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2003 standard transmission issues


Old 01-16-2018, 10:19 AM
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Ben Samways
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2003 standard transmission issues

2003 Escape 2WD 2.0 4-cyl with 5-speed manual. About 96,000 on the odometer.

Last Wednesday, I was waiting at lights for a train to pass, so was in neutral. When the barrier lifted, I tried to get into first, and nothing. Pumped the clutch multiple times and still couldn't get into gear. I tried all five forward gears and reverse, no luck.

Got a tow from AAA to our mechanic who looked into it over the next couple of days - no leaks from clutch master or slave cylinder. Took a lot of pumps of the clutch pedal to enable them to get it into first to drive it into the bay. They checked it over and found that the transmission was "a quart low" so they filled it up and took it for a test drive and all was working fine.

I picked it up that night and couldn't get it into gear again. Eventually did get it into gear, after lots of clutch pumping, but the easiest way to get it in was to turn off the engine, then it would go into gear and the engine could be restarted.

Drove to work this morning and for probably 60% of the gear changes, it was smooth as silk. Then some changes into first and second were notchy and tough to get into gear, with one occasion where I had to turn off the engine to get it into first again.

Primary problem is first and second - three-five and reverse seem generally OK.

This leads me to think that it isn't a clutch problem as surely that would affect all gears? The horrible thought at the back of my mind is shifter forks inside the transmission - there's no grinding going into gear or anything like that. One thing I've maybe noticed (my brain is being hyper-critical about it right now, as you can imagine..) is that when I put it into first, there's a change and maybe a movement in the car/engine note that I didn't notice before.

Any ideas?

With NADA giving trade in value of around $1200, it's not really worth getting the transmission rebuilt if it is that, I don't think..
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Old 01-16-2018, 01:19 PM
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Sounds like a clutch issue.

Sit the car, park brake on in neutral. start the engine. Listen to the trans. Depress the clutch - you should hear the trans spin down. Release the clutch, you should hear the idle gears spin up again. If you can't hear this then repeat with a long metal bar resting on the trans with the hood up and listen to the other end of the bar (using it as a stethoscope), while someone operates the clutch.

If you don't hear the gears spinning down and back up then the clutch isn't releasing properly and you need that investigated, could be in the hydraulics or the clutch itself.

Easy to say if its not hydraulics then investigation will consist of replacing the clutch, no point removing the gearbox and leaving the old clutch in there.

I'm not sure if there is any adjustment on the clutch hydraulics, I'll be able to check later tonight.
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