CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2004 Ford Escape Fuel Pump repeated failure -Solved

Got this 04 Escape 3.0 FWD for my son’s first car. It was his mom’s and she drove it for years and parked it when she got another car.

I charged the battery and it is holding a good charge. Car would crank but not start. Fuel pump was not coming on. I pulled it out and applied 12V to the connector terminal and it started running so I put it back in and it worked fine.

Drove it home and cleaned it up, pulled out the bad window regulator, put it in the driveway till the next weekend.

After it sat for 3 days it would not start again. The fuel pump was not coming on. I assumed that the old pump that I revived had died again so I bought a new one and put it in and it ran fine.

Went for inspection but OBD2 was NOT READY so I drove it about 60 miles until it threw 3 codes. P0136, P2270, P2271 (O2 sensor problem)

I parked it again to wait till my next chance to work on it. 3 days later I was going to replace the O2 sensor but when I tried to start it the new fuel pump was not coming on again. (2nd fuel pump to die while sitting in the driveway)

So I figured the new fuel pump was a dud maybe, so I returned it and got another new one and put it in and it worked fine again. So I replaced the O2 sensor. Didn’t have time to drive it 60 miles again to READY the OBD2 system for inspection so I parked it for a couple more days.

2 days later I was going to drive it around to make the OBD2 READY for inspection and again the fuel pump does not come on.

3 dead fuel pumps doesn’t make sense to me so I have been considering it could be the Fuel Pump Driver Module but have read that’s not an issue on the Escape like it is on the trucks. Plus I have been unable to locate where it is on this vehicle.

Does anyone have any ideas on this?

You might try a new fuel filter.

I would suspect you have a faulty fuel pump relay by the way it is acting. Dirty contacts can cause intermittent connection to power. You should really be testing for a power connection problem with this issue. If you don’t already have a test light you would be wise in getting one.

I suspect that you have an intermittent problem in the fuel pump controls and none of the pumps were ever bad. There are a number of items involved in actually making that pump work.

I’ll see if I can root up a wiring schematic for your car and take a look at it.

The electrical connection at the fuel pump is always a prime suspect with this symptom. The fuel pump takes a lot of current and over time that connector corrodes and overheats. No or not enough voltage to the fuel pump, even a good pump won’t run. See if you can figure out a way to measure the voltage right at that connector near the fuel pump both when it runs ok and when it doesn’t. You’d have to do this with everything connected, so you might have to back-probe or make some test wiring changes. Carefully examine the contacts on that connector too. If they look black or corroded, replace that connector.

One other thing to consider, the fuel pump won’t run on many car unless the computer sees the engine turning. That’s a safety feature to prevent fuel spilling in event of an accident. So make sure the sensors involved w/determining engine rotation are working, crank position sensor, cam position sensor, etc.

If the wiring schematic is to be believed you might consider checking terminal 86 on the fuel pump relay. This should be an orange/blue wire that leads to the PCM.

When the key is first turned to the RUN position (no engine cranking) there should be continuity to ground in the PCM.
After a couple of seconds that ground will electronically disappear until the engine is being cranked over at which point the ground will reappear as long as the engine is being cranked over or is running.

If not, there may be an issue with the PCM or crank sensor. These problems can exist without setting a code. If it comes down to a bit of guesswork the crank sensor is way cheaper…

Just an addendum to something that slipped my mind. Your model shows an inertia switch in the wiring between the relay and pump. Ford has several methods of wiring inertia switches in. One is with pump voltage through the inertia and the other is trigger voltage for the relay.
With the former it’s possible for the high current draw of the pump to burn and weaken the inertia switch and cause erratic operation.

I got back on this today.

Just to check, I turned the key and the fuel pump still doesn’t run for 2-3 seconds like it should.

I checked the fuel pump relay and all surrounding wiring that I can get to and it is all very clean with no sign of corrosion. I swapped the relay with one next to it and that did not change anything, fuel pump still didn’t run.

Then I unplugged the fuel pump from it’s connector and examined the wiring as far as I could. The wiring and connectors are all in very good shape and completely clean with no corrosion or damage whatsoever.

Then I plugged the connector back onto the fuel pump pigtail and back probed the pink/black wire and black ground wire with my digital volt ohm meter. I turn the key and I get close to 13 volts for a couple seconds, then it goes away.

This makes me believe that the relay, inertia switch, wiring/connectors, and PCM are all ok. Right?

Next I used jumper cables and paperclips to connect 12 volts and ground from the terminals of the battery on a different vehicle to the fuel pump (2nd new one) pigtail and the fuel pump still did not run.

I tried the same method on the 1st new fuel pump (that had been sitting in the bed of my other truck) and it didn’t run still either. So I went below the pigtail and connected to the lower plug where the electric motor is connected. Fuel Pump Motor did not turn. It acted as if the little electric motor inside the fuel pump was locked up. It sparks when I touch the terminals with the paperclip probes.

I am still at a loss. Something seems to be killing the fuel pump motors.

I contacted CarParts.com where I got the 2 new fuel pumps and they gave me a full refund with no hassle. I am not convinced that the cheap fuel pump(s) are the actual problem but I know I have to buy yet another fuel pump.

So I took apart the 1st new fuel pump I bought on CarParts.com to examine the actual pump motor. It has been sitting in the bed of my truck for a month in the weather.

It looks somewhat corroded on the body of the electric motor, I assume from sitting in the weather for a month. I connected 12V to the contacts and it would spark but the motor would not turn.

I banged it a couple times on the concrete driveway and tried again. This time I felt it move slightly. So I banged it some more on the concrete and it broke loose and started running just fine!

So I guess I am going to drain the fuel tank and clean it out real good. Then I’ll flush out the pump motor and try again.

I don’t see any crud, dirt, rust, debris or anything on the little cloth fuel pump inlet screens when I pull the fuel pump. It all looks clean when I pull it out of the tank.

All I can figure is that there is enough tiny debris in the gas that if I keep it moving it goes through the system into the fuel filter. But after I let it all settle in the pump for a couple days it builds up enough to stop the motor from turning. (I am guessing here)

I was going to suggest you take a pump apart to look at the motor, but you are ahead of me.

Have you checked the tank for the presence of water? That’s what it looks like.

For what it’s worth and if the tank has Ethanol in it moisture can accumulate very quickly.

Some years ago I had a project car that I dinked with on and off. The tank had been cleaned, new fuel lines, new fuel pump, and new carburetor. It would start and run fine every time.

The car was allowed to sit for 3 or 4 months and when trying to start it the engine would not even sputter or cough. Examination showed the Ethanol gas (yes, some Stabil was in it…) had turned to a sour milk consistency. The float bowl on the carburetor was so thick with this gunk it could be spooned out.
So; go through carb, clean tank and lines again, replace fuel filter and back to good.

It’s very humid around here during warm weather with high dew points so condensation can build up quickly even on sealed units.

I never detected any water. No carb, fuel injected. Just very bad gas with a good bit of debris. Whenever I replaced the fuel pump it ran fine until it sat for 2 or 3 days, even on the bad gasoline.

UPDATE: Late yesterday
I siphoned out the gas and cleaned out the tank. It had a lot of trash in it from old parts sitting in bad gas for a few years until they rotted and fell apart.

One of the new fuel pump assemblies I got from CarParts.com had 3 rubber feet on the bottom that were already melting and falling apart. That fuel pump was on the car for about 1 month sitting in bad gas. In the pics I included, you can see the little black rubber pieces that were melting and gooey.

The ring in another pic was the remains of the bottom screen on the fuel pump assembly. I think it is the main part of debris that clogged the original fuel pump.

I installed the fuel pump assembly that I took apart and banged on the driveway and got working. (see above comment) I put the assembly back together successfully and it was not difficult.

It started and runs fine now. I drove it to the car wash last night, and just checked on it and it still starts and runs fine.

I will park it for 2 or 3 days again and see if my problem comes back. If the fuel pump dies again I will post again about it.

Thanks to everyone who posted to help me!

I wonder if there was some caustic substance in the gas that caused this. Even poor quality gasoline should not dissolve rubber parts or nylon parts; the latter being the pump strainer.

Congrats for getting it going!

The gas was probably 3 years old or more and smells terrible. They say the gas turns to varnish but I don’t know if that would make rubber dissolve. I just hope it runs 3 days from now lol.

Good description of how you diagnosed and solved the problem OP. Good for you for being persistant. And thanks for telling us how you did it, very helpful!

One idea, suggest you not let it sit for several days is a row, but instead start it every day and at least idle for 10 minutes. Do this for a couple of weeks. Better if you could drive it a bit. Doing that might clean out any other debris still floating around in the fuel system that otherwise might clog the new pump installation. After a few weeks of that you could try the “let it sit for a few days” test.

If you haven’t recently done it, now would be good time to replace the fuel filter.

Yes, gas does essentially become varnish if you let it sit unused for years

If it smelled terrible, as you say, that is exactly what happened

I’ve seen very old bad gas destroy fuel senders and pumps . . . by destroy, I mean it made them unusable

New pumps were all good. Your bad gas ruined them. So u screwed over the parts store? I try to get along with folks I meet. Maybe u should pay the last store for the pump u wrecked. But thats ur call.

1 Like

GeorgeSanJose: Thank you. Now that you say that, I think I WILL replace the fuel filter and just keep driving it a while before letting it sit. Thanks

Cavell: Regarding your helpful input “New pumps were all good. Your bad gas ruined them. So u screwed over the parts store? I try to get along with folks I meet. Maybe u should pay the last store for the pump u wrecked. But thats ur call.”

Screwing over the parts store implies intent to do so and I assure you that’s not the case. And… by your tone it doesn’t seem like you’re trying to get along with me, maybe because we are online instead of in person, which is also the case, if you had read, where I got the parts… online. I did talk to them and they are not interested in recharging me for the warranty part they sent or refund.

I posted all that info to help other people. Your only post on the subject was to be a jerk. Maybe you should try harder to get along with the folks you meet. But thats ur call. :wink:

I was half jokingly going to ask if this tank had been subjected to acetone treatment. Then, doing a bit more research to understand what could be breaking down the rubber bits, I ran across this-

@Jon Brotherton- Calling Cavel a jerk would have been sufficient. This is an open family orientated forum.

Hi I’m new and not familiar with the site use yet. I’ve read a lot of the discussion on 2005 Ford Escape fuel problems, what would cause both the red wire and the black wire at the fuel pump to show constant power instead of intermittent power on black wire?