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1996 Thunderbird, 175000 miles

I recently picked up this TBird, which replaces my old 1994 Cougar 3.8.
On that Cougar, I updated the Fluid to Mercon V (and changed the 1-2 accumulator piston) to counter a shudder that showed up. It worked and the shudder went away.

So now I have this TBird, which has quite a few more miles on it. The previous owner had it serviced about 30,000 miles ago. At that time the filter was changed, the fluid changed to Mercon V, the 1-2 accumulator piston updated, and a B&M shift kit was installed (per setting "1").

I have not noticed any transmission issues with this TBird, so I am doing my best to maintain it. The time came to change the fluid and filter, and I wanted to replace the other (2-3?) accumulator piston while I was under there. I read up on the procedure, which involves removing the valve body, then went at it. Now it's got fresh fluid, fresh filter, new piston, and a drain plug.

Now, when I removed the valve body, I was expecting a gasket on top of it per a video I watched. But nothing was there, and I put it back together the way I found it. Is this a problem?
 

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1996 Thunderbird, 175000 miles

I recently picked up this TBird, which replaces my old 1994 Cougar 3.8.
On that Cougar, I updated the Fluid to Mercon V (and changed the 1-2 accumulator piston) to counter a shudder that showed up. It worked and the shudder went away.

So now I have this TBird, which has quite a few more miles on it. The previous owner had it serviced about 30,000 miles ago. At that time the filter was changed, the fluid changed to Mercon V, the 1-2 accumulator piston updated, and a B&M shift kit was installed (per setting "1").

I have not noticed any transmission issues with this TBird, so I am doing my best to maintain it. The time came to change the fluid and filter, and I wanted to replace the other (2-3?) accumulator piston while I was under there. I read up on the procedure, which involves removing the valve body, then went at it. Now it's got fresh fluid, fresh filter, new piston, and a drain plug.

Now, when I removed the valve body, I was expecting a gasket on top of it per a video I watched. But nothing was there, and I put it back together the way I found it. Is this a problem?
There should have been a metal plate between the valve body and the tranny case. On both sides of that metal plate, there should be paper gaskets.

 

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Someone left the gasket off, I worked with a guy who was too stupid to id gaskets and put transmissions together that way. They all came back, but some of them did work halfway decent. I don't sugest it at all but it may or may not work.
Alan
 

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Someone left the gasket off, I worked with a guy who was too stupid to id gaskets and put transmissions together that way. They all came back, but some of them did work halfway decent. I don't sugest it at all but it may or may not work.
Alan
Alan, would make sense to me that you HAVE to be loosing pressure in there somewhere! It HAS to leak between those plates, wouldn't you think?
 

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Unless everything is 100% perfect it has to be leaking. Now if the plate were made of soft material such as copper or brass it might work, but it would only be able to be used once and somethign would have to be done to give the check balls an area to seat.
Alan
 

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Someone left the gasket off, I worked with a guy who was too stupid to id gaskets and put transmissions together that way. They all came back, but some of them did work halfway decent. I don't sugest it at all but it may or may not work.
Alan
That's insane I can't believe someone would do that. They would just intentionally leave it off? And it actually half/donkey worked?
 

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Yeah, I have only seen one person do it. He was the high volume builder the shop I used to work for hired to replace 3 employees. He could put a transmission together really fast. I used to stay in the evening and R&R transmissions for cash. After doing a 4r55e he built 9 times they decided they couldn't afford to pay me to do it anymore. Everytime it had no reverse and I found the problem for him. he mix matched the center support. I tried to show him what was wrong but he yelled at me and told me I didn't know what I was talking about. I read it from a TSB in the manual in front of him. He went ahead and put the transmission back together his way. When he left for the day the owner and I fixed it. Interesting story this guy was. He made 3 times what anyone else in the shop made but quit because he wanted a raise after only 3 months. They also paid to move him here from Florida. He got better pay from Aamco then overdosed on cocaine about 2 weeks after getting the new job....
I don't suggest doing anything he did.
Alan
 

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1996 Thunderbird, 175000 miles - Now, when I removed the valve body, I was expecting a gasket on top of it per a video I watched. But nothing was there, and I put it back together the way I found it. Is this a problem?
Problem here is IF your goal was truly to achieve "doing my best to maintain" the Tranny you'd have replaced all the ridiculously INexpensive Gaskets that were disturbed~! - I predict a quick, total & costly Tranny & TC failure.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At the risk of sounding defensive, I really must admit that "my" best does not equal "the" best. That's exactly why I posted this thread, so that "my best" can get better.

Thanks everybody for all the replies. It is clear that the gasket is indeed necessary, not something that should be left out for a specific reason or benefit (like accumulator piston springs). I'm planning to remedy this. Now my next step is to find out just how crucial this is. Do I need to stop driving it ASAP and get this thing right? Can it wait until my next scheduled fluid change? What kind of damage would I be risking by putting it off and how likely is that damage to occur? I have been driving the car as is for about 1000 miles without any noticeable problems.
 

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1995 Thunderbird LX 4.6 red
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I understand trying to get better. Crap happens. Go get a gasket and install it. It's the smart thing to do.
 

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At the risk of sounding defensive, I really must admit that "my" best does not equal "the" best. That's exactly why I posted this thread, so that "my best" can get better..
& IMO it's not one bit OFFENSIVE to note that Mechanic 101 dictates you replace an IN-expensive disturbed Gasket.
 

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At the risk of sounding defensive, I really must admit that "my" best does not equal "the" best. That's exactly why I posted this thread, so that "my best" can get better.

Thanks everybody for all the replies. It is clear that the gasket is indeed necessary, not something that should be left out for a specific reason or benefit (like accumulator piston springs). I'm planning to remedy this. Now my next step is to find out just how crucial this is. Do I need to stop driving it ASAP and get this thing right? Can it wait until my next scheduled fluid change? What kind of damage would I be risking by putting it off and how likely is that damage to occur? I have been driving the car as is for about 1000 miles without any noticeable problems.
Dude, it's not gonna blow up. If the pressure gets too low, it will just "slip". If it hasn't done anything like that, you'll be fine. I would recommend you put the gaskets in ASAP (they are pretty cheap at any Ford stealership); yes, you can wait until you do a filter/fluid change. Unless your tranny is noticeably slipping (which means it feels like you put it in Neutral for a second or two or longer when you step on the gas in Drive), you aren't gonna hurt it.
 

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Dude, it's not gonna blow up. If the pressure gets too low, it will just "slip".
I say BS - It will slip & blow up all to Hell.
 

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I say BS - It will slip & blow up all to Hell.
Yeh, I guess I wasn't very clear because at the beginning I said slipping is OK, then at the end I said slipping isn't ok.

Let me see if I can clear that up.

If it DOES NOT SLIP, you aren't gonna hurt it.

I have a Caravan that I have put over 100,000 miles on that has a leak. I have cleaned the transaxle, replaced gaskets and seals, but it looks like it leaks around some "test ports" that are built into the front. When the fluid gets low enough, it will slip. I simply add fluid and keep going; it's been doing this since I've owned it which is over two years.

I also know someone who has a Malibu that has an INTERNAL leak like we are talking here. Let me tell you what happens to his car. It will NOT take off from a stop unless you put the car in 1st gear manually (as opposed to leaving it in Drive). He couldn't fix it and I diagnosed and didn't exactly fix it, but made it driveable without having to go down to 1st every time you stop. On this particular car it still has a vacuum modulator which doesn't control shifting (computer does that), but does control the pressure in the tranny. How it works it less vacuum (as in pushing harder on accelerator), the higher the pressure. So just disconnect the vacuum line and run it like that. The tranny will run at full pressure (which isn't a big deal in this case since it's leaking internally anyways). He's been driving it over a year like that. Yes, he should tear the tranny apart and fix it right, but it's an old car and he really doesn't want to.

Point being - if his tranny isn't slipping, he isn't gonna "blow it up all to hell".
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Nothing's slipping right now, but I'm going to get this done on the "soon" side of eventually. I put in a drain plug, so I really don't have much of an excuse to put it off. I'll save the fluid in clean jugs to put back in once I'm done. Thanks again!
 

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No hurry... the POS Roller Clutch in your POS 96 Tranny will die any day now so just have $1k - $2K handy.
 

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No hurry... the POS Roller Clutch in your POS 96 Tranny will die any day now so just have $1k - $2K handy.
Dang Buck, you're just a hodgepodge of great news, aren't you? Happy New Year to you, too and lay off the spiked Egg Nog, will ya? :D

Talking about roller clutch, I have a weird issue that shows itself once or twice a month. Sometimes when I'm "gettin' on it" with the TBird, when it shifts from 1st to 2nd, it like "Neutrals out" and revs up with funny rattling sounds out of the tranny like shaking ball bearings in a can. I instinctively let up on the throttle and it will eventually catch 2nd.

When I posted that weird issue here on TCCoA, a few responded with roller clutch going bad. It's actually the girlfriend's car, so she never has a problem (she doesn't drive it hard). If a young male owned our Thunderbird, the tranny would probably be blown up by now, we just don't abuse it much (well, one of us doesn't - lol)! It does seem to go through rear tires A LOT quicker than front ones :zdunno:
 

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Dang Buck, you're just a hodgepodge of great news, aren't you? Happy New Year to you, too and lay off the spiked Egg Nog, will ya? :D

Talking about roller clutch, I have a weird issue that shows itself once or twice a month. Sometimes when I'm "gettin' on it" with the TBird, when it shifts from 1st to 2nd, it like "Neutrals out" and revs up with funny rattling sounds out of the tranny like shaking ball bearings in a can. I instinctively let up on the throttle and it will eventually catch 2nd.

When I posted that weird issue here on TCCoA, a few responded with roller clutch going bad. It's actually the girlfriend's car, so she never has a problem (she doesn't drive it hard). If a young male owned our Thunderbird, the tranny would probably be blown up by now, we just don't abuse it much (well, one of us doesn't - lol)!
The Intermediate clutch applies in 2nd gear which is what locks the roller clutch and the Reverse drum to the transmission case .. so slipping during the 1-2 shift could certainly end with a big bang.

Could be a hydraulic pressure loss during the 1-2 shift .. bad or mis-aligned MLPS. I have swapped in 8 tooth output shaft transmissions and with the "correct" speedo gear, it would not shift into 2nd before the engine's rev limiter hit on a WOT run, but when I J-modded the valve body and opened up the 1-2 shift a little more it was good to go. If you dont have enough fluid pressure you will slip and I have heard this many times on a 1-2 WOT where they let up on the gas before the shift ..

And I agree it's just bad to go around telling everybody their transmission is a POS and it will die any day now, blah blah blah .. cmon Buck, my father died at 43 years old, youre well past his age .. please tell me youre not living on borrowed time, but rather you took care of yourself instead of saving up the $$ to upgrade the internals ... ;)
 

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The Intermediate clutch applies in 2nd gear which is what locks the roller clutch and the Reverse drum to the transmission case .. so slipping during the 1-2 shift could certainly end with a big bang.

Could be a hydraulic pressure loss during the 1-2 shift .. bad or mis-aligned MLPS. I have swapped in 8 tooth output shaft transmissions and with the "correct" speedo gear, it would not shift into 2nd before the engine's rev limiter hit on a WOT run, but when I J-modded the valve body and opened up the 1-2 shift a little more it was good to go. If you dont have enough fluid pressure you will slip and I have heard this many times on a 1-2 WOT where they let up on the gas before the shift ..
That's EXACTLY how it's acting! If I hold it WOT, that doesn't happen, it only seems to happen if I let up on the throttle a little.
 
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