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Old 01-22-2017, 10:15 PM   #1
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2002 ZX5 Transmission problems (and brakes)

Hi everyone!

My tenant just bought a 2002 Focus ZX5/Zetec/Auto. It's got about
200,000 miles but is overall in pretty solid shape. Surprisingly, the engine doesn't seem to use much oil, PCV is clean, and it's got 175-185psi compression in all 4 cylinders. There was a hefty valve cover leak where someone apparently used a lot of sealant around the cam humps (looks like they broke the original gasket and were too cheap to buy a new one). I've got a heap of Zetec spares from an engine-swapped '65 Volvo so this engine is sporting new PCV, valve cover gasket, wires, plugs, coil (didn't need, but I like the Ford original coils better than the yellow aftermarket one that was in there, and the wires wire very fat blue silicon insulated jobbies but the actual carbon wire inside was the same size as my Motorcraft set).
The NGK plugs were extremely worn and are now replaced with Bosch double platinums. The engine runs really well now.

It's got some transmission issues and I was hoping to get some suggestions on where to look.

First of all, I don't know that it's the original transmission. Vehicle speed reads off by about 15% with new, properly sized (per owner's manual) tires--when the speedometer reads 80mph, the car is just traveling 70 (per my GPS). The rpms at 80 are just about 4000 on the tach, so my guess is the final drive ratio is different (might this be an SPI transmission?). There are no codes although when I had the console off for cleaning and initial test drive I got a P0705 (range sensor; I might have bumped the shifter; it also hasn't returned).

At 50 on my GPS the car indicated 58mph using the instrument panel diagnostic mode.

The other transmission problem is that on the highway, fluid warm, it will sometimes downshift and just doesn't seem to grab 3rd gear. Driving with the overdrive off helps although with the speed issue above that means very high revs a lot of the time.

If she keeps this transmission, I was going to flush it, drop the pan and look for particles, etc. I could do the shift solenoids at that time if it's likely to fix the shifting; but then what to do about the speed issue? She drives mostly short trips around town, so having the speedometer calibrated (via an ECM tune) would be acceptable, but if this transmission isn't likely to last it might be better to just have her start saving for a transmission with the correct final drive ratio...or is it possible that something else is causing the speed to read high?

We live in Maine, and a car with minimal rust (and this one is in really solid shape!) is worth a transmission...but she's not exactly flush with cash, so I'd prefer to find a cheaper solution (especially because I'll be doing the work, and while I don't mind doing brake work in exchange for pie and cookies, I'm less excited to replace a transmission...on top of probably having to let her slide on the rent because she had to buy the transmission I'm bolting into place...)

Bonus Brake problem:
The front brakes had slotted rotors and were pretty messed up from being badly abused during a swap, and the rears looked like someone tried drilling and slotting the drums or something like that. They also cut the parking brake cables. I threw it all out and replaced everything from the spindles out, keeping only the backing plates in the rear and the calipers in the front (but replaced the caliper sliders because they were "ribbed" and crusty and couldn't even be polished smooth). New rotors, ceramic pads, shoes, hardware, scrubbed and greased the parking brake adjusters, drums, bearings, spindles, cables, hard lines in back, hoses all around.
The brakes are still a bit mushy and even after a couple bleedings they don't seem as firm as they should be. Anything I should look into or are Focus brakes just sort of soft? I'm used to a Mustang with Cobra brakes so I may just be a bit spoiled; it does stop just fine.

Useless additional notes:
The exhaust was replaced with a really, really loud stainless unit that was well made but...well, LOUD. Like, annoy the neighbors loud (and the neighbors aren't NEAR us and own diesel trucks, so when I say LOUD, I mean, LOUD. Did I mention it's a little loud? Can you hear me?). That's gotta go.
The interior had lots of carbon fiber stickers covering the original plastic parts; most had come adrift and blocked off the switches and things they were "modding" so they all got trashed and goo-gone cleaned. I mention these things because I suspect the previous owner drove it a little hard until he hit whatever it was that cracked the grille, bumper cover, radiator (now replaced), headlights, slight bend in the tip of the hood, and so on (but didn't damage the core support or anything past the radiator).


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Old 01-23-2017, 03:52 AM   #2
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Minor update but no fixes.
Since the "OD off" helps, and 80mph (indicated on speedo) is at 4000rpm, I'm thinking maybe the transmission is staying in 3rd when I was thinking it was in 4th.
This would mean the transmission is slipping on the 3-2 shift.
If both 2 and 4 are shot...the drum/band is shot?
I'm still baffled as to why the speedometer is off by 15%. Again, the tires are the manual's recommended size for 14" snows which are 185-70R14 (same outside diameter as the 205-50R16 which came stock on the ZX5...previous owner kept the 16" rims).
In the event of transmission issues, is it possible that the PCM is basing the speedometer display on the engine rpm and transmission gear, and I've got 15% slip? Does it behave that way?
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Old 01-23-2017, 04:20 AM   #3
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sounds like a kiddy special...

either way ford focus's transmissions use solenoids for each gear some of them wear out and get lazy.. ive seen a few swap out lazy ones for higher gear ones instead of paying the $20 or so for a new one.. to gain access to them they are in the pan and are usually color co-ordinated.. these are common break and common wear parts for this car.. the lazy ones you can feel take longer to switch or they have an absolute grab and some that are overly worn are near impossible to get to engage and stay engaged and also have a tendency of causing the gear to slip.. when it slips the engine revs the ECU thinks your downshifting and drops it to a lower gear

my original gold focus which is in car heaven now was notorious for 1-2 and 4-5 going bad... you would accelerate from a light and you can hear the engine rev then suddenly rpms drop as it grabs (2-4 second delay)..

the solenoids are used to direct the ATX hydraulic pressure

the OD just keeps the engine from shifting into 5th and runs the car at a higher rpm between shifts.

oddly enough the focus transmissions i find other then the solenoids are more reliable then the engines themselves even when beat up.
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Old 01-23-2017, 02:19 PM   #4
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Definitely a kiddy car. Now owned by a woman who drives it to work and is mortified by the sound (but at least she's peeled all the stickers off the inside and outside).

I guess I need to pull the pan and see how much junk is in the bottom. A rebuilt valve body with new solenoids is about $150 so I'll probably just pop it in. I've got a pile of Ford Focus tools to go with the Volvo swap, and I didn't sell the 4F27E tools so I think I have the band bolt measuring tool. That means I'll probably just yank the end cover and throw in a band and see if the drum looks chewed up.

If I find metal in the pan, those parts can all go in a junkyard transmission, the more I research the less complex these things look (I've mostly rebuilt RWD manual transmissions).

Still wondering about the funky speedometer reading.

Still curious if there's anything else to try in the brakes; maybe PO got air in the ABS unit? Is that common on these?
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Old 01-23-2017, 02:19 PM   #5
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Double post.

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Old 01-23-2017, 02:25 PM   #6
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the Focus dash is electronic and uses pulses to read the speed.. so it would either be a bad reader sensor.. theres also a possibility of the previous owner pulling the needles of and put in incorrect it doesn't take much either most people install the needles with the engine off and when they pop the needles back on they believe installing it dead on 0 is the correct sadly its not when the car is off the needle actually sinks below 0 even the zetecs..
the zetecs have a stop pin on the cluster but when you pull the needle the actual unit settles lower so when its reinstalled on the pin its actually off x amount which is roughly 10-15 off

to reset the needles pull the speedo needle off start the car and let it run for about 30 seconds to 1 minute for everything to settle then carefully install the needle at dead 0 if its still off then the sender unit is probably screwed the issue with this is its extremely rare for the senders to go bad I personally never have seen or had an issue with the pickups.
in the cluster there is also a diagnostic menu built into the cluster wher eyou can see the RPM reading and speed reading but its ONLY for diagnostic and wont stay in that mode all the time.
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Old 01-23-2017, 02:35 PM   #7
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I used the diagnostic mode (I use it in my Mustang pretty often) and a Scangauge OBD2 reader to compare rpm and speedometer speeds in each gear. The dash readings agree...but my GPS disagrees.
That's what's so bizarre. I'm used to manual transmission dinosaurs with modern engine swaps, not the cars I'm usually robbing for parts. ;) There are so many sensors on wheels and in the auto transmission, something isn't adding up...what am I overlooking?
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Old 01-23-2017, 02:43 PM   #8
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if the readings coincide, then there may be an issue with the pickup which again i have never seen one fail in this manner.. the only thing i can see would cause a constant speed difference would be either oversized or undersized tires.

there is a substantial difference on my speed when i have my winters on aside to my summers i have taller winters purposely so it raises the car up and it cuts into the snow instead of turning the front end into a plow unlike my summers which it turns into plow.
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Old 01-23-2017, 03:01 PM   #9
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It acts like the tires are significantly undersized, but they're 185/70R14 which are almost exactly the same diameter as the stock 205/50R16 tires (PO kept original rims and gave us steelies with almost new snow tires). Owner's manual lists 185/70R14 as a stock size.

The TSS reads off the torque converter; the OSS reads off the output (at the diff? Elsewhere?). I had thought maybe PO had put in a numerically lower ratio diff but none of the sizes I see available are 15% different than the original ratio. Also, from his other handiwork, I'm pretty sure that he wasn't that skilled.

What I'm starting to wonder is if there is a "fail safe" mode in the dash that calculates speed to the dash based on TSS and gear selection? I know the ECM can be programmed to compensate for different final drive ratio, tire size, etc (I change tire size on the Mustang as I swap from summer to winter tires)...but if there is such a condition, why isn't it setting a MIL/CEL code?

There may be ABS codes; the ABS light is burnt out but I had codes for both rear wheel sensors until I replaced the drums with ones that had the tone rings. Does the ABS interact with the speedometer?

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Old 01-28-2017, 12:42 AM   #10
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So...I was thinking the car was in 4th at 4000/80rpm. Actually, it's in 3rd, and the slipping is a shift out of 3rd. Meaning the speedometer is off, but the transmission isn't slipping in weird and inexplicable ways.

I flushed the fluid, didn't see anything too disturbing in the pan, so I put my Band Adjustment measuring bolt in place of the fixed-length band bolt. The bolt is too short. For now, I've adjusted the band with the measuring bolt and she's going to test drive it a few days while I source a replacement bolt (I ordered an adjustable from Oregon Performance Transmission, 4F27E FNR5 Adjustable Band Pin and Nut FN4A-EL FS5A-EL Superior Transmission Parts: Automatic Transmission Rebuild Parts From Oregon Performance 700R4 4L60E E4OD 4R100 4R70W 4R75E and we'll see if it's any good).
So far, no slipping. I've got a band, new solenoids, and new servo piston lined up and I'm watching a drum on eBay just in case.

So, as usual, the sensor is correct and the problem is the person interpreting it. Fix the actual problem and all is clear.

Brakes still feel like a pile of sponges so I'm going to post in the Brakes forum.

Having saved about a grand on the transmission, she's buying a new (stock) exhaust with her next paycheck. I told her to take donations from everyone on our road...
The ebay special coming out (looks like a Magnaflow or a particularly good copy, it's well made...if only it weren't so noisy) will be on Craigslist soon.
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