1999 ford escort se transmission questions | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

1999 ford escort se transmission questions

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by dirtking, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    I have a 1999 ford escort se with an automatic trans and 85,000 miles on it. When I’m crushing on the highway and I left off the gas alittle bit it seems like the torque converter locks and unlocks. It also does this when the cruise is set, go over a hill and it locks and unlocks a lot it seems. Is this normal for these cars?
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  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    My Escorts are 2nd generation ones, but I think the transmission doctrine is the same as on the 3rd generation Escorts; so until an owner of a 3rd gen SE chimes in, here is what I think is normal.
    I have not slogged through the explanations in the transmission manual; but yes if you are driving along at steady speed - and take your foot off the gas, the trans seems to go into neutral and the torque converter unlocks. As soon as your foot is back on the gas pedal, it will go back into torque converter lockup. I -think- there is a coasting one-way clutch when you were in 4th (which is the overdrive) and when you let the throttle go closed,i.e. take your foot off the gas, the engine will drop down in rpm.
    I think the cruise control operates by pulling on the throttle cable, just as if your foot were pushing on the gas. So anytime you crest a hill in 'cruise control', it would do the same as your foot would do - and ease off on the gas enough to let the throttle go closed; and the trans would do the same thing. It would unlock the torque converter, the coasting clutch would let the engine slow down, and as the cruise control needed to open the throttle again to maintain your speed, the engine would be brought up to speed and the torque converter clutch would lock-up again. This should be pretty gentle, and your noticing it shows you are paying good attention to what your car is doing. On mild terrain this might happen over each little rise. On totally level terrain it should not. It would not be normal if the car was jerking.**
    I dont know if the 3rd gen owners manuals mention it, but the 2nd gen manuals advised leaving the automatic transmission in 'Drive' versus Overdrive' when driving in urban and suburban areas, and using 'Overdrive' on open roads and interstates. This saves the extra shifting between 3rd gear (drive) and 4th gear (the overdrive) at low speeds, and some wear and tear on the 3-4 clutch pack inside the transmission. It also bypasses the coasting one-way clutch and kept the engine rpm in accordance with the speed of the car. I do this. I like the way the car slows down when going toward an intersection, and the slightly more likeable throttle response accelerating in 3rd.

    **I think some newer cruise controls systems monitor the speed of the car and the speed of the engine, and keep the engine from dropping down to idle speed on over-runs. This makes for smoother operation. But I doubt the 2nd generation cruise controls were this interactive.
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  3. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I think the cruise control operates by pulling on the throttle cable, just as if your foot were pushing on the gas.

    On 2nd gens this is exactly how it works.
  4. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I don't know for sure either, but I'm reasonably sure that the torque converter unlocks when you hit the brakes.
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  5. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    On 3G's the torque converter locks up at about 40-45 mph in 4th and should remain locked up until you drop below that speed, downshift into 3rd (by shifting to D or stepping hard on the gas pedal), or step on the brakes so that the brake lights go on. It should not unlock by simply taking your foot off the gas.

    If you have a tach on your instrument cluster, you can prove this to yourself. Cruise at 62 mph on a flat road, approx. 2500 rpms, and then lightly step on the brake pedal with your left foot while holding the gas pedal steady. The rpms will increase to about 2600 rpms while the speed remains the same. Release the pedal and the tc will lock up again within a few seconds. If you then take your foot off the gas, the rpms will drop slightly in sync with your slowly decreasing speed. It will not suddenly drop to 1500 or less, as if you shifted into neutral.
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  6. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    I don’t have a tachometer swapped in yet. So from what you are saying I have an issue. Any idea what it would be?
  7. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

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    Do you ave a check engine light on?
  8. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    No check engine light on. I am looking to get a scan tool soon
  9. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

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    With no light how do you know the torque converter is bad? Or u just guessing?
  10. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    It was stated above that taking my foot off the pedal should not cause the torque converter to unlock unless it drops below the 45mph, downshift into third or hit the brakes. It will do this with cruise going over hills. It will crest a hill and sounds like the Rpms raise alil as if engine braking. It will then continue for a second or 2 once in flat ground and then rpms drop slightly again.

    I have never owned a ford escort so just looking for information to make sure I don’t have an issue. Still trying to get my MPG’s up where most people are.
  11. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    I've never owned a 3G Escort with cruise control, so I don't know if this is normal behavior with the tc and cruise control engaged. Does it act the same way going over hills with cruise disengaged, i.e., crest the hill at > 45 mph, take your foot off the gas, and see if the rpms rise from the engine sound (it shouldn't unless the hill was so steep that the tc wasn't engaged to begin with)?

    If you own a laptop less than 15 years old, I strongly suggest you get a copy of Forscan (free) which, along with a $25 ELM327 OBD-II adapter (USB) allows you to see more of what's going on with your Ford powertrain than any reasonably priced code reader + data ever will. To solve this problem, it will show you the engine speed, road speed, trans gear, tc on/off, and brake on/off. Forscan also works with iOS and Android phones, but I've never tried it, and you may need a wireless OBD-II adapter (more expensive).

    It's possible the cruise control module sends a brake on signal to the ECU to disengage the tc deliberately.

    If your tc were slipping, you'd get a P1744 code eventually. If it stayed locked up (the reason I got rid of my Escort last January) it would stall the engine coming to a stop and trying to get going again after a restart.
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  12. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    I will try it on my way home from work tonight but I don’t believe it jumps up the rpms if I let off the gas but I believe it does once I get back on the gas at the bottom of the hill then it will drop again. I will test it tonight.

    I tested the cruising at 65mph and while holding the gas steady I touch the brake and it would jump the rpms up. I let off the brake and then it would drop again.

    I don’t have full background on this car. The guy I bought it from said an old lady had it and sat for awhile. I don’t know for how long though. I have replaced the fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel filter, spark plugs and wires, air filter and new cylinder head. Sometimes it feels like it also misses or loses fuel also. Not getting stellar fuel mileage after all this either...around 25-26mph.

    Like I said I have no previous experience with these cars.
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  13. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    I tested it without using cruise control and I didn’t notice that it jumps in rpms when I let off the gas but it does when I get back on the gas, then it drops again.
  14. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    I tested it without using cruise control and I didn’t notice that it jumps in rpms when I let off the gas but it does when I get back on the gas, then it drops again.
  15. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    On my drive home from picking my kids up I had the service engine soon light come on. Will try to get my friends code reader to see what code it is showing.
  16. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    Checked the code and it was a p1506. Cleared the code and will see if it comes back.
  17. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    I don't know how hard or fast you step on the gas pedal when you get back on the gas, but a sudden change in pedal position might prompt the ECU to disengage the tc to act as a minor downshift to give you a bit of acceleration without actually downshifting to 3rd. The car I'm driving now, a 99 Saturn SL2, has a tc that locks up shortly after 2nd gear and stays locked until you slow enough to need 1st or 2nd gear. High speed acceleration sucks because of that.

    The P1506 means your idle speed is too high, usually from a rotted connector hose where the PCV hose connects to the intake manifold. I'm not sure if the 99's have the PCV valve in the valve cover like the 2000. The extra air from the leak can boost the idle speed to 1500 or more after the ECU richens the mixture to compensate.
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  18. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

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    That’s a idle air control valve code. It’s a very common problem with these cars . I’ve replaced like 4 of them on a few different ones I’ve owned. The problem with that valve is it gets sticky or carbon build up. You might be able to clean it but every one I did a new valve was the answer. They are quite expensive, to the tune of about $120 bucks aftermarket.
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  19. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

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    A rotted hose under the throttle body will simply make the car not run.
  20. dirtking

    dirtking FEOA Member

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    I was trying to be slow and smooth about getting on and off the gas.

    I will check the PCV hose this weekend.

    I cleaned the IAC valve out when I put the new cylinder head on. I will continue to monitor it for codes.

    I have a friends code reader and had that hooked up on my way to work this am. No code for the IAC as of yet. I saw my short term fuel trims were bouncing from as low as -3.0 to as high a 7.0%

    There anything in particular to watch in the data stream as I am driving?

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