How do you drive your Taurus?

I live in an area that has lots of topography and so whenever i'm on the highway I find that i'm constantly shifting betweed "Drive" and "Overdrive". The automatic transmission does not want to downshift to
3rd gear on it's own and I can feel it as I start heading uphill more and I give it a little more gas the car does not maintain it's speed very well and it still doesn't want to downshift. This happens about 100 times on a 1 way highway trip for 215 miles. Whenever this happens I'm faced with option: A) Shift out of "overdrive" and into regular "drive" or B) "Kickdown" done by nearly flooring the gas pedal in order to get the stupid auto transmission to downshift into 3rd gear. (seems to me this option is hard on the whole drivetrain)
90 percent of the time I do option (A) because I don't want to waste gas or increase my speed. I'm usually at the speed limit and so it's better to shift out of overdrive so I can maintain the same speed without it being hard on the transmission or the engine. And without revving the engine way up higher than it needs to be.
It seems to me that if I don't shift out of overdrive it's probably putting unecessary additional strain on the combustion chamber and the transmission. This is probably why many cars blow their head gaskets because there's too much of this strain-pressure on them when the transmission refuses to downshift when it should.
Does shifting on the fly - from Overdrive to Drive and back and forth constantly -- does this wear out the transmission substatialy over time? Or is it just normal wear and tear and the transmission was designed to be operated in such a way?
This is exactly why I miss driving a car with a manual transmission. The "autostick" on newer cars these days has got to be well overhyped compared to simply being able to master a car with a standard 5 speed. Why make things more complicated than they have to be?
How do most people drive this sort of car on mountain/hilly terrain? Just keep in in overdrive and ride the brakes the whole time? (I learned to drive using a 5 speed and so I really prefer not to ride the brakes and to instead downshift, and use engine braking.)
TIA!!!
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Newer automatic transmissions, in order to proved better fuel economy, do not generally down shift readily under light load. They need to be downshifted by extra throttle movement or manually if that is you intention. No, shifting as needed will not hurt the tranny, they are designed to shift.
mike hunt
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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Question: On regular "Drive" does the car only stay in 3rd gear or does it stay in 4th gear at most only without the torque converter being locked together? I'm thinking it has gear R, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 4+overdrive+locked torque converter? Can someone please explain to me how overdrive works. The owners manual is very vauge in it's explanation. It described overdrive as a kind of "fifth gear" but I don't get it. The car either has a 5th gear or it doesn't, and so the logic doesn't make any sense.
Is there a dedicated web page that explains the workings of the AX4N transmission? It would help if I understood more about it in order to drive the car with some peace of mind.
Thanks in Advance.
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Overdrive, the way they use it, is just a ratio that's less than 1.00. For example, in most 5 speeds 4th is direct (e.g. 1.00:1.00) and fifth is "overdrive". The old overdrive was a separate unit, usually, mounted behind (or on the back of) the transmission.
On 31 Mar 2005 13:05:34 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

What year & engine?
Rob
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2002 Ford Taurus Sedan SEL. DOHC 24 Valve V6 Engine. AX4N Transaxle.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

OK... the Duratec/AX4N shouldn't really do a lot of "hunting" at highway speeds, regardless of topography. Even if it was, a full-throttle application to effect a kick-down shouldn't be necessary.
Do you drive with the speed control engaged? Try that. If you feel you need to help the drivetrain "anticipate" a big hill, do a quick, maybe 1/2 tap (TIP-in) on the accelerator pedal while acsending. The transmission should shift out of "lock-up" in 4th gear. Let the speed control demand more throttle as needed. It may then shift to 3rd gear as needed, then back to 4th, and then lock up the converter again as the set speed is reached and the load is diminished(lock-up is modulated, so it may not be as obvious as on older cars you may have driven) which is the "kind of -fifth gear-" you were describing.
See how it all works together by letting the speed control do all of the throttle part for one of these trips - watch your tach as the engine and transmission work together. The Duratec should be able to hold speed with the shift lever in OD, with cruise on, easily in any condition that allows highway speeds unless you are towing... steep hills included. If your speed falls off 7-10 mph with cruise on, it will disengage. This would indicate a condition that driving in "D" might be required - like for towing.
Rob
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Thank you for clearing that up.
East-
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