2008 Ford Escape Hybrid - CVT Transmission Woes

2008 Ford Escape hybrid, CVT transmission slips when hot and on incline. Transmission shop can’t recreate the problem so didn’t recommend a fix. Ford no longer sells a replacement transmission and a used CVT with a 1 year warranty costs about $2800 installed. Oh, also the AC needs replacement, but not before the transmission is working.

We live in Asheville NC and travel to Raleigh or Wilmington NC, about 4 and 6 hours away respectively. When we return up the mountain (about 2000’ elevation change) after 3-5 hours of driving at speed control at 70 mph the car’s computer maxes out rpms at 6000, while speed decreases to zero. We’ve learned to pull over at the base of the mountain prior to climbing it, eat an ice cream cone, and about 15 minutes later continue up the mountain with no problem.

Other symptoms include: when cold, sometimes motor revs up at start when placed in reverse on an incline. Infrequently, there is a “clunk” coming from front drivers side when starting out in drive.

The transmission guy says my idea of installing a transmission cooler is no good because there is no fluid to speak of, since the CVT consists basically of an electric motor that controls the pulley spacing for the CVT/belt. So it seems the problem is either a bad electric motor or bad belt. What do you think I should do?

I’d like to keep the car (current mileage about 170k) for a couple of more years until I can buy a good used electric car.

Still Loving your newspaper column.

Not a reply to your question but I don’t recommend buying used Electric or Hybrid vehicles . They are complex machines as you are finding out. Also we don’t know if Ray M. ever reads this site or responds .

Thanks for your insight.

March 2020 update: tranny crapped out. turns out it was the starter motor gears shredding off. i was able to find a new in crate tranny on eBay for $1000, shipping was $695 via UPS freight, Ford dealer installed for $2500. I think the Ford dealer is charging lump sum pricing for large jobs–think i paid too much for labor, but it’s not a job i can do and this keeps the car going for many more miles/years.

i took apart the tranny–it is an incredible piece of engineering (and worth about $40 at the scrap yard).

Toyota hybrids are incredibly reliable.

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13.5 hours of labor plus fluids and shop supplies, about $2500.

thanks for the insight.

Spent over $4000 for another CVT transmission that otherwise is not made anymore on a 2008 vehicle with mega miles on it? Sorry but this should have been considered a disposable car and just dumped. Now you have no choice but to keep on fixing and driving it.

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Difference of opinion, Cheaper than a down payment or a good used car.