1989 Ford e150, transmission issues after towed

ford

#1

Hello. I bought a used 89’ Ford e150. Automatic transmission, 194k mi. I fixed it up a bit and it is very much drivable. I just took it up to northern az and then back down. I had to have it towed recently and now my transmission is acting up. When I want to move it i put it into gear, either reverse or drive, now while accelerating slowly the vehicle doesn’t move for several seconds until the transmission catches and it then starts to move. It does this now while driving and having to stop for lights and signs. It has a delay until the transmission catches. This is very disappointing and I wonder if anyone knows if the vehicle is dragged up on to a flatbed towtruck this can damage my transmission or driveshaft And cause this. What can I do to fix it? Thank you.


#2

How far was it towed? If it was towed with the drive wheels on the ground that could cause the issues you’re describing. Serious damage can be done to an automatic transmission that way. Based on your description it’s not clear to me whether it was towed on a truck or behind one. Could you clarify?

There are generally manufacturer recommendations about how far (and at what speed) you can tow an automatic vehicle while it isn’t running. The problem is that automatic transmissions only feed fluid through the radiator when running. So, if the vehicle is towed with the drive wheels down while the engine is not running, the transmission fluid overheats and fails to adequately lubricate the transmission. This occurs even if the vehicle is put in neutral first.

As to what you can do to fix it: not much. Depending how damaged it was, you could quickly end up replacing enough individual parts that it’d be cheaper just to swap the whole transmission. That said, I’d probably change the transmission fluid and make sure that it’s at the right level. Remember to only check your transmission fluid while the vehicle is running.

I’ve worked with a number of these older E-150s, and a lot of them work just the way you described. We just sort of used them for low-key ranch work. We would’ve been hard pressed to get one of them up one of the nearby mountain passes.


#3

Firstly, check the transmission fluid level, color, and smell. If the fluid level is low, fill it to the cold dipstick level and check again when the transmission is hot. If the fluid color is brownish and smells like burnt transformer oil, hope a fluid exchange can help.

Why was the truck flat bed towed? Pulling a truck onto a flat bed would not have damaged a transmission. Have a transmission shop put a pressure gauge on the line pressure tap when you are getting the “no Drive/Reverse” situation. If the line pressure is low, either the pump is at fault or the fluid is leaking from damaged clutch piston seals. That would mean a transmission rebuild.

Best of luck on this.


#4

Kreon, it was towed by a flatbed. So it was dragged up on to it and not pulled with wheels on the ground. Before this I only had issues when it would shift into 3rd gear. It would bog and be sluggish in that gear.

That you two for your advice I will have to check k the fluids and have the transmission tested by a mechanic…

This project has turned in to a money pit :frowning:


#5

Winching the truck up onto a flatbed should not damage the transmission or driveshaft.

More than likely it’s just an aged, high miles transmission that like the vast majority of them was never serviced.

As mentioned, check the fluid and go from there. If the fluid is a bit low I wouldn’t even top it off. I’d say drop the pan, clean and inspect for debris, and change the fluid. If it still acts up after that then you’re likely going to need a transmission.

This should have an AOD in it. With some looking around (Craigslist and so on) you should be able to find a used one fairly cheap. The last one I bought only set me back 75 dollars and 10 years later it’s still strong.


#6

If all four wheels were on top of the flatbed , it wasn’t really towed, right? It was hauled. … hmm … That shouldn’t have caused any problem with the transmission. Except if maybe the steep incline to get it on and off the truck somehow allowed transmission fluid to leak out or leak into a place it shouldn’t be. That’s about the only thing I can come up with. I should add that when my truck started doing this, it was in the shop for a complete transmission rebuild within a week. That fixed the problem straight away.

My Ford truck w/automatic is an earlier vintage and has a Ford C4 transmission. Similar to the C6. I think both of those types have a band adjustment method that doesn’t require the transmission be removed, so if you have either a C4 or C6, suggest to look into that. More modern transmissions use electric solenoids for the shift mode operator, and those can go bad and are often not overly difficult to replace. No rebuild necessary if that’s the problem. Something to consider anyway.

In any event, before throwing in the towel and seeking estimates for an entire rebuild job, or another transmission, do a proper service first, you might get lucky. That means to drain all the old fluid out, replace the filter, refill w/fresh, and hope for the best. If it helps but not entirely, drive it for a week, then repeat the process. There’s a lot of the old fluid left inside the transmission and torque converter when you just drain the pan. Sieve what you drain out, looking for metal shavings and the like. That might provide a clue to what you’ll eventually need to do. Best of luck.

A person with more time than money can rebuild their own automatic transmission, given enough time and clean space to do the job and enough cuss words in their vocabulary … lol …