1996 Mercury Sable Stalling Problem

The car is a 96 Sable with almost 160,000km on it.
The problem is when I put the car into either Reverse or Drive the car lurches forward or backward respectivly.
Also when I start the car up it sounds very weak.
I was wondering if any insight to what the problem may be could be offered, and I would like to apologise in advance for my lack of automotive knowledge.
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