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Jerry, Master Mechanic
Category: Car
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Experience:  ASE master, 30+ years. All makes and models. Trouble shooter, shop forman, service manager
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I have a 97 ford escort and since i have had it, it has ...

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I have a 97 ford escort and since i have had it, it has been difficult to shift it out of first gear, once it does it runs fine, but it has sat this last winter and now when you put it into gear, its an automatic, it won''t shift itself past first gear. Do i need a new transmission or could it be something else?

Hello Anabelle and welcome to Just, Super mechanic here. About your Escort.

There is a valve inside the transmission that controls the shifting at various throttle positions. It is ultimatly moved by a cable called a throttle valve cable, (TV cable)

I would say, before you replace the trans. make sue that the TV cable is adjusted properly and you might want to have the trans. flushed out as well.

Here is the procedure for adjusting the TV cable, thanks

Throttle Linkage

See Figures 5, 6 and 7

The Throttle Valve (TV) linkage adjustment is set at the factory and is critical in establishing automatic transaxle upshift and downshift timing and feel. Any time the engine, transaxle or throttle linkage components are removed, it is recommended that the TV linkage adjustment be reset after the component installation or replacement.

The TV cable adjustment for the 4-speed Electronically Activated Transmission (4EAT) requires a transmission test adapter, part No. D87C-77000-A, or equivalent and a line pressure gauge, part No. T57L-77820-A, or equivalent.

  1. If necessary, install the ends of the TV control actuating cable to the transaxle and the throttle control lever.

  2. If necessary, install the throttle cable bracket to the intake manifold bracket.

  3. Remove the left front engine/transmission shields.

  4. Remove the square head plug (marked "L'') and install the transmission test adapter, or equivalent, and a suitable line pressure gauge.

  5. Start the car and let it reach normal operating temperature.

  6. Apply the parking brake and make sure the idle speed is within the 670-730 rpm range.

You must loosen bolt 1 before loosening bolt 2.

  1. Loosen bolt 1 and then bolt 2.

  2. Make sure the throttle plate is fully closed.

  3. Tighten the bolt 1 at the bracket (closest to the throttle control lever) to 61-87 inch lbs. (7-10 Nm). Refer to the accompanying illustration

  4. Click image to see an enlarged view

  5. 6: Location of the throttle cable adjustment and retaining bolts-1997-99 models

    1. Pull the throttle cable conduit in the direction of the arrows (refer to the illustration), to increase or decrease line pressure.

    2. Adjust the throttle valve control actuating cable until the line pressure reaches 57-60 psi (393-413 kPa) for 1.8L engines and 71-74 psi (490-510 kPa) for 1.9L and 2.0L engines.

    3. After the line pressure is within specifications, tighten bolt "2'' to 61-87 inch lbs. (7-10 Nm).

    4. Apply slight downward pressure to the cable with a finger to make sure all slack is removed.

    5. Turn the engine OFF and verify that the throttle valve control actuating cable operates smoothly.

    6. Restart the engine and press the accelerator slightly, then run the engine at idle.

    7. Verify that the line pressure is within 51-64 psi (352-441 kPa) on 1.8L engines and 65-78 psi (448-537 kPa) on 1.9L engines.

    8. If the line pressure is not within specifications, repeat the procedure beginning with step 7.

    9. Turn the engine OFF.

    10. Remove the gauge and install a new square head oil passage plug and tighten it to 43-87 inch lbs. (5-10 Nm).

Jerry and 8 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
If my husband already flushed the transmission is it important to reset this tv cable in order for the transmission to run right? could that be why is still isn't working properly?
Yes, the TV cable plays a big part in the shifting of the trans. You would want to make sure that it is adjusted properly and that the cable is not broken.
Jerry and 8 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Where would i get these tools that you mentioned?...the transmission test adapter and the line pressure gauge?
You might be able to get them from Autozone through their "loan a tool" program. If not, I think a dealer would have them, but they would want to do the adjusting for you. It may be worth the effort as opposed to a transmission replacement
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thanks so much!