Whole tranny or just a switch?

ford
focus
transmissions

#1

2002 Ford Focus sedan, 88K miles - I’ve been told the transmission is shot because the overdrive has developed severe skipping. It has a button on the shift handle to turn it on and off, and when it’s in the off position the problem stops. It seems like this is an electronic problem and not a transmission problem…is there a switch somewhere, maybe in the tranny itself, that needs to be replaced, like a receiving switch or something, instead of the whole $2000 transmission??


#2

All that switch does is lock out the overdrive. It completes an electrical connection, it has nothing to do with the slipping in the overdrive. If the overdrive is indeed slipping then overhaul is needed. You can drive the vehicle with the overdrive locked out but its going to kill your gas mileage.

transman


#3

Wow, thanks for the fast response!

I’ve been going back and forth between just suffering through the slipages (which happen far less frequently if I accelerate quickly) and turning off the overdrive with the button.

I’ve actually had no gas mileage drop at all - I’m still getting between 24-30 mpg (depending on distance). Knowing that my mpg hasn’t been affected, does that change anything?

Obviously I’m no mechanic, so I apologize if I seem stubborn. Does the overdrive work in a different part of the tranny, that “bypassing” it by turning it off the tranny works fine? My cousin is a good general mechanic but not familar with transmissions, and he was confused by how the overdrive button was affecting the other gears as well as the overdrive, if what we were told about needing the whole thing overhauled…


#4

Z - I don’t know where your OD swtich is located, on the column or floor, but we had a Windstar that did the same thing, and it was just an almost broken wire going to the switch, on the shift handle. I repaired the wire and fixed the problem. Simply an electrical issue. I don’t have any idea if your’s is similar, but I thought I’d throw that out.


#5

No, the overdrive button does not have any effect on any other gear. All it does is either allow overdrive to engage or not allow the overdrive to engage and it does this electronically. Slipping is a hydraulic issue not an electronic issue.

transman


#6

Ok, thanks for the information. My cousin did some research and says it should be fairly easy to switch it out from an automatic to a manual shift. We can get a manual tranny a lot cheaper at the boneyard, and install it ourselves.

Thanks to all for your input; I’ve been struggling with this decision for weeks…now I just have to get the money together somehow to pay for it all.

Anybody got a few extra hundred dollars I could have? lol


#7

I think it might help if you described the problem better. You called it “skipping” which might be different from “slipping.”

Describe the symptom as best you can - what does if feel like, under what conditions does it occur (eg speed, accel, decel). If it is just kicking on/off on/off there is some possibility that the issue is only electrical. There is the wiring for the switch. There is also a solenoid inside the transmission that is likely accessible via the pan without pulling the tranny.

Who diagnosed it as “shot” and how? Were codes read from the computer? If so, what were they?


#8

You are going to be openning a real can of worms if you go from an automatic to a manual transmission. You will have to obtain and install a clutch pedal, clutch master cylinder, hydraulic lines and hoses that is assuming the slave cylinder comes with the transmission. Also you will have to obtain and install the gear shift, linkage, and center console which will probably be different. Then the mounts for the transmission end of the power assembly will probably be different.

I am not sure but you might have to change the Power Control Module as the present one is receiving input from and handling commands to the automatic transmission. Also you may need to get different half shafts because the shafts for the automatic may not be the same as the ones for the manual – check with your parts store. The wiring harness may have to be modified as the neutral safety switch and the reverse light switch are in different places. You may have to wire in a clutch depressed start safety switch to work with the manual starting electrical system.

Then there is the cost of labor unless you are going to be doing this yourself. Usually, it is better to trade the automatic car in and buy a replacement manual transmission car.


#9

I promise you that it would be cheaper for you to sell your defective automatic car and buy a used manual transmission car that came that way from the factory.


#10

It is a little odd that overdrive is bad while all the other gears are fine. Maybe the torque converter clutch is slipping. That part cycles the most as it unlocks, in most cars, as soon as the throttle is released. With overdrive off, the torque converter stays unlocked.


#11

"With overdrive off, the torque converter stays unlocked."
Torque converter lockup is not tied in any way to overdrive on many Fords. Are you sure about this one? (Usually they lock by second or third gear, but may unlock if the brakes are applied or other conditions. However overdrive lockout is not mentioned as one of the things that turn off the TC lockup.)


#12

I still think that the OP really just needs to clarify if s/he ever returns. The term “overdrive” is frequently not used the right way, even by mechanics. I’ve had mechanics refer to my TCC as “overdrive.” Overdrive is often just 4th gear - yes? (and almost certainly is on this car). But I would not be surprised if “the overdrive has developed severe skipping” actually refers to TCC chatter.


#13

My apologies for the vague explanation…and thank you for helping me, all of you!

I’m not a car-guy at all (my wife even laughs at just the words) but I’ll try to explain it better. Oh, and to answer a previous question, the O/D switch in the Focus is on the gear shift on the floor. It’s a thumb-button just under the left side of the handle. My local garage is where it was diagnosed and the codes pulled for the check-engine light. I can’t remember exactly what the sheet said (and of course I can’t find it now) but I think it was something like “improper shifting” and “interior” of the tranny.

With the O/D on and starting from a dead stop, it seems fine in 1st gear. When it gets up to time to shift into 2nd, depending on my accelaration rate, sometimes it shifts fine and sometimes it kind of jerks into it. Once in 2nd, that can be when the problem starts. Shifting into 3rd, it will shift into what I call “limbo”…it doesn’t shift into 3rd but it doesn’t go into neutral, either. It revs up like the gear is not engaged at all but it doesn’t decelerate, either. I can feel that the gear is grabbing just a little, enough even that I may gain a notch or two on the speedometer if I’m on a flat area of road. At that point, if I just wait and keep the pedal where it is (resulting in the engine revving a bit) it will jerk into gear eventually (5-10 seconds) and I can accelerate again normally until the next shift.

When I accelerate quickly, it seems to fall into gear easier and with none of what I’m calling “slippage”. I can still feel it shift, though, and it has a little ‘clunk’ as it shifts, usually with a squeak from somewhere as well. That shifting squeak has been in the car from day-one, though, I believe.

I don’t know if I mentioned - I’m calling it the “Overdrive” because that’s the idiot-light on the dash that comes on when I press the button under the shifting handle. The light shows “O/D OFF” when lit.

I hope that helps clarify, and thanks again!


#14

Ok - that sounds like a transmission that is slipping - in which case I’d say that transman’s original reply stands. The only thing that is still eluding me is the relation to OD. You description has the slipping going on when it goes to 3rd gear, and overdrive is probably 4th. Are you sure it is 3rd gear? I’m guessing you need a full overhaul, but it would be good to know what the actual code was.

You might want to get a second opinion - like from a local, independent shop that specializes exclusively in transmissions.


#15

The slipping actually happens in all the gears, but mostly around 30-35 mph which is when it seems to be going into 3rd. It never actually gets to go into what I think of as 4th gear, which now I’m thinking of as the true overdrive gear. When I get to that speed, above 40 mph, the slipping stops entirely but the RPM’s are higher than normal because it won’t move into that last gear for cruising speed.

UPDATE - I found the paper from the garage. “Upon testing, found a code due to an improper shifting in the valve body of the transmission. Will need to have the transmission replaced to correct the problem.”