9 Ford Escape Locking Problems (Solved & Explained)

The Escape is one of Ford’s most popular vehicles.

Like any car though, door and liftgate locking issues can occur.

We’ll cover the most common locking problems and how to fix them.

1. Ford Escape Power Locks Not Working

If all the power door locks aren’t working on your Ford Escape here are the most common causes.

Key Fob Battery

A low key fob battery can cause a wide range of issues, especially with central locking. It is also possible the fob is faulty or may need reprogramming.

  • Change the battery in your key fobs.
  • Buy a good quality battery and insert the correct way up.
  • Whilst the fob is open clean the inside with electronic contact cleaner and a cotton swab.

Blown Fuse

A blown fuse can cause issues with the power door locks.

  • Find the fuse box diagram for you model year Escape
  • Find the fuses related to the power lock doors and BCM
  • Test across the fuse with a continuity tester
  • If the fuse is still ok, you should hear a “beep”.
  • Or, you can pull the fuse and inspect the metal strip, it should be intact

Bad Ground or Electrical Wiring Issue

A bad ground wire can cause a number of electrical issues including issues with the power lock doors.

You will need to locate the ground wire for the door switches and ensure it is not damaged and is connected properly.

A damaged wire or loose connection can cause similar problems.

The best thing to do is have your dealer run some scans and inspect your Escape.

Here is how one Escape owner solved their power lock issues with the help of a Ford mechanic at JustAnswer.com

“I wound up taking the seats out and rolling the carpet back, under the driver’s seat in the harness there are factory press joints where three wires come together (same color) the orange/black, and the pink/white joints were all green with corrosion and split apart. I repaired both of them and the locks work properly. I really appreciate the help in pointing me in the right direction, thanks again.”

12V Battery

A faulty or weak 12V battery can cause a wide range of problems including those related to the power locks.

  • The best thing to do is to have a battery health check or simply replace the battery.
  • Be sure to check the battery connections are tight and free from rust, dirt and grime.

Tip: You can try disconnecting the battery for 15 minutes, this can sometimes clear electrical glitches.

“How old is your battery? Battery issues sometimes reveal themselves in weird ways on late model Fords.” – FordEscape.org

Bad Body Contol Module

A faulty body control module can cause a wide range of issues including problems with the power lock doors.

  • The BCM is in charge of electrical communication from different electronic systems.
  • This includes the car alarm system, lock-unlock functions, climate control etc.

Your dealer can run some diagnostics tests on your BCM to ensure it is working correctly, it may need to be reprogrammed or replaced.

“Yes….I would personally recommend that you arrange a BMS reset if unable to do it yourself. There is a chance that your current problems may have been caused by the BMS not being reset on your old battery as sometimes issues like this take some time to surface. Ensure the dealer also checks the condition of the BMS pigtail etc. – FordEscape.org

Broken or Damaged Relay

A door lock relay is an electromagnetic switch that uses minimal electric power to turn a bigger current on and off.

The central part of a relay is a wire coil that turns into a magnet when current passes through it.

  • On many Escape models the relays are internal to the BCM.
  • One controls the driver’s door, one controls the passenger front and both rear doors.
  • If they are not working they can cause locking/unlocking problems

If you have a damaged relay then the door will not receive the voltage it requires to unlock.

Check Recalls

There have been a number of recalls on the Escape and some are specifically for power door locks and latches.

Run a VIN check and make sure your Escape is up to date with recalls.

Door Lock Actuator

Door lock actuators are subject to a lot of wear and tear and are prone to failure.

There’s an actuator at each door – that means a faulty actuator will only affect a single lock.

Thus, if all the other locks work, the problem lies elsewhere.

2. Ford Escape Door Not Locking Or Unlocking

If you have a single door not locking or unlocking on your Escape here are some likely culprits.

Faulty Door Lock Actuator

If you have a single door that’s not locking properly then most of the time this is caused by a problem with the actuator

If you don’t hear the actuator then it has completely failed or the wiring harness has come loose.

To be certain you’ll need to remove the door panel.

Replacing an actuator is fairly straightforward if you are mechanically inclined and there are lots of tutorials online for this.

Signs of a bad door actuator include:

  • Strange electric motor noises
  • Keeps unlocking on its own
  • Becomes harder to move by hand
  • Door doesn’t latch closed properly

On CarGurus.com one Escape owner was having issues with the driver door lock not working with the remote or door lock/unlock switch.

Here’s the advice they were given:

“Most likely you have door lock actuator thats is failing.”

“It’s a failing actuator.”

If you hear the actuator, but the door isn’t locking/unlocking, one of the locking rods has come off.

Broken or Damaged Wiring

A common cause of the drivers door lock not working is a broken or chafed wire.

  • Because the drivers door is opened far more often than any of the other doors the wires are exposed to more movement.
  • Check where the wires come out of the front fender, where they enter the door.
  • Wiggle the wires to try to get the lock to work to confirm the diagnosis.

Other Common Causes

  • Water damage
  • Blown fuse
  • Power lock issue
  • Something blocking the doors mechanism
  • Latch needs cleaning and/or lubrication
  • Worn out or faulty locks
  • Electrical wiring fault
  • Faulty solenoid

3. Ford Escape Door Not Opening

If you can’t get a door to open on your Ford Escape then this can be caused by a broken, rusted or dirty latch.

You can try opening the door from the inside, otherwise you will need to contact your dealer or local mechanic.

If you do manage to get the door open inspect for rust, clean the door latch and apply some lubrication such as WD-40.

4. Ford Escape Door Not Closing

If you can’t get your Ford Escape door to close properly this is likely due to a faulty latch. Run a VIN check on your Escape and ensure it is up to date with recalls.

One latch recall affected 2.2 million Ford vehicles, including 2013-2015 Escapes, due to a faulty door latch that can fail to secure a door.

Here’s what Ford Escape owners had to say on Reddit.com/r/MechanicalAdvice

“Well alright I’ll check, I never even got a notice or anything [about a recall]. Thanks! Update: that was it!”

“I have done So many of these frickin recalls. I can almost guarantee if you haven’t had yours done then it’s still open. Call the nearest Ford”

“Ford tech here. There’s a recall for that.”

5. Ford Escape Liftgate Not Locking

There are a number of causes why your Escape liftgate might not be locking.

Liftgate to be Adjusted

Some Escape owners have had their liftgate adjusted by the dealer and this has resolved the issue as it was out of alignment.

“It solved mine. I had to do the work myself. Yours is in need of adjustment. And replacing the latch isn’t the solution. You sometimes have to reposition the striker.” – FordEscape.org

“Hi – i recently got my Escape back from the dealer and Ford told my tech that the hatch had to be re-aligned. Here’s hoping that is the fix needed, as the new latch and sensor didn’t fix the issue.” – FordEscape.org

Adjust Rubber Bumpers On Hatch

By adjusting the rubber bumpers on the hatch, some Escape owners have been able to close their liftgate that was previously not closing.

Owners on FordEscape.org had this to say:

“Try spinning out the rubber bumpers on the hatch a turn or two (1/4 – 1/2″) This was all that was needed on mine.”

“That’s exactly what I did and it worked, but the rubbers are a bit loose now. backed out just a bit but nice if they were a little bit longer so they could be tightened.”

“When I did my “quick fix” like that I put an “O Ring” that was black and stretched it a little over the threads and then screwed it in. It looked good, couldn’t notice the O ring, and I was able to screw it to keep it tight….. It worked.”

Faulty Actuator

A common cause is a faulty actuator, replacing the actuator should solve the problem. However, it is important to also check that the actuator is receiving voltage.

“I’d pull off the latch power connector and check it with a multi-meter to see if the unit is getting voltage on latch. If not, you’ve got a bad actuator” – FordEscape.org

Electrical Issues

“Posting a follow up. The issue appears to be resolved after a visit to the Dealer yesterday. We were waiting for a cold day so the Dealer could duplicate the problem. Yesterday stayed in the 30’s all day. The technician searched the Ford database and found a couple of complaints with the same issue and noted that the Ford engineers were aware of the issue. The fix was as simple as moving a ground wire a few inches and replacing some of the connector wires.” – FordEscape.org

Liftgate Latch Needs Lubrication

If the liftgate isn’t locking try spraying some WD-40 into the latch mechanism.

Other Causes

  • Not closing the liftgate properly
  • Liftgate to be adjusted
  • Replace the latch
  • Bad ground
  • Loose electrical wire
  • Faulty BCM

Related: Ford Escape Alarm Going Off? (8 Causes & Solutions)

6. Ford Escape Liftgate Not Unlocking

If you are struglling with a liftgate that won’t unlock, here are some common causes:

Rust on the contacts:

“I cleaned the contacts on the switch – yes, they were very corroded. Might explain why people are having rusting issues on their tailgates….when I had it apart I unplugged the drain hole at the bottom of the tailgate as well; just filled up with crud. A design flaw obviously.

It works great now (knock wood) – an hour of labor saved a fair amount of money. I also bought a universal actuator which appears to fit nicely but did not replace it as yet. There was intermittent power going to it which led me to the switch, and more importantly the connections which were obvious.” – Escape-City.com

Actuator: A Ford Escape liftgate that won’t unlock is often caused by a failed actuator. If you’re mechanically inclined you can buy a replacement part online and fit it yourself otherwise it’s best to visit your dealership.

Latch: Another common cause is the latch is broken – this is especially true if you cannot get the liftgate to open.

Fuse: A blown fuse is another common cause, you will need to check the fuse diagram for your specific model year truck, locate the liftgate fuse and test the fuse with a continuity tester.

Electrical or wiring issue: It can also be caused by a failed relay or a wiring issue.

7. Ford Escape Keeps Unlocking Itself

If your Ford Escape keeps unlocking itself it may be caused by the Intelligent Access feature.

Here’s what the manual says:

You can unlock and lock the vehicle without taking the keys out of your pocket or purse when your intelligent access key is within 3 ft (1 m) of your vehicle.

Intelligent access uses a sensor on the back of the door handle for unlocking and a separate sensor on the face of each door handle for locking. The system does not function if:

  • Your vehicle battery has no charge.
  • The key battery has no charge.
  • The key frequencies are jammed.

Note: The system may not function if the key is close to metal objects or electronic devices, for example keys or a cell phone.

Note: If the system does not function, use the key blade to lock and unlock your vehicle.

Other Common Causes

  • Damaged or broken wires
  • Low 12V battery
  • Low key fob battery
  • Faulty key fob
  • BCM faulty
  • Electrical interference – HAM radios, overhead powerlines etc.
  • Water damage
  • Bad ground

You may have some kind of electrical bug or glitch. You can try disconnecting the battery for 15 minutes and see if that clears it.

8. Ford Escape Keeps Locking Itself

Common causes of the Escape locking itself include:

Key Fob or Key Fob Module Issues

A weak key fob battery or a damaged or faulty key fob can cause strange locking scenarios – so too can a damaged key fob module.

You will need to ask your dealer to test your fob and key fob module to be certain, although you can change the fob battery which may fix the issue.

If the doors are locking whilst driving some owners have reported key fob issues as the cause:

“Made an account just to answer you. I had the same issue just yesterday in my 2013, figured it out literally on my way to the dealership.
It was the keyfob. You are possibly pushing against it (tight pants?) when you brake. With mine I found I could literally cause the hazards to flash and unlock clicking while driving by just shaking the fob, not even pressing the button. Took it apart and the little metal disc behind the button rubber had slipped. 2 minute fix.”
– FordEscape.org

“Created this account just to say thank you! This has been driving my crazy for weeks and this was the problem. Took the key fob apart and could see not one, but two of the disks had slipped around and were closing the circuit on the unlock and the remote start buttons.” – FordEscape.org

Water Damage

If your Escape keeps locking itself this can be caused by corrosion or water on the contacts on the switch inside the door.

You can try removing the door trim and using a hairdryer to dry out the electrical components.

Auto Locking

If the doors lock whilst driving then this is due to the Auto Locking feature which can be disabled in vehicle settings.

Autolock locks all the doors when all of the following occur:

  • All doors are closed.
  • The ignition is on.
  • Your vehicle reaches a speed greater
    than 12 mph (20 km/h).

Faulty Door Switches (sensors)

The door switch (sensor) is designed to detect whether the car door is open or closed. If these are broken or faulty they can relay incorrect signals and affect the locking of doors.

Related: 6 Most Common Ford Escape Problems (Explained)

9. Ford Escape Not Locking or Unlocking With Key Fob

If your Ford Escape won’t lock or unlock with the key fob then this is usually a problem with the key fob.

This includes:

  • Dirty contacts inside the fob – clean with a cotton swab and contact cleaner
  • A weak fob battery – change the battery in your fob(s)
  • A faulty key fob – have your fob replaced or reprogrammed
  • There is signal interference from another device, such as your phone

Try using your spare fob and see if that works – if it does then you know that there likely an issue with the original fob.

Other causes can include:

  • A weak of faulty 12V battery
  • BCM issues
  • Wiring issues / electrical short
  • Door not shut properly





6 Most Common Ford Escape Problems (Explained)


  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...