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Discussion Starter #1
I was test-driving a 2003 Sable Wagon I'm considering buying, and its tranny behaves differently from my '96 Taurus wagon. The 2003 shifts so smoothly its nearly imperceptable, but several times at middle speeds (between the low 20s and low 40s) it would seem to rev pretty consistently at about 2500 without any apparent drop back to indicate an upshift. By contrast, my 96 shifts by going up to about 2000 revs and then dropping back to 1500 in a way you can really feel. At low speeds and highway speeds, the 2003 revs exactly as I'd expect.

I'm uncertain whether the 2003 is hesitating to upshift into 3rd, or skipping it entirely; or whether it shifts perfectly and I was just giving the engine so much gas it kept revving hard. I didn't notice the wagon having difficulty picking up speed in that mid-range, I was just surprised by the absence of normal rev drop back.

The 96 has a Vulcan, whereas the 2003 has a Duratec V6 (this is my first experience with the more powerful engine). The 2003 is an LS Premium, which the owner says he has used a few times to tow a 16 foot fiberglass boat. He says he never used Overdrive while doing so. He had UHaul install a tow hitch and a transmission cooler. The transmission was recently serviced and the tran fluid looks unblemished. I'm guessing that a 16 footer with trailer would weigh close to the 1600 lb towing limit specified for this wagon, thus my concern.

The 2003 seemed surprisingly loud. Some or most of that appears to be from the tires (rolling in Neutral the sound remained loud). But it made it difficult for me to assess whether there was roar from the transmission, or just from the high-revving engine.

Anybody with experience with this engine/tranny care to weigh in? I'm going to have my mechanic examine the vehicle in a couple days, and ask him to test drive it.
 

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I Drive A Fuze
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With the AX4N, you should feel the 1-2 shift under moderate acceleration, and you should feel the 2-1 downshift when coming to a stop. 2-3 is rather smooth for me, then going into 4 with the TC locked is a little bit sloppy. That's just the programming for the transmission though. As to the 2500 rpm question, these transmissions like to get into the next gear as soon as they can, but if you are giving it enough throttle, you can make it wait to upshift (which I think is the case with this car). Drive it again but just drive it regularly. Light acceleration. Report back with the results.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Ben, that's a possibility because I was trying to see how well it responded to acceleration. I will test drive it again in a couple days and give it less throttle.

Mark, this was a lot of noise, way more than any wagon I've driven before. Could just be the more powerful engine with oddly loud tires. The Vulcan V6 in my 96 wagon purrs pretty quietly.
 

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My Gen2 Vulcan wagon was substantially quieter than this one. Tecs and 3's are both louder in general and since you are familiar with wagons you know how tire noise gets amplified by them, just make sure that's all it is. Make sure your guy gets a good look under those rocker covers!

Good Luck
 

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Oddly the Gen 1/2 sedans are louder than the 3/4s.

Duratecs even under normal throttle from 98+ with the 3.98 final drive ratio are more likely to shift higher under acceleration.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, another drive in it and it does seem to be shifting ok. Giving it a lot of throttle delays the 2-3 upshift, but not much beyond 40 mph. Light throttle and it shifts normally. The mechanic thought the tranny was ok as well.

That roar I worried might be transmission trouble turned out instead to be a bad wheel bearing. So I ended up buying the wagon. Thanks for the advice guys.
 

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I Drive A Fuze
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Congrats!
 
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