1997 VS latter years of 3rd Gen? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

1997 VS latter years of 3rd Gen?

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by Not THAT kind of 'escort', Apr 5, 2015.

  1. Not THAT kind of 'escort'

    Not THAT kind of 'escort' FEOA Donator

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    Manual or A/T, but probably A/T.

    I'm looking at buying a 3 gen wagon. Seems like there are far more '97s for sale that other years.

    Any improvements worth mentioning. By far my biggest concern is the A/T itself, since "they say" there is really no way to check them if they generally function OK on the test drive including hills and HWY, and its an expensive unit to replace, and I hear even a quality re-built is never as good as factory new.

    Anything in particular to investigate when buying 3rd gen, particularly an A/T and particularly a wagon?

    Is there any reasonably priced way to "bullet proof" a 3rd gen A/T. Be sweet to be able to tow a small trailer or boat and not worry about hills in the Boondocks or even the infamous Hills of San Francisco, where I probably be doing some construction shortly.
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    My personal opinion is that a quality rebuilt F4EAT or 4EAT transmission is probably better than the original ones were when the cars were new. Anyone who rebuilds one of these will find that the master rebuild kits have some improvements in the components, based on the industry knowing the history of typical failures. The upgrade to the oil pump relief valve is one example, the input seal retainer being another. A low cost rebuilt probably wont have the same care put into it as one costing twice as much. I also think the TranGo shift kit for this transmission helps a lot. It replaces a couple of the springs inside the valve body that were known to age, and replaces some of the original type of piston seals and accumulator seals with improved shapes, and has you grind a tiny chamfer on a valve in the valve body that really smooths out the 1-2 shift.
    I have never seen an owners manual for a 3rd gen, but owning 4 of the 2nd gens, I have read them. They recommend using Drive rather than Overdrive when in town or the suburbs. This limits the transmission to using 1,2,& 3, and not using 4th. In slow driving like you would get in town, there would otherwise be a LOT of 3 to 4 and 4 to 3 shifts, as in coasting to a stop light or intersection, and pushing the pedal down to accelerate afterward. The trans will often shift into 4th at less than 40 mph under light throttle, and shift down again into 3rd when you want to speed up. Of course you would use OverDrive when on the open roads and when you will be going above 50 mph for a longer period. As it is, most owners dont know this, and the 3-4 clutch pack is commonly the one that goes out first.

    It is true that there isnt any good way to know how much longer an Escort automatic transmissions has - and by the time you open one up to examine it, you would want to install the master rebuild kit, which only costs about $250. The shift kit is an extra $40 I think. And they are a fairly easy rebuild, as automatic transmissions go. I dont know of any way to make an Escort transmission bullet proof. But I would say the same thing about transmissions in Corvettes, Mustangs, and F250s as well.
  3. 22732

    22732 Guest

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    Of course you would want to add an auxiallary tranny cooler if you tow. Also just in my opinion go with a 97. Mines a 97 and they still used a kickdown cable on the throttle to control trans line pressure. The 98+ have electronic controlled trans line pressure. I prefer the old school throttle kickdown cable
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  4. Not THAT kind of 'escort'

    Not THAT kind of 'escort' FEOA Donator

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    thx, denisond, now I'm fearless because I've got a real mechanic buddy who works for cheap nearby, and he even has a nice big car carrier.

    Regarding the 3-4 shift, I get it. One of my pet peeves with ANY A/T with "overdrive", including brand new cars I've rented, is they all want to hunt between 3 and 4 when doing my typical medium-fast cruise at 80-100mph. It will be in 4th but slightest bit of more throttle or a hill and it will kick down, which I find annoying. Some say if its hunting just keep in 3rd but then its screaming at 70mph so what good is that.

    I'd like to mod a A/T with a manual 4th gear lock-in to activate on long hwy stretches, or at least tweak something to make it want to stay in 4th at speeds over 60 and engine at over 2600 or so RPM.
  5. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    At highways speeds over 60 mph, it won't kick down into 3rd unless you really give it gas, more than 1/2 throttle. What you're hearing is the torque converter disengaging and engaging with small changes in the throttle, but it still remains in 4th all the time.

    And I seriously hope that was a typo and your idea of medium-fast cruise isn't really 80-100 mph.
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  6. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    The first F4EAT auto trans that I rebuilt was in my 92LX in 2007. The 2nd summer after I had fixed it up and been using it as a daily driver, I found that once it was well warmed up it would be going into-and-out-of torque converter lockup. This would be about once or twice a minute, at fairly steady speeds of 65-70 mph. It happened when we would be on interstates or other open roads. It was annoying. I had rebuilt that transmission myself, so how could it be faulty??
    Anyway, it didnt do it after that one summer. For the last six or seven years & 30,000 miles the trans has behaved as it should; though my typical cruise speed is just what the 18 wheelers are going.

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