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I need to change out my tranny fluid. It's brown but not burnt smelling. Car doesn't slip but does seem to surge at highway speeds. I bought 5 quarts of Mercon/Dextron III. If I drain the 10mm hex bolt on the bottom of the trans will that be sufficient. I have access to a trans flush machine which I could also use if there's a good line on the car to pull off of. Should I change out trans filter too? Thanks for the help this site is great!
 

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I dont know what is on the bottom of the later Escorts transmissions. On my 2nd gens there isnt any drain plug & the filter is inside the oil pan on the bottom of the trans.
Its not too hard to pull off one of the rubber hoses connecting the trans cooler in the radiator to the transmission, and let fluid spray out with the engine idling. As long as you make the attempt to fill the trans back up again before driving around, it wont hurt anything.
The line from the transmission to the cooler in the radiator is the one emerging from the top of the transmission near the bell housing. The one bringing fluid back from the trans cooler is the one connected to the fitting on the front extreme drivers side of the trans. You would likely have to remove the air filter housing to see/reach it.
That would be the one I would pull off, and either connect to a similar sized tube, so as to run it into a 5 gallon bucket, or have the risk of ATF getting spattered all over.

I have not worked on a 3rd gen Escort. With the 2nd gen Escort automatics its difficult to reach some of the 19 small 6mm bolts (with 10mm hex heads), and they seem to get horsed up with cross-threading or stripped threads during reinstallation. I prefer to drop that front-to-rear crossmember to have direct access to dropping the oil pan. Some members have unbolt one or two motor mounts, jacked up the transmission a couple of inches, to make it easier to remove the oil pan, without damaging the small bolts.
 

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There's a drain plug on the 3rd gen but it doesn't drain much. There's still a lot in the torque converter. I wouldn't flush it with a machine though. I'd take a hose off and pump it out while constantly filling it until it comes out red again.

Or just get what you can out of the plug, refill, run it, drain it again and so on until it's close enough to red again.

As old as these cars are now I consider them to be somewhat fragile. Kinda like how all those plastic pieces of trim and such are brittle as heck now. At least on mine.
 

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I agree with dchawk81 about the brittle-ness. I make a point of only using my thumb and forefinger on the stalks for the wipers, turn signals etc. And I avoid leaning on the bumpers - until I have had them off and stuffed them with short lengths of wood trimmed to fit, which I 'glue' into place with permatex RTV.
I just caused a crack in part of an OEM front bumper cover yesterday while supporting my fat gut with one arm as I leaned over the engine bay. That bumper had already seen some impact trauma though.
 

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My son got a cheap 3rd gen. Escort with SPI automatic. The fluid in the trans was so black you couldnt see any light from a flashlight through a pop bottle. He took the little plug off the bottom and about a quart came out. The first bolt he tried taking off the pan broke right off and scared him from wanting to pursue any more as it was winter. So he got a cheap siphon pump from Harbor Freight put a smaller hose on it so he could go right down the dipstick tube and get out about a quart and a half at a time. He did that every day till he ran about 2 gallons through it and it was even starting to look red ( and feel slippery again like real oil )
 

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So far I havent had a bolt snap off when I was undoing the transmission pan bolts, but in the 5 trans rebuilds I have done - I always found one or more bolts with stripped threads, oversize self-threading "repair" bolts put in, and cross-threading. I figured this happens when the mechanic or owner tries to remove the trans oil pan with the bell housing support (the front-to-rear crossmember) still on the car. Even with jacking up the trans an inch or so, I didnt see how I could get the pan off or back on without torturing the bolts.
I have been able to remove that crossmember on each Escort I have worked on - though it hasnt been easy. (With my 92LX it took me several days of work to get the 2 bolts and 2 nuts off, make the repairs, and get it bolted back up).

But with the crossmember out of the way, its easy to get at the pan bolts....after you may have spent several hours under the car dealing with the fasteners holding up the bell housing support. I think I have installed at least ten helical inserts in various Escort trans oil pans; but its always been when doing a rebuild.
 

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To amend my above posting; having now done 6 rebuilds of F4EAT transmisssions - I have found one or more damaged bolts on each of them.
 

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I don't know if the transmission is the same, but I changed the ATF in our 1992 Protege a couple years ago because it was brownish and the car seemed to shift a little poorly.
I removed the crossmember and transmission pan, and cleaned or replace the filter (I don't remember which).

The fluid change seems to have been completely successful, the car drives great now and a lot more mileage has been put on it.
 

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I did the quick and dirty siphon pump method for my recently purchased rusty heap ('97 wagon with 90k miles [but they're upstate NY miles...]) and it seems to have quieted down the transmission. I pumped about what looks like 2 quarts of nasty brown/black ATF out and put an equivalent back in. Seems to run better. The prospect of shearing dozens of bolts out of my car seemed like a bad bet; and that doing a quick and dirty may be the better way to squeeze some miles out of her at this point...
 

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I would repeat the siphon out process one more time.
After you suck out all you can, run the engine for a few seconds and the front pump will send a little bit more fluid to the pan that can be removed.

Another way to change the fluid would be to disconnect a cooler line and direct it into a bucket, while a helper runs and stops the engine as required.
 

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Oh definitely. Plan on doing it 3-4 times, with at least a few miles in between to cycle through all the gears. Want it to at least have a red tinge to it before I stop...

The cooler line doesn't sound like a bad idea... We'll see how she runs after the siphon method. If that gets rid of the shakes then I'll probably live with it a while. There are other slightly more pressing matters (squeaky brakes, leaking oil pan gasket, cracked/leaking bottom tube of the catalytic converter, bad rear wheel bearings).
 
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