Can You Flat Tow A Ford Escape?

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need (or want) to tow your vehicle to another location, you may be asking yourself how to go about it. Did you know there are actually a few ways to tow a vehicle – one way is called “dolly-towing”, another is called “trailer-towing” and another is called “flat-towing?” In this article we are going to address flat-towing, and whether or not it is safe to flat tow your Ford Escape.

Quick Answer

While it is entirely possible to flat tow a Ford Escape, it is not recommended. You see, vehicles are created with different drivetrains. The four builds are front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, front-wheel and all-wheel drive. While the older models of Ford Escape are safe to flat-tow, models between the years of 2013-2020 are not safe to flat-tow, due to the redesign of the transmission. Thankfully you can still choose between flatbed, trailer or dolly-towing as more advisable options for these models. It’s important to always check with the owner’s manual to ensure proper towing procedures. It may be tempting to flat tow your Ford Escape, but just be aware that you run the risk of damaging the transmission.

For the critics out there, I get it. Why would the manufacturers not recommend it? Is it really that dangerous? Those are great questions, and deserve thorough answers. Let’s take a closer look.

Why Should You Not Flat Tow Your Ford Escape?

To flat tow or not to flat tow, that is the question… I mean, if there’s an emergency surely you could get away with flat towing it for a few miles, right? What could possibly go wrong?

Potential Transmission Damage

Damage due to insufficient lubrication: Part of the towing process includes making sure all the transmission parts that will be involved are properly lubricated. If some of the involved parts are not lubricated it can cause friction, and if left unchecked can cause irreversible damage. Flat towing means that all four wheels are on the road while it’s being towed. Some of the newer models are not designed to have transmission fluid actively running through the system while the vehicle is in tow.

Axel disconnection to rectify situation: There is the potential to have one of the axles disconnected while towing, but certain modifications need to be made in order for this to be an option. Not every vehicle is manufactured to accommodate this type of modification either, so keep that in mind.

Drive Train Options and How They Affect Towing Capabilities

Safely being able to tow your vehicle depends on what kind of drive train it was built with. As mentioned above, vehicles are manufactured with one of four different drive trains: four-wheel drive (4WD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), front-wheel drive (FWD), and all-wheel drive (AWD).

Other Dangers of Improper Towing Techniques

Vehicles are machines, and machines are made up of many different parts. Improper towing of your vehicle can pose many risks, not just that of transmission damage. Consider the following:

  • The suspension system, braking system, and engine may not be able to handle the burden.
  • The legal aspects of different states. Different states have different laws and regulations regarding towing weight maximums and methods. Check out your state‘s DOT website for more information.
  • Insurance companies have rules, too. Different policies may have varying towing regulations.
  • Using the right equipment seems obvious, but sometimes it isn’t. If using a trailer, make sure the brakes work, that it is level before loading up your vehicle, and that you do not use straps or ropes for anything going further than a few miles.

How to Correctly Flat Tow Your Ford Escape

The correct method of flat towing you vehicle will vary depending on the year of the model, as well as the combination of the engine and the drivetrain. Again, always consult your owner’s manual. The following guidelines only apply to first and second generation models, ranging between the years of 2001-2012. Some of the basic guidelines include:

  • Always tow in a forward direction.
  • Shift manual transmissions to neutral (N).
  • Once key is in ignition, turn to Accessory position.
  • To prevent exhaust fumes from accumulating inside the vehicle, set your climate control to the “air recirculation” mode.
  • Release parking brake.
  • Check transmission fluid levels in automatic transmissions to make sure there is the appropriate amount in the compartment.
  • Do not exceed speeds of 65 mph in automatic transmission vehicles.
  • Do not exceed speeds of 70 mph in manual transmission vehicles.
  • If towing an automatic transmission vehicle, let the engine run idle for about 5 minutes before the actual towing begins. Repeat every 6 hours. During times when the engine is running idle, shift the vehicle into drive (D), followed by reverse ( R ), bringing it back to neutral (N).

If you own one of the newer, third generation models, Ford has a few tips on how to safely flat tow your vehicle in cases where a trailer flatbed or tow dolly is not available:

  • Do not exceed speeds of 35 mph.
  • Do not go further than 50 miles in this towing position.
  • To prevent exhaust fumes from accumulating inside the vehicle, set your climate control to the “air recirculation” mode.
  • Tow in a forward direction.
  • Shift transmission into neutral (N). If this becomes impossible, you may be able to override the transmission. Check the owner’s manual on how to do so.
  • For vehicles that contain a steering wheel lock, insert key into ignition and turn until you reach the accessory position.

Pros and Cons of Flat Towing

Approved Ford Models for Flat Towing

While the Ford Escape is not the ideal candidate for flat towing, there are alternatives! A recent article written in 2019 was featured in the MotorHome Magazine. They offered a good list of different vehicles that are much more able to handle to strain of flat towing. Some of them include the following:

  • Ford Flex
  • Ford Fiesta (all makes except for the ST)
  • Ford Explorer (only the 3.5L r 3.5L EcoBoost versions)
  • Ford F-150
  • Ford Fusion
  • Ford Ranger 4WD
  • Ford Taurus (as long as it is the 3.5L or 3.5L EcoBoost version)

Now, while these are on the list of safer alternatives for flat towing, be sure to refer to the owner’s manual for more information on each makes and models. Some models may have small details that differ from the others. Getting details mixed up could have a disastrous effect. Better safe than sorry.

Can You Tow a Ford Escape Behind a Motorhome?

Yes, as long as your adhere to the guidelines and recommendations provided in the owner’s manual. Take into consideration the combined weight of both the vehicle and the method of towing you choose, whether it be a trailer, tow dolly or tow bar. As long as the weight doesn’t exceed the towing capacity of the motorhome, you should be good to go.

Wrap Up: It truly is fascinating learning how different vehicles operate. As far as taking your vehicle with you on your RV trip, we now know that some do better than others. Knowing which vehicles are able to be flat towed and which ones aren’t could mean the difference between a smooth, pleasant adventure, and a rough one you won’t soon forget!

Leave a Comment