On my way to work, my 2003 Ford Taurus decided it wasn't going to actually move anymore.

Some Context

It has been having some transmission trouble for a while now, jerking when I first accelerate (but not between 1st and 2nd gear, which is a common problem with the VSS on these cars). I was just beginning to accelerate out of a stop sign when there was a quiet clunk and there was no more power. Luckily I had gained enough speed to safely clear the intersection, but the car has not been able to move under its own power since.

What I do know

  • The car has the 3.0L DOHC engine (with the AX4N transmission), and is sitting at around 130k miles.
  • The transmission fluid is probably OK. It has been changed a little more frequently than recommended.
  • The transmission pump is OK. I've tested the pressure in the transmission and it is within spec (albeit barely) for the vehicle. I think this rules out the very common problem (for this transmission) of the pump shaft splines getting worn out.
  • The shift linkage is OK. When shifting between gears, the transmission pressure changes accordingly, and we can see stuff moving with the shift selector.
  • None of the drivey gears work. That includes reverse, drive, overdrive, and first.
  • Neutral and park do work. I can easily push it in neutral, and definitely cannot in park.
  • It's not worth the cost of a transmission rebuild. It has loads of rust, the tires and rims are worn out, it has some cosmetic damage, and I suspect other parts of the vehicle will be failing soon. If repairs come out to more than $700 or so, I will be in the market for a new car.
  • The check engine light is not on when the vehicle is running. There are no codes readable by my OBD-II reader.

What I Don't Know

  • What is wrong with my car?
  • Failing a definitive cause, are there any more diagnostics I can do personally to narrow it down?

2 Answers 2


There's definitely SOMETHING wrong that will require you to pull the transmission. I would assume getting pressure readings would mean the torque converter is working. How loud was the pop? The gears inside are not all on the same shaft. The park/neutral are on one by themselves. There are a few things internally that could go wrong. I'm going to suggest the chain broke. This transmission connects the input shaft to the gears with a chain.


Do you have any lights on the dash? (Like an engine light) Have you tried pulling any codes? It might throw a couple codes that'll help diagnose.

  • This isn't an answer, it should be a comment to the main post @Henry.
    – GdD
    Jul 10, 2018 at 9:31
  • @Henry sort of. The Check Engine light has been on for years now for the O2 sensor, so nothing out of the ordinary. When I was trying to diagnose it, I disconnected the battery for a bit. It didn't help, but it did clear the codes. Editing main post to add this information.
    – snsiox
    Jul 10, 2018 at 10:57
  • @GdD I know, but up until yesterday, I actually didn't have enough reputation to comment. Will be sure to comment when appropriate going forward. Thanks
    – Henry
    Jul 11, 2018 at 18:08

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