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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 1998 Taurus SE with a Vulcan 3.0L V6 with an AXOD-E/AX4S transmission with 118000 miles has twice the two last times driven (both around 60-65 degrees F and dry conditions) experienced a sudden drop in engine and vehicle speed while at highway speed (60 mph). The car was properly warmed up prior to starting highway speed and after about 5 miles at 60 MPH, the car suddenly dropped from around 60 MPH @ around 2050 to 55 MPH @ around 1800 on flat ground. I had nothing else on such as lights, radio, cruise, fan, etc... and was in Overdrive. It was a noticeable decrease, much like taking my foot off the gas pedal, but I didn't change pedal pressure. I've previously let my foot off the gas and the car doesn't slow down like this. This happened again a few miles later on flat ground then again while going down a large hill. Each time the car felt like it took some effort to get back up to speed. I continued for another 30 miles at highway speed 55- 60 MPH without another incident, but the car seemed to struggle to stay at speed. I replaced the VSS Sept 09 at 113000 miles, last transmission flush was Sept 08 at 108000. I haven't done any major work on either the transmission or engine. I've been told my fuel pump is operating on the low end of the normal pressure range. My fuel filter was changed Nov 09 at 115000. I haven't seen anything like reading other threads. Someone else drove the car today without incident and doubts the transmission is failing. I've hooked up a code reader and no codes were found. The transmssion fluid is in the operating range. The car is not driven hard and normally sees highway miles.
 

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If you have a known problem (fuel pump output), fix it and see if the odd behavior disappears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Cruise control was NOT engaged, the gas pedal was operated by foot (rarely use cruise on highway). This was also a much more rapid speed decrease than when disengaging cruise. I was told the fuel pump pressure was still within the operating range, just low and the mechanic who tested this past May did not suggest a replacement yet. I am planning on passing this on to a young driver (for a school and to work car it is hard to find a cheap but dependable used car), so I am trying not replace more than I have to with this car as it may not be driven for more than a year or two (Iowa winters are also starting to show with surface rust on the lower body) ; but also don't want to leave them stranded. I will need to replace the timing cover gasket due to a coolant leak, so I am debating how much more to spend on the car (fuel pump unless necessary). Other drivers and mechanic from May feel the transmission is working properly. I have always been a little uneasy about the Automatic transmission, given some stories I have heard about early failures and this is the only automatic I have owned (grew up driving and other owned cars have always been manuals). I was curious if anyone had thoughts on what it could be so I can properly consider repair costs before I have it worked on or get rid of the car. Update - I took the car out on test drive with my father, he thought the car had plenty of power and acted normally accelerating up to 70 and from 50 to 70. We could not repeat the issue at a steady 60 mph with no cruise. I have an Actron scanner that can record a limited time of OBDII data, but never activated it during the test drive. If I can record data during a drive, does anyone know what I should look for to determine if I am having fuel pump issues? Maybe fuel trim? I did notice one odd thing, the fuel gauge level seems to be falling faster than normal as if I am using more fuel. Two weeks ago I had the rear brake line replaced so I just checked all brakes and tires for binding, they were all normal and the wheels did not feel abnormally hot after stopping so I don't believe my brakes are binding causing excessive fuel consumption.
 
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