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Hi, Guys! I’ve listened to Car Talk in NYC, where I used to live, because it was fun and informative, though to me it was all academic: being a New Yorker, I had never owned a car. In fact, had never really driven one. My drivers license was clean, because unused. But I’ve moved to the US now (DC, actually) and have learned one cannot get groceries without a car. A friend, returning home to Europe, just gave me his car…a 1996 Taurus wagon with 146K miles on it. He bought it when he came to do a fellowship last winter. I just picked up the car today…at repair shop (he paid for repairs) but the nice repair guy said: “The transmission is very bad. Don’t know how long it will last. Warm it up before driving, and accelerate gently.” Like a doctor telling a patient he has terminal cancer.

The car handled beautifully on the way home (20 miles?)- steering is responsive, the brakes work. No noises, but when I arrived home and turned it off, the car sort of sighed. It just got new transmission fluid and oil; it seems to get 15 or so miles/gallon; so far, not driving at highway speeds, it seems OK. Is there a way to coax the old transmission along for a year or so?


I don’t know how you figured the mileage in such a short span but 15 on one of these cars is atrocious. That car should knock down 25 MPG easy.

Transmission slippage will kill the mileage.
To see just how bad it is hold the foot brake down firmly, shift the trans into DRIVE, not Overdrive, and slowly depress the accelerator pedal.
If the RPMS stall out around 1900 or so you may get by for a while. If it revs up to 2500 or whatever then don’t go far from home.
(That’s a very hazy test; just trying to get a feel for things here.)


15mpg isn’t really that bad when you consider the OP is driving in DC traffic.


How many times have you filled the gas tank? The best way to measure it is to record the mileage when you fill up. Then record it again when you fill up the next time. You now know the number of miles driven for the number of gallons you just put into the car. If you did it any other way, it is inaccurately measured.


Understand that the mechanic may have been trying to drum up some business. Sure Taurus trannys have a bad reputation, but my theory is that they are no worse than any other car’s. It’s just that everyone has a brother in law or uncle who had a Taurus that had a bad transmission. Out of the MILLIONS sold, there are bound to be a few family members who got a bad one. In my own experience, I’ve had them with good ones at nearly 200K and bad ones at 139.

Hey, it’s a free car. If you do have to eventually spend $1400 on a rebuild, you’re still in it cheap.

I DO NOT recommend stall testing ANY transmission by revving the engine against the brakes. If you want a premature failure, that would be one way to induce it.


The converter stall test is a legitimate, and factory recommended, procedure.
It’s only a problem if someone abuses the process.


If you would like advice from an honest, competent transmision shop, and if you are on the MD side of the DC area, I recommend Superior Transmissions in downtown Silver Spring. They just fixed my '94 Taurus (80K mi; broken gear, in addition to worn 2nd gear clutch). And several years ago, on another car, they told me to live with the hard shift rather than pay them to fix it.


I just put in half a tank yesterday after I picked the car up - I don’t need to be too precise about mileage. The guy who gave it to me, said he could drive his family from DC to NYC on a full tank. That’s 300 miles or so on about 20 gallons, don’t know how much gas was left over. I don’t think this is unreasonable for an old V6 wagon, but I’m a novice here…


Thanks, Art. I am in MD side - Chevy Chase - will try that shop in Silver Spring!


Record the mileage at the next fill and start the test. You don’t have to let it get below 1/4 tank to do the test. You could even do it after you reach 3/4 tank if the information is important to you.