I was driving my 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid April 1, 2010, west bound on I-90 in Massachusetts when the first incident happened. The "Powertrain Control Module" (PCM) displayed a "Stop Safely Now" message and then proceeded to shut down the vehicle. I was forced, without power, to traverse 3 lanes of high speed, high volume traffic, to the shoulder. The message and vehicle shut-down repeated several more times before I took it in to the Ford Dealership where I bought it. At first they were unable to repair.
The initial diagnostics and repair involved replacing the motor electronics (MEC) pump. That only made the problem worse - indeed, the vehicle would not drive at all before receiving the "Stop Safely Now" and vehicle shutdown message. The dealership then said I had front end damage and would have to replace the radiators. That's when I called a stop to the repair work and began to take some independent steps that led to an effective repair:
1> online research, including:
2> Two letters to the service manager at my dealership
3> A call to the Ford Customer Relationship Center at 800-392-3673
4> Reporting my vehicle to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
-- Begin Letter --
To: Dave, service advisor for Ford Escape Hybrid
From: Owner of FEH with PCM "Stop Safely Now" & shut-down problem
Re: Further suggestions for diagnosis & repair
Dave, I took the liberty of locating & speaking with Mark E Smith, a very knowledgeable person on this issue. FYI, Mark is an owner of a '07 Ford Escape 2wd, owner of a Car Service Center, and a Master Certified Technician. He had the same problem, successfully diagnosed & repaired his vehicle. Going further, he posted online and has helped numerous others with the same problem. I spoke at length with him about my problem, and he provided a lot of useful information.
Here are some notes from my conversation, which may be useful in your further testing, diagnosis & repair of my vehicle:
- of the codes:
P0A08 (DC to DC)
P1A0E (motor disabled)
P1A14 (transmission disabled)
P1A0D (generator disabled)
P1A0F (vehicle disabled)
P1A10 (battery disabled)
- only the P0A08 (DC to DC) is a real code; takes from 330 to 12 volts; is indicative of the relays; DC-DC converter may be overheating, and can result from the contacts (relays); 12V battery must be fully charged to test correctly; must do a thorough check, no guessing, and follow the HH chart in the service manual
- technicians don't always follow diagnostic charts, and a rigorous use of the charts is needed to correctly diagnose & repair this situation; but still may not be enough - there are loopholes in the diagnostic charts; may need to consult those
engineers who write the manuals and know about the situation
- need to run the HH pinpoint tests on pg 5-194 of the 2007 service manual; HH chart is long & involved; make sure to follow all the steps; other diagnostic tests related to temperature readings may need to be referenced; pay careful attention; big battery has to be at least 35% charged as well; dont' do diagnostics until the batteries are both fully charged - check it & charge it if needed
- replace all the relays with ford standard relay parts - they're only about $14 a pop; contacts get corroded, so can't even perform diagnostic tests properly; a good starting point
- transaxle can overheat and cause some problems - related to MECS; put hand on MECS pump to see if its working - will vibrate; the pump can also have some bad contacts, causing the it to not work, because its not getting a closed electric circuit to do so
- check the relays on the big battery too, replace them if any sign of corrosion
- the orange plug on the big battery, take up carpet, turn and pull up, check for corrosion on the contacts, then re-seat
- given vehicle symptoms, believes there was an intermittent contact problem, made worse when the MECS pump was replaced; there has to be adequate voltage to the MEC pump, a full and complete DC circuit
- there are two radiators in car, one for engine, one for electronics; its not possible for it be a radiator problem; would need to drive for 30 minutes to heat up before that problem surfaced; so, no its not the radiator or fan in this case
- need to physically ascertain if the MEC pump is actually working, turning & pumping; possible its not getting power; solve that before going to the next step; there's a sensor involved - motor electronics temperature sensor (MET Sensor); refer to the 5th step on HH chart; 65 degrees is threshold operational temperature
- just because test light comes on is not enough, the MEC pump may still not be getting sufficient current
You may also get a call from the Ford Customer Relationship Center, who I have called. I have asked for the involvement of a qualified field service engineer, with experience with the whole MECS, ET cooling, harness, relay, PCM, "Stop Safely Now" & shut-down problem. I called the CRC because I now consider this to be a design & manufacturing problem. Please refer to TSB 09-18-06 - 2005 -2007 Escape Hybrid, 2006 - 2007 Mariner Hybrid - Instrumentation Warnings - Reduced Engine Power:
Some 2005 - 2007 Escape Hybrid vehicles built from 10/13/2003 to 12/19/2006 and Mariner Hybrid vehicles built from 6/10/2005 to 10/11/2006 may have a red triangle illuminated on the cluster accompanied by an audible chime. In addition, the message center will indicate "Stop Safely Now" and the Powertrain Control Module will command the vehicle to shut down. Diagnostic trouble code P0A27 for Hybrid Battery Power Off Circuit will also be present. Refer to the attached TSB 09-18-06 in its entirety and follow the service procedures to correct the condition. This service procedure replaces Customer Satisfaction Program 07B48 which expired on 8/22/09."
As a customer, I never received the Customer Satisfaction Program 07B48 communication. Regardless, given the serious safety issues involved, Ford should have done a recall for this problem.
Thanks for working on this to the best of your abilities. Call anytime. Regards & best wishes.
-- End Letter --
The result of all this was my FEH fully repaired with no additional costs. The dealership halted the repair of my front end and radiators, as a false diagnostic. I had only some cosmetic cheap plastic bumper damage that was inflated, and which may have been deceptively used to scam my insurance company for unnecessary repairs.
Its difficult to say in retrospect how much was deception and how much was ignorance. In both cases, the demand "for the involvement of a qualified field service engineer," may be effective in bringing the necessary diagnostics to bear on the problem. The second time in required only the correct diagnosis, location and replacement of one of the relays.
I want to thank Mark and others who posted here for the help provided - I believe you saved me a bundle in additional unnecessary repair work. For others encountering this problem, I suggest taking all 4 steps outlined above; restated:
1> understand your vehicle and the problem involved; don't be left to the mercy of anyone when you're faced with costly repairs; second opinions matter
2> write your Ford service manager and ask for a qualified field service engineer - you have a right to that; the hybrid is a new breed of vehicle, with a lot of complexity and it takes a knowledgeable experienced technician to make a correct diagnosis of the many associated problems underlying the PCM "Stop Safely Now" message
3> complain directly to Ford, so these problems get inventoried and they get involved in the repair; I have only 23,250 miles on my '05 FEH, way too early for the car to be having mechanical failure due to usage alone
4> do the nhtsa.dot.gov complaint; I still believe that its a design or manufacturing defect; the costs for repair should not be born by FEH owners; given the vehicle shut-down, it is a safely issue.