95 Taurus shifting problem

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Hi all,
I hope someone can help. My 95 Taurus has been shifting weird. It'll seem like it slips to neutral sometimes while I'm driving....engine revs, I push the pedal a couple of times and then it'll 'find itself'
and be okay. Then it also will downshift with a hard clunk as if I'd hit the brake when I haven't. I'm afraid to take it too far and I'm also afraid to take it to a transmission place because frankly I don't trust any of these 'specialty shops' especially since we're new in the area and haven't learned where the trustworthy repair people are yet.
We changed the throttle position sensor last week and that didn't make a difference. Any suggestions...we want to know what we're talking about when we take it to a repair guy.
I've lurked here a couple times before and got help with a subframe bolt recall just by reading here. Thought I was stuck with it and found out it was Ford's problem thanks to you all!!!
Thanks for your time, I'll check back later.
Margie
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Margie Tremblay opined in 3335.bay.webtv.net:

Did you check your fluid level? Engine warmed up, in Park.
What trans? look on the trans pan... if it says AX4S, it may be the tranny.. it could be anyway...but if it says Ax4N or something "SHO" those are better
Was your Cruise control working okay?
Check your VSS, and its connections - on the trans connected with the speedo cable. then Change the trans fluid and filter.. buy a bottle of Lucas AT fix. fill trans carefully dont overfill
See if your locale has a consumer watchdog list... these are published by local people based on customer recommendations. Call the local paper, see if they do a list like that.
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Thanks for the response. What is a VSS? The fluid level is fine. Will have to see what numbers/letters are on the transmission pan. Forgot to mention that the problem doesn't start happening until I've gone a couple of miles... after it's warmed up a bit. (Oh God...please don't let it be the transmission!!) Our son has been encouraging us to get the fluid changed. Guess that will be next....even though I've heard horror stories about having that done.
Thanks again Margie
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Margie Tremblay opined in 3337.bay.webtv.net:

Sorry.. Vehicle Speed Sensor COULD affect shifting
I dont really know all that much about trans... but it Dont look good... Go to auto parts store.. Get that LUCAS Transmission Fix
http://www.lucasoil.com/products/display_products.sd?iid )&catid=2&loc=show
Cant hurt, might help..I know for a FACT it stops slippage a good amount
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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

Margie, I read your post again. Try the Lucas as a Band Aid and also the VSS. It sounds like your trans is on its way out. These two things can't hurt. I missed the part about "dropping out of gear on turns" IIRC Left hand turns. I've seen a lot of Tauri do that. Nobody has ever been able to tell me why, but it is ALWAYS a harbinger of failure. BUT....Try the VSS and a fluid\filter change just because. They will use the new VSS on the rebuild.         Sorry for the bad news, Tom
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Tom Adkins opined

Thanks, TOM! Thats what i was thinking. I did more research on Lucas and the only BAD thing I read on the user forums was from guys that dont believe in additives,,, and I dont either but I know this stuff works for SOME faults. oh... the 95 IS still mech speedo!
Margie... if you get Cruise set at 50 and it drops out or surges then your VSS IS bad, if it doesnt that doesnt mean that's not the problem however.
I agree with what Tom said..changing the pan fluid and filter, add Lucas, and change the VSS is about all you can do.
If it works, You bought some time.
So your trans must bean ax4s, I bet
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Thanks guys...that's a lot of info!! I'll try the cruise (I've only used it on trips back and forth to Mass. from Delaware). Then I'll run these suggestions by my son...he's auto body but has played around with lots of mechanicals. Then I'll talk with the one repair guy we've had good luck with around here. I think he's honest enough to not take us for a ride.
Margie
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Margie Tremblay wrote:

Here is a link to a transmission parts site. It has some information on diagnostic problems and possible causes that may be of some help.
http://www.transmissionspecialty.com/parts/DM/AXOD-E.htm
These are not DIY stuff, but the symptoms listed maybe similar to what you have.
Bob
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Margie Tremblay wrote:

Hi Maggie, Back in the day, as a tech, I wouldn't change the fluid and filter on a trans with more than 60-70,000 on it because it "could"cause problems. I've dealt with it and been there. Since the late 80's I don't know if this holds true. I changed the fluid in my 84 MK-VII at 120K with no problem. There were some problems with Taurus transmissions in the 80s thru 90s but yours sounds like MAYBE a Vehicle Speed Sensor problem. IIRC it can be reached from under the car, or even down past the engine. From the driver side, behind the motor, directly below the passenger side rear of the motor (assuming 3.0 motor). It takes strong nimble fingers and a 10mm wrench\socket to remove the retainer bolt.. It plugs into the transaxle about 6 inches inboard of the right (pass side) axle, on top of the housing. (On my 88 Taurus it could only be reached by lowering the cradle.) different model. IMHE the VSS is often stuck in place due to corrosion. On pre 96 models there is room to finagle it, on later models (my 88)the trans has to come out to fight with it. On your 85, I believe the speedometer is still cable driven, a bad VSS may not show up on the speedo. On later models, when the VSS failed the speedo would jump or not work at all. I believe a new VSS is about $25.00. It's worth the chance to avoid a $1.5K rebuild.
            Tom Adkins
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In posted on Tue, 23 Nov 2004 03:49:36 GMT:

A 1.5 K rebuild? My god, I just spent $1,133 having the valve body and some gearshift solenoid replaced. How much of a rebuild consists of that? I'm hoping I extended the life of my transmission another hundred thousand by having that work done.
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Damaeus wrote:

$1.5K wasn't an exact estimate. The last time I heard about an AXOD rebuild it was about that, yea, it's been a while. The point is that It can't hurt to toss a few bucks at it to maybe buy some time until an expensive rebuild.             Tom Also, during a rebuild the solenoids and valve body (2 pretty expensive parts) are not generally replaced. These parts along with gear sets, final drive sets, etc.if needed will, of course, send the cost through the roof.
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In posted on Wed, 24 Nov 2004 21:46:17 GMT:

Tell me about it. Mine was $984, minus the $200 core refund. I'm not a rich person. Writing the $1133 check left 73 cents in my checking account. Two days later, I discover that the radiator has sprung a leak. :-(
This month alone I've spent $1,263 on repairs, plus $195 on a car rental. Since July 1, I've spent $2,868.42 on repairs and maintenance. For the year, I'm up to $3,711.
I still owe $1300 on this car. I'll have it paid for in April of 2005. I REALLY want to avoid taking on payments for a new car. If I can JUST get it to last until April when I can have the relief of not having to pay $260 a month on a car payment, I think I can swing it. But I haven't even had a good chance to recover yet from all the recent repairs.
This week it was the transmission. Last week I needed tires and an oil change. The week before that I needed a tie rod end and front-end alignment. The week before that I needed brakes done all the way around. A couple of weeks before that, I replaced three tires. A few weeks before that, my warped heads were redressed. A few weeks before that, an oxygen sensor had to be replaced.
I can't seem to get ahead with one repair after another. When does it ever end?
Probably not soon for me. My lighting pulsates intermittently. And now there's a strange noise coming out from under the hood when the compressor kicks on.
They say that money can't buy happiness, but right now, about $10,000 sure would make my misery a lot more bearable.
Damaeus
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Damaeus wrote:

Yikes, Sadly, this is a common story with this series Taurus. Problems with the 3.8 head gaskets, tranny problems with the AX4(N?), coupled with lack of maintenence by the first owner(s) made these cars a bad choice in the used market. Especially when the vehicle was sold overpriced to an unsuspecting buyer at a high interest rate. (I'm not saying this is your situation). The small used lots and Buy Here Pay Here lots around here loved these cars. The dealers would take them on trade and immediately send them to the auction.They got them dirt cheap at the auctions and many were scrapped or repoed before they were paid for due to multiple expensive failures.             Tom
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In posted on Thu, 25 Nov 2004 17:08:04 GMT:

Mine has the 3.0 engine. But the head gaskets had a little abuse a couple or three tiems in a row. First the water pump went out and blew all my water out. The temperature climed really fast, but I managed to get the car pulled over and killed before it got all the way up to the actual hot mark. Right after having that replaced, I was going down the road and the temperature started climbing again. I didn't notice until it was 3/4 of the way up the gauge. There was an ice bag caught between the condenser and the radiator. After that, the temperature started climbing again, but that's because by then the heads were warped from the recent overheating.
Damaeus
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Tom Adkins opined

NOT the AX4N
The AX4S
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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

Thats why the question mark. I can never remember which trans was which. I stand corrected.                 Tom
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In posted on Mon, 22 Nov 2004 16:33:42 GMT:

Actually, after warming it up you have to shift it through all the gears, then check the fluid level in Park.
Damaeus
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On my '94 the symptoms of the VSS where erratic shifting and power steering going hard/soft as this car has the speed sensing steering. Didn't try the cruise at the time but that will be affected if the VSS is bad. The VSS is the cheapest thing to try and will make the trans. act like it's on the way out. The VSS is a known wear out part, mine lasted 125k miles though. It's a pain to change but the results will be immediate if yours is bad. Good luck.
--
John
"anything you say can & will be misquoted & used against you"
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Most tranny shops in my area will test drive the car and "scan" it with the scan tool for free. If it is the VSS they can see it with the scan tool. GL

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Thanks Scott and John....I'm starting to feel a little better about it. Will probably try the VSS this weekend.
Margie
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