02 Merc Cougar

I recently bought a 2002 Mercury Cougar with an automatic transmission. I really like it, but it seems to have some trouble shifting. If I really “punch it” it revs all the way up to about 6200 rpm before it shifts. I think this is high, but the red-zone isn’t until 8000.If I don’t “punch it” and I accelerate slowly it still goes up to about 4300 rpm. I talked to many of my friends and mechanics that I know and they have a lot to say (as do I). One thing they all talked about was my transmission. They told me to check my tranny fluid and make sure that it is full, not discolored, and didn’t smell burnt. I did all this and everything seems okay. Also, someone I know who is very knowledgeable about mechanical issues looked at it and he said that it doesn’t smell burnt, its a perfect color and is filled correctly. Another thing they brought up is that the car might be governed because it tops out at about 82 mph (I know that’s way too fast, but I have to know what she’s got.) It also only has 115,000 miles and seems very well cared for, so I think it should still have plenty of life left in it. One of the mechanics said something about a manual linkage sensor. (Mlt sensor). He said that when they steam cleaned my engine that it might have gotten wet and then when the pulled the car outside it might have froze and cracked, causing my troubles. Also, they mentioned about how if you disconnect the battery on a Ford vehicle that it will reset the computer and usually takes 1,000 miles or so for the computer to run through all the codes and realize if there is anything wrong. I do have a brand new battery and was just replaced prior to me purchasing it. My check engine light is not on and it seems to purr perfectly all the time. My boss has a computer that we hooked up and let it run the codes and see if it would tell us anything, but its a small personal one and he said the Ford dealers computer can dig deeper and possibly find the problem. His little hand-held computer didn’t find any problems. I don’t want to have to bring it to the Ford dealer and have them fix it before I know whats actually wrong so that I can save them time, and me money. I don’t know if this is a problem and should be fixed. Sorry for the long post :confused: Please comment!!! Any info is greatly appreciated!!!

What you’re describing is called neutralizing of the transmission.

This means when the accelerator depressed hard and the RPM’s jump up the transmission didn’t grab a gear.

If you just bought the vehicle, it could mean that the prior owner had the wrong transmission fluid installed.

I would have a complete transmission fluid exchange done to make sure that’s not the problem. Otherwise you’re probably looking at getting inside the transmission.


It sounds to me like it’s just shifting very late. Whether you punch it or not, is it gradually and steadily gaining speed the entire time - as in, is there constant power being delivered to the wheels? Or are you saying that you’re hitting the gas and the revs are way up but you’re not really getting any power out of it?

It has power being constantly delivered, its just that it revs way up before it shifts

My daughter had a 1999 and it started slipping real bad in reverse and forward. After doing some digging, these transmissions are notorious for being bad. The transmission shop said they don’t even rebuild them and I’d need to try to find her a used one. Fortunately she totaled it before I located the replacement transmission.
Good luck!

Is the check engine light on? Does your speedometer “behave” itself?

Your shift points are off. The best way to figure it out will probably be to have it scanned at your best locally owned and reputable transmission specialty shop. Computer controlled transmissions require a lot of things (inputs) to function properly even aside from the complicated internals. Without some error codes or other odd things with the engine functions, it’s shooting in the dark without an appropriate scanner.

If you have access to an OBD scantool I could give you a couple of things to look at before taking it in (e.g. TPS, MAF, speed as seen by PCM)

cigroller: No, my check engine light is not on. What do you mean by the speedometer “behaving its self?” it seems to be true to its speed if thats what you mean. If I brought it to a local transmission shop could they figure it out. (or at least scan it and run some codes?)

I was just asking if the speedo does anything weird - like not work at all or jump around/quiver etc. Speed is one of the most important inputs to the computer for transmission control. Of course, I don’t know how this car is wired so your gauge cluster and PCM might be operating on different signals.

Anyway…no matter. Yes, a shop that specializes in transmissions should be able to tell you what is going on. Finding the right shop is a tricky task though. In general, you should always avoid the nationally known chain kind of place. You want it to be locally owned and probably a place that has “transmission” in business name. Most regular auto shops don’t have anyone who specializes in transmissions so a general auto shop won’t do. So start asking around for the best transmission shop.

Figure that you will have to cough up $$ for an hour’s labor, and its possible that all you’ll learn is that you need a rebuild.

cigroller: Ok, thank you for the information. I live in a tiny town and our local place is “transmission plus” We have had other vehicles there and they seem to do good work. Do you think they will be a good choice? Thanks again.

I have no way of knowing whether or not it would be a good choice. But if it’s a tiny town and the place was terrible, then you’d probably know about it. Ask around a little if you like. In the end though, at worst you’ll be out a diagnostic charge which is usually an hour’s labor.

If you take it there and don’t feel confident - like if they just say you need a new transmission but can’t tell you why it’s acting up - make sure you know what they did to check it out, including any error codes or problems detected. Post the details and people may be able to comment. (If there are error codes, post the exact codes like “P0123”)

cigroller: Ok well, I also know a Ford dealer that would give me a good deal. Do you think that it would be better to bring it there and have them run their computer and see if it shows anything, or would a transmission shop be better?

Personally, I would go for the transmission shop. A lot of dealer service departments don’t even have transmission techs - as in people who really know a lot about transmissions. It becomes sort of like going to a GP for a heart problem. You’re better off with a cardiologist. A lot of the time, the M.O. is just to recommend replacement if anything at all is wrong with it. The Transmissions Plus place might be the same, but should have at last a couple of people around who are specialized transmission techs. Transmission work really is a specialized area that most general mechanics don’t get involved with.