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kalamykid
kalamykid, Shop Owner/ Tech
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 3364
Experience:  I HAVE OWNED MY OWN SHOP FOR OVER THREE YEARS. I HAVE THE TOOLS AND SOFTWARE TO ANSWERE ALMOST ANY Q
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I have a 1998 Ford Contour with 4 speed automatic transmission.

Customer Question

I have a 1998 Ford Contour with 4 speed automatic transmission. Transmission has not exhibited any anomalous behavior what so ever (e.g. jerking, hard shifts, incorrect shift points, noise). Suddenly, without any indication of anything being wrong, Drive, 'D' dropped out as if in neutral. This was not while driving, but after returning to the car after a short drive. Got in and found no Drive. When selecting '1' or '2', transmission operates nominally. No problem. Reverse operates fine as well. Drive and Neutral operate as if one in the same. I'm hopeful this is a sensor problem (TR ?) or something analogous, since selecting '1' or '2' places the transmission in first without problem, but selecting 'D' seems to be ignored as if no selection (or 'N') was made.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  kalamykid replied 4 years ago.
Chat Conversation Started
kalamykid :

That sounds like a bad trans range sensor. Do ytou have a digital volt meter? If you do we can check it to see if it is working correctly. If it is bad It can tell the pcm you are in neutral and that is why the trans will not go into gear.

Customer :

Thanks for your response. I really appreciate your confirmation that this may be a bad TR sensor. It was my first guess due to the symptoms/transmission behavior e.g. selecting '1' or '2' caused the transmission to engage and operate normally. But I know little about automatic transmissions. I've been an electrical engineer for the past twenty four years. I mention this only to say that I have no problem working with / troubleshooting a sensor. As I understand it at this point, the sensor is a simple resistive type with a wiper (or similar) that divides 5 volts and ground. The output simply provides stepped voltages that correlate to the shift selector position (PND12), that is then read by the ECU. I'm further guessing that since the selector spends most of it's life bouncing down the road in the 'D' position that the wiper contacts have a good probability of failure in the 'D' position. I have a good quality DVM that I can read the sensor output with. Is the sensor (connector) located under the center console?

kalamykid :

No it will be on the trans under the shifter lever.

Customer :

I've located the range sensor on the shift selector on the transaxle.

Customer :

Found White/Green lead that is input to ECU. Just need to know procedure for measuring and will be done here. Again - thank you for your help. Greatly appreciated ! Will transfer deposit over to you at any point. Not certain if I do it now if it will close out this connection?

kalamykid :

It will not close the question but will move the chat back to a Q&A format. I need to look up the diagrams again so please hold tight and I will be right back with you.

Customer :

thank you

Customer :

ok - I'm assuming 12V on the OR/YL is the supply voltage to the range sesnor and is divided down to various voltages as the shift selector is moved through PRND12

kalamykid :

No. There is no voltage change. It will have 12 volts to it whether you have it in revers drive 1st or 2nd gear. It is the feed wire to the shift solenoids.

Customer :

ok will check for 12V on the OR/YL when the shift selector is in D. I understand. voltage to solenoid may be lost when selector is in D.

kalamykid :

yes

kalamykid :

Also please do me a fover so i can check the diagrams I have. What color wires does your sensor have on it?

Customer :

What works best for you in terms of time and this chat. I'm unable to get out to the car and respond in a manner that's likely convenient for you. Don't want this to get complicated in terms of our back and forth dialogue.

kalamykid :

I am here at my pc till the out side temp drops so I can get the work done in the shop so I will be here for the next 3-4 hours. You are fine take all the time you need as I am helping others in the mean time.

Customer :

ok - will run out to check wire colors and get back as soon as I can. Again - thank you

kalamykid :

Yuo are very welcome'

Customer :

on the Ford Contour range selector - six wires terminate in the connector body. I'll list 'base' wire color first, and 'stripe' color second. I do not number wires here according to pin out on connector, only as a sequential list 1. Violet/Black 2. Violet/White 3. Black/Green 4. Black/Yellow 5. White/Green 6. Brown/Green

kalamykid :

My wire diagrams are wrong but the colors do show up correctly for the conector view. Let me see what the correct color wire you need to be test is. i will be right back.

Customer :

ok

kalamykid :

ty

Customer :

appreciate your help!

kalamykid :

And wouldnt ya know I grtabed the wrong one.

kalamykid :

Let me see if I can get the right diagram brb

Customer :

Murphy is on every job!

kalamykid :

LOL yes he is.

Customer :

Fantastic help! Thank you!

kalamykid :

Hold on had to scan it into my pc.

Customer :

underrstand - no problem

kalamykid :

does your plug have 10 or 11 pins in it?

Customer :

let me run check byb

kalamykid :

ok

Customer :

it's an 11 pin connector

kalamykid :

ok

Customer :

I'm sorry that I have to pull away from this computer. I'm being squeezed here by schedules and time. I need to remain here, yet I have to be elsewhere as well. The old rock and a hard place. This should not suggest that I don't care about your effort, concern, and time. I do. I simply need to attend to other responsibilites for an hour or so. I will get back here as soon as I can. I realize you also need to attend to other obilgations. Is there a way we can continue this? Also, I initially chose $15 to desposit here. You've been so helpful, I want to increase that amount. Can I still do that now that this 'chat' has been initiated? Appreciate your help in every way. Apologize for having to leave at this point. I have no choice.

kalamykid :

I fully understand what you are saying. If you need to go take care of things by all means go and do what needs to be done. I will be here when you get back. As for the money Yuo can always add a bonus after you accept my answer.

kalamykid :

In the mean time this will give me the time I need to look up all the data as what all data has is not correct and will have a friend of mine bring me his ford tech manule for this car.

Customer :

Fantastic. Thanks for your understanding. Will be back here as soon as possible. I will likely be away for about two hours to deal with all that needs doing. Thank you. My name's XXXXX XXXXX the way.

kalamykid :

I am jamie and will see you back here when you are ready.

Customer :

bye for now

kalamykid :

Later.

Customer :

Hi Jamie, this is Austyn. Don't know if you're around or if you're busy. Just thought I'd drop a note to say I'm back in the virtual world

kalamykid :

I am here but have bad news. I do not have the data I need yet to help you with your problme. I will have the data tomarrow around noon.

Customer :

No problem at all Jamie. That will work fine for me. In fact even better.

kalamykid :

Thank you. Till tomarrow at noon then?

Customer :

You bet. Is 'noon' eastern, central, pacific?

kalamykid :

Eastern

Customer :

very good. I'll check back in here at noon your time. Have a good evening!

kalamykid :

Good night to you too.

Customer :

Good afternoon Jamie

kalamykid :

good afternoon to you. I will be with you in just a few minutes as i have one more car to take care of in the shop. just an o2 sensor replacement.

Customer :

Hi Jamie,,


 

Customer :

I'm online, but stepping away from the computer for short moments to attend to other issues. If I don't respond immediately, I will within a minute or two. Austyn

kalamykid :

ok

Customer :

I'm here

kalamykid :

If you look at the plug for the sensor on thew wire side and the lock clip is to the top on the top row if pins the last pin and the bottom row second to last pin are the two pins that are for the gear selector readings for the pcm. On the sensor itself with your meter set to ohms and the trans in drive, see if you have a direct short on the pins top left and bottom second pin from the left. If there is not a direct short replace the sensor.

Customer :

o-k, got it. have to run out to the car to check this. Will return here when done

kalamykid :

ok

Customer :

Ok sorry that took so long. Had to make up some test probes to get onto the pins inside the connector body on the range selector sensor.

Customer :

I've measured the resistance across the two pins you've identified. While in Drive, the two pins do not indicate zero ohms (or a near direct short) ~ I read 402 ohms across the pins while in D. But this may be correct! I ran the selector through all positions from P through to 1 and a very nice resistance progression was measured as follows Park = 4.18K ohms Reverse = 1.453 ohms Neutral =XXXXX= 402 ohms 2 = 211 ohms and 1 = 86.7 ohms. When the PCM applies a source voltage (+12v or +5v) to the top of this resistor tree, the sense voltage, that the PCM reads back at each of these selector positions would step down through a nice stairstep. The resistance value in the Drive position falls nicely inbetween the resistance value for Neutral, on one side, and the resistance value for '2' on the other side. The only consideration I can think of at this point is that this is an 'unpowered' measurement. It's possible - though very unlikely - that under power, the resistance values or wiper contact inisde the sensor yeild a different value that is out of range for the D position. Is there a separate solenoid within the transaxle that is energized in the D position as opposed to the 1 (or low position)? The trans is operating normally when 1 or 2 is selected. Seems to me that this indicates a 'Gear Selection Problem' and not something deeper within the trans. Or when the selector cable rotates the shaft going into the trans (that the range selector sensor attaches to), is it now likely that a malfunction is present in the valve selector or selector body (not sure of the name here) ?

Customer :

Just ran another operational check on the trans. Haven't run it since it failed two days ago. Thought possibly I might have an intermittent problem that is temperature related. But problem still persists. What is different today is that when in Drive, the trans seems to partially engage sometimes. Both partial and sometimes are key words here. By sliding the shift selector gently back and forth across D, sometimes I have partial engagement and torque out of the output shaft. The car wants to creep forward ever so slightly. Increasing engine rpm increases torque output but only slightly. By shifting out of D then back in - sometimes I get no response at all. It's an intermittent response that provides fractional torque but only when it does operate at all.

Customer :

This seems to rule the range sensor out as being suspect. If the PCM wasn't reading back the proper voltage off the range sensor it wouldn't attempt to engage the trans. What I think I'm getting is a good command for engagement off the PCM, but a solenoid? or some other failure internal to the trans isn't following through completely - it's attempting to and I'm getting partial pressure to engage (if that's the correct way to think about it) but only partial. Seems as if a clutch is engaging only partially but not completely. I'm at a loss here as to why the failure is only occuring while in the Drive position? Seems like the Drive position permits the full trans shift range 1, 2, 3, 4 or OD. Selecting 1 or 2 simply limits the range to 1 or 1 and 2, but the same components within the trans are being activated as in Drive when it accelerates through 1 and 2, then on to 3 and 4.

Customer :

Obviously there are parallel paths that activate the same gear ratios. The path that Drive utilizes is resulting in a different outcome. I'll shut up. Just trying to figure this one out. Any thoughts you have at this point will be much appreciated. Thanks Jamie.

kalamykid :

You are on the right path kinda. If the gear selselector switch is going bad and not sending the correct voltage back to the pcm then the trans will not work correctly. As you move the shifter not only are you moving the sensor but there is also a manule valve in the valve body that is moving as well. If you moved the selsctor to a good point but the manule valve was to far out of place this would be why you are only getting partial engagement. At this point there are only two things that would explain the problem, the sensor or the manule valve is not fitting into the hole it sits in anymore and the valve body has to be replaced.

Customer :

Ok. Thanks much for all your help! I fear I have a problem with the valve body which will likely mean big $ for a trans removal and repair. I was so hoping it was the range selector. This is the third major transmission redo in this car. Will push the total repair cost over the 6K mark for the trans only. Not leaving me with a warm and happy fealing about this trans.

Customer :

Again, thanks for all your time, trouble and guidance.

kalamykid, Shop Owner/ Tech
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 3364
Experience: I HAVE OWNED MY OWN SHOP FOR OVER THREE YEARS. I HAVE THE TOOLS AND SOFTWARE TO ANSWERE ALMOST ANY Q
kalamykid and 8 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  kalamykid replied 4 years ago.

how do you fell about replacing the valve body yourself? The trans does not have to come out to replace it.

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Jamie, Thanks for your follow on message. Really appreciate hearing that the trans doesn't have to be removed to service/replace the valve body. I may well be able to do this. I've replaced clutches, cam shafts, removed and installed heads with fresh valves - just never opened up an auto trans - for good reason ! From what you're saying, it sounds like the valve body is either external to the trans or drops out the bottom after the pan is removed ? I can do this as long as I don't get into transaxle disassembly. Can't tell you how good it was to see your message saying that the trans doesn't have to come out.
Expert:  kalamykid replied 4 years ago.
The valve body is behind the pan on the front side of the trans. You will have to pull the radiator fans to get to it but it is not that bad of a job to do. The first thing you would need to do would be to locate a valve body to put in the trans. here is the best place I can tell you as to where to get one. www.wittransmissions.com . Will have the valve body, vb gaskets, and the pan gasket. I would advise you to also get a transgo shift improver kit for this trans. The kit will make the trans last a lot longer and repairs a lot of the problems the valve body gives. you may also want to get a manual just in case you forget what bolt goes where.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Jamie, thanks for the additional info regarding the valve body. As per your suggestion, I will likely get a manual so that I don't forget where the bolts go LOL. Thanks also for this link to Wit Transmission. Just a heads up - the link you sent through dead ends with a 411 - can't be found. They've changed their URL to (sorry, this page I'm working in won't allow me to insert an active link, the icon is shadowed out) www.wittrans.com. Also appreciate the info regarding Transgo ! Very much looking into adding this.
Expert:  kalamykid replied 4 years ago.
Just let me know If you need any help with the valve body.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks Jamie. I may well need a few do's and don't along the way. But I'll do my best not to make a nuisance of myself here. I'll knock only if I find myself in a corner and can't find a way out.
Expert:  kalamykid replied 4 years ago.
Always remember " the only dumb question is the question that is never asked ". I will e here to help you no matter how small or big the problem. You are not being a nuisance at all. With the bonus you gave me and the good feedback, I you deserve more then just a point in the right direction.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi Jamie,<br /><br />This is Austyn.<br /><br />Thank you for your recent email!<br /><br />I'm still working the '98 Ford Contour Transmission problem (CD4E transmission).<br /><br />Per your good advice, I ordered a CD4E manual - from ATSG in Florida.<br /><br />I've removed the valve body (complete manual control as it's referenced in the manual - the accumulator, the valve body, and the transfer plate).<br /><br />I've found nothing that appears suspect via a visual exam. The transmission fluid appears relatively clean and deep red. No smell of burned friction material present. No metal flakes, etc.<br /><br />Within the valve body assembly ~<br /><br />The filter behind the solenoid pack is relatively clean. One of the ports had a very small amount of carbon like reside in one corner of the screen, but nothing close to any amount that would interfere with operation of that port.<br /><br />I've manually actuated (moved) all of the various valve pistons in the valve body. They all move freely and return easily via their respective return spring pressures.<br /><br />The pistons and the bores of the various accumulators seem to be in good shape as well. No scoring of the accumulator cylinder walls. The pistons move freely, springs are in perfect shape (without doing a test of spring constant). <br /><br />The manual valve - the valve piston that connects directly to the shift linkage - is in perfect shape as well. No scoring. Moves freely. No residue in the valve bore. All ports for the manual valve are wide open and clear.<br /><br />Throughout the valve body, all channels and ports are clean and wide open. No collection anywhere of any kind of residue. The various ports in the gaskets that fit between the valve body plates are all open and clean. Even the small 'pinhole' ports in the two gaskets are clean and open.<br /><br />I'm stumped at this point.<br /><br />Allow me to review the syptoms of the problem.<br /><br /> Essentially - no "automatic" selection of 1st and 2nd gear when the manual shift selector is placed in 'D'. Otherwise transmission operates flawlessly.<br /><br />When the maual selector is placed in '1', first gear is promptly activated and held.<br /><br />When the maual selector is placed in '2', second gear is promptly activated and held.<br /><br />When manual selector is placed in 'R', reverse is selected and held.<br /><br />Before removing the valve body, in did the following drive test. Started car and manually selected 1st. First engaged and I drove away. I accelerated to the approximate shift point for second, then manually shifted into 2nd. Second gear engaged properly in every respect. I continued to accelerate normally to the approximate shift point for 3rd. I shifted from '2' into 'D'. The PCM sensed (or had already sensed) that conditions were appropriate for a shift into 3rd, and initiated the shift to 3rd. The tranmission shifted into 3rd normally. I continued to accelerate while in 'D', and the shift to 4th (overdrive was selected 'on') happened properly in every respect.<br /><br />On the way back down (deceleration), the PCM and transmission worked nominally.   Fourth downshifted to third. But when the 3 to 2 shift time arrived, the transmission fell out of the loop. Exactly as if a manual selction of neutral had occured. No noise. No hard shift, no flared shift. It simply dropped into no gear. I then manually down shifted into second gear and the trasmission engaged second and held. When speed dropped to an appropriate range, I manually selected first, and the transmission engaged first perfectly.<br /><br />All this makes me think that the internal clutches, band, and solenoid are fine. (Though I'm not sure about the 'forward clutch' ? - but with the above shift test results, it seems that if the forward clutch (sprag) was suspect, I wouldn't be able to manually obtain forward gears either - but I haven't resolved this uncertainty as yet).<br /><br />Anyway, I'm stumped at this point. Does any of this make sense to you? Does any of the functionality that I've described here point clearly in one direction? It still seems to suggest valve body failure to me. But given the visual inspection, it appears fine, but visual can't detect leakage. I can't do a compressed air test of the valve body myself, but imagine I might be able to pay a shop to perform one.<br /><br />On the other hand, a new valve body through WIT Transmission that you referred me to is just above $300. A possible next move. I just lack any certainty at this point that purchasing and installing (time) a new valve body, will remedy the failure condition.<br /><br />I'd really appreciate any thoughts you have at this point.<br /><br />As always, thank you!

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