1996 Ford Escort - manual to auto

one of my clients is giving me a 96 Ford escort wagon but it a manual, is there a way I can make it an automatic?

I would be easier and a lot cheaper just to learn how to drive a manual.


You could, but would be expensive and might violate emmision laws.
You state client, if the Escort is in exchange for services you performed, you might suggest your client sell the car and pay you cash, or take the car yourself and sell it.
Or, as above, have someone teach you how to drive a manual transmission, easy to do.


Not impossible, but not practical either, unless you are doing the job yourself and just want to see if it can be done. Otherwise too expensive. 96 Ford is OBD II technology; i.e. drivetrain, both engine and transmission, is computer controlled, and the computer installed now is properly configured for an automatic transmission. If you switch to a manual transmission, expect hard to debug computer configuration problems.

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With high fuel prices a small car with a manual should be worth something right? Why not put up an ad online to see if someone wants to trade it for an automatic?

??? The Escort is a manual so where do you get this computer is set for an automatic ?

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Or visa versa.

It will be nearly impossible to convert this 26 year old car to an automatic transmission correctly. Parts are NOT available, most of these cars are LONG gone from junkyards. And the car is worth almost nothing so it is NOT worth the labor to install an automatic.

Far easier and cheaper to just learn to drive a manual.


This is a lot more difficult than it sounds. I looked into this when our 1998 Camry was destroyed in an accident. It had a very rare configuration, which was special-ordered new by my father: automatic transmission with hand-crank windows, non-powered seats, no sunroof, no security system, etc.

At the time, there were plenty of used 1997-98 CE models without the equipment that I don’t like…but they were all stick shift. Similarly, there were (and remain to this day) plenty of used CE and LE models with an automatic transmission, but they all had at a minimum power windows and door locks, and usually had a power driver’s seat, sunroof, and security system.

I looked into the cost to change the transmission type in an already-built car, as well as the cost to replace all 4 doors with the manual windows/locks version from a junkyard, and it was simply too much money. What a shame, because I really liked that car.

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This client must really not like you.


Why do you say that? This is a car I’d happily buy and drive…if it had an automatic transmission, of course.

Basic disposable transportation when it was new. Now that it has 25+ years behind it with unknown mileage and maintenance I wouldn’t wish this on an enemy. Sorry but that’s my opinion.


Window regulators from my local pick-a-part are $17.50 each, interior door panels $16.50 each.

Simplicity. What a concept! Reminds me of that song from My Fair Lady …

“All I want is a room somewhere
Far away from the cold night air
With one enormous chair
Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?”

Of course the no security system might mean the chair gets stolen … lol …

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By far the cheapest way to do this is to sell it and buy an automatic.

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Unless there is some reason you cannot drive a manual my suggestion is don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. A free car nowadays is manna from heaven.

As for converting to an automatic it would cost far more time and money than it’s worth. If a used transmission was installed then there is the lingering question of whether that used unit you just installed is any good.



Except for one problem . . .

I doubt there are many 1996 Ford Escorts available for sale


I wonder what a 1996 Ford Escort would sell for? $1000?

I looked at Craigslist prices for manuals 4 cylinder 1990 to 2000 verses automatic. The prices for manuals seem to be a bit higher, but there seem to be be more exotics and trucks in the manuals category.


here is no way this can be economically feasible. I had an '89 Escort with a 5-speed. It was an earlier design but the ones with automatics were rated at around 30MPG. My 5-speed got 41MPG on a 50 mile commute. The shifting was well worth it.

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