Drivetrain - 97 escort transmission problem | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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Drivetrain 97 escort transmission problem

Discussion in 'Drivetrains' started by gabrielp77, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. gabrielp77

    gabrielp77 FEOA Member

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    hi i'm new here and would appreciate any help, i recently started having problems with the transmission on my 97 escort SE. it all started 1 day i was driving into town and the transmission stopped working at a stop sign. i pushed it out of the way and turned it off, after restarting started working for about a minute then it went out again. after letting it sit for about an hour once again it started working but this time longer. this process kept reoccurring and getting worse. after changing the transmission filter and oil it seemed to start working normal again but after driving a short while the problem started again this time while driving it would slip out of gear and wouldn't move unless i restarted it. any idea if it could be a sensor or is it sounding like its time for a new transmission?
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the forums!
    I doubt it would be a sensor; and sad to say, the symptoms you describe are the same ones as for a couple of the Escort transmissions I rebuilt. (Its also why I got the cars for bargain prices). The hydraulics give you first and reverse, not involving any solenoids. The shifting & torque converter lockup involves solenoids - but first and reverse are entirely independent of the electronics.
    Well worn out clutch packs could result in those symptoms. They would work okay with fluid that isnt hot, but once the fluid warms up - so much slippage is occurring, that the engine will just rev up.
    You said the trans worked better for a while after changing the oil and filter. Did you see any shiny particles in the muck in the oil pan? If the torque converter has worn internally to where the vanes of the impeller/stator/turbine are able to touch, this will result in tiny particles of aluminum (thousands of them) being pmped into the transmission. This is likely to interfere with proper fluid pressure - due to the particles jamming the spool valves in the valve body or jamming the pressure regulator valve for fluid coming out of the transmission oil pump.
    This type of failure happens after high mileage to Escort torque converters; and somewhat to other car's as well. Being of aluminum, the tiny particles will sparkle in the oil pan.
    Its not too hard to remove the hex head cap for the pressure regulator valve, (takes a 21mm box end wrench) and let the spring and valve slide down and out; and it if doesnt slide down you may need to use a hooked piece of wire (I use 3/32" welding rod) to pull it down. But even if you see aluminum particles on it, cleaning them off wont help much longer than a minute of driving.
    The cure for worn out clutch packs is a rebuild, or replacing yours with a rebuilt unit (or even junkyard unit if you enjoy risks and transmission swapping). If the torque converter has worn to where its causing the problem - a newly rebuilt one would be needed; and with the transmission out to replace the torque converter, its a good time to get a rebuilt trans - or trying rebuilding it yourself.
    They are one of the easier automatic transmissions to rebuild, and complete instructions are in the Ford OEM Escort/Tracer Service Manual for your year of car.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
  3. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    How many miles are on this transmission?
    Did you check the transmission fluid level, and if so exactly how?
  4. gabrielp77

    gabrielp77 FEOA Member

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    thanks for the info im going to look into a new torque converter and a rebuild kit for the tranny
  5. gabrielp77

    gabrielp77 FEOA Member

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    car has over 200,000 and the fluid was ok....actually maybe a little to high...but not low
  6. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Exactly how did you measure the fluid level?

    And my 1995LX has over 230K miles on it and still has it's original automatic transmission and it still works fine.
  7. gabrielp77

    gabrielp77 FEOA Member

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    with the transmission dip stick while the engine was running
  8. gabrielp77

    gabrielp77 FEOA Member

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    when starting the car it will drive for a couple minutes than the transmissions stop working wont go into any gear including reverse if i turn it off and restart it even after a few seconds the transmissions starts working again, but again only for a few minutes... it feels to me like something is clogging the trans oil filter but when i removed the trans oil pan(for the 2nd time) there was nothing visible enough to clog it... there was the shiny particles as mentioned in the 1st response but nothing else....it just seems weird that it would work after turning it off then back on
  9. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Did you go through all the gears with it warmed up?
  10. gabrielp77

    gabrielp77 FEOA Member

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  11. chestypuller

    chestypuller making the wifes commuter better

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    maybe its the fluid getting all sucked up after driving then when it sits it has a chance to run back down to the pan to be sucked up again, i think you might have a low level condition,

    check fluid with engine warm and running, run it thru all gears then put in park, check stick with it still running.


    next time it slips, keep it running and check dipsit on trans again see if its not reading any. if so add more.
    zzyzzx likes this.

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