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1996 Ford Thunderbird LX (219k)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 1996 Thunderbird with a v8. Between 2-3 and 3-4 when i ease off the throttle during a shift the whole car shutters for a second, as if its going over a sudden bumpy road. Yet at the same time it never shifts hard or slips, not even at higher rpm. My mileage is 217k but the car runs like a top elsewhere.
 

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I mentioned it because my '95 shuddered at low speeds after going into OD when I bought it in 2009, had 51,xxx miles. I drove it to supper that night, bought a case of Mercon V and a filter at the near by auto parts store, changed the lube and filter the next day, never felt another shudder. I have changed it again since then, likely will here soon again. I either drained the TC too, or pumped the old fluid out in 2009, I forget but I added a extra cooler too. A few years later I did a mild J-mod at about 76,xxx.

At 217,xxx, I'd do a complete change, plan on 12 quarts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I mentioned it because my '95 shuddered at low speeds after going into OD when I bought it in 2009, had 51,xxx miles. I drove it to supper that night, bought a case of Mercon V and a filter at the near by auto parts store, changed the lube and filter the next day, never felt another shudder. I have changed it again since then, likely will here soon again. I either drained the TC too, or pumped the old fluid out in 2009, I forget but I added a extra cooler too. A few years later I did a mild J-mod at about 76,xxx.

At 217,xxx, I'd do a complete change, plan on 12 quarts.
Arent you not supposed to replace all of your trans fluid? I heard that you only replace 1/4th at a time.
 

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I've heard simular but I never put much stock in it, never been an issue, I'm 67 wrenching my stuff since 1969. If a transmission fails after a good proper fluid change, it likely was on it's way out anyway I think.

Having said that, usually I just change what drains with a pan drop and filter swap ... but that first time I was concerned with the TC shudder at only 51,xxx miles and as I recall the original fill was just Mercon in 1995. Mercon V has a different friction package aimed to cure that very issue. It did too.

At 217,xxx your's likely has been changed at least a time or two, so just a filter change and replacement there is in order ... but you don't know that? When I did my J-mod on the T-bird, I had just recently done a filter change and refreshed the Mercon V as I think back on it. That night, I just did the mod and strained that still young few quarts of fluid that I drained into a clean pan through a paint strainer and reused it ... but I considered it carefully knowing how fresh it was.
 

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I've emptied a bunch of transmissions; as long as you put it back before driving it'll be fine, but better. :)
Drain the TC too.
If you're doing the jmod, dropping the VBwill make it take 12 Qts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've heard simular but I never put much stock in it, never been an issue, I'm 67 wrenching my stuff since 1969. If a transmission fails after a good proper fluid change, it likely was on it's way out anyway I think.

Having said that, usually I just change what drains with a pan drop and filter swap ... but that first time I was concerned with the TC shudder at only 51,xxx miles and as I recall the original fill was just Mercon in 1995. Mercon V has a different friction package aimed to cure that very issue. It did too.

At 217,xxx your's likely has been changed at least a time or two, so just a filter change and replacement there is in order ... but you don't know that? When I did my J-mod on the T-bird, I had just recently done a filter change and refreshed the Mercon V as I think back on it. That night, I just did the mod and strained that still young few quarts of fluid that I drained into a clean pan through a paint strainer and reused it ... but I considered it carefully knowing how fresh it was.
Okay thank you. Im a little tight on money so i cant really risk my whole transmission failing. But it sounds like it wont be an issue anyways with the fluid change. I am new, what is a tc?
 

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There is truth to that old adage; but, looking at the fluid should tell you.
If it's full of stuff from the plates, that's all that makes it shift. :(
 

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TC shudder is "torque converter shudder", it has a clutch to lock and unlock it from fluid drive, it's a friction thing, old or wore out or wrong fluid can cause "shudder". With manual transmissions it was called "clutch chatter", with drum brakes it was "brake grab".

The clutch only applies in 3rd or OD positions, in 1st and 2nd it is not locked. Shudder is felt initially in OD but then in time will start being felt when going from 2nd to 3rd or when one is just very lightly stepping back into the throttle in 3rd or OD. It's the friction additives breaking down causing a not so smooth grip action. A fluid cooler can help by keeping the fluid cooler in operation thus preserving it. Excessive heat leads to lower fluid life.
 

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You can also get shudder from the direct clutch; but that will go away in a couple of days. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
TC shudder is "torque converter shudder", it has a clutch to lock and unlock it from fluid drive, it's a friction thing, old or wore out or wrong fluid can cause "shudder". With manual transmissions it was called "clutch chatter", with drum brakes it was "brake grab".

The clutch only applies in 3rd or OD positions, in 1st and 2nd it is not locked. Shudder is felt initially in OD but then in time will start being felt when going from 2nd to 3rd or when one is just very lightly stepping back into the throttle in 3rd or OD. It's the friction additives breaking down causing a not so smooth grip action. A fluid cooler can help by keeping the fluid cooler in operation thus preserving it. Excessive heat leads to lower fluid life.
I checked the fluid this morning cold then after driving it hot. Both times it was right at the top and the fluid was clean and smelled correct. I think my fluid is just fine. Also i have a clearer Explaination of whats happening, between 1500 and 2200 rpm in 3rd and 4th gear the car will shutter if i barely am pressing the throttle. Its rough and makes the whole car shake. If i add throttle it goes away, if i let off it goes away. But adding enough to maintain the speed causes it. On top of that the tc gets weird and keeps going up and down in the revs when i let off and get back on throttle, although that could be normal.
 

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Burnt trans fluid smells almost as bad as diff oil.
Almost!

That sounds more like the teflon seals to me, but I'm wrong a lot, lol.
 

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No, deeeefinitely not normal, lol.

It's easy to use the wrong fluid in these cars. Just because the fluid looks correct doesn't mean it is. Unless you have documentation to show what fluid was used and when it was last changed, I would change it anyway. The 96 trans is leaps and bounds better than the older ones, but it's still not bulletproof. And, any piece of mechanical hardware will fail prematurely if it's not maintained properly.

"While you're in there".... you should check to be sure the accumulators have been updated to the new design, and you may as well drill the valve body separator plate. Look up the "J-mod". :)
 

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Burnt trans fluid smells almost as bad as diff oil.
Almost!

That sounds more like the teflon seals to me, but I'm wrong a lot, lol.
I know the smell, but just not sure if it's the carrier base or friction smoothing part of the mix I am smelling when I smell it. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
No, deeeefinitely not normal, lol.

It's easy to use the wrong fluid in these cars. Just because the fluid looks correct doesn't mean it is. Unless you have documentation to show what fluid was used and when it was last changed, I would change it anyway. The 96 trans is leaps and bounds better than the older ones, but it's still not bulletproof. And, any piece of mechanical hardware will fail prematurely if it's not maintained properly.

"While you're in there".... you should check to be sure the accumulators have been updated to the new design, and you may as well drill the valve body separator plate. Look up the "J-mod". :)
Okay. I am currently diagnosing a po402 code but when i get around to replacing my rotors i might as well do the fluid change too. Anything to make sure it doesnt just fail on me.
 

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A full fluid and filter change should eliminate the shudder, it always has for me. This is not just dropping the pan, which only gets a few qts.

Run the cooler return line into a bucket and run the car until it starts to sputter. Then drain the converter and drop the pan (which will be almost empty) to change the filter. That should be 11 or so qts. Always use a Ford gasket, which is re-usable, but I like to start with a new one.

Al
 
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