My Escape hybrid has been one of the most reliable cars I’ve ever owned. I have no issues other than regular maintenance since I bought it. Recently I noticed a very slight “grinding” sound when braking- especially when it is in electric mode and quiet. I inspected the rear brakes and it looked as though the pads were getting thin. (I have just under 80,000 miles on the car) So I grabbed a set of pads from the local Napa (under 50 bucks) and decided to tackle the job last weekend.
Because the Escape uses “regenerative braking” (basically turning the motor into a generator during braking- and not using the disc brakes to slow the car) servicing the brakes is slightly different that on a standard car. An unusual feature of this type of brake system is that the car regularly “self tests” the brake system, pressurizing the system- up to every 5 minutes. You don’t want this to happen while you are trying to replace the brake pads!
So after looking online for tips I found that prior to servicing the brakes you need to put the Escape into “Safe Brake Service Mode” (SBSM):
- Put the vehicle in park with the ignition on.
- Step on the brake pedal.
- With your foot on the brake pedal, turn the key OFF then ON 3 times. Then release the brake pedal. This must be completed in less than 3 seconds.
- If you have performed this correctly, the brake warning lamp will flash as the stored hydraulic pressure is released. It will stay on once the pressure is released.
- You may now safely service the brakes. After the repair you will have to activate the regenerative brakes once more by turning the ignition key off then on. Leave the key in the on position. When you are done you will need to exit SBSM. To do this, step on the brake pedal and hold it while you turn the ignition off then on. This develops pressure in the system. The brake warning light should now go off.
At this point servicing the brakes is no different that any other disc brake equipped vehicle. Did the project in my driveway in about 30 minutes.
The old pads were not shot but getting very thin:
The front pads still look great- they are the original Ford pads. The front brakes rarely get used in normal driving conditions, mainly the rears combined with the regenerative braking system. Easy weekend project.
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