Transmission issue with a '93 Ford Tempo

First, the specifics:

1993 Ford Tempo



78,000 miles (the proverbial little old lady car.)

From a stop, the car will rev clear up to about 30 mph before shifting out of first into second. It will stay in second well past 60 mph, and even then, I have to kick it hard to make that happen. It’s not that it won’t shift; bit it seems to delay well past where it should. If I do manage to get it into 3rd, there’s a pronounced thunk when it downshifts at a higher rev than it should when I slow down.

Now the background & other info:

It’s not my car. My B-I-L lent me this car because I ride a motorcycle all winter, & he took pity on me for the rainy & snowy days. In return, I offered to fix an annoying rattle. The problems went well past that, of course.

The second day I drove it to work, it overheated and spewed clouds of steam in the parking garage. I had to have it towed home. That turned out to be a split in one of the heater hoses. Disturbingly, however, the temp gauge on the dash never rose off of “C” on the ride in.

I had expected to be replacing a water pump, but the heater hose seemed to be the only issue. Just the same, I replaced the thermostat and the temp sensor because I suspected the burst hose was a symptom, not the cause. Sure enough, after it’s all put back together, the dashboard temp gauge is working better, and a short hop to the grocery store showed no overheating. At least that problem seems solved.

So I told you that to ask you this - is it possible that this overheating could cause the transmission issue at the top of this discussion? Prior to the coolant issue, the car drove fine (for one day); the shifting problem only surfaced afterward.

As a last piece of info, I’ll add that I had to add an entire quart of transmission fluid to bring the level between the marks. I didn’t check that previously, so I can’t say if that was a pre-existing condition.

So then - what’s the fix here? Could an overheated engine cause the tranny problem? Any chance this can be fixed simply?

(FWIW, the rattle is the A/C pulley.)

I would go back to the motorcycle or take the bus. This car will punish you endlessly with problems; they were bad cars when new! What you are relating is just the beginning!

It obviously has not had meticulous maintenance and from now on can only make your life miserable.

Well, the good part is, it’s not my car; and it’s not really my problem. I’m just trying to help out the B-I-L. I have no interest in buying the car, & he isn’t selling. It was his mother’s, who obviously didn’t drive much; but it’s an extra car for him now, so he’s made it available to me.

It’s the coincidence of issues that has me wondering. The car was fine last Monday. It overheated on Tuesday; now the transmission is, shall we say, suboptimal. I can use it as is, but I’d love to figure it out if possible (and if it’s cheap and within my shade tree capabilities.)

p.s. You don’t have to warn me about this one. I once owned a '93 Taurus.

On a Tempo, anything can cause the transmission to fall apart. Rebuilding the transmission will help, it has a bad seal or something. At this age a Tempo needs a new radiator and heater core. If the radiator gets changed, the heater core blows out in two weeks. Most people would just replace the car because it handles like a dump truck and turns almost as sharply. Truly, it is beyond all sensible repair.