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1996 Mercury Sable Shifting Issues

Hi, my wife has a 1996 Mercury Sable with some shifting problems that are getting worse. When we bought the car (used) when you turned the car on and shifted to park, sometimes it would lurch/clunk into gear. Even with your foot on the brake.

Also, if you pushed on the gas too hard it would rev up and then shift rather hard.

Just lately it has stopped shifting into gear reliably. It’s especially bad if you’re going uphill. Once you get rolling it’s OK and you can usually drive pretty well, but if you start out on a hill it probably won’t actually get into gear.

Other than that little (hah) issue, it’s been a great car for us. Thanks for any advice!


When you checked the transmission fluid, did you need to add any fluid?
What was the color of the fluid?
Did the fluid have a “burnt” odor?

Did the car come with maintenance records? If so, when was the fluid last changed?
Has the transmission been serviced since you bought it?

The fluid level was fine and the nice clear red color - it looked rather new. We’ve had it for about 3 months and haven’t put any in.

We haven’t serviced anything, and there were no service records, so as far as I know 1996 was the last time fluid was changed.


If the fluid level and color are normal, then you need to go to the next step and have the transmission checked by a competent transmission shop. You should be aware that this category does not include AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or any other chain transmission shop with which I am familiar.

Seek an independent transmission shop that has been in business for at least 3 years. While the trans probably does need to have repairs performed, you are likely to spend much less money and to have more competent work done at an independent shop.

The old joke on this site is that AAMCO stands for All Automatics Must Come Out, and the joke is based on a reality that is seen far too often.

Joy :frowning:

Sadly we figured this might be the case… but as we’re currently trying to buy a house this isn’t the kind of case we wanted!

C’est la vie! N’est pas?
That’s life, no?