Transmission Problems BIG TIME! Shifts then won't shift! HELP PLEASE!

Asked by Feb 23, 2008 at 10:51 AM about the 1993 Mercury Tracer Wagon FWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1993 Mercury Tracer wagon, 4 cylinder (smallest one) and I have an unusual problem. When I put it in drive and take off, it won't shift to 2nd gear, it just stays in 1st. Then I have to put it in neutral then back to drive (the drive in the circle, overdrive I guess it is), and then it shifts to the next gear. BUT: after about 3 to 4 seconds it goes out of gear completely. I have to do this sometimes only once, sometimes up to 7 or 8 times until eventually it straightens out and shifts shifts normally. It shifts nomally until I have to stop and put in park. Then when I drive it again, it starts all over again. There is no slipping of the gears, the bands are tight, everything seems normal other than the shifting issue. I was told to flush the transmission (transaxle) and that would probably cure my problem. I had a friend who is a mechanic change the transmission fluid and replace the filter but to no avail. Is changing the transmission like flushing it or is there more to it than that? I've also had someone tell me the transmission is computer controlled and someone else said it's a linkage issue. At the advice of another friend, I even tried a container of something called TransX but that didn't work either. I'm totally confused now. Can anyone tell me what I REALLY need do to fix the transmission? This is a transmission from a junk car. I had to replace the original one because it was completely worn out. I'm at wits end! Please, can someone out there instruct me on what I need to have done to fix it?

Thank you

9 Answers


If you like the car and dont mind spending some bucks on it, I would recommend that you take it to a tranny shop and have them test drive it with you, YOU drive to show the mechanic what you have to do to get it moving, He might want to hook up to the OBD port with his diganostic computer, this will give the read out of the sensors and all data input. The problem could be any of the things that you were told/mentioned in your question. The quickest and cheapest way is to get the mechanic to go on a drive with you as I mentioned above. If you just start replacing a bunch of parts all you will be doing is wasting time and money and you will just end up frustrated. Take it in, go for the test drive, and then you will have a better understanding of what needs to be done. You also mentioned that this is a replacement tranny from a junk car, well this trannt might of fit but it might not be combatable, meaning the computer for your car might not be the right one for this "junk" tranny. So you might be looking at som big costs to keep this car. Best of luck.

2 people found this helpful.

i have the exact same problem. to expand though i have a 94 with a 1.9 and auto. when i first start the car i can shift the car in to any gear and it engages firmly. no mater what i do though i have to rev the engine up to about 5000 rpms to go in to second, but it has to be under a load, if you slowly inch your way up to 5000 or so rpms it will just keep going. it never slips at all in any other gear and shifts at the right rpm in every gear after that. also it does the same thing where if i pump it from nuetral to drive it will engage 2nd breifly then go back to first. it also has no engine breaking in firt during this period. i think though you may just try reving it out under full throttle to shift. but that is still a problem. now for the tricky part it shifts fine all day long no matter what after the initial shift in to 2nd gear, if i were to shut the car down it does it all over again. i thought at first it might be something like a selinoid sticking or something but it seems like it would probably only do that when cold and after you warm it and work it lose it wouldnt do it any more. it is always on the first shift after a start and never any time else. even if you are driving down the road for an hour and everything is working, if you were to put it in nuetral and turn it off then turn it right back on while cruising down the road it would go right back in to 1st gear at any speed. you would have to slow back down to a few mph so you can hammer the gas and put a load on the trans at high rpms then it will shift to 2nd and then shift normal. also this is a used trans i got to put in it after the first one was ruined from the seal breaking and the fluid comming out on the road and ruining the clutches. with the old trans the cruise control worked now with the new one with the first gear problem the cruise doesnt work. i have this sneaking suspision that there is some wire not hooked up right or at the very least electrical problem which causes both these things. i think this because after it gets in to 2nd its fine and that something electrical (cruise control) now doesnt work and that it is like an electrical reset when power is turned off. i am stumped as well as i have taken this to several different shops and they just want to change the trans for about 1800 dollars. i am perfectly capable of changing it my self i just need a diagnosis. it doesnt sound internal because it functions fine after that one shift. i wont fix the 1500 dollar car for more than its worth but will fix it if its something not as invovled

1 people found this helpful.

fluid color? was the trans from the same car as yours? either its toast,the wrong trans, the car needs to be reprogramed, not put in right,or something is stuck like a spring,check ball, or shaft. if you flush it then you might as well rebuild it. the trans is an unnown to your car. its like hit or miss.


had similar issues and cruise control and speed cables near brake pedal that have foam on them were the trouble. wiggled them and pushed them in and resolved issue. One repair place had told me $1200 rebuild. Been driving it fine 3 years since then. worth checking. good luck

2 people found this helpful.

I have the same problem do anybody know the solution to this problem before i continue expending more money and get cracy or burn the car thank you for the help


Transmission speed sensor will help..... Like $60 at Autozone lifetime warranty! Had the same problem.... It wouldn't shift out of 1st unless floored.... Then sometimes it would just rev?! Only thing is they get corroded in the transmission.... So the plastic will break off.... Then you have to tap threaded rod into it and rig a dent puller or a sort of slide hammer to "pull" it.... Hope this helps;-)..

2 people found this helpful.

1994 cougar xr-7...there is some kind of accumulator on the transmission...has springs in it...matched springs... one or more can brake or go bad...can cause all kinds of shifting problems...very easy and very small cost to fix when changing trans. oil...have oil change at reliable transmission shop and ask to check the springs in accumulator...some scam shops rework the transmission for this problem...two years ago I paid $125 for oil change and springs fix....

1 people found this helpful.

i have a 95 mercury tracer. it recently just hit 125K miles. began shifting hard and loses power climbing hills. good work car, but i keep putting money into it and constantly thinking it's going to break down and leave me on the side of the road every time I drive it.

1 people found this helpful.

Speed sensor

2 people found this helpful.

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