Can The Ford Escape Be Flat Towed?


For a long time, Ford has been known for offering one of the best sedans in the market. Over the past few years, things have changed.

Ford is now diverting its attention from sedans to improve on its SUVs. Ford Escape is one of the vehicles that has greatly benefited from this.

As the name ‘Escape’ suggests, owners of these vehicles love taking them for off-road adventures. With some of them owning motorhomes, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Ford Escape can be flat towed behind them. That is why I decided to find out if it is possible to flat tow this beautiful machine safely.

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.

The first and second-generation models of the Escape that were made between 2001 and 2012 are the ones that have been certified by Ford to be flat towed.

Ford offers specific procedures on towing that are mainly determined by the powertrain and drive train options. Flat towing for models made at this time applies to the inline-four, V6, and Hybrid options.

It should be standard practice to check the owner’s manual before flat towing any car. It is common to see flat towing in action for the first and generation models; however, after the redesign in 2013, Ford no longer rated the Escape models for flat towing. 

What Does Flat Towing Mean?

Flat towing in the simplest of terms is the act of pulling a car when all the four wheels of the car being towed are on the ground. It is sometimes also referred to as dinghy towing, four-wheel towing, or neutral towing.

The most common way of exercising flat towing is pulling a four-wheel-drive vehicle behind a large truck or a motor home.

What Are The Benefits Of Flat Towing?

A small set of equipment is all you need to hitch the vehicle you want to flat tow to the bigger vehicle. Flat towing offers a whole host of advantages over other types of towing, and they are highlighted below. 

First, flat towing offers the fastest and the simplest ways of disconnecting and connecting the car you want to tow.

When flat towing, you first need to position the car behind the truck or motor home carefully. Setting up the coupling is the second step, and you are ready for your adventure.

It saves you time that would otherwise be spent on putting two wheels or the whole car off the ground. Decoupling is also easy as it is just a reverse of the coupling process, and you are ready to use your vehicle.

Secondly, flat towing adds convenience to the equation.

Most campers and motor homeowners often require a small vehicle to use once they get to their destination. Flat towing is extremely useful if you need to run into town and grab something quickly.

Motor homes are often big and are difficult to navigate in narrow trails. Flat towing decoupling is easy, allowing owners to unhitch the regular vehicle and head to even to undiscovered trails in no time.

Additionally, flat towing is a beautiful option for space-conscious people as it allows you to save tons of space compared to the other two towing methods, and here is why.

Trailer and use of dollies require massive equipment for it to be done correctly. In flat towing, you often need a tow bar, some links, some vehicle accessories, and the tools to correctly secure the setup.

All this will take up very minimal space in your storage area compared to a whole trailer or dolly. This makes flat towing a great option if you have limited space. 

Flat towing equipment is often light and compact compared to other options, which means you will experience better fuel efficiency on your long trips. The amount of weight is you will be pulling is lower than that of a whole trailer hence the better fuel mileage.

Finally, if you frequently go for adventures, towing your vehicle with all four wheels on the ground is better than the two-wheel dolly method.

With only two wheels always on the ground, the towed vehicle will have uneven tire wear compared to when all four tires are on the ground. 

How Can I Safely Tow A Ford Escape?

It is first essential to know the type of powertrain and drive train combination to follow the appropriate procedure. The owner’s manual can be either be found in the glove compartment or online.

I cannot overemphasize how important it is to go through the manufactures regulations to avoid damaging your vehicle. 

For the Front-wheel drive models of the Escape, they can either be towed through flat towing or using a dolly attached to the front wheels so that the rear wheels can rotate freely on the road.

As for four-wheel-drive models, they can also be flat towed, put on a flatbed, and put on a transport trailer.

This is to ensure no wheel is on the road. These guidelines are for Escape models from the first and second generations. Some of the critical steps that are across the board are highlighted below.

First, you should first ensure that the transmission fluid is up to the optimum level for automatic transmissions. You will then have to run the engine for 5 minutes before you begin towing and switch the engine back on for 5 minutes after every six hours you are towing.

Be sure to shift to drive by pressing the brake pedal, then put the vehicle into reverse, then finally shift it to neutral before you start towing. As for the manuals, you just have to put the car into neutral.

When you are towing, you can only do so in a forward direction and not go into reverse. But before you even begin towing, you should first release the parking brake and put the key in the ignition, and put it into the accessory position.

Be sure also to set the climate control system to the recirculated position. This is usually to prevent the exhaust fumes from the larger vehicle from entering the car’s cabin right behind it. 

For models with the automatic transmission, you should not exceed a speed of 65 mph, whereas for manuals, be sure not to exceed 70 mph to be safe.

So I Can’t Flat Tow A Newer Escape?

Ford limits flat towing of Escape models built between 2013 to 2020 emergencies or recreational only. When in an emergency, the vehicle has seized on you, and you do not have access to a flatbed or any other towing method, then you can go ahead and flat tow it. Below are some of the practices you should follow to avoid damage to your transmission.

Be sure to not tow in a reverse manner and only go forward. Before you start flat towing, put the vehicle into Neutral.

In any case that it cannot switch to this position, you can override the transmission by looking at the owner’s manual. If the steering wheel is locked, put the key in the ignition and move it to the accessory position.

Because you will be exposing your vehicle to direct exhaust gases from the car in front, be sure to put the air conditioner in recirculated mode to avoid fumed from sipping in.

You should also not exceed a speed of 35 mph and not tow your vehicle for more than 50 miles to protect your transmission. 

What Ford Models Can Be Flat Towed?

Yes, there a few other ford models that can be flat towed safely. It is also quite essential to know the specific guidelines of each vehicle before you go flat towing. 

The Ford Explorer 3.5 liter and the Eco-boost variant are relatively flat towable. The 2.5 liter is, however, cannot be flat towed.

The F-150 with the 4WD option is quite easily flat towable.

The larger F-250, F-350, and the F-450 Super duty also fall in this class. All models of the Ford Fiesta except the ST model can also be towed on all four wheels.

Additionally, the Fusion V6 Sport 2.7L Eco Boost, Fusion Hybrid, and Fusion Hybrid Energi can be dinghy towed.

The Ranger 4WD, Taurus 3.5L, and 3.5L Eco-boost close the list. 

Flow Tow Ford Escape

Flat towing, without a doubt, gives you the option of adventuring beyond the campsite, and doing so in the Ford Escape even makes it better. However, you should be cautious and follow the stated measures to ensure you enjoy every moment of it.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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