Back to the dilemna...97 Ford Escort AGAIN!


So, I posted a few questions about this car last weekend…

Starter is fixed…AC and wipers are back again. AC and wipers weren’t working due to a fuse that was too low in amps.

Starter was fixed by my friend’s boyfriend (who is a mechanic at a local Ford dealer here in DFW)

Car starts great now…Idle is smoother too! OH JOY OF JOYS!

Then, at 3:30 this morning, after I picked up my boyfriend from work, he decides he’s going to go turn his car around, kinda test drive it a little.

Car starts great…He thinks it doesn’t because it’s idling smoother and doesn’t start as loud. I tell him that new starters are quieter…

Then he proceeds to tell me that the car won’t go.


“The car won’t go.”

me-“What do you mean it won’t GO”

him-“It won’t drive”


Boyfriend talks to his dad, dad says it sounds like the tranny linkage…


I talk to the mechanic buddy…He says it could be tranny linkage, or just general transmission…

How much can we expect to pay to get this repaired if this is the case?

Boyfriend bought the car for $2K total…

Is it really worth fixing it when he paid so little for the car in the first place?

Any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Money’s tight, I’m out of a job now and am looking…We just need SOMETHING to work out for cars these days! BLAH HUMBUG!


Is it possible to move the shifter through the range (with key on “run” and brake applied? Or is the shifter getting stuck as you try to move it. If shift handle cant be moved out of Park it could be the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock. Are you saying car was driving fine,shifting fine,you parked it,shut engine down theh started up engine tried to put it into reverse or drive and the shifter couldnt be moved? Or are you satying shifter moved fine,selected reverse or drive and the car refused to move either way? Post back.


Some more information would help. Is this car an automatic and the problem is that the shifter will not come out of PARK?
If so, this could be nothing more than a simple shifter lockout problem and should not be serious.
The lockouts are mandated by Federal law and can be problematic at times.


When the car is on, and the brake is applied, at first it didn’t seem to want to move out of park…I pressed the button a little further in, and it went down to RNODL, then wouldn’t seem to go back up. Car is an automatic.
I had to really push it back up to Park to get it to lock into park.
Nothing happened at all through any of these gears.

Back story, at least the one that led us to this point…
Last Saturday night, boyfriend was at work. Got to work fine, no problems. He went to lunch about 10pm and the car started and ran as usual.
He called me a little after 2:30am when he got off work wondering where to put coolant into the car. Seems his check coolant light was coming on. I advised him to put it into the resevoir marked “Engine Coolant Only” so he did. And he made a holy mess of it…got it all over the ground.

He said he went to start the car after that to come home and it wouldn’t start. I left to head up there and he called me again and told me that he and a coworker got it jumped, but that he shut it off and now it wouldn’t start again.
I finally get down there, we run to Wal-Mart for jumper cables (mine are buried somewhere) and went back to try to jump if off of my car. No luck.
We ended up having to have it towed back here last Sunday morning, where it’s sat since. Battery was tested, 100%; starter was replaced; now it just won’t go…

If you need more information, let me know. I want to get to the bottom of this! :slight_smile:

(I’ve had a few problems with previous vehicles and the shifter lockout where I couldn’t start the car, but all I had to do in those cases was give the shift knob an extra little push to make doubly sure it was in park and then had no problem with it after that.)

from ok4450:
"The lockouts are mandated by Federal law and can be problematic at times."
Federal Law (sic) can be problematic at times…

HA! I just had to get a good laugh in about that. No offense or anything…It’s just funny what you see sometimes and have to go back and read again!


So I talked to a friend of mine tonight…He thinks, based on the info provided, that it’s a problem with the linkage. Anyone have any idea of what this will cost to get fixed?
I know it’s hard to say, and we might have to start with a $100 diagnose, but we gotta budget for the repairs.
Also, he advised me to not take it to a corporate transmission shop, even if they do have free towing for major repairs. I can understand why…
Advised me to take it to a Ford dealer…Now the fun part is getting the car over there…


The problem may be in the shift linkage; but, there seems to be further problem with full battery voltage not getting to where you need it.
My first guess is that the battery cable connections, to the battery posts and at the other ends of the cables, aren’t making CLEAN connections.
The battery cables need to be removed, and the ends filed, wire-brushed, sanded. Where the battery cables connect, those areas need to be sanded.

A good battery will have 12 3/4 volts, with no load on it. When the alternator is charging the battery, it charges at 14 volts, or more.
You can use a good voltmeter and tell if full battery voltage (12 3/4 volts) is getting to the fuses (any fuse) inside the car. With the engine running, the voltage at the fuses should be 12 3/4 volts.

If the voltages aren’t the same at the battery posts and at the fuses, poor electrical connections between the battery posts and the fuses are the cause(s).


I would recommend a quality, friend or relative recommended independent trans shop, not the dealer. The dealer cost is nearly always more expensive, particularly if the linkage issue turns into a failed transmission issue. There is nothing unique about this problem that a good independent mechanic should not be able to disagnose and fix. The key is to get a good diagnosis and estimate before determining the car’s fate.

Franchise transmission shops will generally start out with a “rebuild” diagnosis. That is why I recommend finding a trans shop that someone trusts and has used before, with good results.

It is likely to be a cheap to fix linkage adjustment, but only someone actually looking can tell for sure.  

Unless you want to pay more, find a good local [b] independent [/b] mechanic not the dealer.  Don't take it to a chain and never take it to a chain oil change or transmission shop.


What does battery voltage have to do with the car not moving in any gear? I’m a little confused…

I’ve been thinking that dealer may be more expensive, but if they specialize in the brand…I dunno…
I know chain shops are bad…
off subject a little
My best friend wonders why I take my Altima to the dealership I bought it for any oil changes…His reasoning “It’s more expensive.” My reasoning is, I was told that the newer Nissans have a special oil filter that the chain shops would just have to order anyway, and has been confirmed by calls made, so I’d end up paying the extra anyway. Besides, the dealership where I bought my car is like a mile away and has a courtesy van that will bring me home if I don’t want to wait there.

on subject again

The problem of having the car looked at is that it’s going to have to be towed, and right now we just do no have the money to do that. We’ll have to manage with one vehicle for now and wait til we have the tow money to get it somewhere and have it looked at.
Anyone know of any good websites to search for independent tranny shops??


If the car will not come out of Park, it is the shifter lock. It has finally worn out and will not release the shifter. You can get to it easily if the shifter is on the floor by removing the center counsel that surrounds the shifter. If the shifter is no the column, you may have to drop the column to get to it.


You spoke before of having to jump start, and of having difficulty shifting from PARK. These problems are electrical in nature. If they have any bearing on the transmission engaging is for your mechanic (who can see, touch, and test the car) to determine.


The car WILL come out of park…
It’s really tight coming down to reverse and neutral, and will slide right into od, d and l…Car won’t go…

The jump start happened after the car wouldn’t start the first time when the starter went out. It jumped fine, and the car was driven around before he mistakenly shut if off again.
I’m hoping it’s just a cheap linkage adjustment fix. I HATE FORD!!!


I really do not think that the jump would affect the transmission, it is not electronic. Does the car run once it is in drive?


I think she has said, “Yes, it won’t.”


The car will still run, changing the gears does not affect it in any way, causing it to stall or shudder. There is no tach on this particular vehicle, but the idle speed does not change in any gear, and the car does not move at all (like the slight movement you feel when it’s put into reverse/drive).

Thank God for economic stimulus payments…
Mine comes Friday, he and I both get paid, and after expenses, we’re going to have the car towed to a local transmission shop a friend of mine told me about.
The car may have to sit there for a while, but sitting there is better than having it sit here and risk it being towed away by the apartment complex.