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The first thing to do is check for trouble codes in the computer. Ford doesn't give much advice when it comes to slipping on this model. Their fault tree pretty much just suggests replacement if there is slipping:
1. Inspect the condition and level of the transmission fluid. If the fluid level is abnormally low or high, adjust the fluid level to the appropriate level and recheck operation.2. If the transmission fluid shows obvious indication of slippage, recommend transmission overhaul or replacement.3. Even if the fluid level is at the proper level and does not smell, feel, or look to be burnt, it is necessary to know that the PCM cannot electrically command the transmission into a state of neutral causing it to slip. Transmission slippage is most likely the result of lost hydraulic pressure or failure of an internal one-way clutch if the fluid does not smell or appear to show evidence of internal damage.
We had a 2008 escape blow the transmission last month. It was at 113k miles. I have about 20 of these vehicles in my fleet.
There were no trouble codes until we continued attempting to drive it for about 15 more miles and then it pulled a torque ratio out of specification code. I can't remember the exact code number; P0720 I think.
It was behaving exactly as you describe.
Are you able to get the computer scanned for codes?
That's the light that usually comes on when there is a fault that only the ford IDS scan tool will pick up. If it's the transmission, I'm willing to bet if you keep trying to drive it the p0700, p0720, p0730 codes will start popping up.
The wrench light will also occasionally illuminate because of the torque control solenoid in the 4wd but it rarely makes it act like slipping.
Does the engine rev up and then it starts moving or is it more of a bog down and then go?
It very well could be the 4wd torque control system rather than the transmission if the engine doesn't rev up. I think the only way you will know for sure if if you can get the codes scanned with a tool that will read all of the data modules.
You could always try a manual diag, but you might be tracing wires when you don't need to:
1. Access and unplug the active torque control coupling solenoid. See the attached location illustration. Check the connector wiring for frays or damage.2. Put a headlamp bulb across the pins of the connector, harness side.3. Now access the 4x4 module, see the attached illustration.4. Unplug the 4x4 module and perform the attached solenoid circuit test.5. If either of the fused jumper wires blows its fuse, suspect a short to ground on that circuit.6. If the fuses do not blow, but the headlamp bulb does not light, suspect an open circuit between the 4x4 module and the solenoid.
I just wanted to see if you needed any additional information. If I have been of some assistance I would appreciate a positive rating. Thanks!