Transmission problem?



I have a 1999 Ford Taurus. 172,000miles. Serviced regularly.Never had a problem…until now.

I was coasting down a steep hill and went to accelerate up the next hill and nothing engaged. My son towed me home. I think this is the transmission but there was never a clunk, leak or clue that something was going on. My hubby out of town and I haven’t told him yet.


Check the transmission fluid level. If its low or non-existent, it needs fluid up to the correct level to operate. Look on the dipstick and/or the owners manual for the correct type of fluid to add.

If its full, does it smell or look burnt? Is the check engine light on? If so, your mechanic needs to hook a scanning tool up to the car’s computer and find out whats going on.


Basics first, On a level surface, check fluid level and condition. Fluid should be a bright pink in color and not smell burned.



172K on a Taurus (or just about any vehicle), you are due for something. If you are lucky it will be a simple issue. Your husband should not be upset at you because 1)172,000 miles 2) I’ll assume he is doing most of the checking of fluids, etc.

Simply because you use the word “transmission”, I won’t be one to jump to conclusions. You didn’t say if the vehicle remained running, stalled, so forth. You received good info on checking the fluid. Also, auto transmissions don’t have to “clunk” to fail - I’ve had a couple just plain surrender with nary a hint of trouble beforehand.


Ma’m, try not to take too much regard in the other replys because you’ll find out I’m right in the long run. It is simply the fluid level in the transmission. But, don’t take the car to a shop you don’t know you can trust unless you put the proper level of oil into the trans. The reason I say this is because at 172,000 miles the trans should absolutley be serviced anyway, but don’t let the shop tell you that you need to add trans fluid. IF, and I repeat, IF the trans was damaged in anyway (Because you have a Ford product),the shop will tell you that there is damage when they service the trans. If you take it to the shop with the fluid level low the shop will definetly tell you that you need a new trans - especially during the summer months. And metal shavings in the trans fluid doesn’t necessarily mean your trans has had it.
Have your Son show you how to add fluid to the trans (Or the local parts store will show you how), and try not to be too hard on your husband for letting the oil get too low. You normally don’t go through as much transmission fluid as you do motor oil and the two kinds of oils have differnt and similar obligations: the trans oil is easy to overlook. You didn’t hear any clunking or any strange noises other then the engine revving up more then usual so I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Just put the proper fluid level in and drive it to make sure everything is OK - and it really should be.


After you have the fluid level and quality checked, have the transmission technician check the line pressure. These transmissions use a quill to drive the oil pump. The quill is rather light and can snap or strip out in the torque converter or pump. If the quill is broken, it might be possible to change it without removing the transmission or doing a major tear down. Getting the broken half out of the turbine shaft drive tube might be difficult.

Anyway, have a tranmission shop have a look at it and have them diagnosis the problem. With the amount of mileage on this transmission installation of a rebuilt unit might be the best way, if removal and/or substantial disassembly is recommended.

Hope that helps. Let us know what is found. I am curious.