The Heat (or how my transmission faltered) - Ford Forums - Mustang Forum, Ford Trucks, Ford Focus and Ford Cars
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-30-02, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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Question The Heat (or how my transmission faltered)

Today, at about 1300 my NA Fairlane ad a bit of a hiccup.

There were four people on board, ambient temperature about 35 C. The journey was from Sydney to Wyong.
The car was travelling under cruise control, set to the speed limit.

After crossing the Hawkesbury River, commencing the long climb to Mooney Mooney, the transmission started to hunt between overdrive & third. I reset the cruise control as the speed limit is lower in this section. About half a kilometre or so further up the hill, the engine suddenly went to 4,500 rpm and held. I switched off the cruise control and slowed down from the 90km/h that I was driving at. There was no way that I could coax the trans to shift up again. It was in second. I stopped after another kilometre, next to an emergency 'phone (no 467 for the pedantic amongst us).

Engine off, bonnet up for a squiz. Due to the heat, the header tank was releasing coolant. I could hear a sizzling sound from the rear of the engine and pulled the transmission dipstick. It was @#$%& hot, all fluid on it evaporating. Loader sizzling sounds came up the dipstick tube, as well as some vapour. What transmission fluid there was at that point didn't smell too flash.

After the NRMA arrived, a check revealed that the transmission had sufficient fluid, the engine had developed what appeared to be a blown head gasket (no misfire, no 'sharing of bodily fluids' between radiator & sump, no pressure loss in cooling system - but change of colour in the 'blue stuff' {love that technical term!!} that detects crankcase gases in the coolant).

I drove the car away, after refilling the header tank with coolant - it worked as per design. The transmission shifted up and down through all four gears as it should.

When I put the car away at home, I pushed it throught he last 3 metres of the driveway to its spot, there was some mechanical resistance even though the Fairlane was in neutral. It felt and sounded like something amiss in the diff. To be inspected later.

Based on the above, what do you all think happened? Did the transmission overheat and go (temporarily) into 'limp home' mode?


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-30-02, 06:22 AM
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I'd change the transmission fluid, put in a new filter and adjust the bands as soon as you can. However, after a similar experience (blown head gasket) in my NB and despite changing the fluid, replacing filter and adjusting the bands almost immediately, within a few weeks the auto transmission failed; the clutch pack cylinder failed (cracked). I hope you have more luck that I did.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-30-02, 12:18 PM
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You should change the fluid completely, a service will leave 3/5 of the old oil still in it. If the oil was cooked, it is crap and your transmission is sure to fail. You can change it all by siphoning it out (cheap and takes ages) or get it done professionally (expensive but fast)

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-01-02, 04:27 AM
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Spinner, I've been having some cooling problems lately myself, and my trans doesn't go all the way to limp home mode, but will start locking up the torque convertor very early to avoid slippage ie. more heat. Dropping down into third is indeed the limp home mode. Brace yourself for a new trans if it's getting on a bit- high temps will kill them very quickly. :(

Funny thing is, everyone I have spoken to said that this can't happen as the trans doesn't have temp. control from the ECU. Wrong! Just today I was looking at the wiring diagrams in my manual and there it was, a temp connection to the ECU. Maybe it's only on the V8 though? Bloody mechanics, they really should know their cars better!


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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-01-02, 05:13 PM
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I'd go as far as replacing ALL the fluid and the converter, these things are notorious for giving up. Also do you have a transmission cooler? If not get one.

Also now would be a good time to check your plugs and do a compression test.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-03-02, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
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V8 Ghia Mike, I read (quite carefully) the entire chapter on the auto in the EA/NA/DA Ford Service Manual after I posted the above message.

It quite clearly states that the transmission will lock out 3rd & 4th gears when the fluid temperature reaches/excedds 135 deg. Therefore there is a transmission temperature control from the ECU. I didn't bother to confirm via the wiring diagrams though.

LTDHO: my Fairlane has the factory towing pack which includes a transmission cooler, so the overheating problem surprised me.

For all: I've been driving the Fairlane for the last couple of days, it is runing sweet as can be. However, I checked my service history and found that the transmission is one thing that I haven't had serviced since I purchased the car. It will be done asap, including a full converter drain so as to get rid of as much of the old fluid as possible. When it is done, I'll post the results (how the trans was internally etc).

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