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I drive a 1995 Ford Escort LX, 4 door, automatic.

Tranny Issue: When I first start up the car, eveything is fine. But once I put the thing in drive and start moving it has a REALLY hard time getting out of first. It has to rev WAAAYYYYY up bfore it changes gear. But once it does..... it's fine. And I don't have any other problems after that until I have to start the car again. Am I going to have to replace it? Or just get it serviced by the dealership thechs?

Exhaust Leak: I haven't taken a good look at it yet but it's definetly somewhere near the front of the car. I was just wondering if there is a common spot that leaks/rusts out on most Escorts. Once I know where it is I can fix it lickity split lol.

I do have some money set aside but I'd rather spend it on my 'soon-to-be-born-child' But if I have to spend money, I always find a way to manage. Thanks for reading, and thanks for any advice!!
 

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For the trans issue, I would first start by checking fluid level and condition. Maybe you have a line pressure issue or a solenoid/valve is gunked up.

The exhaust has a common point of failure of the flex-pipe. Noise from the front, I would say could be a manifold, flex-pipe, or cat. gasket/flange leak. I would raise vehicle when cold and plug the exhaust tailpipe with a rag or something suitable and run engine. This will increase pressure in the exhaust making a leak easier to pinpoint.
 

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for the transmission problem, check the connection of the VSS. it's on the back of the tranny next to the speedometer cable.
 

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Did you check the transmission fluid level? if so exactly how? When was the alst time you changed the transmission fluid and filter? How many miles are on the car? Did you do the transmision oil pump TSB fix yet?
 
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