Drivetrain - Limp Mode, other than VSS what are the possibilities? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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Drivetrain Limp Mode, other than VSS what are the possibilities?

Discussion in 'Drivetrains' started by TrueRollers, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    For about a week now, my perfectly fine running 95 LS is suddenly loving limp mode. I was driving to work with no problem around 75-80MPH. I get to the off ramp and stop. Go to hit the gas and notice, she's not in 1st. Seems like 2nd. STAYS in that gear. I get a little panicked. Get to work (1/2 mile from the exit) and park it, get back in at the end of the day, still stuck in second. For the first few days it was intermittent. It would either start and shift fine, or just start and automatically be in limp mode. I haven't found a common reasoning between when its in it and when it isn't. Cold/Hot engine, cool/warm outside, long drive, short drive, nothing syncs up. Since yesterday it is now when it starts and runs fine, will suddenly enter limp mode while i'm driving around 35 for a few minutes. Other than it being in limp mode, the car was running great. Great gas mileage, smooth shifts, no noises, which is why its blowing my mind. No codes, no CEL, NOTHING. So I have browsed our threads, and other Ford threads and it does seem VSS failure is common and most likely the cause. Are there any other cheap reasons that would cause this issue?

    1995 LX, Auto
    130,000 Miles
  2. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    If you are in limp mode, you only have 1st and 3rd gear. It does not light the light, but does generate a code. I do know this from personal experience. Exactly how did you check for codes?

    Did you check fluid level and if so, how?

    When was the last time the fluid was changed?
  3. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Well, whatever gear (I just took a guess) its only in one. I can however like most, drop it into L and get 1st. I checked the code by jumpering the two wires under the hood on the diagnostic port. All I get on the CEL is 1 flash, long pause, 1 flash, long pause, 1 flash, very long pause, and repeat. Fluid level was checked in neutral after the car sat idle for about 10 minutes in my driveway. Shows full according to the hot tickmark on the dipstick. The fluid was flushed about 2 years ago, approx 15,000 miles ago. Before and after the flush the fluid was red and clean, nothing warranted the flush other than I just wanted to do it.
  4. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Does the car have cruise control and if so does it still work? The cruise control uses the VSS, so if the cruise control is working, then the VSS is working.
  5. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    No, no cruise control on this one. I hate to spend $60 on a part that might not fix it, but I'm not seeing anything anywhere that points to anything but the VSS. A few things on sites here and there about the computer, but when I narrow it to Escorts VSS seems to be the problem... wish me luck. Thank God this was a southern car (and it leaked oil all over it) so I might not fall to pieces when I do this...
  6. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Problem solved. It was the VSS. Mine used the more expensive red one, and that happened to be the only one they had. Even helped with the jumping speedometer a bit as well. The car shifts like it never had before... apparently this is something I should have changed when I bought the car years ago.
  7. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    I lied, didn't fix it... I wish it had a damn pattern so I could figure it out... there is NO rhyme or reason, it just does it when it wants to... FML... Can't move back to Atlanta from Ohio with a car that won't get the hell out of third gear...
  8. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    I haven't read the entire thread, but read of two other similar situations awhile back.

    The vehicle would work okay for a time after the PCM was reset by temporarily removing power before restarting.

    In at least one of the two cases, maybe both, the problem was traced back to a vehicle speed sensor with intermittent problems.
  9. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Okay just read the last few posts. Make sure the wire harness isn't damaged, contacts aren't corroded. I see ZZ already mentioned that codes should be checked.
  10. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    I read the same posts you are referring to. Changing the speed sensor didn't help, and I hope I'm not so lucky that I replace an intermittently failing one with an intermittently failing new one... but that usually is my luck. The harness is good, looks almost brand new, however I have not checked the wiring, I'll have to get into following the wires when I have more time off. As far as resetting the computer by pulling the battery... I would, but I don't think think that will help. As far as codes, I checked again yesterday and only got a 538. I believe that may have been because I accidentally double-tapped the gas when I pressed it. It's been acting up all night so I'll go try to pull codes again today, maybe new ones will show up.
  11. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Ok, just did the tests again:

    KOEO : 111
    Memory Codes: 111
    KOER: 116, 538

    I wish this mode didn't exist... when the car isn't in it, it runs near perfectly, it's like trying to diagnose a baby. It's crying, but can't and won't tell you where it hurts or what's wrong... ARGH!!!

    ** EDIT **

    Last night, drove 20 miles home in limp mode. Parked car, went to bed. Did tests. Just drove 20 miles round trip to the store, no problems... now watch, when I go to leave for work in a couple hours, it will go into limp mode again...
  12. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Ok, so drive to work today just fine. Thought it was because I had the computer unplugged for a bit. NOPE... Fuckscort did it again. Unplugged the computer while i was at work. Plugged it back in to drive home, still randomly in instant limp mode... I'm almost thinking the computer is bad...
  13. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I would be looking for a bad electrical connection or bad piece of wire (which my not be visible from the jacketing). When it's bed it should give a code and that will help a lot.
  14. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Yeah, gonna have to test all the wires to a million sensors... ugh. The only thing that's really making me think computer now, I'm truly not getting any codes ever other than the 2 durring the KOER test, which I think is because my power steering is out so when I have to turn the wheel and push the brake, it's not getting the signal it should...

    Speaking of sensors... Is there a list of sensors that contribute to the car going into limp mode, or are they all a factor?

    This morning (without unplugging the computer last night) I get in the car, it drives about 15 miles to the next city without a problem. I drive about 5 miles back and it jumps into limp mode (at 50mph... bad jump in RPM doing that...) It stays in limp mode the next 8 miles... I stop and take my daughter to lunch. Get in the car, take her another 2 miles to school, still in limp mode. Get back in the car again, start it and its driving normal the next couple miles home... Dear Lord will this car either brake so I can replace something or just stop being so temperamental!
  15. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    I think I may have stumbled upon the problem... things are "seeming" to happen with a pattern now. More and more it's going into limp mode while driving. A few randoms, but more often it's happening as I'm coming to a complete stop. Shifts good all the way up, and most the way down, but the 2-1 shift seems a bit rough. Sometimes I notice there is no 2-1 shift and I don't believe it ever went from 3-2. So I'm thinking possibly a shift solenoid or two are going bad. I assumed this should code, but maybe not? My question, where can I get individual shift solenoids? Autozone wants to sell me a full set with harness for $350... I'm not doing that. From what I hear the first two are easy to do, so what the hell, if they are cheap enough, I'll do them, and the filter. Can't hurt...
  16. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Go to www.transmissionpartsusa.com, put in the trans model (F4EAT) into the search block on the upper left, and see what the individual solenoids cost. Personally I dont think its actually a solenoid 'going bad'. I imagine they either work or they dont, but each one has a tiny strainer at its inlet side - and one or more of the strainers might be semi-clogged causing a marginal condition. Once you take a solenoid out you can clean out the strainer and put it back - though this wont clean out other particles/residue in the valve body. But even for the two solenoids that you can easily see when you drop the trans oil pan, I wouldnt think getting them out and back is 'easy'- though I havent tried removing them with the valve body in place. Each time I worked on them I had removed/dismantled the transmission and unbolted the valve body on my workbench. (The transmissions werent working anymore due to worn out frictional parts, so I put in a master rebuild kit and shift kit - to fix them.) The solenoids on the bottom are the 1-2 shift and the torque converter lockup solenoids. The solenoids hidden by being on top of the valve body are the 2-3 solenoid and 3-4 solenoid.

    There may be cheaper places to buy the solenoids; I havent done a google search. I didnt see any for F4EAT transmissions on ebay. All of the solenoids I hadchecked out okay: I blew through them while opening and closing the internal valve via test wires; and could hear the small 'click'.
    I could suspect your problem was a bad connection at one of the solenoids, or a bad/corroded connection in the two connectors - one where the solenoid control wires go into the front of the trans, and the connector atop the trans. That connector is directly under the battery, though I havent seen evidence of acid damage on the Escorts in my family.

    I think the transmission operates in 'limp' mode when the 'range sensor function' of the switch on the upper front of the trans is bad. Its also called the neutral safety switch, but the other job it does is to tell the trans controller in the PCM if you are in OverDrive, or just Drive, or in Low. The actual shifting from neutral into gear and from forward into reverse, is done mechanically inside the transmission based on the shift rod being rotated as you move the shifter inside the car.
    On a 95 Escort having only OBD-1, I doubt the trans controller is sophisticated enough to tell you much about intermittent problems . However.... my understanding is that even if it had a problem, it wouldnt light the CEL; you would have to run a test yourself to check for codes. I have no idea how to do that.

    My idea of the way to remove the trans oil pan is to support the engine and drop that front-to-rear crossmember that supports the bell housing.
  17. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I'm pretty sure that the solenoids there are the cheapest you will find for this transmission at transmissionpartsusa

    Also check your range switch. People have had them burn out.
  18. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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  19. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Dear God I hope this solves my problem... Gonna hit some pull yards to find this, I'll post when I get it done... Pray to God, Allah, cross your fingers, sacrifice a virgin, whatever... just send some luck my way.
  20. TrueRollers

    TrueRollers FEOA Member

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    Update before I hit the yard tomorrow (and a question). I'm pretty excited that I just found out I have no reverse lights... this is good news, yes? I hear bad Neutral Safety Switch usually = no reverse lights. I however for some ungodly reason have no licence plate lights. Please tell me that there isn't a reason that something else would cause the two of these things to go out together. I got pulled over and immediately changed the bulbs and none of them work.

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