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Ford Aerostar

I want to start by saying I know virtually nothing about car repairs, so if I sound like an idiot, that is because I am one.

I bought a 1993 Aerostar that only had 35K miles on it last week. I took it to my mechanic who changed the transmission fluid, the serpentine belts, and the rear bearings (can’t remember what they were called but the car vibrated badly). He also fixed the door handle and replaced the mirrors with awesome large ones.

This was all great and i was looking forward to a long and beautiful relationship with this van.

Second part of the story: My job consists of loading up the van with craft show items and driving over the mountains. This did not go well. I got up the first big mountain and the transmission fluid was leaking and I had to get towed back home. The car stopped accelerating, due to the lack of fluid.

Anyway, my guy told me that there was a problem with Fords and the gasket not holding up against a build up of pressure in the transmission, and there was a fix he could do which involved drilling a bigger vent hole (I could be totally screwing up the interpretation here). He said that might solve my problem and it might not. Also, he did not know how damaged the transmission ultimately was. When the transmission fluid was filled up, the van ran fine, normally, and did not seem to have a problem shifting.

So, my question to you experts is this: Is it worth trying to fix, or should I just sell the van to someone else who is going to be a less demanding user? Is this a fix that people use? I’m not questioning my mechanic’s ability, but I am concerned that I’ll do this fix ($500 out the window) and the van still won’t be trustworthy carrying a load.

What is your experience on this type of thing? i bought the van specifically to carry loads, so if it’s not going to be able to do that, I need to sell it. I used to use a Mercury Villager and it never had a problem going up hills fully loaded.


Apparently the vacuum diaphragm fails and sucks the fluid out and burns it in the engine. Replace the vacuum diaphram and you’ll be good.

Sounds like we’re talking about the vacuum modulator

Actually, that is a common failure in general, not just on Fords

Then again, any rubber diaphragm will eventually fail

Yes it’s the modulator. The diaphram in the modulator fails and the fluid is sucked out.

The part I don’t get is the bit about a gasket not standing up to pressure due to a vent hole and this allegedly being a common problem with Fords.

If the modulator diaphragm gives up transmission fluid will be sucked into then engine and white smoke will appear out of the tailpipe. This is described as leaking fluid which I take to mean externally.

Just some food for thought, but is it possible there was an error made or possible use of a cork gasket during the transmission service and something else is getting the blame to cover up a mistake?

And 500 bucks for what? A modulator is dirt cheap and they’re easy to change even if it was faulty.