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Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues

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Jun 9, 2013, 8:06 PM

Post #1 of 6 (1798 views)
Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues Sign In

I have a sedan '99 Ford Escort LX 2.0 SOHC , automatic with 183K miles on it. I've had this transmission problem in the winter (on cold mornings) when i first start the car and i first noticed it as far back as 2006. When i put the transmission in 'drive', the gear may not engage (in fact non of the the forward drive levels engage - D, L etc) but i am able to reverse. By trial and error I have found that by reversing just a bit and then "cycling" the gears all the way from 'park' to the lowest gear setting (L) for a few times fixes the problem and 'drive' subsequently engages. In some cases (and this actually happens more often than the previous condition), on a cold morning, i am able to engage "drive" but as i move i notice it will not shift from first gear to the next. And, again by trial and error, I have found that just taking my leg off the throttle when the engine starts revving (from the gear not shifting) 'fixes the problem', as when i go back to accelerate it is then able to shift gears normally. This has always been a cold weather problem. Now, in the last few weeks, the weather has been reasonably warm but I've noticed that the problem seems to be still happening. In fact, I even feel the transmission labors to shift from lowest gear to the next anytime i am pushing off from a stand still. Is this a fixable problem (without invloving a tranny change) and any ideas what possible parts are involved and how much shop time involved. I am mechanically challenged and so will be relying on a mechanic for the job.
(Thanks for your patience in reading my rather long post)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jun 10, 2013, 4:17 AM

Post #2 of 6 (1757 views)
Re: Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues [In reply to] Sign In

183K? Is that on trans as well? Have you properly changed trans fluid on any schedule or never?

Seems like fluid has gone sticky to me, may be dark and or low level to be checked. First suggestion would be let a transmission specialty shop check it out in person.

If neglected maintenance and original or redone long ago it's still borrowed time for wear.

Here's the problem if neglected service and attempts to start now: Changing out fluid completely for new IMO will either fix or kill it and you will not know unless you tried it.

Some magic crap in a can might help or kill it as well. None are dependable fixes but might buy some time.

My guess is any real trans shop is going to suggest a complete overhaul, you can get a quote and decide based on overall condition of the car otherwise if you should go for it or jump ship,

Long retired now

New User

Jun 10, 2013, 2:33 PM

Post #3 of 6 (1717 views)
Re: Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues [In reply to] Sign In

Yes , 183K on the transmission as well.
I have actually never changed the transmission fluid to my best memory. Unsure
I just checked the level and the fluid is low and so I will have to top it off. I am guessing that I will have to top off through the same pipe as the dip stick ?

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jun 10, 2013, 3:02 PM

Post #4 of 6 (1710 views)
Re: Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues [In reply to] Sign In

OK - Smile but consider the savings at this point on NOT paying to care for it towards trans job - you are lucky! I've seen and owned originals with care though go much more and they scared me when getting up there in miles even though working well.

Check fluid while warm as described in owner's manual, level ground, remember however dipstick is marked it should be pints not quart increments! Yes - you fill thru the dipstick tube in most. Need a funnel that fits, many don't reach or too big. Use only fluid approved for the exact vehicles.

Now I'm going to get yelled at by others here! I have a fair amount of faith in a product called "Trans-X" by name brand. Here's the scoop IMO and experience with that exact product.

It can dissolve a varnish unseen causing slow shifts and does just slightly swell rubber seals and really can stop those from leaking. 1st I'll say AYOR with tricks as you are on borrowed time.

READ THE CAN/CONTAINER. IT WILL SAY TO USE AN AMOUNT I DO NOT APPROVE OF! ONLY IF YOU WISH TRY JUST 2-3 OUNCES OF IT - THAT'S IT!!!! DO NOT OVERFILL EITHER. IF STICKY IN VALVE BODY IT JUST MAY BEGIN TO BEHAVE BETTER or do nothing. You decide as said AYOR but my experience is in minute amounts it can solve some sticking issues if in fact that is the issue.

Please don't ever think the whole isle of junk products to fix anything will replace a real fix and most cause problems but makers just keep on selling what folks will buy.

Product looks like this if it shows..........

Please and again, don't believe all the bull out there!

Good luck,

Long retired now

New User

Jun 10, 2013, 10:46 PM

Post #5 of 6 (1696 views)
Re: Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues [In reply to] Sign In

Thanks for taking the time to give that advise.
I warmed the engine a bit by driving around, cycled through the gears and then checked the fluid level ( per this guide (Links to other sites can't be allowed. The script only said this....

( Check your Ford Escort's transmission fluid regularly.
One of the single most important components on a car is the transmission. Yet the transmission fluid level is the most neglected inspection performed on most automatic vehicles. A well serviced and maintained automatic transmission on a Ford Escort will typically deliver an extended and reliable service. However, if left unchecked, it can also be one of the most expensive repairs a car owner could experience. Simply checking the Ford Escort transmission fluid properly, and routinely, can save the transmission from potential failure.)

It did look low....and had to add 1.5 quarts of ATF just to get it to the "low level". I will have to look up that product at my auto store tomorrow. Thanks.

(had to edit out link to another site - the content put in its place as seen)

(This post was edited by Tom Greenleaf on Jun 11, 2013, 1:42 AM)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Jun 11, 2013, 1:33 AM

Post #6 of 6 (1688 views)
Re: Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues [In reply to] Sign In

One more on this and thread should be done. 1.5 Qts to "low" level should indicate 2 Qts low which is enough to cause shifting problems or not engaging a trans at all. That alone tells you it leaks so find that leak. There's no known consumption of trans fluid just two marks as it expands when warmed up vs cold so stick gives you two levels usually.

Low for real is not good for trans at all by itself so watch that and if leak found too involved and slow check it all the time ready to top off,

Long retired now

Ford Escort 99 LX transmission issues

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