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We own a 2008 Hybrid and around 70K miles we started having serious unknown problems. Unknown because even the dealer could not figure it out. You would be driving down the highway and the car out of nowhere would shut down and display the message Stop Safely Now. We would pull over the side of the highway as fast as possible, put the car in park and just wait around 10 minutes and start it back up again. This was the "trick" we had to resolve to since the dealership could not find the root cause and every time it was brought into them for service the issue could not be replicated.

Stop Safely Now

This cat and mouse game went on for about 1 year. The last straw was when it got towed to the dealership and their test equipment indicated the Hybrid Battery (big one in the trunk) was at fault. they wanted $9,000 to replace it. At that point, we lost faith in the dealership(they tried to sell us a new car), the brand, and the car.

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    Epic Q&A, epic resolution. Good job! We need more contributions like this! – Zaid Feb 9 '17 at 11:05
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The first attempt at fixing the sudden shutdown issue was to replace the Electric Motor Cooling Pump. Since it was a recall the dealer replaced it for free.

Original Pump

The picture pump above is the "out the factory model". The one below is the replacement model. There is an obvious size difference between both.

The replacement version is smaller

You can find instructions on how to replace this pump yourself on many websites/blogs such as blog.yagelski.com. We had to replace this pump twice after the dealer replaced it. I purchased both from Amazon, search for 2008 Ford Hybrid DriveTrain MECS Coolant Water Pump. The best do it yourself instructions can be found in this video provided by FordTechMakuloco.

Unfortunately replacing the cooling pump was not the end of our troubles. The car shutdowns got more frequent, coming to a stop at a red light triggered panic attacks; the minute you tried to accelerate from a full stop the shutdown would initiate.

The car went to the dealer one last time and back to our garage after we were given the choice of purchasing a replacement Hybrid Battery Pack for $9K or trade it in for $500 and get a new car. We just got it towed back home.

After a year of being parked the choice to junk the car for cash was made but not before I felt confident all possible repair attempts were exhausted. I went to the nearest Advance Auto Parts and borrowed their OBD Reader Scanner Tool. I had 6 error codes to research and find solutions to. My research included reading forums and watching YouTube videos especially the FordTechMakuloco channel. I'll spare you the fix details to the first 5 errors. An alternate fix to the last error on the list P1A0C proved to be the most frustrating/elusive. Every solution I found for that error was to replace the MECS Coolant Water Pump; I had done so 3 times already.

The P1A0C Error Code

While reading forums I came across page 28 of this post mentioning a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) that I had not seen regarding 2008 Ford Escapes. I googled the title RED TRIANGLE ON AND STOP SAFELY NOW MESSAGE - DTC P1A0C and downloaded the PDF.

P1A0C TSB

The Service Procedure states that

For Vehicles outside the new vehicle limited warranty, if diagnostics lead to replacing the throttle body you may use this procedure to clean the throttle body as an alternative to replacing it.

Cleaning the Throttle Body I had not tried. As mentioned I watched hundreds of YouTube videos, two of them from FordTechMakuloco came to mind. The first and the second which related to the 2008 Ford Escape prove to be worth gold.

I followed the video(s) instructions. Right before taking out the Throttle Body I noticed the ring of sludge mentioned in the videos (pictured below). Quickly headed over to Advance Auto Parts and got me a can of CRC throttle body cleaner

Throttle Body Dirty

I cleaned the inside of that throttle body until the liquid ran out; way too much if you ask me. But I was not going to leave anything to chance.

Cleaning the Throttle Body

Clean Throttle Body

I have waited 5 months prior to creating this post. Since the Throttle Body cleaning procedure, I have not had a single Stop Safely Now event; Nor have I had to replace the MECS Electric Motor Cooling Pump. I been driving the car daily and can confirm the issue has been resolved.

If you are experiencing the Stop Safely Now, I hope this post can be of help.

Additional Notes:

  1. You don't need to purchase the Hybrid Battery Pack from the dealer. If you HAVE TO get one, call up a local junkyard. I was quoted $600 for a used one.
  2. Since the car was parked for a year I had to get the 12v battery replaced. I then had to jumpstart the Hybrid Battery Pack. This procedure is covered in the owners manual(Page 234).
  3. Two months after the Throttle Body cleaning I replaced the Ignition Lock Cylinder. This video show's the symptoms and solution

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    Very well done. – CharlieRB Feb 9 '17 at 15:07
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    Great Q&A! Upvoted both Q and A. One thing was not mentioned: where does the sludge come from? Via leaky injectors or pushed back to the intake manifold through Atkinson cycle like valve timing? Via EGR? Or is it from the motor oil, perhaps via the PCV valve? One crucial thing you omitted is saying how much oil the engine consumes. If it consumes oil, that sludge could be from the motor oil. Also, what is the meaning of the error code? Do you have some kind of dictionary for all error codes of this vehicle? – juhist Feb 9 '17 at 15:18
  • I have no clue where the sludge came from but it would make sense that it was pushed back into the intake since it definitely could not come from the air filter on the other end. To date, there is no issue with the car oil consumption. I change it every 3 thousand miles, checked the engine for leaks, none found. I got the error codes from the ODB Reader; then used Google to query for "Ford Escape 2008 [Error Code]" and read through the results. It helps to enter the make and model since that error code could mean something slightly different on say a "Ford F150". – Geovani Martinez Feb 13 '17 at 16:59
  • I let my 2008 Mariner Hybrid sit too long without a trickle charger and when I tried to start it had the STOP SAFELY NOW and Maintenance Needed TOOL lit - It would not turn over. Tried charging the 12v battery for a while - same thing. Tried disconnecting the 12v battery to try to reset/ reboot and same thing. After reading the above, I followed note #2 above and jump-started the hybrid battery - Success! Thanks so much! Seems the hybrid battery went to no charge and caused issues. – Jeff Oct 22 '17 at 2:21

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