Intermittent Loss of Brakes--Shops Can't Find the Problem

I drive a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid. For about three months now, sometimes when I brake the pedal only moves a couple of inches, freezes and the car won’t stop. The car also makes a strange intermittent sound like someone humming with his mouth open. Sometimes the brake light comes on the dashboard, sometimes the ABS light, sometimes both, sometimes neither. When I take it in to the garage, everyone reports there is no code for them to read. During this time I have had the bearings (noticed road noise) and the brakes (squeaking) replaced in the rear right wheel. Before the brakes were replaced, when the pedal froze, I stopped the car by pulling on the emergency brake, putting the car in neutral and/or turning the car off. When I restart the car, everything goes back to normal. Since the brakes were replaced, I haven’t had to go to those extremes. I take my foot off the brake, depress it again, and the car usually stops. If the ABS/brake lights are on, I turn the car off and on again, and all goes back to normal. The problem could occur three times in a day or once in a month. I never know when it’s going to happen. After reporting these symptoms to my local Ford dealership, the place where I buy my tires and my garage mechanic, they all shrugged and said they couldn’t help me. I’m thinking no one wants to be liable when the crash comes.

Why are you allowing the local Ford dealership to have the final say on whether or not a defect exists in your car’s braking system?

Instead, you need to escalate this matter to the corporate level, via the toll-free phone number listed in your Owner’s Manual. Then, follow-up the phone contact with a letter outlining the problem in detail, and mentioning the date & time of your phone contact with their phone staff.

Just like with the phone number, the address for contacting Ford at the corporate level can be found in your Owner’s Manual. Be sure to save copies of your letter, and to send it via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.

Good luck with this safety issue!

Does Ford hybrids use the regenerative brakes like other hybrid systems do. It could be a problem with that.

@MikeInNH Yes, they do. The Escape hybrid is a “full” hybrid with all the trimmings, including regen brakes. I, too, suspect something’s up with them. I also suspect the mechanics may not be experienced enough with hybrid systems to work on it.

OP: RE your humming sound, I suspect that may be traction control - I used to drive the same era Escape for my work, and it’s traction control was, to put it mildly, awful. It would decide it needed to activate even if I was driving straight down a clean, dry road. Sometimes it would even make the vehicle suddenly stop accelerating by cutting power entirely to the drive wheels. And it wasn’t just 1 Escape that did it. All 8 of ours did it routinely. A truly terrible and dangerous system.

“The Escape hybrid is a “full” hybrid with all the trimmings, including regen brakes.”

Ford uses the Toyota hybrid technology, under license, so their system is extremely similar to what is used in Toyota’s hybrids.

If it were me, I would contact the Area Service Rep for Ford, then PARK THE VEHICLE. If you do have an accident and it becomes known that the brakes were faulty, you could be in the middle of a very large lawsuit because you insurance company may refuse to pay because you knew of the defect.