June 13, 2017 | Posted in:Shop Time

Spoiler alert: You don’t have to pull the motor to do this. It can be done without a lift.

The great Ford Escape. These were recalled because the front subframes rusted out. Depending on the amount of rust when taken in for recall, one of two things happened. Either the subframe was replaced, or a crossbar was installed. Unfortunately, the crossbar does not magically stop the subframe from rusting. There will be problems down the road….literally….but you’ll at least be able to pull over in an orderly fashion instead of having your steering components going all different directions.. This one had  the recall work done in 2014 where the crossbrace was installed, but the subframe rusted apart sometime in early to mid 2016. I was able to drive it up on the trailer, but it made horrible clunking noises.

Tools needed: Breaker bar, impact, jack, jackstands, lots of extensions, crowbars, hammers, swivels, metric sockets & wrenches, needle nose pliers, penetrating oil, an updated tetanus shot.

Put the vehicle on jackstands. Remove the lug nuts with a 19mm socket.

Remove the crossbar that mounts at the bottom of the subframe. It’s held on by 4 15mm bolts.

Remove the outer tie rod ends from the steering knuckles on both sides and remove the cotter pins from the castle nuts. The nut size can vary, but will be around 18mm. If they are stuck, tap on the knuckle until the outer tie rod end can be freed. Inspect these – I went ahead and replaced them while they were out already.

Remove the 21mm nuts holding up the front of the subframe. You will likely need a deep well socket for this.

Take out the 15mm bolts holding in each front lower control arm.

Loosen the engine support crossmember. It’s held onto the bottom of the subframe with an 18mm nut and to the front of the vehicle underneath with 2 15mm bolts. It will be held up by the rubber insulator, but will be able to be moved out of the way.

Remove the 21mm bolts that mount through the rear of the subframe and the rear control arms. The control arms will likely have to be pried out of the subframe.

Separate the rear transmission mount. I had to get this from the top with an 18mm socket, about 2 feet worth of extensions and a swivel. After this is out, the engine and transmission will move, but it won’t fall. If you can remove the back half of the mount from the subframe before dropping it, it will make your life easier. Use the same 18mm socket and the extensions to get this. (I had to wait to get this off until after I dropped the subframe and could get an impact directly on the nuts.)

Remove the 10mm bolt holding one of the steering hoses onto the subframe, also easily accessed from the top of the vehicle.

Drop the front driveshaft. It’s held on by 6 T-45 torx bolts at the front and 4 8mm bolts with clips at the rear. Remember to mark it before removing it so that it goes back in in the same orientation. (Thankfully there aren’t any splines to match up, but there are weights mounted to the front of the driveshaft)

Remove the 2 nuts from both exhaust flanges. They are 15 or 16 mm (The ones I removed were horribly misshapen) and remove the middle exhaust hanger. There is an exhaust hanger on the subframe, but this exhaust had been repaired and did not use that hanger.

At this point, if the subframe hasn’t lowered at all, pry on it with a crowbar. It should drop a couple of inches. You’ll need that couple of inches to remove the steering rack and the sway bar. If you are able to remove these from the wheel well, good for you!

The steering rack is held into the top of the subframe by 2 15mm bolts. Remove these and then gently pry the steering rack forward.

Remove the 4 15mm bolts holding on the sway bar. You may be able to get these from the wheel well. I had to get them from underneath because it was the only place for me to swing a 36 inch breaker bar. (I did say this was being replaced due to extreme rust, right? The nuts and bolts are no exception.)

The subframe is now detached. If the transmission mount is still attached, it will have to be gently wiggled out, as the steering lines wrap in and around the top and back of the subframe.

Re-assembly is slightly different than removal. I made sure to look up torque specifications before putting everything back together.

Side note: While everything is apart, it’s a good idea to check outer tie rod ends, shocks, etc. and anything suspension related that you won’t come into direct contact with as a part of this project. We ended up replacing the outer tie rod ends and the shocks.

The back half of the transmission mount was still attached to the subframe. I removed it before reinstalling everything.

The first thing I did was to put the front of the subframe on over the mounting studs with the 21mm nuts. I only put each one on a few turns so I could reach the steering rack and such.

Reattach the steering hose to the subframe with the 10mm bolt.

Put the transmission mount back on. It is held on by 2 18mm nuts and 2 18mm bolts. For this mount to line up with the front bracket and the subframe, the back of the transmission will need to be propped up.

Tighten up front subframe nuts. You may have to put the rear subframe bolts in for position temporarily.

Reattach the steering rack with its 2 15mm bolts. A pry bar may be needed to pop this back in its mount on the subframe.

Reinstall the engine crossbrace.

Reattach the exhaust and the driveshaft. Make sure the exhaust sounds good before doing anything further.

Put each control arm back into the subframe. This can be tricky – it took some doing to realign everything. A crowbar and a large drift were very helpful. Hold off on reinstalling the sway bar until you’re done with this part. You will have to remove rear bolts if you used them for position. I did this one side at a time so that things didn’t get too far out of position.

Now you can reinstall the sway bar with its 4 15mm bolts.

The last thing I did was to install the bottom crossbrace – it’s the straight bar across the bottom of the subframe held on by 4 17mm bolts.

If your shoulders aren’t killing you at this point, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done 🙂

Welcome to Sports Car Salvage. We are a niche hobbyist sports car dismantler located in Northeast Ohio, selling parts for C4 & C5 Corvettes, Mazda Miatas, and other sports and performance cars. We also restore diamonds in the rough. Let us help you with your restoration project.

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