Escape Hybrid wheel well rusted out

I have a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid with about 90,000 miles on it. It still runs very well and I like the vehicle a lot, but I am about to junk it because the rear wheel well on the passenger side has completely rusted away beneath the fender. The shock absorber is hanging loose because there is not metal left to bolt it to. I looked on the Internet and I saw that several other owners have had the same problem. I took it to the body shop at the dealer where I bought the vehicle and the manager said he had never seen anything like it. The cost of repair would be about $3000, and there’s no guarantee that in a short time the left wheel well won’t rust away also. The vehicle is long out of warranty and the web information seems to indicate that Ford won’t do anything about it, even though they’re aware of the problem. Has anyone else encountered this problem and if so, is there a remedy?

Try a independent body shop. Look for someone who does Unibody frame work. This can be fixed with a body section from a wrecked one. Also is this any where near the batteries? Or where their vented? Can you post some pic’s?

If you live in an area where salt is used heavily on the roadways or live in a beachhouse then any vehicle can rust away in a comparatively short time. This is not a Ford caused problem.

So where do you live? Great Lakes area or on the Gulf of Mexico?

I live in Vermont, the vehicle was always garaged. There are numerous accounts of the same issue on the Internet, from all over the US. And it’s always the same wheel well, rear passenger side. Yes, it’s right next to the battery and I am going to remove the shock absorber so it won’t penetrate the battery outer case.

Guys do you think this could be the battey acid that cause this? I was a Ford dealer today, they had a 06 Escape on the lot. It was not a hybrid. It was not rusted at all. I find hard to belive that a 06 would rust this bad this fast. This is Northern Michigan home of the salt and rust were I am at.

I think that oldbodyman makes an excellent point.
This problem could indeed be related to the hybrid’s battery pack and whatever fumes/outgassing emanate from the battery pack.

The cure may be straight forward. There is much improvement in the welding of stainless and hardened steel. Use a better grade of steel. After the repair is made, coat the area where the rust starts, with grease and make sure there is adaquate drainage. I think the repair is better done without factory parts. I would take the car customizing shop. I really wouldn’t care how “original” the fix is and do best to move The problem components, including the battery.

The dealer will way overcharge for parts.

Once you get her back on the road, suggest in the winter you keep the wheel wells free of snow and ice. I lived in Colorado and had that problem. I’d take the car to one of those car wash places where you use a power-wand and wash it yourself. I’d make sure the wheel wells had all the snow and ice washed clean once or twice a week in the winter. It only took 5 minutes, so not much effort if it prevents this rusing problem.

If $3000 plus doing the effort of doing the continued wheel well washing in the winter is a sustainable sol’n for you, I think that’s $3000 well spent. Otherwise, probably time to look for a new vehicle.

Salt (sodium chloride) is bad enough…But now many states are using some sort of liquid de-icing chemical on the roads which seems to be even MORE corrosive than salt…Calcium Chloride solution perhaps? It leaves a grey film on the cars finish that’s difficult to remove…

The OP might want to investigate what type of battery is used in his vehicle, and how and where it’s vented…Perhaps the corrosion is not from road salt…

If it was just road salt, wouldn’t all areas under the car be affected similarly?
Why is just one wheel well rotted out?
Maybe some sort of weird electrolysis problem, dissimilar metals, acid spilling, etc?

Thanks for the heads-up. I checked our wheel wells and they are fine. Our service reps are unaware of any such problem and we trust them.

@satisficer I just googled Ford Escape rust and I GOT A LOT OF HITS. Many of them had rusted out right rear fender wells. These guys can’t all be making it up. Thankfully your car is fine.

db4690: You’re right, I have a sample size n=1 but I trust our mechanics to keep up on the validity of these things. The internet is not always reliable either. Either way, I’d sure be cautious about buying this model without inspecting it well. That’s an expensive repair and a dangerous situation.

@satisficer I agree with you about the internet. It’s not always reliable. But when I start seeing patterns, that gets my attention.

The op should contact Ford directly and see if they cam get some good will. Also there is usually a separate warranty on the car that covers rust through, and on your car it is 5yr/unlimited miles. So the next question is when did you first report this to the dealer? When was your car first put into service? If you reported this issue when the car was still in its five years you have a better case. Rust though does not happen over night, and rust as bad as you are describing takes a while to form. It’s worth a look and a call to ford at least.

As for why always the right rear, ?? The right rear always rusts first on a non positraction rear… I assume your truck is awd, and that the rear diff is “open”… In which case you have what we call a peg leg. Ie if you get stuck on ice and floor it the right rear wheel and left front will start spinning like crazy while the other two wheels just sit there looking dumb… Watch the movie my cousin vinny for a better explanation…

There seems to be a lot of chatter around concerning inferior Chinese steel being used and rusting within months. They make half the steel used and just can’t depend on the quality. Hope our buildings and bridges fair better.

Many places use Calcium Chloride or Magnesium Chloride because it’s better at lower temperatures.

I’ve seen the liquid stuff. They usually apply it BEFORE the storm hits. It’s suppose to help prevent road freezing before the plows get out. Not sure how well it works.

As to the original problem.

I don’t think this should happen or normal. I have many relatives living in the snow belt where Salt use is HUGE. I haven’t seen this type of problem in a vehicle so new in over 30 years. The Japanese vehicles of the 80’s were very bad. But there have been major improvements in both foreign and domestic vehicles that this kind of rusting doesn’t occur for usually 10+ years and usually many miles.

If this is a known issue with the Ford Escape…then it sounds like it’s a design problem. It’s just going to more problematic in areas that get a lot of snow (thus apply more salt). My brother-in-law sold his 10yo Ford Explorer last year and it had very little rust on it. It had other problems…but very little rust.

The battery is causing this. You could spray the area with undercoating after the repair is made or Rhino liner.

I agree with Knfenimore that the battery is the cause this has happened to other vehicles before. Chrysler minivans have the same problem based on the exhaust of the battery. Their front driver side shock tower always rusts thru due to the lack of ventilation of the battery. Right front shock tower is always solid as can be.

here is a link to what has been common for over 10 years. It is just a design flaw that doesn’t perk up till after the warranty expires, so no fix needed from the manufacturers.

Solution for Chrysler vans has been to replace the rot with a new plate. Good thing is the plate kit is about $40. Unfortunately labor can be about 400 bucks.

I have the exact same problem on a 2006 Escape Hybrid. It is only on the rear passenger side. the left rear rear wheel well, and the rest of the vehicle are fine. the vehicle is kept in Illinois. At this point the top of the shock assembly is almost floating loose. if you have this problem please call Ford at 800 392 3673 to file a complaint