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2008 Ford Escape Hybrid: 500K Miles, Still In Patrol Service

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2008 Ford Escape Hybrid owned by Bayer Protective Services, Sacramento, CA

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid owned by Bayer Protective Services, Sacramento, CA

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If you ever had any doubt that hybrids were durable--and many people do--here's a case study to set your mind at ease.

A white base-model 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid has just crossed 500,000 miles, which possibly makes it the highest-mileage Escape Hybrid on the road.

That's much higher than the Escape Hybrids with 300,000 miles of taxi service in San Francisco--at which point they were retired.

Bayer Protective Services, a private security-patrol company in Sacramento, California, owns the hybrid Escape--known as Car 804.

It's part of the company's fleet of Ford Escapes--both hybrid and regular.

And Car 804 remains in active duty, although the company did have the car detailed and tuned up to celebrate its half-million-mile mark.

"The car has had a full life," says company executive Adam Bayer.

But as of today, it's going back into 23-hour-per-day service.

Consistent MPG

Best of all, Bayer says, the half-million-mile hybrid Escape continues to deliver the consistent gas mileage that made it an attractive buy in the first place: 30 to 35 mpg.

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid owned by Bayer Protective Services, Sacramento, CA

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid owned by Bayer Protective Services, Sacramento, CA

Enlarge Photo

All but one of the 25 vehicles in the company's fleet are Fords of one sort or another, and Bayer Protective Services was one of the first security companies to buy hybrids.

In 2008, the company also bought some non-hybrid Escapes, and a conventional Escape known as car 801 (also white) provides a good comparison to 804.

That vehicle had to have its transmission replaced, costing $3,000, meaning its cost-per-mile was higher even outside of its higher fuel consumption.

The conventional Escape hasn't racked up anywhere near the miles of the hybrid, though.

"No matter how well we take care of the cars," Bayer says, "you can't fix bad drivers before they have an accident."

Thick records binder

As Bayer notes, "We keep copious records on all our vehicles," including "starting and ending mileage, fueling, miles per gallon, and any issues" encountered during a shift.

"Most vehicles have a 3/4-inch or 1-inch binder," he chuckles, but now "804 has a 3.5-inch D-ring binder."

The only modification made to 804 by Bayer on delivery was to add a light bar on the roof, along with a control box inside the car, plus company logos on the exterior.

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid owned by Bayer Protective Services, Sacramento, CA

2008 Ford Escape Hybrid owned by Bayer Protective Services, Sacramento, CA

Enlarge Photo

The company routinely changes the oil in all its vehicles every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, using only synthetic oil.

Bayer notes that the hybrid Escape seemed to require less-frequent brake replacement than the conventional version, although its discs have been resurfaced and it's been fitted with new pads several times.

That's due to the regenerative braking a hybrid vehicle uses to slow the vehicle while recharging the battery pack.

Like any car that's covered half a million miles, 804 has had its share of maintenance over the years:

  • Wheels and suspension get normal wear and tear, and it's had its share of flat tires--and several sets of new tires since 2008.
  • The steering column has required replacement twice
  • At 253,000 miles, the Escape Hybrid required more than $2,000 worth of work to its anti-lock braking system, including replacement of the main unit
  • In February 2011, it was involved in a major front-end collision--which required most of the front sheetmetal to be replaced, and led to subsequent repairs, Bayer says
  • At 300,000 miles, the car needed major front suspension work, which Bayer attributes to heavy fleet use by a variety of drivers
  • At 323,000 miles, Bayer had the hybrid battery's filter replaced to eliminate acid build-up
  • At 402,000 miles, the throttle mechanism had to be replaced to cure the engine remaining at high idle all the time
  • The left front axle was replaced at 436,000 miles, and wheel bearings have been replaced several times--again due to hard use, Bayer suggests
  • At 450,000 miles, the in-dash digital display for the audio system wouldn't turn on consistently, and had to be replaced
  • At 480,000 miles, major repairs were required to 804's air-conditioning compressor and system
  • The driver's seat was replaced due to wear and compression--common to all of Bayer's higher-mileage vehicles

[NOTE: In response to several reader questions about the replacement of the steering column, Bayer wrote: The first failure occurred at 220,000 miles, and it was [ diagnosed as] a faulty sensor. At the time, Ford told us the only possible repair was full column replacement. There is now an update kit available, which we believe resolves the issue.]


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Comments (7)
  1. Need to clarify the comment on the battery filter. The Hybrid Escape has two battery's. A conventional 12 volt lead acid battery under the hood just like a regular Escape and the high voltage, or "traction battery" mounted in the rear which is composed of a hundred or so Ni-Cad cells with lots of air space around them so they can be cooled when in use. The filter mentioned is for the inlet to the air cooling system for the high voltage battery. When it is dirty it does not cause a buildup of battery acid. It should be replaced as a part of normal maintenance, just like changing the oil or filter for the engine. The cells in the high voltage battery do not use conventional battery acid. The elctrolyte in the Ni-Cad cells is more of a paste.
     
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  2. Ni-cad or NiMH?
     
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  3. The battery in the Ford Escape Hybrid is nickel-metal-hydride, not nickel-cadmium.
     
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  4. Apologies, yes, NiMH.
     
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  5. Steering column replaced twice?
     
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  6. whats the maintenance schedule for the transmission fluid changes?
     
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  7. According to the Ford Escape Hybrid owner's manual's scheduled maintenance guide, it makes no mention of replacing the transmission fluid. That's because the transmission in the FEH is a simple planetary gearset-- It has no clutches or fluid-coupling torque converters so transmission fluid in the FEH lasts a lot longer than in a car with a normal automatic multispeed transmission.

    The FEH transmission is very similar to the Hybrid Synergy Drive used by the Toyota Prius, and experienced Prius owners do recommend changing the transmission fluid every 100,000 miles to get rid of dissolved metals and accumulated filings and other debris. I would suspect that the FEH would benefit from a transmission fluid change every 100K miles also.
     
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