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Old 09-11-2010, 04:37   #1 (permalink)
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99 Taurus SE transmission - dropping out of gear again

Got a 99 Taurus SE w/ AX4N transmission- posted on this forum a while back about the transmission dropping into neutral at warm idle- press accelerator to go and it hesitates then drops in to gear. Took it to a transmission shop and they advised needs to be rebuilt - hardened seals internally. Has about 99k on it.
A couple of months ago, but after that diagnosis, I dropped the pan and changed the fluid and filter, added abt. 8 quarts of Mercon V (fluid spec per a retroactive TSB). Problem was gone- maybe felt just a *little* funny in the same way pulling from a light occasionally, but it was honestly basically resolved. Car was driven through the heat in July and August, no problem.
So now it's come back, basically getting about as bad as it was.
Asking for some theories on what could be happening...
The filter is plugging up due to something breaking up, limiting the flow...?
The old fluid (you can't get it all out just dropping the pan of course) contaminated the new?...
The original problem just progressed- the fresh new fluid brought it back above the 'threshold' temporarily?...
I have a receipt that the torque converter was changed in the 80-90k range.
I don't see a way for any other fluid to contaminate the fluid, the cooler doesn't run through the radiator anyway.
Eager to hear some theories before I try anything else. Might be worth one more try with the fluid change...
Thanks for any ideas!
Pete
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Old 09-19-2010, 17:12   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 99 Taurus SE transmission - dropping out of gear again

You can try a trans flush, but that might cause more harm than good. By the sounds of things that you had new fluid added, and the problem returned tells me that the internals of the transmission gears are more than likely glazed due to an overheating problem that you might not have known about...

When you drop the pan, check out the pan itself for any small metal particles or anything that looks like metal dust. If something wore out or broke that's small enough you might just be getting away lucky at this point, and new fluid on a regular basis is only putting off the inevitable - a rebuild. Heat is the ultimate killer in automatic transmissions. Once the clutches glaze there's not much one can do and I'm sure this is what has happened in your case. You might get away with just replacing the clutches, which still involves tearing down the trans unfortunately.

"Hardened seals internally", ask them how they know this to be the problem? Did they shove a small camera in there with a light and see this for a fact? Demand that you be told how they came to that conclusion as it seems like a wild guess.

You might want to scan the vehicle for codes, even if nothing came up, it could've popped on for a second while you were looking elsewhere and the light went away. If there is something stored in the PCM you should at least check, as it can greatly narrow down your problem. Who knows... it could be a sensor that's just causing electrical/hydraulic problems with the transmission.... never know!
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'00 Durango R/T 360ci 290hp (modded); 138,500m
'06 Pontiac G6 GT 3.5L 220hp; 44,000m
'12 Chrysler 200 Limited 3.6L 283hp; 13,000m
'99 Taurus 3.0L 2V Vulcan 145hp; 154,300m - Traded
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Old 09-19-2010, 19:09   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 99 Taurus SE transmission - dropping out of gear again

Thanks for your feedback!
Update is I drained it again this weekend and the problem's resolved again, but there were some brass chips in the pan and metallic slurry sticking around the magnet. It does indeed look like the beginning of the end- a downer but that's the way it goes sometimes. The guy at the transmission shop speaking about the hardened seals was just saying what he thought it was based on his experience, comes down to the same thing of him wanting to put in a rebuilt trans anyway. If I can put $1750-2000 into a job that lasts at least 50k I won't feel to bad- it's just a matter of whether I can find that. When I looked at it a full factory rebuilt trans was $2000+ before even talking about labor.
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Old 09-19-2010, 19:19   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 99 Taurus SE transmission - dropping out of gear again

Quote:
Originally Posted by ford99 View Post
Thanks for your feedback!
Update is I drained it again this weekend and the problem's resolved again, but there were some brass chips in the pan and metallic slurry sticking around the magnet. It does indeed look like the beginning of the end- a downer but that's the way it goes sometimes. The guy at the transmission shop speaking about the hardened seals was just saying what he thought it was based on his experience, comes down to the same thing of him wanting to put in a rebuilt trans anyway. If I can put $1750-2000 into a job that lasts at least 50k I won't feel to bad- it's just a matter of whether I can find that. When I looked at it a full factory rebuilt trans was $2000+ before even talking about labor.
If you want to put out that kind of money, phone around a local junk yard. Check on Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market or RockAuto Auto Parts for a salvaged trans in your area. The downsides of course to buying used are little to no warranty, and, finding a trans shop that will install it.

If you luck out you might find a low mileage unit for your year, or close, and at least you have some time to shop around before your current trans takes a dump. Crap in the pan is bad! Also, if you decide to go used and save $1K or so, be sure to tell the shop that does the work (not necessary trans specific as it'll be a swap, not a rebuild!) that you want the old trans put in the trunk (be sure to line it will with plastic/thick old carpet scraps) and you might get $100-150 for the transmission core that you can put toward the price of the other trans.

I can't see labour taking more than 3-4 hours for a direct swap. I'd try to stay within the same year as it'll be less problematic in terms of electronics, etc.

I believe going used would be a good choice. A used low mileage trans can last 100K and then some where as a rebuild can last just as long, or maybe 25K? Never know. Why spend more than necessary when shops have tons of good parts out there for the taking at less than half price of a rebuild, which also saves several labour hours that you really don't need.
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'00 Durango R/T 360ci 290hp (modded); 138,500m
'06 Pontiac G6 GT 3.5L 220hp; 44,000m
'12 Chrysler 200 Limited 3.6L 283hp; 13,000m
'99 Taurus 3.0L 2V Vulcan 145hp; 154,300m - Traded
Amsoil in all vehicles!
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Old 09-21-2010, 19:05   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 99 Taurus SE transmission - dropping out of gear again

These are great options to think about. I looked around and it looks like there are transmissions available for around $500. Certainly a bit of a gamble going that route- I'd imagine I'd ideally want to find one that had low miles when scrapped but hasn't been sitting around in the yard for more than a couple of years. Since it is still one of our main driver cars I'd probably lean toward going with something a warranty and if there are problems at least in the short term it'll be covered. But it will come down to what the numbers look like in the end...
Thanks again!!
Pete
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Old 09-21-2010, 19:11   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 99 Taurus SE transmission - dropping out of gear again

More than welcome Pete and happy hunting!
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'00 Durango R/T 360ci 290hp (modded); 138,500m
'06 Pontiac G6 GT 3.5L 220hp; 44,000m
'12 Chrysler 200 Limited 3.6L 283hp; 13,000m
'99 Taurus 3.0L 2V Vulcan 145hp; 154,300m - Traded
Amsoil in all vehicles!
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