What to look for when buying a used Ford Escape

Common problems: There is a fair amount of complaints about electrical and automatic transmission issues. Minor engine and emission control problems are common. Engine oil and transmission fluid leaks are fairly common too. The V6 is especially prone to oil leaks. A cracked ABS wheel sensor ring could cause the ABS system to stop working and the ABS warning light to come on. Minor front-end issues like worn sway bar links are very common too.

What to look for when buying a used Escape: Watch out for rust around the rear quarter panels and underneath. Look for oil leaks or burnt oil smell under the hood. Lack of power on acceleration could be caused by a clogged catalytic converter; it is very expensive to replace. An automatic transmission is one particular area that needs to be tested thoroughly during the test drive. Make sure to test the hand brake and the rear wiper. If it's a 4WD model, see if the 4WD mode works. Watch for noisy tires due to uneven wear. Read what to look for when buying a used car.
Guides for used car buyers:

Maintenance: Keep the oil and transmission fluid topped up, as leaks are not uncommon. An automatic transmission fluid needs to be changed in recommended interval, as it deteriorates over time. Check your tire pressure regularly, as unequal tire pressure causes increased wear of the 4WD system components. If you need to replace an ignition coil because of misfiring, have all the spark plugs changed as well; this may help keep the ignition coils from failing. If your Escape stalls unexpectedly, visit your dealer, there is an engine computer software update available to address this problem. Servicing the throttle body once in a while can help avoid some idle issues. If your Check Engine light is on, have it diagnosed before the problem gets worse. Checking your vehicle in a repair shop at least once a year will help keep it safe.
You might also be interested:

Recalls: Safety Recalls - NHTSA or Transport Canada - Road Safety Recalls.
Ford Owners - check maintenance schedule or download an electronic copy of the owner's manual.
Escape City - Escape owners forum
Ford Trucks - Ford enthusiasts forum

2003 Ford Escape specifications

Overall length:
Overall width:
Overall height:
Ground clearance:
Track front/rear:
173.0 (4394 mm)
70.1 (1781 mm)
69.1 (1755 mm)
103.1 (2619 mm)
7.8 (198 mm)
61.2/61.0 (1554 / 1549 mm)
Cargo capacity:
(rear seat up / rear seat down)

33.1 / 69.2 cu ft (937 / 1960 liters)

Base Curb Weight:
2WD 4-cyl. Manual:
4WD 4-cyl. Manual:
2WD V6 Automatic:
4WD V6 Automatic:

3019 lbs (1369 kg)
3175 lbs (1440 kg)
3181 lbs (1443 kg)
3346 lbs (1518 kg)

Maximum Towing Capacity:
4-cyl Manual:
V6 Automatic:
V6 with Towing Pkg.:

1000 lbs (454 kg)
2000 lbs (907 kg)
3500 lbs (1588 kg)

4-cyl. Zetec engine:

V6 Duratec engine:
16 valves 2.0L DOHC I-4 iron block, aluminum head
127 hp @ 5400 rpm, 135 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm

24 valves 3.0L DOHC V-6 aluminum block and heads
201 hp @ 5900 rpm, 196 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm.
EPA Fuel Economy (US mpg, L/100 km):
2WD 4-cyl Manual:

4WD 4-cyl Manual:

2WD V6 Automatic:

4WD V6 Automatic:

city: 23mpg (10.2 L/100 km)
hwy: 28mpg (8.4 L/100 km)

city: 22mpg (10.7 L/100 km)
hwy: 25mpg (9.4 L/100 km)

city: 19mpg (12.4 L/100 km)
hwy: 25mpg (9.4 L/100 km)

city: 18mpg (13.1 L/100 km)
hwy: 23mpg (10.2 L/100 km)

Recommended Fuel:

87 octane (minimum)

Fuel Tank Capacity:
4-cyl engine:
V6 engine:

15 US gal. (57 liters)
16 US gal (61 liters)

Oil capacity with filter:
4-cyl engine:
V6 engine:
4.5 quart (4.3 liters)
5.5 quart (5.2 liters)