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Transmission Help

06-30-2010, 10:48 PM
I have a 1997 Ford Escort 2.0l, with 108,000 miles on it. The engine is in top condition and runs very good. My problem is with the transmission. I can go into reverse very good. No problem there. But, when i put it in (D) drive it will go to take off and then nothing. I put it in (L) first and it will take off just fine and then i have to shift into second and then into drive. I do have have to have the RPMs right or it will have a hesitation from first to second. In other words. I have to manually shift an automatic transmission. I did check for vacumm leaks and found a vacumm line going to the intake that was broken. The rubber was real soft. I did cut off the bad end and it didn't seem to help at all. So i will be replacing that. But, i am thinking that it is the transmission modulator. I am also wondering if it could be on of the solenoids as well. How easy are they to get to. I will be changing out the fluid and install a new filter as well. Just looking for some advice. Any help is greatl;y appreciated. Thanks in advance.

07-02-2010, 08:25 PM
When you drop the transmission pan to change the oil and filter, I think you will see two of the 4 solenoids. (this is how it is on the 2nd gen. Escorts I know) Those two solenoids are for the 1-2 shift, and for the torque converter lockup. There are two more solenoids mounted on the upper side of the valve body, for the 2-3 & 3-4 shifts. You can only reach them if you unbolt the valve body and lower it,.... which I dont recommend, due to the possibility of wrecking the thin paper gaskets between the valve body and the fluid passages in the transmission case. I havent heard that the solenoids are commonly a problem though.

Several posters have found that a transmission that would start out okay if put into Low, but would barely move if put into "D" first, was due to worn-out frictional materials - i.e. clutch packs - inside the transmission. This was my experience with two of these F4EAT transmissions, into which I put new frictional materials from a 'master rebuild kit', and which made both of them work like new. These were both 2nd gen. Escorts.

07-05-2010, 04:57 PM
Thanks for the reply back. My transmission only has (L), (D) and (OD). Meaning it only has 1st, 2nd and 3rd (which is the overdrive). I have to put the car in(L/1st) and then manually shift it to (D/2nd) then i can go straight to (OD/3rd) and it will shift from drive to overdrive by itself. How much do the solenoid cost? No to mention i have a serious electrical problem. The fuse that goes to my wiper motor is the same fuse that goes to my ac/heater fan it will blow the 20 amp fuse everytime. I disconnected the wiper motor harness and everything is good, except, that my wipers will not work. If i plug the wiper motor harness back in. It will blow the fuse everytime. Plus, i have had several other fuse blow as well. for example. dash lights, horn and room. I wonder if this is what is cousing the electrical issue with the tranny as well. any help is greatly appreciated. Oh by the way. If i leave my battery connected. It will be drained by the morning time.


07-05-2010, 08:05 PM
You might want to check whether the pivots for the wiper arms are still 'turnable' by hand. I have had them get so stiff they made the wiper motor stop. They arent the easiest thing to get to, but you should be able to turn them with just your fingers; once they are either disconnected from the motor, or unscrewed from the fascia below the windshield. Its also possible your wiper motor has chewed up the worm drive in the gearcase at the end of the motor, or its bearings have hardened grease in them.
Your transmission has 4 forward speeds (at least it was made with four), plus a torque converter lockup function which almost feels like another upshift. The L will keep the tranny in First. If you put it into D, it will shift from 1st to 2nd to 3rd, but will not upshift into 4th. The "OD" will let it use all 4 gears, and once its in 4th, it will go into lockup pretty soon, unless your foot is more than about halfway down on the gas pedal. If you pull the lever into L while going more than 28 mph, the Service Manual says the transmission will go into 2nd gear, until the car slows to 28 - when it will go into first. I dont have the heart to give my transmission such a torture test. I know the tranny will downshift from 4th into 3rd and into 2nd in emergencies - because it happened to me, when I was passing a double semi-trailer on a two lane road in northern Mexico. It went from 4th into 2nd about 50 mph, and I think it upshifted from 2nd into 3rd going about 65 or 70. Engine screaming of course. The oncoming traffic was a large bus travelling pretty quick.
The automatic transmission in your Escort is an F4EAT. The 4 refers to the number of forward gears, the EAT means Electronic Auto. Transmission. But the 'electronics' arent in the transmission itself, they are in the transmission controller, within the PCM.
If your transmission wont start the car moving easily and properly with the lever in D or in OD, but has to be put into L to get moving at first - Im afraid thats a sign that some of the clutch packs are worn out, and the transmission will need to be rebuilt/replaced fairly soon. I dont know what the solenoids cost, not having had to buy any, but I would imagine them to be $30-$50 each. Im rebuilding one of the transmissions currently. All of the frictional materials (clutch packs, etc) are worn down, but the solenoids are fine. Thats been the story with the two previous ones I rebuilt too.

I cant imagine any problem with the tranny shifting that would be involved with fuses for the wipers or heater motor blowing out.

07-07-2010, 12:16 PM
Thanks again for the help. I believe that i am going to rebuild the transmission myself. Any idea on how much the rebuild kit will cost???

I took the wiper motor off and the wiper blades moved with ease. However, the motor was extremely difficult to turn. So i think it may need to be replaced. I am also getting all kinds of other electrical issues as well. Sometimes the door lock fuse will blow, or sometimes the dashlight fuse will blow as well. The alternator is doing it's job, but the battery light will come on at idle and then will go out upon acceleration. The battery is brand new and will drain overnight if left connected. So now, i not only do i have a transmission problem, i have an electrical problem as well.

The thing is that i need this car to go back and forth to the store and doctor appointments as well. Being that i cannot afford to but another car. I have to get this one running. I only get my Social Security Disability Benefits and i am hoping that the problems i have are minor and i can afford to fix them.

Thanks again for your help thusfar.

07-07-2010, 07:53 PM
I just ordered a Master Rebuild Kit, (that I hope has all the parts needed), from www.transpartswarehouse.com in California. With shipping it will be about $230. I expect it to contain all the frictional pieces, the O rings, seals, gaskets, the valve body gaskets and tiny strainers, the 2-4 band, the oil pump valve upgrades, and an input seal retainer. If it doesnt I will let you know - it should arrive in four or five days, coming across the country.

If your battery is draining overnight, dont forget to check the things that are easy to forget; the tiny map lights in the dome light, the trunk light not shutting off, a digital radio that has a bad capacitor in its power supply and draws more than the 3 or 4 milliamps that it should. And so forth. One technique is to unplug all of the fuses, both the ones in the box under the hood and the ones inside the car - and put an ammeter in series between the battery positive post and the positive battery cable. With everything turned off it should show more than 5 or 10 milliamps current.
I think the automatic seat belts can draw current for quite a while, if they are binding up and not getting all the way to the end of the 'track'. On the cars with automatic transmission, there is an interlock to keep you from being able to pull the shift lever out of park - until you have put your foot onto the brake pedal. If that switch sticks shut, the little solenoid under the console might be drawing current all of the time.

Escort ignition switches dont have a good reputation for being reliable. I suppose its possible your ignition switch isnt fully turning the accessories off. The electrical part of the switch can be bought for about $40,and replaced independently of the part the ignition key goes into.

07-08-2010, 11:28 AM
Thanks again for the help thusfar. The wiper motor is bad. I tested it indep-endantly and it would barely turn and it got real hot. For $56.00, it is worth just replacing.

I just got done checking all of my grounds on the care as well. I removed them all and cleaned them off and re-install them. I also did the check you was telling me about and still haven't had any luck. I think i will go ahead and replace the ignition switch. It is fairly cheap and i think that is where my problem is.

The transmission is another story for the time being. I believe that i will get it rebuilt, even if i have to do it myself. Though my friend told me about a place that will rebuild it for $600.00 parts and labor. I hope he wasn't feeding me a line.

Thanks again for your help. i will post back and let everyone know what the outcome is.

07-09-2010, 10:50 AM
When I rebuilt the two F4EATs I didnt do the -total rebuild procedure-. There are a couple of jigs/tools that are used for checking/setting the shims in the bearings for the differential carrier and the intermediate gear, which I didnt want to spend $250 to buy. In both cases the bearings werent 'loose' at all, still had some measure of pre-loading; which is what the shims do. Since I wasnt replacing anything in the differential or the intermediate gear, I just left them alone. All the rest of the work is fairly ordinary. I did have to use a couple of large C clamps and some scrap chunks of small angle iron, in place of the 'compressing tool' for dismantling/reassembling two of the clutch packs, but it wasnt rocket science, just being inventive on my 1" plywoood workbench top.

07-17-2010, 12:23 PM
Thanks for your help on this matter. It wound up being the 1-2 shift solenoids. I took the car to a transmission shop and he checked it out and said that is the only issue with it. he said he could of told me that it needed to be rebuilt and charge me $1200.00 to rebuild it. But, he said that he is honest and that the solenoids are only $83.00 for the both of them. Well he sold them to me and i went and both a new transmission filter, gasket and fluid. I removed the old solenoids and installed the new ones and put everything back together and low and behold the car is good to go.

Thanks a lot for your help on this matter. Hope someone else finds this info useful.

Thanks again.


P.s. Check out my new thread on my serious issue.

07-19-2010, 07:54 AM
Finding an honest transmission shop is rare. Please post the name of the place.

07-19-2010, 12:49 PM
Finding an honest transmission shop is rare. Please post the name of the place.

FF&F Transmission in Kilgore, Texas. Larry is the owner.

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