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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
first, let me apologize if this is somewhat long-winded. i am not much of a 'car guy', my knowledge is limited to whatever i can dig up on the internet. i don't have a shop and am not much of a mechanic. i will do my best to give the best description of my problem so as not to be a burden for anyone who wants to reply to my post here. thanks for understanding.

i will give a summary of what i've gone through before getting to the problem i am having currently. if you aren't interested in hearing this horror story, scroll down to #2.

#1 - history

i bought this car in november of 08 for 700$ from someone on craigslist in mesa, az. the alignment was off, pulls to the left, otherwise the only problem the car had was the battery needed replacing, and the power steering pump was going out.

when i bought the car it had 84,000 original miles on it, and i have documentation of every oil change the car ever had. was owned by 1 person until i bought it, and it was fairly well taken care of.

without so much as taking it in for an inspection or an oil change, i got the car registered, insured, and checked for emissions - 2 days later i drove it 1300 miles to billings montana.

when i got into town, i took it to a mechanic for an oil change, a new battery, and a new power steering pump. about 300$ later, i'm on my way.

3 weeks later the car started knocking. a few more miles down the road, it threw a rod. took it back to the mechanic who did the initial work, and he found a 3.8 from a 1990 with 89,000 miles on it. i had him install it and paid him 1700$ to get it fixed. got the car back a week later.

within about 10 days, it blew a head gasket.

come to find out later, the guy who did the oil change spun the plug too tight and the oil slowly leaked out over several weeks which caused it to throw a rod.

mechanic wouldn't honor any of his posted warranties so i had it taken to another shop. new head gasket installed among other things, 1200$.

no major problems for a year and a half, however the car was driven very little during that time.

#2

in november of '10, one evening i went to take the car to the grocery store - it is getting cold in montana at this point. i turn on the defroster, car dies. turn key off, try to restart and notice a clicking sound coming from the engine compartment. open hood and find it coming from a black box next to the battery box/radiator. research tells me this is a pcm/ecm/eec-iv radiator mounted unit. i pull one from a junkyard and swap it out. after fiddling with the rotary knob which controls the vents/ac for a while, it stops clicking and i have the vents set to off. if i turned the knob at all, clicking would resume.

manage to drive the car to the shop. at first it appears about 600-700$ to service, had some vacuum locks and needed some other services - rebuilt starter, etc. after working on the starter, it is discovered that the flywheel has broken teeth and will need to be replaced. bill goes up to 1600$.

a week later, get the car back. drive it home - maybe 8 miles from the shop - park the car and go to bed. wake up next morning and go to a doctors appointment. car doesn't display any problems other than it still is out of alignment. running great at this point - it should i've sunk almost 6000$ into it by now.

after leaving my appointment, i get out of the parking lot and onto the road, and the gas pedal is kind of "sticky". it will move maybe a half inch before more force needs to be applied. note that the weather at this time is approximately 20 degrees and snowy. also, it is shifting kind of funny - tach shows at times 2500+ rpm before it shifts up, and on deceleration (coming to a stop light or stop sign, preparing to make a turn) when the car downshifts it almost feels as if i'm being rear-ended. downshifting very hard.

shop is on my way home so i stop in and have them look at it, since i just paid a lot of money to have it repaired. an hour and a half later, mechanic comes in and says 'seems like there was a sticky valve in the transmission, i put in an additive and took it for a drive around the block - seems to be running fine now'.

i drive the 8 miles or so home and agree it is running fine.

this morning i get up to do some xmas shopping, exact same thing as before. gas pedal seems "sticky". downshifting hard again, not shifting up at the right rpm.

i called a transmission shop after speaking with my mechanic, he mentioned perhaps a servo issue, or something with a pin sticking. i read online perhaps throttle position sensor, or using carb cleaner on the butterfly valve (after so much work has been done on my engine and the little it's been driven it seems unlikely to me there is any buildup in the throttle body, but i have yet to check)

it isn't a throttle cable sticking, as even after the car has been warmed up for over a half an hour it still does the same thing. i'm scared to drive it to the shop as i don't want to cause an accident - the roads here aren't forgiving at the moment due to snow/ice.

before i throw another 1000+$ down the toilet, i came here to you. this is my first post here. any information anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.

at this point i've got so much $ invested in this car there is no way i'm gonna give up on it. but i am kicking myself in the ass for not buying something else right now. family is considering lawsuit against mechanic who did initial work on the car, but the cost there might outweigh any benefit.

thank you, in advance, for any help you can provide me.

happy holidays.
-e
 

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Welcome to TCCA.

Good grief what a horror story!!!!

I'll see if I can get things started.

I'm not clear on why your afraid to drve it to the shop. Is it because of the throttle sticking problem, or because of the tranny shifting problem????

Were you having throttle sticking/binding/moving problems before the weather got bad????
From underhood, have you determined that the throttle linkage hardware moves freely by hand, without binding????

Have you checked the tranny fluid level after it's fully warmed up, say after a 20 mile drive & what it's condition looked like???? If so, how did it's level & color look????
Put a drop on a piece of white blotter paper & tell us what you see in the way of color & any pattern that might form around the drop.

Since owning the vehicle have you, or the previous owner had the tranny pan dropped, filter changed & a full tranny fluid pumpout service done, with the tranny return line detached, so that you got a Full fluid exchange????

What product did the tranny shop add to the fluid???? If your paperwork doesn't say, call them & ask & post the name here.
 

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If the final bill is going to be over $700 you may want to consider another car based on that horror story of yours. A moderately serviced 3rd gen Taurus goes for close to that price, and you might get a little bit luckier than you've been so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
i'm afraid to drive the car for 2 reasons: #1, it's incredibly icy here. it started snowing about a week after halloween and it hasn't melted off once yet - some roads basically consist of tire wide ice ruts 2 inches deep. #2 because of the way the car is shifting, when it downshifts it almost feels like getting rear ended. very jerky and the ass end gets very loose in the process. i don't want to be the cause of an accident.

the throttle cable is not the issue. despite it being cold, it isn't the cable that is sticking. gas pedal moves freely with the car off, there is no binding on the cable nor any frozen precipitation causing the cable to get stuck.

car went into the shop a week ago last friday, got it out last friday. drove it home and had no problems. wasn't until the next morning it started acting like this.

as i just had the flywheel replaced, there was a limited amount of service the transmission received at that time. tranny flush etc. mechanic said transmission looks "clean" and didn't see anything wrong, however he's primarily working on engines and not a transmission expert (he recommends another shop for tranny specific issues).

i'm not sure how i can get an accurate reading of the transmission fluid if i can't get the transmission warmed up? i live in the sticks so i guess i could drive up and down this road for 20 minutes or so but not sure if that's going to be good enough to get the info you are looking for.

regarding transmission service, as i said it was serviced by my mechanic when he replaced the flywheel. transmission has approximately 95k miles on it at present.

i have called the shop to find out what additive Bill used, i am awaiting a return phone call and will gladly post that here once i have it for you.

machausta: like i said i've already got 6 grand into this POS, not going to just scrap it after everything i've had done to it. worst case scenario, as i'm putting this **** on my credit card, it helps my credit rating :'-(

thank you both for replying. tranny service shop can get me in tomorrow morning if i can get the car into downtown, he said if it's just a servo or a "pin" he could have it done the same day but it might need a complete overhaul.

just desperately trying to avoid dropping another thousand plus.

makes it hard to be able to afford xmas gifts for my nephews, if you feel me.

thanks again, will reply w/ whatever info i can get from my mechanic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
oh by the way, here is a line item list of the work i had done this go around.

brake pads and rotors
oil change
tranny filter kit and flush
starter rebuild
flywheel
exhaust gasket
ecm
battery - under warranty
labor
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
mechanic says that qmi additive was used, and it is the detent cable which is sticking? butterfly valve not the issue, nor throttle position sensor.

because the transmission was never serviced - based on my records - mechanic said the fluid appeared a bit "burnt". no shavings or anything. filter needed replace and thus the ATF and filter kit.

that's about all i've got as far as info for now, if you'd like i can still try to check the fluid level and color though i'm not sure that will help you, as it's got about 20 miles on the car since i got it from the shop - and the fluid is new.

thanks again for all of your help
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
2 seperate friends have told me my tranny is shot but i haven't given up completely, yet. . . looks like the cheapest locally i can get is about a thousand for a rebuilt axod. fortunately i have a wrecked out 88 taurus that has a rebuilt tranny in it, but it's on a 2.5l 4cyl so i'm not sure if it will match up or not. has been sitting almost 15 years however.

this makes me a saaaaaaaaaaaad panda :(
 

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OK, so the tranny has had new fluid & filter & the Tech said the fluid looked a little burned. but no debris in the pan. If so, it probably has some gum, varnish, or sludge in it & that can mess with the valve body & other pressure switching parts.
SO, did the shifting problem come about After the tranny service????

Seeing as how the tranny has been serviced & we kinda know what kind of shape the fluid was in & it now has new fluid in it, no need to do the poor mans blotter tranny fluid condition test.

Might be a good idea to start the engine & run it long enough to fully warm it up & with the vehicle on level ground & slowly shift into All gears, including "R", long enough to feel each gear engage, ending in "P", then with the engine at idle, pull & check the tranny dipstick fluid level. It should be somewhere in the cross hatch area. At least this will give you an idea if the tranny fluid level is close to being right.
The fluid color should be an even light pink spot, on a white napkin.

When the Tech did the pan drop & filter change, did he just refill the pan, or continue on with a full tranny fluid pumpout, by disconnecting the tranny return line & running the engine to have the tranny pump remove the old fluid from the valve body torque converter, radiator & external cooler & lines, while he added more to top up the pan level, until the tranny pump had removed the total 12qt system capacity???? That proceedure would flush the valve body, torque converter, radiator & external cooler & lines, where the bulk of the old tranny fluid resides???

What I'm trying to get a feel for, is how much old fluid remained in the tranny system, that might have mixed with the new fluid.

Just a pan drop, filter change & fluid refill, would only remove about 1/3 of of the old fluid.

Are you saying that the Tech added QMI additive to the tranny fluid????
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
the car ran fine when i got it back from the shop after i had the work done which i listed above. i actually drove approximately 30 miles that night and another 15 the next day. wasn't until after my doctors appointment that it started behaving in this way, maybe about 60 or so miles beyond what it had on it after i got the car back.

so yes, this is after the tranny service. i had no issue prior, although it seemed a little 'laggy' in the power department prior to having any work done.

and yes he stated he used this additive, in the 1:20 ratio indicated:

1. QMI Automatic Transmission Treatment - QMI of Missouri

according to my mechanic he did a full transmission flush. i would have to call back to get a specific answer to your question if he removed all of the fluid but i would assume he did as he said the fluid was fairly burnt - hadn't ever been serviced to the best of my knowledge.

i am starting the car and going through the process now of going through the gears. i will get back with the results once completed - give me about a half hour.

thanks again for all of your assistance, it is greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
drove to the gas station put ten bux in and came back, maybe about 5 miles round trip. checked fluid very pink in color, some dirtier color on paper towel but could be from channel dip stick goes in.

not sure if i got it warmed up enough or not, but fluid level appears high as it it just above the cross hatched markings on the stick.

after parking it i did go through the gears slowly, each engaged without a problem.

shifts up fine once you get passed that point where you have to push the gas pedal down so far that it no longer feels 'sticky', however almost immediately after letting off the gas whether going 35, 45, or 55 it downshifts into what i think is second gear.
 

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The QMI link you posted above, confirmed my suspicions that the Tech has put a PTFE loaded additive in the tranny fluid, not good imo.

Not one vehicle tranny mfgr uses this product as factory fill, nor specifies it for scheduled maintenance!!!!

Reading the use instructions, it says "shake well before using"!!!!
SO, after one puts this product in the tranny, how do you suppose after an over night rest, we're to "shake up" the tranny the next day, to redistribute the solid PTFE particles that settled out overnight????
How do those particles know Not to settle out in a sensitive place, or Not clog something important up????

Nope, a five mile drive isn't enough to fully warm the tranny up. As I posted above you'd need about a 20 mile drive to get it fully warmed up, but 5 miles is better than nothing I suppose.
It sounds like the tranny fluid condition/color is ok, but it may be overfilled, if it's above the dipstick cross hatch, when not fully warmed up. Tranny fluid expands when at operating temp, so when it's fully warmed up, it would be even higher on the dipstick!!!!

Did the Tech use a machine to flush the tranny & if so, did he use a flush solvent???? If he did use a solvent, it's not uncommon for folks to have problems a short time aferward, as it can quickly stir up, or remove or soften up large pieces of deposits, that can come loose later & cause mischief.

If it's a debris problem & your lucky, maybe it can be cleaned out, or the offending part changed.

The gas pedal resistance you describe isn't normal & needs to be put right.

Another thought, on the rough downshift, a messed up speed sensor can cause that, so are you having any other problems, like with the ABS brake system, if you have ABS, or with the cruise control acting out???? Those systems also use the speed sensors PID output. So if the cruise control is acting out, say not taking a set, or dropping out while crusing, or the ABS system light is flashing, those might be clues that the speed sensor has problems & is outputting a corrupt PID.

The speed sensor is located in line on the speed-o cable, just below the tranny dipstick tube.

If you have access to a scantool that'll read PID's, like an Actron CP9145, ect, you can monitor the speed sensors output at the under hood DLC connector, while driving at the speed the tranny shifting, or cruise control is acting out at, to see if the speed sensors output is erratic there.

With all the work you've had done, it would have had to be disconnected a number of times. so maybe something got damaged, or not hooked up right, or maybe it's bad.

Same for the accelerator linkage, it's had to be messed with too!!!!

More thoughts for pondering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
i'm taking it to the transmission shop in the morning. i will definitely complain about the additive when i get there.

seems odd though that the issue went away after he added the additive.

i have had no issues with the cruise control or brakes, i got on the highway and used the cruise control the day i got the car back from the shop with no problems whatsoever. no lights coming on and code reader gives no trouble codes at all.

i suppose i will likely have more information tomorrow, but in the event that the transmission needs an overhaul - i have an axod sitting in an 88 taurus that was wrecked by my mother. she hit a bull that had escaped from it's pasture, it rolled up through the windshield and she was injured badly. the car itself was considered 'drivable' and was in fact driven the few miles from where the accident occurred to my house. it has been sitting since 1995, but the engine and tranny were rebuilt maybe 2 weeks before she wrecked it. the taurus is a 4cyl, but it should mount up right? i imagine after 15 years it will need new rubber and such but it might be cheaper than a rebuild.

again i apologize about my lack of knowledge as it's clearly an issue here. i'm a computer mechanic, not a car mechanic.
 

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I don't know if the Taurus 4banger tranny bell housing will fit a 3.8L or not, I kinda doubt it.

A code reader won't read tranny computer trouble codes, but the tranny shop likely has a special scantool that'll read any tranny computer trouble codes stored, so have them scan the tranny computer & give you the codes & post all of the Numbers here.

If they have to go into the tranny, consider having them flush the lines out, to get rid of the PTFE particles & have them install an inline filter, like a Magnefine, into the tranny return line, between the cooler & tranny. This inline filter will trap any debris, or missed PTFE paricles, before they go back into the tranny.

The Magnfine filter can be had for between $15-$20 & is used by my Local Ford Dealer after All Tranny & Power Steering work.

I'm running them on my 94 Taurus & 99 Ranger P/S systems & am seriously considering adding them to both vehicles tranny return lines.

Most autoparts stores carry them, or can order them, or they can be found on line.
You can check them out here, if your interested.
Welcome to the Australian Magnefine Website
 

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The tranny from the 4 cyl is a 3 speed (basically the same as the 3 speed ATX used in the Tempo / Topaz), not a 4 speed like the one in your car. No way will it fit or work.
 
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