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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,
Got a 2003 Mercury Sable with the 24V Duratec motor and 75K miles on the clock. The car had a no gear engagement situation after a loss of speed on highway. A small whine was heard and car coasted to the breakdown lane. Car will not engage into any gear selected. Park and neutral appear to work as normal. Did some initial tests with resources found here. I am expecting that the torque converter is bad from history of this model car, but have some conflicting evidence. Just wanted to make sure that I am not missing anything before dropping tranny and replacing torque converter. Anything else I should check? Here are some results of testing:

  • Gear selector on transmission moves with shift lever positions
  • Fluid is present and at same (high level) when engine is off and when hot idle
  • Removed pressure plug from top of transmission and fluid gushed out when engine started
  • Dropped pan and no evidence of clutch material or metal. Fair amount of sludge around magnet
Any information or ideas are greatly appreciated.
 

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The history of the '03's TQ fail mostly low miles. Low is before 100K. My '03 DOHC had a bad tooth on the flex plate at ~180K. I had the shop replace the TQ as it was out of the car so only parts cost.
-chart-
 

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I would agree, sure sounds like torque converter. I would recommend calling Dacco to get the right replacement part, when I did mine on an '02 the part numbers were different at the usual parts stores so I called and was given a correct part. I also replaced the pump shaft and seals at the same time, they looked okay but cheap insurance to make sure the splines aren't damaged or worn from spinning in the stripped pump.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My only hesitation is that there was pressure and fluid from the port/plug on the top of the transmission. Recommended tests suggested that no change to the fluid level when engine not running and when hot at idle means a TC shaft strip is not turning pump. I confirmed no fluid level change. The fluid test from transmission port suggests pump may be working. Perhaps not at pressure needed to get into gear?
 

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Likely the spline will turn the pump with no pressure but slips when making pressure. The fluid level test is the key one.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Chart, Kinda just wanted confirmation to make sure the effort of dropping tranny is worth it. I got a few pics of pan and material found in it. No hunks of metal or anything so I guess that is a good sign. Pic with glove has material on magnet on index finger and fluid color on pinky.
216585
216584
 

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once the tc is out the shaft can just be pulled out of the transmission. the seals are split so replacement is just like putting rings on a piston, just be careful not to damage them. if I recall, there are two different sizes of seals.
 
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Pic is what I expect. Worse than this means lot of wear. This at about 80K first drop according to records. This car now at 194K and tran still works great. I suck the fluid our and exchange it about every other year. Takes me no more than half hour, including finding the tools.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just revisiting with an update. Been working on it here and there. I am at the point where I should be able to drop lower front subframe. I will need to get an engine brace. To this point, it has been little trouble. Removed battery and tray, air cleaner assy, all connectors, transmission fluid lines, brakes, lower ball joints, 1/2 axel shafts, starter wires, disconnect exhaust. The only real challenge was the top transmission housing bolt. All others on top we hard to get to, but the one in the middle could not be seen, so it was all done by touch. I'll keep progress posted. Send along any pointers. Transmission cradle/jack necessary?
 
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