Slipping transmission causes car to die?

Can a slipping transmission cause a car to die while it’s running? Here’s the story:

I have a 98 ford escort. A few days ago, the engine started to rev while I accelerated between 20 and 30 mph. It kicks into gear after the reving, and will continue to accelerate, but the gears don’t seem to shift as I go 40 - 50 mph (my car doesn’t have a tachometer). I assumed that my transmission is slipping and while I’m deciding whether or not to make the $2000+ repair, I’ve been driving it short distances to run errands. On my last errand run, the car died while going 40 mph. It started back up again and I continued on my way – but now I’m wondering – is this really a slipping transmission? Could the revving be cause by something else? Should I stop driving my car?

A slipping transmission will not cause the engine to stall. What ever problem(s) you have, continuing to drive the car may be doing more damage and making the eventual repair more expensive.

It sounds like the tranny is slipping. Have you checked the fluid level? Have the fluid and filter ever been changed? If it’s low, it will slip. The more you drive it when it’s slipping, the more you’re destroying your clutch material inside the tranny.

Sounds like you probably have at least two problems. Slipping trans and now a dying problem, who knows what else. Probably a good time to wave goodbye to the old car or be prepared to increase those funds you’ll be needing. Sounds like a good time to park it before it becomes too dangerous.

I wouldn’t go straight to the assumption of a slipping transmission. Certainly it may be slipping, but as tardis noted this will not cause a car to stall. I think it quite possible that you have an engine management problem (which will easily provide for strange transmission behavior).

Is your check engine light on? If so, go to any large chain-type auto parts store where you can get error codes read for free. Write down the exact code (e.g. P1234) and post it here.

Even if the check engine light is not on I would first want to get the car onto a good scanner. In this case you’d want to find a reputable local, independent mechanic that specializes in “driveability” problems/diagnosis and get the car onto a decent scantool. Or at the very least have an experienced mechanic take it for a drive.

So - in short - yes it could be something else. And I would not drive the car much except to get it onto a scanner. Sometimes small problems become much larger ones.

Thanks everyone for your input. It probably is the transmission and it’s probably time for the car to go to the big parking lot in the sky – but it’s my very first car and it’s been running so well – it’s just hard to believe that it could have such a catastrophic fail with no warning. I’ll see if I can talk to my mechanic in to hooking it up to the scan – my check engine light isn’t on – in one last effort to see if it can be saved. Thanks, again!

The only time I have seen transmission failure cause an engine to die involved a totally deaf owner whose transmission was stuck in 1st gear and he kept pushing the accelerator further and could not understand why he couldn’t get up to 65 mph. A rod was hanging out of the pan when it arrived at my door.

I’m still waiting for you to describe “slipping”

The rev between 20 - 30 mph is the slipping, um, right?

My best guess is that this car has not had a whole lot of maintenance in its 12 year life span, and that it is suffering multiple problems as a result.

In other words, engine problems (that could simply be the result of lax maintenance), as well as a failing transmission (again–from lax maintenance). However, that is just a guess from afar.

Can the OP give us the maintenance history of the car during the time that she owned it?
Does she know the prior maintenance history?

More cars die because of inadequate maintenance than from any other cause.
Make sure that your next car gets maintained really well, and please bear in mind that there is much more to maintenance than oil changes. Your Owner’s Manual will list what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done.


Well it depends on what the rev is. If it just stays in the lower gear for too long before shifting then that’s not slipping.

If it seems to shift out of a lower gear…then rev up without any feel of power…then hits the next gear…that’s slipping.

But this will not stall the car. The stalling, of course, could just be a completely different, coincidental problem. Or it could be that you have an engine management problem that is both interfering with transmission controls and leading to stalling.