Can You Flat Tow a Ford Escape?

Can You Flat Tow a Ford Escape?Flat towing or "dinghy towing" a recreational vehicle is common among avid RV'ers. Towing a recreational vehicle to your destination gives you the flexibility to explore after the RV is parked and rigged for stationary living. Small to midsize SUVs and crossovers are popular choices as RV dinghies. These versatile vehicles can move people, haul gear, and are often equipped with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive to venture off the beaten path. If you are considering a dinghy for your RV, you might wonder if you can flat tow the Ford Escape. We looked at Ford to find the answer.

Ford does not approve Escape models from 2013 to 2020 for flat towing. They recommend you tow current Escape models by using a tow dolly, transport trailer, or flatbed. You should follow manufacturer guidelines, based on powertrain and drive train options, to safely flat tow the Escape in the event of an emergency. If towed improperly, damage to the Escape's transmission can result.

Earlier Ford Escape models I-4, V6, and Hybrid (2001-2012) had been approved by Ford for flat towing. Ford provides specific towing procedures, based on powertrain and drive train options, for these first and second-generation Escape models.

Always check your owner's manual before flat towing any vehicle. Additionally, MotorHome Magazine publishes an annual review of manufacturer-approved flat towable vehicles for your reference.

You might be surprised to learn Ford's recommendation, especially if you know fellow RV'ers who have successfully flat towed the Escape. First and second-generation Escape models (2001 – 2012) were popular dingy vehicles but, after Ford’s 2013 redesign of the Escape, the manufacturer no longer certified the Escape for flat towing.

Let's take a closer look at Ford's flat towing guidelines for the Escape. Keep reading, as we discuss why it is essential to know your vehicle's powertrain and drivetrain before you flat tow in order to avoid unnecessary damage.

Can Towing a Car Damage the Transmission?

Yes! Before you flat tow any vehicle, check the owner's manual for towing guidelines. Not all vehicles are approved for flat towing by the manufacturer. Using a transport trailer or flatbed is the safest way to tow a vehicle. Flat towing can cause severe damage to the vehicle if the transmission is not lubricating all the moving parts while the vehicle is towed.

When a vehicle is flat towed, all four wheels stay on the ground. The ability to safely flat tow a vehicle depends on whether the vehicle is equipped with manual or automatic transmission and whether the vehicle is front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), four-wheel drive (4WD), or all-wheel drive (AWD). Some vehicles will need modifications to keep the transmission fluid flowing during towing or to disconnect the axle during towing. Check with the manufacturer or dealer and plan ahead before you hitch up any vehicle.

How to Safely Flat Tow a Ford Escape

Ford provides manufacturer guidelines to safely flat tow Escape's first and second-generation (2001-2012) models. Depending on the powertrain and drive train combination for each model, the flat towing procedure will vary. Always check your owner's manual before flat towing the Escape. You can find online owner's manuals for Ford vehicles here. Follow the manufacturer guidelines to prevent damage to your vehicle.

Front-wheel drive (FWD) Escape models can either be flat towed or towed by using a tow dolly rigged to the front wheels. Four-wheel drive (4WD) Escape models can either be flat towed or towed by using a transport trailer or flatbed. Follow Ford's flat towing guidelines:

  • For automatic transmission, check that the transmission fluid level and refer to the owner's manual to confirm the amount of fluid is correct.
  • For automatic transmission, run the engine for 5-minutes prior to towing and at every 6-hour increment during towing. While the engine is running, press the brake pedal and shift into drive (D) and then to reverse (R) before shifting back to neutral (N).
  • For manual transmission, shift into neutral (N).
  • Tow only in a forward direction.
  • Release the parking brake.
  • Place the key in the ignition and turn to the accessory position.
  • Set the climate control system to recirculated air mode to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the vehicle.
  • For automatic transmission, do not exceed 65-mph.
  • For manual transmission, do not exceed 70-mph.

Ford recommends only flat towing current (2013-2020) model Escape during emergency situations if the vehicle becomes inoperable and you do not have access to a tow dolly, transport trailer, or flatbed. However, Ford also suggests that you can follow these flat towing guidelines for recreational towing for the third-generation Escape:

  • Tow only in a forward direction.
  • Shift into neutral (N). During an emergency, if you cannot shift into neutral (N) follow manufacturer instructions in the owner's manual to override the transmission.
  • If the vehicle has a steering wheel lock, place the key in the ignition and turn to the accessory position.
  • Set the climate control system to recirculated air mode to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the vehicle.
  • Do not exceed 35-mph.
  • Do not exceed a maximum towing distance of 50-miles.

What Happens if you Tow an AWD Car?

Vehicles should never be towed by their drive wheels. For example, front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles can either be flat towed or by using a tow dolly with the rear wheels on the ground. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicles should be towed with the front wheels on the ground. Use caution when towing RWD vehicles and follow manufacturer guidelines because many RWD vehicles require modifications to tow without damaging the transmission.

An all-wheel-drive vehicle (AWD) does not have specific drive wheels because all four wheels and both axles are involved to drive. So, there are not two wheels that can safely be left on the ground to tow an AWD vehicle. Towing an AWD vehicle can cause damage to the transmission or drive components. It is best to tow an AWD vehicle using a transport trailer or flatbed to keep all four wheels off the ground.

Can You Tow a Ford Escape Behind a Motorhome?

By following Ford's towing procedures, you can safely tow the Escape behind a motorhome. Make sure the combined weight of the Escape and tow bar, tow dolly, or transport trailer does not exceed your motorhome's maximum towing capacity.

What Fords Models are Manufacturer Approved for Towing?

According to MotorHome Magazine’s annual ‘2019 Guide to Dinghy Towing,’ the following list of Ford vehicles have been approved by Ford to be flat towed. It is important to note that Ford provides specific towing guidelines for each vehicle in the owner’s manual.

Follow Ford’s manufacturer guidelines to safely tow these models:

  • Explorer 3.5L/3.5L EcoBoost (2.5L not towable)
  • F-150 4WD
  • F-250/F-350/F-450 Super Duty 4WD
  • Fiesta (all except ST)
  • Flex
  • Fusion V6 Sport 2.7L EcoBoost
  • Fusion Hybrid
  • Fusion Hybrid Energi
  • Ranger 4WD
  • Taurus 3.5L/3.5L EcoBoost

Towing a recreational vehicle behind your RV gives you options to extend your travel beyond the campsite. You can explore scenic, winding roads or take a quick trip to the supermarket with the dinghy vehicle. When you flat tow any vehicle, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid transmission damage. A bit of prior preparation can go a long way to ensure your RV's dingy is ready to hit the road after you arrive at your final destination.

Now that you know how to flat tow your SUV, Check out Which SUV has the Best Gas Mileage? So that you can choose the perfect SUV that will suit your budget.

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