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So I was driving my 2008 Ford Escape 3.0 litre (185,000 km) on the highway and all of a sudden the wrench light comes on. So I pulled over and reset the need oil change message and turned the vehicle off for 10-15 seconds then turned it on again, thinking it was for the oil change needed message. The wrench symbol was gone so I went to pull back onto the highway and then when was accelerating, at around 35-45 km/hr, it took way longer for it to shift into the next gear. Then after about 10 seconds it's finally does. Then it was fine when I accelerated to the speed limit 100-110 km/hr, but the rpms are higher than usual. Usually it sits around 2000-2200 rpm at 100km/hr but now it sits at 3000 rpm at that speed, along with the wrench symbol coming on again.

I took it to a couple dealerships and they can't find any code that is setting off the wrench symbol. They said it may be maintenance issues so I replaced the spark plugs and cleaned the mass air flow sensor and throttle body valve. All did nothing.

My father in law (ex Ford mechanic) says it's probably the exhaust manifolds (each one has a small catalytic converter attached) getting plugged up and needs to be replaced. So I got a mechanic buddy to replace them. And it still has the same issue. I'm out of suggestions or ideas. Can anyone help me out or send me in the right direction?

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    This sounds like a transmission issue since the gears are not changing at the right time. Why all the work on the engine? Am I missing something? – JPhi1618 Nov 14 '17 at 19:03
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    Did you check your transmission fluid level? – tlhIngan Nov 14 '17 at 19:59
  • Auto transmission may use a vacuum hose from the engine to aide with the timing of the gear change...So Engine performance can be a little bit relevant, but I agree to check the transmission oil first – Grantly Nov 14 '17 at 20:01
  • @JPhi1618 I was told it could be mainte ance issues cause of the wrench by a guy who put his code reader on it such as cleaning things and changing spark plugs ( they were oroginal) so I did that all myself. – Jay6man9 Nov 14 '17 at 20:13
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    @Grantly okay thanks. I'll have to wait till I grab it from my buddies house. Or might get him to check it for me. I'm sure it's good though because when I checked it the motor was at operating temp from driving the highway then I got to a town near by where I would be stopping and going. Then I checked the tranny fluid properly and it was good. But doesn't hurt to try again – Jay6man9 Nov 14 '17 at 20:51
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I agree with those in comments on the maintenance points. However, have you checked that you haven't accidentally engaged/disengaged overdrive? Toggling overdrive will change how the transmission acts at the upper RPM ranges. It may seem like a dumb question, but I can't tell you how often I've found tiny oversights to be the cause.

That said, per the Ford website that little wrench symbol does

Illuminates when a powertrain or AWD fault has been detected. Contact your authorized dealer as soon as possible.

I can't imagine that it isn't kicking a code somewhere... but it may also need a more specialized code scanner than those used.

Personally, other than just checking the fluid levels, I'd just follow what Ford recommends and take it to a Ford authorized dealer.

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