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Old 01-17-2016, 07:26 PM   #1
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Transmission Death

Hello all, I drive a 2001 Focus with a 2.0 SPI motor. I got the transmission serviced one month ago (it hadn't been serviced in 6 years) and the mechanic notified me that it was starting to fail internally but it should be good for "another few years".

Three days ago, I was driving home and I felt a very hard jolt/shift. The speedometer dial started going haywire. It began losing power. Once I got it to the shoulder, it would begin to roll backwards regardless of which gear it was in. It only stopped rolling once I turned the car off, put it in park and then lifted the E-brake. When I put the car in park, and turned off the ignition, I heard a clanging and/or grinding noise (this was on side of freeway so it was harder than normal to hear).

My hunch is that the recent transmission service is the catalyst for this. Aside from being dead, what else does this sound like to you? Attached is the invoice for the recent service, dated Dec. 18, 2015

Thank you in advance


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Old 01-17-2016, 07:37 PM   #2
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Changing fluid doesn't cause them to break.

Time, Miles & Wear along with how often it was serviced on time (30k changes) are more of the answer, besides the luck of the draw.

Always some metallic in the pan, that's why a magnet is used to corral it until fluid id changed. How much determines if it's a concern or not (if LOTS the trans is about to die right then).
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Old 01-17-2016, 09:59 PM   #3
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Shop mentioning the metal in pan sounds like more than normal, they are covering their butt on the work. If the oil level is correct and not too high then the work had nothing to do with it.

And driver not servicing for 6 years to then suddenly do it out of the blue sounds suspiciously like he may have had an idea something was going wrong there, very common to do that way too late and exactly in that fashion. The 'hunch' only seems to verify that. Looking for blame after never getting trans serviced..................MANY ATX fail shortly after service that was way too late and lacking.

Sudden classic massive fail after wearing out for a while, no way can anybody predict how long that can go before the shutdown. Earlier service could have possibly done something about that......................

Sorry but it is what it is....................no insult intended at all.
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Old 01-18-2016, 06:51 PM   #4
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^ actually, when I was trying to find a place that'll conduct a transmission service, Firestone told me that they don't perform that service on older vehicles with lots of miles because, in their experience, once they after servicing older transmissions is when they've seen major problems start so that is where my hunch came from. I didn't tell them anything about it not being serviced in 6 years.

I had a rebuilt motor put in October and had intentions to take better care of this car since it was given a new "life", which is why I decided to get the service done (there were no other known problems with the car post-rebuilt motor, I was performing preventative maintenance). Maybe the transmission would have died regardless, maybe not. Sounds like a mix of neglect on my part, shit luck and the recent service.
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Old 01-18-2016, 07:16 PM   #5
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Again, that's really because few take it in for that service unless it isn't working quite right - in the hope that the maint. will fix the problems.

Got the same thing in service when I worked in Cycle shops, to the point where we had a sign posted in one "A tune up isn't a cure all, TELL us if something is wrong so we can fix it".

Had too many come in asking for a tune-up, figuring that would fix their problems. Even in the 80's & 90's, a "tune up" was only maint. and seldom fixed any real issues. Only minor drivability that new plugs and carb sync. could cure was actually improved.
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Old 01-18-2016, 08:33 PM   #6
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^ interesting. so should I go by the principle "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" when it comes to certain major maintenance? and here I thought I was being an attentive owner, lol.

good thing is that the guy who did my service told me he would credit the recent service towards a rebuild in case I decide to go to him to get it fixed.
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Old 01-18-2016, 09:02 PM   #7
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No, you're getting the opposite from what I mentioned.

The point is that most wait until it's broken, then figure maint. will fix it. The shop you mentioned doesn't want to be blamed for it leaving broken or breaking soon afterwards when the maint. had nothing to do with that.

If they took it to a trans. shop & said it isn't shifting like it used to (honest about the symptoms), the shop wouldn't recommend a fluid change as a repair. Taking it to a service center for a fluid change (maint.) and expecting it to work better as a result doesn't add up, and it won't last any longer as a result if it was ready to go anyways.

Maint. only helps with longevity if it's done regularly. Can't "catch up" on it when damage is already done.


Those tune-ups I mentioned (and we DIDN'T call them tune-ups, that was the customer's term) didn't fix anything, that's the point. Scheduled maint. isn't a repair. Get the dang thing in and do the maint. only to find it has a problem that wasn't mentioned is a PITA. Sometimes not obvious until most of the way through the work, as on the cycles the oil/filter changes & valve adjustment is done first before firing it up for carb sync. & idle speed adjust. THAT'S when you find out it won't even run right due to other issues.
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Old 01-19-2016, 01:41 AM   #8
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'...should I go by the principle "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" when it comes to certain major maintenance?'

Seems that has already been done, OP fits the classic owner position, take it in way too late and nothing to be done there. We see it here onsite all day long.

The recent service was an effect not a cause. The damage was already done and playing out. Nobody touches ATX maintenance until generally too late. The OEM has helped that along for years with no mention of changing fluid at all and the lemmings go for that all day long. Now they may mention it but you gotta look for it, most don't.

Firestone showing some good business sense there, probably tired of all the car owners trying to sue them for trans damage when it was already done. They ALWAYS credit the service to a rebuild price, boy will they get you back on that one. They rebuild very little and charge you way too much for what they do.

There literally has been no 'service' for many years, all they can do now is change fluid or flush (worse). No bands or anything else to have to adjust like oldschool stuff any more. The trans wears until the band adjustment is needed then it fails because you can't do one. They usually don't tell owner they could change this or that specialty bolt to readjust the band to last years more, no, they want that total rebuild price.

I've had 3 different cars that 'needed new trans' according to the shops, I run the car by them just for a little joke to myself. All three were fixed to run many years longer each with under $20 in parts and knowing just where to use them. One I used a thirty cent washer on and the last I saw of it ten years later the trans was still working fine. It had begun to slip badly in 1 and 2. You can't do things like that though if the basic trans is junk because the fluid never got changed. I change mine right on time, in fact even if the manufacturer doesn't say to, screw him, it's MY car.
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Old 01-19-2016, 11:36 PM   #9
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From that receipt, I think your mileage was 144,000 miles
How do you know that the next day, if the transmission was still good that a valve seat wouldn't drop and possibly wreck the engine?
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Old 01-20-2016, 11:24 AM   #10
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^ because that already happened in October. Highly unlikely since I've had another engine installed since then.

And who knows when that'll happen anyway? When it happened to me, it was completely out of blue and based on the several accounts of other 2.0L SP owners with dropped valve seats, same thing, especially in the 140K mile range.

my trans gave me no signs that it was about to fail. wasn't slipping, shifting roughly, no fluid leakage, no check engine light....none of that.

This is not a case of, "oh I think a routine check up will fix my terminal transmission illness." No, it was working fine until 6 days ago when it clonked out on the freeway. Even the trans specialist who warned me of the internal failure said it should last for another 2-3 years.
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