The fine automobile pictured above appears benign enough. It’s my beloved family heirloom, my first old car, one that I’ve been driving for 22 years. It hates me.
Hate is a strong word, but I think I’m right in this instance. Over the last four years, this has been a most unreliable machine, and it came home on the end of a tow strap again today. To save time, I’ll only discuss the latest incident. Last month, I treated the Mustang to a new aluminum radiator, but noticed that no transmission fluid was flowing to the cooler. This transmission was rebuilt in 2012 by a man who has since retired and unplugged his phone. The fluid was smelling burned, so I pulled the transmission and, not having much automatic transmission experience, took it to a local builder suggested by my machine shop.
I got it back a week and a half later, reinstalled it, only to discover that no fluid was flowing to the cooler. A quick conversation suggested that the cooling circuit of a Ford C4 was, to the transmission builder, perhaps akin to reading Newton’s Principia, and that he might think I’m delusional. I get that a lot. “It has to be pumping fluid.” Uh-huh.
It turns out that there’s a little passage with a check ball that gets clogged up in the transmission’s stator support, which is a part of the front pump, a part that feeds the transmission cooler. This picture is the stator support from my transmission. It was filled with junk and muck, the check ball was jammed to the fluid port, and the spring was broken in three places. Yes, I decided to tear that part out myself, because I’m the kind of stupid guy who’ll do that to a transmission under warranty.
I removed the factory plug and cleaned out and replugged that passage, leaving out the faulty parts after much internet research revealed that as a common solution. Afterwards, I put it back together, put it back in the car for the third time in two weeks, and took it for a drive. It worked fine, until it impersonated a crimson tinged Niagara Falls on my mom and dad’s driveway, leading to another trip home on the business end of a tow strap.
I’m pretty certain that my repair is not the cause of the leak, because it was leaking the first time I started it; however, I just assumed it was venting a little fluid as a result of my adding too much before starting the engine or something. Of course, my warranty is likely voided since I decided to take matters into my own hands, like an idiot. The plug I installed to reseal the cooler passage is a dead giveaway.
Not naming names, but someone on this board is probably going to be learning how to rebuild an automatic transmission on his own dime, and said someone is pretty demoralized right now. Therefore, I’ll leave you with this greatest hits photo from 2013, and look to my Curbside friends for a little moral support, because misery loves company. Do you or have you ever owned a car that hated you?
***UPDATE, 8/7/16: Yesterday, I pulled the cover off the low-reverse servo, and the “professional” used a bunch of RTV rather than the correct square cut o-ring. I cleaned all that junk out and installed a proper o-ring, after which I ran the car on the stands for 5-10 minutes. It’s leak free as of right now.
Now I just have to drive it around locally to see if any other catastrophes present themselves, and move on to the next headache.***