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Ford Escape Hybrid Brake Problems



  • We have our own garage & mechanics who work on all of the cars. Frankly, they only do what is absolutely necessary. The ka-chunk happens when you break in every one of these FEH that I've driven. The "service soon" message has been on for months along with the yellow wrench. The cab had been in the shop the day before this happened but I don't know what they worked on. I only drive this car 1 night/week. Someone else drives it days and other nights. No other lights had come on while I was having problems, or when the car started fire, nothing. Our mechanics are familar with crown vics and grand marquis but I question what they know about this vehicle.

    So, if they had worked on the breaks and put them together wrong would this have caused this kind of failure? I would have stopped driving had I seen some kind of info on the dash lights or a message that there was some new problem.
  • How many warning lights need to come on before you think there's a problem!! When the check engine light and the wrench light come on that means, IT NEEDS TO BE SERVICED! If those lights have been on for a while and then something else happens you wont realize it because the warning lights are already on!!
  • I agree but as I said this is a taxi cab and when, and if, service is done is out of my control. However, I also had said that in fact the car had been in the shop the day before this occurred. I don't know if the service message is automatically cleared when service is done or if the mechanic has to clear them from the the computer. If it is the later I am willing to bet that they just fail to clear the message. Again, those messages had been there for the past three months.

    However, what I thought was something worth mentioning was the fact that ALL of the FEH's in our fleet that I've driven (three of them) do the same ka-chunk thing when you apply the breaks. It is not in any way a minor thing that can be ignored. I am constantly having to explain to my passengers what it is because they ask. Of course I really don't know but I just tell em that it's got over 200,000 miles and has something to do with the system charging the battery when the breaks are applied.

    Also, given that our FEH's are taxi's driven 20 hrs / day 365 days per year at about 100,000 miles / year it is very unlikely anyone driving a FEH for personal use will ever have this kind of usage. In addition, these FEH are being driven at those rates in San Francisco with all of the hills that most people don't deal with.
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    Thanks again for relating your experience.

    Remember, the ka-chunk might have been happening in all 3 FEHs but they were being serviced by the same crew of mechanics. Easy to make the same maintenance mistake 3 times if you are not familiar with the vehicle design.

    Please let us know what they eventually find (if you can) was the cause of the brake failure(s).

    Has the fire in the wheels of that FEH caused the mechanics to take the other 2 FEHs out of service until the condition is corrected??? :surprise:
  • Ha, out of service!? One would think that would be the responsible thing to do. However, we are talking about a taxicab company and given that there is no legal requirement for them to do so you can bet they will not. I'll let you know if I get any further information or if in fact they take the others out of service. I'm guessing, based on previous situations related to these mechanics, that they had done something wrong while working on the FEH the day before the fire that resulted in this incident. I will post any further details or information.
  • If the brakes are not adjusted correctly (esp. parking brake), the pads can rub continuously and eventually catch on fire. What could ignite? It could be a leaky brake fluid line, the wheel bearing grease, or even the pads themselves. When
    seriously overheated (say 1000F) some pads release flammable vapors. Back when I was a wanna-be sports car racer, I took a street car out on a race track and managed to impress everyone.. "Dude! You were haulin' A$# out there! And your brakes were, like, on fire!!" I thought that was a figure of speech until I pulled the wheels and checked the brake pads. I poked them with a screwdriver and they crumbled like burnt toast and the ashes blew away in the wind. Fortunately I had a spare set of high-temp racing pads.
  • Well, I saw my FEH taxi being driven last night by another driver. I asked him if it was running ok and he said it was running great. I him if the brakes were doing that ka-chunck thing they had been doing and he said no, that they were smooth! So, I guess that because of the fire they were forced to fix the brakes completely yah hoo!
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    You know, I couldn't help but read this thread over. A couple of things strike me odd about this. One, this vehicle had over 200k miles on it. If saaayy the master cylinder quit suddenly causing a loss of brakes on your personal car (fill in any make or model here) with over 200,000 miles on it, would you say there there was some kind of design flaw with that? Or would you just realize that stuff with that much usage is worn totally out and time for attention?

    It had warning lights on, the check engine light and wrench light may have been on for reasons very relevant to the brake system. Then, there is a private fleet repair shop servicing this vehicle, where did they get any Hybrid Escape training at? I've taken mine with Ford Motor company, where did they get their's?

    The braking ability of that vehicle is a team effort between the PCM and the ABS module. Since some of the braking effort is commanded by the PCM, the wrench light and check engine lights may have been very relevant to the brakes and they were apparently ignored.

    The basic hydraulic brake system on that vehicle is impacted by the fact that the engine does not run all the time, as well is the P/S system, the A/C, heat and charging system (it doesn't even have an alternator).

    That vehicle needs to be serviced by personnel who have completed Escape Hybrid training. No technician should be servicing any hybrid of any make until they have completed make and model specific training. The entire vehicle is impacted by the fact that the engine doesn't run at all times, and therefore the entire vehicle is different from a conventional vehicle that we are used to.
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    In addition....

    When you apply the brake pedal, you are not normally supplying the hydraulic pressure that engages the brakes at the wheels. You are making a hydraulic "request" for brakes. The PCM applies regen. braking at the front wheels and the ABS module applies the rear brakes. Under heavier braking demands, the front friction will also be engaged by the ABS module.

    If the ABS module fails to power up, or the pump fails to run... then what some might loosely call a master cylinder then becomes a back up source of hydraulic pressure. What would normally, on most vehicles, be the master cylinder bore is called a "pedal feel emulator" on your hybrid because normally it just gives the feel of conventional brakes. But, in the event of an ABS failure, there is a check valve inside the ABS HCU (hydraulic control unit) that switches under mechanical pressure and allows the pedal feel emulator to now supply the hydraulic pressure to apply the friction at the wheels. This is a fail safe mode. It is for emergency stopping and not meant for anything more. The brake pedal efforts will be very high. You'll still have brakes, but you'll have to stand on the pedal hard to get them. It'll stop, but you might ruin a perfectly good pair of shorts.
  • Drove my FEH taxi last night. The excellent news is the brakes worked smooth! No Ka-Chunk at all!! I guess that fire forced them to replace the brakes instead of their usual patch job or quick fix.

    However, the dash lights are still lit. Well, actually, the wrench and emissions light were on at the beginning of the night along with a message to service emissions system. The wrench light went out after a few hours.

    Anyone have any idea what may happen if they don't service the emissions system when it is supposed to be? Aside from the obvious potential for higher emission then should be. If they take their sweet time in servicing the emissions system what kind of potential risk am I facing (i.e., brakes on fire due to lack of attention to problem).

    As far as what kind of training our mechanics have had related to FEH service.... Good question but I'm gonna bet little to none this isn't something I have any way to find out. Although the next time I have to go to the shop I'll try and ask one of them but these are not the friendliest or most talkative people you will meet.

    I have noticed that we suddenly have a few more of these FEH taxi's with our colors but I was told they are 'color scheme' meaning they are privately owned and the owner takes care of the maintenance and service at the garage or shop of their choice.

    Also, I didn't post this info originally because I thought there was a design flaw in the vehicle. I did think that the ka-chunck in the brakes was something that developed once the vehicle had high milleage. I just wanted to share what happens if you don't pay attention to issues and/or if they are not serviced properly or as required.

    I checked the actual millage of my FEH taxi last night and it has 243,000 miles. The excellent news about that is the FEH is almost like a new car other then the inept mechanic related issue. The suspension is excellent, steering works wonderfully, nothing I can think to complain about now that the brakes are fixed. Compare that to the Grand Marquis or Crown Victoria's in our fleet and when they have 240,000 miles the suspension stinks and the steering is loose and difficult, the transmissions slip, as well as misc other issues - in comparison the FEH is hands down a much better vehicle.
  • The Cachunk you were hearing may have been the caliper bushings worn out. The emmissions light could be as simple as a bad gas cap but also could be something more serious. There is no way to tell for certain without the poper equipement and training to properly diagnose the problem.
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    For less than $150, anyone can purchase an On-Board Diagnostics (OBD II) monitor that has a standard cable that plugs into a connector mounted just behind the dash below the steering wheel and above the left foot. "Fault codes" will be displayed. The codes can be looked up in the shop manual and will tell what has caused the wrench and emissions lights to come on and stay on. This is standard operationing procedure for any qualified repair shop. The computer (PCM) in the vehicle stores all the codes forever until they are manually cleared by a mechanic.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    Also the"wrench" light is related to the electronic throttle.

  • Considering this is ONLY the back brakes and the one post said it was San Francisco with lots of hills.

    Any chance it might be the parking brake being froze up? I've had many cars where the rear parking brake cable will freeze up and the parking brakes will be on all the time. That could head up the rotors pretty bad and might cause other failures.
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    Well, the ABS module "prefers" to apply the rear brakes first on this vehicle because the front wheels are using regenerative braking. So I can see lots of stop and go heating up the rear and never even engaging the front. In fact, on an Escape Hybrid, it is normal to wear 2 sets of rear pads to one set of front. Then, factor in the issue of this thing having a check engine light on and wrench light on for an as-yet unknown reason, this vehicle might just smoke the rear again.
  • autodrautodr Posts: 27
    Like I said before. The brake system on this vehicle is not like the brake system on a conventional vehicle. The amount of regenerative braking (to recharge the HV battery) and the amount of friction braking is determined first by the PCM and then the friction braking is carried out by the ABS module based on command from the PCM. The "check engine light" (you are calling an emissions light), and the wrench light are both warning indicators of the PCM to say "Hey dude, I'm having a problem properly running this engine... get me checked out". In your case, that CAN effect the brakes since it is the PCM that determines how much friction braking occurs versus regen braking. It also determines how much rear fiction occurs versus front friction. It just depends on why the lights are on as to whether or not it will effect the brakes.

    You really seriously need to take this vehicle to a qualified shop to check it out. If your company's garage can't... which I'm getting the feeling they can't otherwise they'd have done it by now... you need to take it somewhere. It doesn't HAVE to be the dealer, but it needs to be someone who has had Hybrid Escape training and that by default might mean the dealer.
  • Hi - just wanted to tell you you did the right thing. Ford refuses to acknowledge a problem with the braking system. Their dealers have no awareness of the problem. I had no warning when I lost my brakes except the annoying "grabbing" every time it rained or was dewy in the morning. They replaced the master cylinder and then when I took them to the Better Business Bureau Ford called it my "alleged brake problem". Every time I talked to someone at Ford they called it my "brake issue" as if it were a faulty window or a broken tail light. I lost at the Better Business Bureau because I did not lose my brakes 4 times! Ford offered me an extended warranty (with a $100 deductible!!!). Big Deal - I'm a high mileage driver and would be out of that in 3 years anyway. I told them the warranty would be cold comfort to my husband when I was in my casket or to some mother whose child I had run over. I loved the SUV, I loved the 4WD, I loved the mileage (27-30), I especially loved driving a hybrid. I traded it in on a non-hybrid SUV. If I every buy another Ford I hope someone takes a 2x4 to my head. What bothers me is someone else is out there driving it!

    There is a design flaw. Check out NHTSA/ODI. All FEH model years have had complete brake failures - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
  • Seem to have some extreme wear on rear brake pads on 2005 escape hybrid. Is this common? Dealer didn't know about it. Questioned if moisture is a factor.
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    What is your mileage? Ford predicts the rear pads will wear out twice as fast as the front pads. What you are seeing may be from normal hybrid-style driving. :)
  • 65,000 mostly highway.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    If you have brake wear, you are not driving in the most efficient manner possible.

    You need to maximize your regenerative braking. Start braking sooner so that you don't have to press the brake as hard.

    When ever you are costing, you should lightly press the brake pedal, this will start the regenerative braking process.

  • feh06feh06 Posts: 1
    I purchased 2006 model FEH 06 found out it was a 2005 build out. i have had many issues with this car and if anyone can shed some light it would be great.

    Last week - I had the whole system light up all the electronics and gizmos - then on the disply - SAFE TO STOP. The car has over 55k on it. FORD wanted 90 per hour and 90 to put on the computer to determine problem. I was not happy and then they said there was a recall on the BAT Harness. which may have caused all the electronic failures. And then the ABS light comes on - they advised that this was not part of the problem and computer indicates that it is some where in the rear axle and could not determine if it is the rear or R or L.

    I find this strange and now my regen is not working and they 400-900 to repair the ABS.

    Can anyone give me options is this a part you chang out yourself and has there been a trend with the brake issues with the FEH 06 models made in 2005


    NOT HAPPY WITH THIS VEH - have not had good MPH
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    The first FEHs were built and sold through the summer fall and winter of 2004 as 2005MY. Every year since then, Ford has started to build the next year in the Fall of the previous year. I don't think your vehicle is so unique in that manner. For instance, the 2008 FEHs have been being delivered to folks for over 6 months now, starting early in calendar year 2007. I would estimate that close to half of all MY-s were built in the previous CY.

    Hard to advise you on what to do with the limited diagnosis you have been given, to be sure, the components in the axle related to the brakes are not hybrid unique...the Smart Junction Box that controls braking functions has been known to fail. The ABS (computer) does have a rather complex software that controls braking functions and that needs to be updated or maybe "re-flashed" to insure it is the correct configuration for your VIN#. Also, I've seen some reports of master brake cylinder change-outs that were required to solve some FEH brake problems.

    Three components: HVBattery, eCVT(transmission), and DC to DC converter are warranteed for 8 years or 100,000 miles minimum. Regeneration occurs entirely within the controlled by the ABS computers.

    Good Luck
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    I think your dealer is trying to *#[email protected] you.

    In no Cal Emissions states, the complete hybrid system has a 8 year or 100,000 mile warranty, the Ca Emission cars have an additional 10 year or 150,000 mile warranty on the HV battery.

    You need to go to a different dealer.

  • I am looking at a bill for $816.00 to fix my brake system (ABS light came on), the 4x4 system (service 4x4 message came on), and a module found in the front axle (no message came on for this). I only have 42,000 miles on this truck.

    I have repeatedly taken the truck in for squeaking noise in the front end (I even said I thought it was in the axle, but of course the service tech looked at me with the deer in the headlight look....and not even looking me in the eye...another story). I have had the truck in the shop repeatedly for a grinding noise come from the back breaks and a shuddering when I break.

    I have looked on the alldatadiy web site and noticed several TSBs that fit the problems I have. If I were to take these bulletins in, would the dealership be more helpful?

    What the devil does the module in the axle do?

    I have even lemon lawed this vehicle for transmission issues and other electrical problems.

    Any ideas?
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    At 42,000 you are in a tough spot. The dealers hands are somewhat tied and you need to contact a Ford Regional Person (exact job title ???) If you can have the dealer document any fault codes that were produced by the FEH's computer, then along with the TSBs, and any decriptions of the diagnosis and work performed......take all that to Ford and if you can match any of what you saw previous with what was eventually fixed.....then it would be up to the "Regional" Ford person to pay for the work via what they call a "good will" service. Once the dealer knows that Ford will pay the bill....they are usually more responsive, etc.

    Good Luck. :(
  • escape08escape08 Posts: 1
    Hello, I have a new 08 FEH which has been giving me a chime and 'REGEN BRAKES DISABLED' warning every day on every journey the first time I come to complete stop. The only way I can then clear this and restore regenerative braking is to switch off the vehicle and restart with the key. Otherwise I only get friction brakes for the rest of the journey. Can any owners please advise how often this warning has appeared in their experience? I am operating the vehicle in 50 - 60F and this occurs at any battery state. Thank you very much.
  • maksimemaksime Posts: 8
    Hi there.

    Braking action is divided between the regen braking system and the conventional hydraulic system. The ABS unit determines the necessary amount of braking supplied by each system by evaluating inputs such as the vehicle speed and the operator's braking request, determined by accelerator pedal and brake pedal position.

    In essence when you let go the acc pedal or press on the brake pedal, the ABS sends a signal to the powertrain control module (PCM) to provide braking action by regen braking, and it does so up to a specific limit. Additional braking required which the regen braking cannot supply is then obtained by the ABS through the conventional hydraulic system.

    Where I am going with this? Your ABS might not be (or not properly) getting the input necessary to request regen braking, which prevents calculations and, as a safety measure, gives you back full control of hydraulic brakes.

    You might want to get it to a Ford dealer so they could perhaps obtain a fault code for diagnostic. You might need re programming.

    Hope this helps, please write back the outcome.

    Good luck ;)
  • cloftuscloftus Posts: 19
    My problem seems trivial and I wonder if it is normal? When the car has been parked overnight or at least several hours I get a short, metal noise while backing up when I apply my brake. It lasts a second or two.

    I would like your opinions.

  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    Hard to tell from your limited description but,

    It is not too uncommon for a parking brake that has been engaged overnight to stick in place somewhat even after it has been released....and then unstick, sometimes with a thud or other noises, as the car begins to roll.
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