2002 Ford Escape transmission issues

Tim McKeever

Asked by Nov 19, 2013 at 01:37 PM about the 2002 Ford Escape XLT 4WD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2002 Ford Escape XLT 4WD with approx 145k miles. Just today, we started
having a strange transmission issue. My wife was driving the vehicle when it started
acting up. Before this, there were no indicators of any tranny issues. (no slipping, no
hard shifts, etc) The Escape doesn't like going into gear when engaged it seems. After
the car is started, when depressing the brake pedal, there is a clicking or ticking sound
under the dash, it sounds like it is coming from near the steering column. It will tick
once when the brake starts to engage (right about the same time the brake lights come
on). When shifted into gear, the transmission will not engage most of the time. I can
sometimes get the tranny to engage by leaving the tranny in gear, brake depressed,
and lightly revving the motor. The car will stay in gear for 30-45 seconds, then it seems
to pop out of gear again. Pull over, put it in park, back into gear, hold down the brake,
rev the motor a bit, tranny engages and gets you down the road for another 30-45
seconds. While in gear, the tranny shifts between gears just fine. Now, granted, I was
limping the car back home when the issue started, but it seems to shift from 1st into
2nd with no problems while the tranny was in drive.

I have read a lot about bad trannys in these cars, but it doesn't seem to be a burned
out tranny. It shifts from gear to gear just fine when the tranny does decide to engage,
no tranny fluid under the vehicle, tranny fluid is full. Fluid isn't dirty or have that burned
smell, no metal in it from what I could see. The brake pedal never made the tick sound
when depressed until the transmission problem started. Any information/ideas would
be greatly appreciated!

5 Answers

Tracy Hooks

What you are hearing is the shifter interlock solenoid. It always made the noise. We tend to become hyper-sensitive to our vehicles when they do not perform properly. It is very likely that the seals within the transmission have hardened over time. When cold, they tend to leak pressure and cause slow engagement. Once warmed up, they will soften a little and hold pressure better. It only gets worse over time. 145K miles is a very good life span for an automatic transmission. $1800 to $2K for a rebuild or (like I did successfully) Buy one from the dismantler and see how it goes.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

with that mileage, there are sure to be pieces stuck to the magnet at the bottom of the transmission pan...get a transmission filter change, fresh oil in there including the torque converter...and hopefully you will have no more problems...hydraulic circuits were choked...gettin' 'em clean might be the ticket~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Tim McKeever

I have done a lot of reading regarding the shift interlock solenoid. A little noise when the brakes are engaged are normal. This is a really loud click when the brakes are engaged, it sounds like a metal on plastic ticking sound. It doesn't do it all the time when applying the brakes while in park. I have had the vehicle for a year and a half approx and never heard the loud tick sound until today after the tranny issue started happening as well. With further testing, I have noticed that even with the tranny in drive but no forward motion, if I rev the motor to higher RPM (4k rpm or +), I can feel the tranny start to grip slightly and feel the slightest pull forward. with a few low revs, the tranny occasionally engages and drives like normal. The issue seems to happen whether the motor is up to temp or not. My wife drove the car approx 15 miles first thing this morning with no problems whatsoever. No slipping, no grinding, no brake pedal click sound. A couple hours later, she hopped into the car to go to school and started having the problem just a block or 2 from the home.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Tim McKeever

After popping off the top bezel of the steering column, I found the source of the ticking noise when pressing the brake. I may be wrong, but it appears that a chunk of the plastic is missing, as also some other key components. A google image search didn't find anything relateable. In the picture, the brake is not being pressed. When depressed, the black wheel moves to the left side of the tan inside and touches.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
Tim McKeever

like so.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

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