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AZTechBrian, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Transmissions
Satisfied Customers: 708
Experience:  Owner
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I have a 1997 Ford Mustang 3.8L v6 and out of nowhere the

Customer Question

Hi I have a 1997 Ford Mustang 3.8L v6 and out of nowhere the vehicle wouldn't go into 3rd. It'll shift out of second and then the rpms go through the roof and doesn't engage the next gear. I dropped the transmission and put a different transmission In. Now it seems as if it starts off in overdrive instead of 1st there is no power and now it even reverted back to not going into 3rd. When I first changed the tranny it went out of second and had a little slip but went into 3rd. Now it stopped completely like the last transmission.. Could this possibly be a fuse that controls the vehicle speed sensor or shift solenoid ? Please help as soon as possible
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Transmissions
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

that's a fairly common problem on your mustang. There is a TSB for this issue calling for the replacement of the 2-3 accumulator piston. What happens is the fluid pressure leaks past the large diameter seal. There is an updated piston design to resolve that problem.

Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

If you would like, I can email you the procedure to replace that piston.

Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

I can also email you a copy of the TSB. but dont provide your email in this forum please

If I have answered your question, please remember to click accept and rate my service. You can always follow up at no charge regarding this issue even after accepting my answer. Please let me know if you need further assistance.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You think the second transmission I just put in has a bad 2-3 piston too? Because I put in a whole different transmission and it's the same exact problem
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

I can't guarantee it, but it's very possible. The fact that there's a TSB on it indicates that it's a very common problem. When you installed the second transmission, it was acting differently at first. If this were a problem with something outside of the transmission it would have immediately acted the same as the transmission that was originally in the car. Considering that there is a technical service bulletin for this exact problem, it makes the most sense to perform the repair indicated in the TSB. The shift solenoids are located inside the transmission also so when you replaced the transmission, you also replaced the solenoids. If it were here, I would perform the tsb, unless it's already been performed on that transmission.

Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

The TSB also applies to remanufactured transmissions since many of the remans have the OE accumulator

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm not sure what is a tsb? When I put the second transmission In, the torque converter was seated properly I'm sure of it we took it down 4 times , but when we bolted the transmission up the motor was locked up the crankshaft pulley wouldn't turn so put the flywheel bolts on. So we put the old torque converter in it. When we did , it turned fine. Hooked everything up and it seems to start in over drive. Like there's no first gear. Then it did slip into 3rd and now it won't go into 3rd at all just like the last transmission. What exactly should I do to fix this. Could it possibly be the torque converter ?
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

A TSB is a technical service bulletin. When a certain vehicle, or particular engine or transmission, etc. has an excessive number of the same issue, a TSB is issued to help us quickly identify the problem and resolve it better. Do you hear any noise coming from the torque converter area? A bad torque converter can rob the transmission of the required pressure and cause slipping, difficulty shifting between gears, lagging ( which it does sound like you have experienced?)

Here is a little self test to help diagnose the torque converter.

  • Sitting in the driver’s seat, start the engine. Let the auto warm up for 4-5 minutes. Then step on the gas pedal gently, revving the engine twice. When it comes back to idle, step firmly on the brake, then shift the transmission into drive. You’re looking for whirring, clicking, or lurching
  • Slowly move the transmission through all gears, including reverse. Again, listen for clacking or whirring. Note if any of the gears fail or if the vehicle lurches.
  • Take the vehicle for a test drive. Note any sluggishness, revving, or lurching when shifting or accelerating. Listen for the aforementioned clacking or whirring sounds.
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

Did your transmission fluid in the last transmission look pretty bad?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it was dark dark red and smelled burnt haha
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

maybe you do have a bad torque converter then. Do you hear any noise coming from the torque converter when you do the above test? If you hear noise coming from that area then definitely address that.

I can not tell you for sure what is wrong, and if it were at my shop I would not be able to say for sure what is wrong just based on what I know as of this moment. You have noted that it shifts from first to second, and it does not shift from second to third. This is consistent with a known problem on that transmission. I would perform the TSB and get a transmission flush. If you had nasty fluid in the last transmission, then most of that fluid is in your new transmission since almost all the fluid is retained in the torque converter and you are using the same torque converter. That's honestly where I would start.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No cracking noise or anything just kinda a rough jump when going into reverse. But as I said there is no 1st gear when I put this other transmission in. Is there any chance I need the fly wheel from the car this transmission came off of ? Because when I put it in and bolted the transmission up, it locked up and we were sure it was seated correctly. We did measurements and the torque converter itself was bigger then the old one
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

I would think if the problem were with your torque converter then the symptoms would be the same with this transmission as with the last one. You should use the same flex plate from your original transmission.

Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

You are in fact having different symptoms with this transmission as with the last one, correct?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
At first yes. The car started off it seemed like it was already in seconds gear. As if it didn't have that power first gear should and I know it wasn't first girl. O/d light was flashing and check engine light was on. Check engine light was for o2 sense and shift solenoid. Then later that night it stopped going into third just like the last transmission. It went out of second and the rpms go through the roof I have to put it back in second
Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

And what is it doing now? it's starting off in over drive?

Expert:  AZTechBrian replied 1 year ago.

i'm going to hand this one off to another tech. I don't know where to go from here.