat, but hot. This concerned me but since we were camping for a few days I ignored it. We drove the Escape a few times during our stay and all seemed good. After we towed it back home I checked the transaxle and it was around 120 degrees F. Similar temperature to the previous time. On the way home I stopped several times and checked the transaxle , it was around that same temp for most of the trip. I also checked each time I stopped and the vehicle was still in flat tow mode and the ignition was still off. I also checked all wheels at each stop and they were only around ambient temperature or a little more so this is not a brake issue. Perhaps this heat is normal, but I am just wondering if anyone else flat towing this vehicle has noticed similar heat buildup.
We have only taken short trips since returning, but when driving 20 miles or so under it's own power and at normal speeds the transaxle does not get as warm as it did while towing.
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Old 09-20-2021, 04:59 AM   #2
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The manufacturer is allowing you to flat tow without any oil circulation in the system since the engine is not running. This will heat the transaxle oil but not circulate it for cooling. On my Buick transaxle I can do the same but never tow faster than 65 MPA and need to run the engine for a few minutes every 250 miles or so.
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Old 09-23-2021, 04:55 AM   #3
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Thank you for your reply. I know there will be some heat created within the transaxle when towing, but I was hoping someone else towing this vehicle had checked their transaxle temperature so I could get a comparison.
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Old 09-23-2021, 02:37 PM   #4
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Thank you for your reply. I know there will be some heat created within the transaxle when towing, but I was hoping someone else towing this vehicle had checked their transaxle temperature so I could get a comparison.
We just had our 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid outfitted for towing and will take it for a first trial run tomorrow. We're going about 80 miles and I'll check the transaxle temperature and report back.

To be sure we are measuring the same thing, where and how did you take the transaxle temperature measurement?
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Old 09-24-2021, 03:16 PM   #5
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We took this rig on our first significant trip last week. 200 miles of freeway each direction. 65 mph max speed. At our destination after the first 200 miles I noticed the transaxle on the Escape was hot. Not extreme heat, but hot. This concerned me but since we were camping for a few days I ignored it. We drove the Escape a few times during our stay and all seemed good. After we towed it back home I checked the transaxle and it was around 120 degrees F. Similar temperature to the previous time. On the way home I stopped several times and checked the transaxle , it was around that same temp for most of the trip. I also checked each time I stopped and the vehicle was still in flat tow mode and the ignition was still off. I also checked all wheels at each stop and they were only around ambient temperature or a little more so this is not a brake issue. Perhaps this heat is normal, but I am just wondering if anyone else flat towing this vehicle has noticed similar heat buildup.
We have only taken short trips since returning, but when driving 20 miles or so under it's own power and at normal speeds the transaxle does not get as warm as it did while towing.
We just completed the first trip with our 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid toad. We traveled about 50 miles at various speeds, but mainly between 60 and 65 mph. The infrared temperature measurements taken from the transaxle were between 105 F and 120 F, lower at the top of the case and higher at the bottom. So I guess this is normal.

We will travel home on Monday - about 120 miles - and I'll report if the temperatures are any different.

This is a "test" drive for us to prepare for a 3,600 mile trip from Boston to Austin starting early next month (before the first frost). We plan to take 2 months with stops in Nashville and Memphis, and visits to 6 National Parks.
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Old 09-26-2021, 05:15 AM   #6
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We just had our 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid outfitted for towing and will take it for a first trial run tomorrow. We're going about 80 miles and I'll check the transaxle temperature and report back.

To be sure we are measuring the same thing, where and how did you take the transaxle temperature measurement?
Thank you for your reply. I used a contact type digital temperature sensor and held it directly on several locations on the aluminum trans housing. I only accessed the area from the top so I did not get any readings underneath. As I recall, the hottest area was on the rear of the housing as close to the bottom as I could reach.
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Old 09-26-2021, 05:32 AM   #7
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We just completed the first trip with our 2021 Ford Escape Hybrid toad. We traveled about 50 miles at various speeds, but mainly between 60 and 65 mph. The infrared temperature measurements taken from the transaxle were between 105 F and 120 F, lower at the top of the case and higher at the bottom. So I guess this is normal.

We will travel home on Monday - about 120 miles - and I'll report if the temperatures are any different.

This is a "test" drive for us to prepare for a 3,600 mile trip from Boston to Austin starting early next month (before the first frost). We plan to take 2 months with stops in Nashville and Memphis, and visits to 6 National Parks.
Thanks for the feedback, Kentep. It sounds like your readings were very similar to mine, so this is probably normal. I did a little online research that indicated 175 degrees is a normal operating temperature for an automatic transmission (although the Escape has a CVT) so I am not too worried about 120 degrees. Still, I will take my temp probe with me on my next trip and gather some more data. I don't know if it would make much difference in the temperature, but our Escape is not AWD.
Sounds like a great trip you have planned. I have been to Boston and I have been to Austin, and much of the area in between. I have to say I enjoyed the in between a LOT more than the two ends! We drove around Nashville last winter on our way to Texas via the Natchez Trace. We would like to visit Nashville for a few days, now that we have a toad!
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Old 09-26-2021, 11:37 AM   #8
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Transaxle "skin" temperature can vary greatly with the type of rv pulling the cat escape. It has to do with the air flow under and behind the rv. Front engine gas rigs will have a lower temperature coming from under the rv, a rear engine diesel with a rear radiator is worst case, tow car gets blasted with 170 to 200 degree air in 100 degree ambient temps. The "skin" temp will vary greatly depending on ambient temps, what you see at 90 will not be the same as 100, or at 65f for that matter. You might as well measure the "skin" temp of the front and rear bumpers of the escape, this would give you a idea on airflow that is hitting ANY towed vehicle.
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Old 09-26-2021, 11:38 AM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback, Kentep. It sounds like your readings were very similar to mine, so this is probably normal. I did a little online research that indicated 175 degrees is a normal operating temperature for an automatic transmission (although the Escape has a CVT) so I am not too worried about 120 degrees. Still, I will take my temp probe with me on my next trip and gather some more data. I don't know if it would make much difference in the temperature, but our Escape is not AWD.
Sounds like a great trip you have planned. I have been to Boston and I have been to Austin, and much of the area in between. I have to say I enjoyed the in between a LOT more than the two ends! We drove around Nashville last winter on our way to Texas via the Natchez Trace. We would like to visit Nashville for a few days, now that we have a toad!
Is your 2wd Escape a Hybrid? My understanding is that only the Hybrid is flat towable.

Does you owners manual have instructions for flat towing? I have a 2018 Fusion Hybrid that has specific instructions on flat towing. I looked in the manual for a 2018 Fusion Ecoboost and the instructions are not there. If fact it says “must be towed with the front or all wheels of the ground.
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Old 09-26-2021, 11:43 AM   #10
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Can The Ford Escape Be Flat Towed?
Some models of the Escape, but not all of them, can be flat towed. Escapes from the years 2001 to 2012 can be flat towed but Escapes from years 2013 to the current 2020 generation should not be flat towed. Current models can only be towed using conventional methods like a flatbed, a transport trailer, or a tow dolly. Improper towing will cause severe damage to Escape transmission.

So could not find information on a 2021. Is it a new design?
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Old 09-26-2021, 03:32 PM   #11
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I have the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid. It uses the Ford HF-45 transmission. In that transmission, whenever the output shaft is rotating the lube pump is moving fluid inside the transmission.

It appears to me that if you read the temp after driving at same speed and other outside conditions as when flat towing you will get same or higher temp reading. I would think higher due to the heat from the engine and exhaust system heating the transmission case. It will also be higher due to the heat generated by the 100 HP electric traction motor/generator and the smaller 2nd electric motor/generator inside the case operating to provide power and/or regenerative braking, with the motor windings generating heat in both situations that is carried away by the transmission fluid circulating to cool the motors.

It would be interesting if you can add to this thread by taking a reading after driving to compare to your readings you have taken after flat towing.
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Old 09-26-2021, 03:45 PM   #12
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Can The Ford Escape Be Flat Towed?
Some models of the Escape, but not all of them, can be flat towed. Escapes from the years 2001 to 2012 can be flat towed but Escapes from years 2013 to the current 2020 generation should not be flat towed. Current models can only be towed using conventional methods like a flatbed, a transport trailer, or a tow dolly. Improper towing will cause severe damage to Escape transmission.

So could not find information on a 2021. Is it a new design?
The 2020 and on Ford Escape Hybrid models use a different transmission, the HF-45, than the non-hybrid models. The owner's manual states that these can be flat towed at speeds up to 65 MPH for long periods of time. I have towed my 2020 Hybrid about 5,000 miles so far and have had no issues. The only change I made was to use the 12 volt power feed from my Winnebago Vista to power my Blue Ox Patriot brake buddy, and to feed a charge line to the Escape hybrid's OEM 12 volt battery thru a 10 amp auto-reset circuit breaker, to offset a small battery drain that happens when you put the Ford Escape Hybrid into the Neutral Towing Mode that is used when flat towing.
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Old 09-27-2021, 03:37 AM   #13
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Is your 2wd Escape a Hybrid? My understanding is that only the Hybrid is flat towable.

Does you owners manual have instructions for flat towing? I have a 2018 Fusion Hybrid that has specific instructions on flat towing. I looked in the manual for a 2018 Fusion Ecoboost and the instructions are not there. If fact it says “must be towed with the front or all wheels of the ground.
FYI, as is stated in the title of my original post, yes it is the Escape Hybrid. Yes the owners manual states it can be flat towed behind a motor home and provides instructions for doing that.
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Old 09-27-2021, 04:02 AM   #14
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I have the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid. It uses the Ford HF-45 transmission. In that transmission, whenever the output shaft is rotating the lube pump is moving fluid inside the transmission.

It appears to me that if you read the temp after driving at same speed and other outside conditions as when flat towing you will get same or higher temp reading. I would think higher due to the heat from the engine and exhaust system heating the transmission case. It will also be higher due to the heat generated by the 100 HP electric traction motor/generator and the smaller 2nd electric motor/generator inside the case operating to provide power and/or regenerative braking, with the motor windings generating heat in both situations that is carried away by the transmission fluid circulating to cool the motors.

It would be interesting if you can add to this thread by taking a reading after driving to compare to your readings you have taken after flat towing.
I agree with your thinking on the heat creation, and yes, I plan on checking the temp after a long powered drive. Since our last tow we have only driven it on short trips, less than 30 miles, and the trans gets a little warm but does not reach 120 degrees.

I sounds like you are saying there are two electric motors inside the transaxle, is that correct? I have searched online for a schematic of the HF45 transaxle showing the electric motor(s) and could not find one. I also visited my Ford dealer and the service writer and the parts person both searched their documentation and could not find one either. I was surprised at that. Does anyone have a diagram or schematic, or photos for that matter, of the internal electric motor(s)? Especially how and where they are connected into the drive train.
Being a mechanical guy I am curious about how the CVT actually works too. I'm not talking speculation here, I can guess how it might work. I mean does anyone know what the actual Ford design is and how it achieves such smooth operation?
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