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Old 05-12-2009, 11:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I have a 2003 Ford Taurus 3.0L Flex Fuel sedan with about 66,000 miles and automatic transmission.

I don't put that many miles on the car. I bough it in 2006 with 46,000 miles and since then I have put on 20,000 miles.

Last week I had it out on the highway for about 20 miles at 65 MPH. Got home, parked it in the driveway at mid morning. Late in the day I moved it into the garage and parked it tight against a tire bumper on a brick wall. Went out to the garage about 2 hours later and saw about a 1/2 quart red fluid on the garage floor. There was no leakage out in the driveway where it was parked all day after the early morning ride to the store.

As far as I know the car was driving normally before the incident. I did think that the transmission was pulsing a little when i had it on the highway, but maybe just in my head. No slippage or clunking when I shift from first to reverse before or after the leak.

Next day I brought it to the local Ford dealer and was told that the fluid must have leaked out the fill tube because of overheating due to clutch slippage. They did not add any fluid. Cost to replace with a new transmission would be about $3500.

I also brought it to the local Jasper transmission installer. They took it for a ride and the only thing that they said was abnormal was that when going up a steep hill it did not downshift into a lower gear. They added about a 1/2 quart transmission fluid since it was low ( after they took the car for a test ride ). The cost to replace with a completely rebuilt transmission is about $2600 with three year/ 100,000 warrenty. I have not seen any more leakage in the driveway or garage.

The only thing different that I can think of it when I parked it in the garage the night it leaked, it was tight against the wall and may have put extra pressure on the transmission, like parking it on a steep down incline.

Since I take my four year old grandson with me often in the car I don't want to take any chances of the transmission going out on me on the highway. I'm also considering taking the car on some long camping trips this summer pulling a small pop up camper.

Anyone else have a similar problem? It the auto transmission on these vehicles a weak point??

Thank you for your help.
Frank
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the club.

(The moderators will probably move this thread -- see the box at the top of the thread, "Please read before posting!" and the sentence in red.)

That said, yes, there are more than average problems with Taurus transmissions.

But, first, your problem may only be a blocked transmission vent. Ford issued a technical service bulletin (TS with a fix -- even designed and still sells a replacement vent that won't get blocked. See this thread: http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/inde...howtopic=51551

There's a second write-up with great pictures here: http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/index.php?...mp;#entry558663

I had trouble getting my old vent out, so I made a ghetto tool (the replacement vent and hose in the TSB is kind of a ghetto fix to begin with, but it works) -- http://taurusclub.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=66048

Second - do you know the maintenance history of your car? Ford at some point decided that the transmission fluid should be exchanged for new every 30,000 miles in the Taurus / Sable.

The best approach is to drop the transmission pan and change the filter as well, but my local Ford dealer will not do that. They will simply hook the tranny cooling lines to a fluid exchanger, and that does obviously not clean the pan bottom or the debris magnet in the pan, or take care of the filter.

Do NOT go to a Firestone / Midas / Quiklube or any other place that performs a POWER transmission flush. The best fix is complete pan drop and filter change; second best is fluid exchange (which is much gentler than a power flush).

There are a number of write-ups here about the transmission fluid maintenance (see the Topic Finder at the top navigation bar) -- one of the threads highlighted in the Topic Finder is this, which is part of the Club Wiki as well: http://www.taurusclub.com/wiki/index.php/H...mission_at_home

That's at least a start...
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for your reply. I tried to change the vent myself, but it started to bend, so I took it to the dealer before I messed it up. They changed the vent and said that the fluid was looking "burnt". I asked if it should be changed, and they said to wait and see how the transmission was doing.

The transmission seems to be performing well- no more fluid out the fill tube. No hard shifting, but it feels to me that there might be some slipping- I'm not an expert and it may all be in my head. What is a good test to confirm it it is slipping?

Regarding maintenance, then one thing I did when I bought the car two years ago with 46,000 miles was to take it to Goodyear and have then change the transmission fluid- guess that was a big mistake.

Is it difficult to change the fluid by dropping the pan? Will I need a new gasket? Will the bolts have to be carefully torqued? Should I get the transmission fluid from the Ford dealer, or can I get it at an auto supplier?

Thanks for your help-

By the way, I am originally from the Springfield, Mass area- About 10 years ago I was working up the Boston area and living in an apt in Northboro. I don't miss the traffic up there!!




QUOTE (OldWagon @ May 12 2009, 11:56 AM)
Quote:
Welcome to the club.

(The moderators will probably move this thread -- see the box at the top of the thread, "Please read before posting!" and the sentence in red.)

That said, yes, there are more than average problems with Taurus transmissions.

But, first, your problem may only be a blocked transmission vent. Ford issued a technical service bulletin (TS with a fix -- even designed and still sells a replacement vent that won't get blocked. See this thread: http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/inde...howtopic=51551

There's a second write-up with great pictures here: http://www.taurusclub.com/forum/index.php?...mp;#entry558663

I had trouble getting my old vent out, so I made a ghetto tool (the replacement vent and hose in the TSB is kind of a ghetto fix to begin with, but it works) -- http://taurusclub.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=66048

Second - do you know the maintenance history of your car? Ford at some point decided that the transmission fluid should be exchanged for new every 30,000 miles in the Taurus / Sable.

The best approach is to drop the transmission pan and change the filter as well, but my local Ford dealer will not do that. They will simply hook the tranny cooling lines to a fluid exchanger, and that does obviously not clean the pan bottom or the debris magnet in the pan, or take care of the filter.

Do NOT go to a Firestone / Midas / Quiklube or any other place that performs a POWER transmission flush. The best fix is complete pan drop and filter change; second best is fluid exchange (which is much gentler than a power flush).

There are a number of write-ups here about the transmission fluid maintenance (see the Topic Finder at the top navigation bar) -- one of the threads highlighted in the Topic Finder is this, which is part of the Club Wiki as well: http://www.taurusclub.com/wiki/index.php/H...mission_at_home

That's at least a start...[/b]
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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QUOTE (Frank203TaurusFF @ May 25 2009, 08:48 PM)
Quote:
....The dealer .... said that the fluid was looking "burnt". I asked if it should be changed, and they said to wait and see how the transmission was doing.[/b]
You can assess it by looking at the fluid color on the dipstick. It will also smell burned. If it's other than bright red and happy-smelling, you should have it changed.

QUOTE
Quote:
The transmission seems to be performing well- no more fluid out the fill tube. No hard shifting, but it feels to me that there might be some slipping- I'm not an expert and it may all be in my head. What is a good test to confirm it it is slipping?[/b]
I don't know any other way than to keep an eye on the tach. Unfortunately, the 4F50N (AX4N) shifts back and forth in the range of 20-40 mph and is so smooth that tach changes can often be the only way to know it's shifting.

QUOTE
Quote:
Regarding maintenance, then one thing I did when I bought the car two years ago with 46,000 miles was to take it to Goodyear and have then change the transmission fluid- guess that was a big mistake.[/b]
As it was 2 years ago, I wouldn't worry. Problems due to power flushing would show up right away.

QUOTE
Quote:
Is it difficult to change the fluid by dropping the pan? Will I need a new gasket? Will the bolts have to be carefully torqued? Should I get the transmission fluid from the Ford dealer, or can I get it at an auto supplier?[/b]
It does not LOOK hard, though you have put the car on ramps or on jack stands to reach the pan bolts. I'm about to do my very first one, so I'm no expert. I plan to police my driveway since I don't want maple seeds or sand blowing up into the tranny while it's open...

You should have the "lifetime" gasket, a rubber one. Just clean it, make sure it's not damaged, and clean the pan and the mounting surface really well.

I'm buying my fluid from the dealer at $7 quart... the cost of top-tier Mercon V is more than $6 around here, so the extra dollar or so is just a kind of insurance to me. I might tour the nearby Autozone, NAPA and CAP for a better price of a Mobil 1 or equivalent. I don't quite trust the $4+ off-brand Mercon V at WalMart.

Ah, yes, the traffic. Or, more precisely, the Mass-hole drivers. I don't miss it either, since I work at home, but I do occasionally have to immerse myself in the storm of madness.
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1986 MT-4 4-cylinder (R.I.P. circa 1990, rust, clutch)
1994 Station Wagon (R.I.P. circa 9/2005)
1991 Station Wagon (R.I.P. 1/2007, but the Benz that pulled out in front was bent much worse)
1998 SE Station Wagon (R.I.P. 2/28/09 at ~186k)
2004 Taurus SE w/Vulcan & AX4N | dark shadow gray metallic | gray cloth interior | still strong at 192K+
2000 Taurus SE wagon w/Vulcan & AX4S / tropic green metallic | gray cloth interior | purchased 6/12 at 51k miles
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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A quick way to assess the condition of the fluid is to put a drop of it on a white paper towel with a drop of new fluid near by. You will see the color and debris in the old fluid very easily.
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