1978 Mercury Grand Marquis Restoration Journal

Updated 5/26/07

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Nov. 2004: The Grand Marquis is currently being restored. When I first got it, it was very hard to start. I replaced the spark plugs and one plug wire, and corrected a loose vacuum line to the PCV valve. The oil and filter was changed, and I installed new transmission oil cooler hoses. (It has an aftermarket transmission cooler).The oil pressure also appears to be low after it heats up...unfortunately this car only has a "Check Engine" light which lights up either for low oil pressure or high temperature! There are no gauges or seperate warning lights.

The vinyl top was totally cracked and disintegrated from the strong West Texas heat and sun. I was able to scrape off the vinyl and re-paint the top in a similar color.

Dec. 2004: The old tires were really worn out...so, I supported the car up on jackstands and removed all 4 wheels, took the wheels in my other Grand Marquis to Discount Tire and had 4 new tires mounted. I did not want to risk a blowout driving again on the old tires.

On Jan. 11 2005 I drove it to Midland, about 25 miles away, to get its state inspection and a brake and alignment check at Midland Frame and Wheel. It made the trip O.K., but the Engine light would slightly flicker when I would stop at lights after I got into town. When I got to the shop, I had trouble getting it re-started.

Jan.12, 2005: the shop called and said the Marquis had a large water leak...the heat of the trip may have caused it. (This was only its second fairly long trip since I got it...the first was when I drove it home. Its last registration was for 1999 before I bought it, so it really had not been driven much in the past 5 years). Hopefully it is just in a hose. I did check the antifreeze before leaving for Midland and the level was O.K.

Jan. 13, 2005: Midland Frame and Wheel finished the work on the Marquis. Front end was aligned, all wheel bearings replaced, rear brake pads replaced, drums turned, wheel cylinders repaired, new air intake hose added to air cleaner. It started up fine so I topped off the antifreeze and drove it down the street to Wall St. Automotive to have them check the other problems including the coolant leak, low oil pressure, hard starting, and check the air conditioning (compressor runs and pipes leading from compressor get cold but there is no cooling in the car.)

Jan. 14, 2005: Wall Street Automotive did a cooling system pressure test and found that the problem was just a bad heater hose. I intend to replace all the rest of the hoses as they look pretty old. I wanted to make sure the problem was not serious, such as a cracked intake manifold or head. Oil pressure was found to be 10 psi hot, 65 psi cold. It appears to be getting higher when hot as the light does not come on as often at idle. More sludge may be getting cleaned from the system.

The car still needed its inspection renewed...the only item left to be repaired to bring it up to code was the left rear taillight which was broken when it was at the car lot. I had attached a taillight lens salvaged from a Ford pickup but that was not up to standards...so, I bought a truck/trailer taillight/turn signal lamp. OEM taillight lenses for this car appear to be nearly impossible to find. I cut masonite to cover the broken taillight and painted the masonite gold to match the car. Then I attached the new lamp unit to the masonite and connected the wires. The modification passed the inspection. It's always so satisfying to get that inspection sticker on vehicles that had been unused for years or were headed for the junkyard...it means they are on the road again.

Jan. 24, 2005: I replaced all of the radiator and heater hoses on the car. This was not too difficult compared to the 80's and 90's Grand Marquis as the 70's models have a lot of space in the engine compartment and a minimum of obstructing engine accesories (such as the upper intake manifold on the late 80's fuel injected 302 engines). Also, I replaced the rubber fuel lines to the carb and fuel pump. The PCV valve was replaced and I found the PCV hose had been connected to a plugged port on the old valve, disabling the PCV system. It is important that the PCV system be functional, because if it is not, crankcase pressure will build up due to blow-by and cause oil to leak out of engine seals. There is a good strong vacuum at the new valve.

I drove the car to the grocery store and the engine performed great...good power, no indication of low oil pressure, no antifreeze leakage. Only problem was that the dashboard lights went out on the way home! I had to click on the interior lights to check the speedometer. The radio and air conditioning control lights worked, though. Will need to open up the dashboard to check those lamps...pretty much every time I have to drive somewhere, night driving is involved, so these lamps are important.

Jan. 26, 2005: I worked on the dashboard lamps today...I removed the dashboard trim piece, it was not too difficult, and removed the screws holding in the instrument cluster. However, the instrument cluster would not pull out. The plastic on the mounting bracket was very brittle. I then removed the trim piece under the steering wheel, and found that the dashboard lamps are actually accessed from behind, and removing the instrument cluster is not necessary. I replaced the instrument cluster screws and trim piece, and checked the dashboard bulbs: bulbs were good. Later, when dark, I checked the cable plugging into the dashboard circuit board...no change in lamps. However slightly moving the bulb sockets themselves (there are two) resulted in success! There was just a poor connection from the lamp sockets to the flexible circuit board.

When starting the Marquis from a cold start today, I got no action. However, pouring a little gas or starter fluid spray in the carb resulted in it starting right up. I decided to check the accelerator pump (which sprays extra gas in the carb throat to keep the air-fuel mixture from leaning out too much when the throttle is opened quickly, and helps prime the engine with fuel for starting) and found that although it worked when its own activating lever was pushed, it was not responding when the throttle lever was pushed forward. This accelerator pump operates differently from the Holley carbs I am used to: on this Motorcraft carb, when the throttle is opened up, spring tension is released on the accelerator pump actuator arm, causing the pump piston to push in. The spring mechanism was gummed up, resulting in no accelerator pump operation when the accelerator pedal was pushed. Will use some penetrating oil on this mechanism to help free it up. Also saw that the kickdown lever was disconnected from the transmission to the carb...the car seems to drive normally, so I may take this to a transmission expert to see if there was a reason why the kickdown lever was diconnected.

Jan. 27, 2005: I sprayed the carburetor accelerator pump linkage and spring with Gumout to help free them up, and saw that the kick-down lever was only disconnected at the transmission end. I reconnected it and it seemed to work properly....pressing the accelerator all the way made the car shift to a lower gear. It appears that there is an E-clip or some such device that had just come off to secure the kick-down linkage to the transmission.

Jan. 28, 2005: I felt that the car was now ready for the real test...starting up in the cold wet fog at 5:30 AM to go to work at the radio station. After a few cranks and pumping the accelerator pedal, it started up and idled smoothly. Acceleration was good through the trip, no indication of low oil pressure when stopping at a light. The dashboard lights worked...however one of them was flickering. Will try some Deoxit DN5 on the bulb socket and circuit board to help clean off any oxidation. The heater performance was excellent, much better and stronger than my '90 Marquis. Windshield wipers worked good, too. After driving the '78, my '90 Marquis feels somewhat like an economy car! The 400 engine seems to have a lot more power than the 302, and the ride on the '78 is much smoother. The '90 and '78 share some features including a similar dashboard style and an illuminated entry system where you can pull up on the door handle and have the interior lights come on for a short time so you can see in the car when getting in in the dark. The '78 does not have the Autolamp or Twilight Sentinel feature that the '90 does.

Feb. 3, 2005: I found some E-clips at ACE hardware and attached the E-clip to the kick-down linkage...operation appears to be good. I had to support the car on jack stands and get under it to attatch the E-clip.Have driven the car to the Retro Lab several times and lubricated the accelerator pump linkage with LPS-2 penetrating oil and this has improved the operation. The oil pressure light has not come on at all so there is more sludge being cleaned from the engine. I do not recommend using any cleaning agent in the oil as this can break the sludge loose too quickly and cause more problems. Just changing the oil frequently when the vehicle is first restored to service has cured the problem in vehicles I own which had low oil pressure.There is a problem with the starter being difficult to operate if you try to start the car when the engine is still hot...a new starter is in order for the near future.

Feb. 15, 2005: Last Monday I changed the oil in the Grand Marquis and used a store brand motor oil...used this same brand in the Dodge van. The oil pressure lights were coming on in both vehicles at hot idle with this new oil, and in the Dodge, which has an oil pressure gauge, the cold pressure was lower too. Today I changed the oil and filters in both vehicles and used Castrol 20w-50 oil to refill...the cold pressure in the Dodge is back up to its usual level and the oil light is not coming on in the Grand Marquis now...will need to do a more extensive test but it seems like the Castrol has made an improvement. I recommend you always use the best quality oil in old vehicles like this that have lower oil pressure...cheap oil has more of a tendency to thin out when the engine gets hot, and there is not the reserve of extra oil pressure at idle that a lower mileage engine would have to compensate for cheap oil viscosity breakdown.

Feb. 21, 2005. We have figured out that the Grand Marquis probably has about 241,000 miles on it! The Castrol 20w-50 is working GREAT in the Marquis and the Dodge Van: oil pressure is better at start-up and when cold and still holds up when the engines get hot. Have noticed a gasoline-like odor when starting up the vehicle but cannot see any really obvious leaks. Before I drive the Marquis again I am going to go ahead and install a new rebuilt carburetor, fuel pump, and starter. Have been having trouble getting it started and stalled out at a stop sign when the engine is cold...performance good when engine is warm, though. Calculated miles per gallon at 13 for mostly highway driving...not bad for the 400 engine (the Dodge 360 in the van gets about 10 MPG)...with a new carb, mileage should be even better.

Mar. 24, 2005: I installed a new fuel pump yesterday on the Marquis. I discovered that the gasoline odor was caused by gasoline leaking out the top of the fuel pump, and had not driven the car till I fixed the problem yesterday. The new pump led to much better engine performance.

Mar. 25, 2005: This morning when I drove the Marquis to work, the ALTernator warning light stayed on when I shut off the key. I pulled the negative battery lead off the battery to keep the battery from discharging while I was on the air. When I reconnected the battery, I heard the voltage regulator click, leading me to believe the points inside were stuck. Drove directly to Autozone and picked up a solid state replacement regulator for 9.99. This solved the problem. Also picked up a new starter to help solve the problem of the starter drive sometimes not engaging. Oil pressure continues to be good even after driving for a long period.

June 8, 2005: Have been having mostly trouble-free operation of the Marquis...noticed a few troubles ocurring this week though. This weekend I turned on the air conditioner and let it run for a while to see if by luck it might just start working...however I noticed a burning smell like burning rubber so I shut it off. When I got home I found the magnetic clutch was smoking when engaged and there were ball bearings rolling around loose. Not sure if the trouble is just in the clutch or if the compressor seized up...I disconnected the belt from the compressor and the power to the clutch to prevent trouble (the belt for the air conditioner compressor luckily does not power anything else).

Then, I noticed noise while turning the steering wheel...opened the hood and heard a whining sound that got worse as the steering wheel was turned...looks like a new power steering pump will be needed. The car will be out of commission till I can replace it.

I saw a 1976 Marquis that appeared to have last been driven in 1985 at a garage sale...they wanted $400 for it. I will likely pass on it as someone threw a rock through the windshield and totally shattered it, there is leaves, dirt and tree branches blown inside through the non-existent windshield. The hood was also messed up and I couldn't get it open. It's a shame to see it vandalized like that as the body is in good shape.

July 26, 2005: I checked out the power steering system and found that the power steering reservoir was low...filled it up and good performance was restored. It appeared though that fluid was slowly leaking from the steering shaft on the gearbox...I will try some power steering stop leak but if that doesn't do it, a new steering gearbox may be needed.

August 15, 2005: I added Prestone power steering stop leak and this has improved the steering fluid leakage but not eliminated it, so I'm planning on installing a new gearbox. Had a breakdown of the Marquis at the local grocery store...the only time it has ever left me stranded. Battery had died and couldn't get it re-started. Gregory's car was in the shop and none of the keys to the other vehicles were at home, so he could not come and get me, so I had to walk about a mile home and get the battery off the tractor to get the Marquis re-started. We drove it out to the Marquis in the Dodge van and I was now able to get it to crank but it wouldn't fire. Finally after holding in the gas pedal all the way I was able to cure the flooding and it started but now I was getting tappet noise! What a string of bad luck.

Drove it home and took off the valve cover where the noise was coming from (driver's side). I tied the spark plug wires out of the way and started it up with the valve cover off, and sprayed PB blaster penetrating oil into the valve train components. This quieted down the noise, so it appears something in the rocker arms or pushrods had been starved for oil or was stuck, though there appeared to be a good flow of oil onto the rocker arms. I cleaned off the valve cover and will re-install with new gasket.

I measured the battery voltage on the good battery while the engine was running and it was 12.8...appeared the alternator was not working. I took it off and took it to Autozone where they confirmed it was bad. Will install new alternator and belt.

August 19, 2005: I installed the new alternator. Voltage at idle is ablout 13.7 volts so it appears to be working O.K. I got a neoprene Fel-Pro valve cover gasket set and replaced the driver's side valve cover gasket. Drove the car to work and it is running very well...the tappet noise appears to have gone away. 

September 28, 2005: The Marquis has been giving great service over the last month...it has been driven 400-600 miles a week with no trouble. I added some more STP power steering stop-leak to the power steering system and it appears to have stopped the leak. Sometimes the starter drive will not engage the flywheel so several attempts are needed to start the engine, also sometimes when hot, the starter has difficulty turning on the first crank. I will have Mid-Tex Battery and Electric go over the starter as it looks somewhat difficult to remove myself.
I changed the oil last week. It really seems to enjoy being driven...the more I drive it, the better and smoother it seems to run.
Yesterday in Midland I saw another Grand Marquis parked on the street that looked exactly like mine. I know I saw one for sale on Ebay in Odessa recently so maybe that's the one.

October 15, 2005: Last week a cold front blew in resulting in temperatures in the 40's last Thursday. The Marquis was very slow to crank over in the morning but I got it started and drove to the radio station (Where I don't work any more...have a new job now in the petroleum industry). I was ready to leave on that nasty rainy cold day and it cranked over even slower than in the morning but did start. Well, I got to the edge of the parking lot and the engine quit and would not re-start, just a clicking sound was heard when the key was turned. I recognized this as the signs of a dead battery and walked to Autozone in the 45-degree rain which was about 1/2 mile away. Carried the new battery back, installed it and was off to the races again. It seems to be working very well now, always starting up, brighter headlights too. The lesson I learned from this is not to trust batteries in old cars even if they look fairly new...a  brand new battery is cheap insurance against getting stranded somewhere. I think I would recommend that if you buy any  Ford (Lincoln, Mercury) older than the 90's that you just replace the alternator, voltage regulator, and battery even if they seem O.K, unless you know they have been replaced recently. The factory charging system in the Grand Marquis seems to be its weak point as far as what causes the most trouble. Also the ALT warning light often will not tell you there is trouble.

Also I highly recommend the Neoprene FEL-PRO valve cover gaskets. The gasket I installed on the drivers side has completely stopped valve cover oil leakage that was occuring before. I still need to install the passenger's side gasket as the old one is leaking slightly. No sealant is needed on these gaskets and they are easy to install.

December 24, 2005: Well, I haven't updated the Grand Marquis diary in a while! The Grand Marquis has been out of commision for the last month due to brake problems. One day I was driving home from work and noticed I had to pump the brake pedal to get good brake action. When I stopped at the mailbox at home the BRAKE warning light came on. I filled up the reservoir with some more brake fluid as it looked a little low but I have not driven it on the roads since. I will take it to Midland Frame and Wheel for some brake service after the Christmas weekend is over. I have been starting it up and driving it in the driveway; engine is still running great. The 1990 Marquis has been laid up for a while too due to running over some glass and getting a flat tire. I started it up and it runs well too, just need to change that tire. I will probably try and do that too during this next week of vacation.

February 6, 2006. We took the 1978 Grand Marquis to Midland Frame and Wheel for brake repair. They found that the master cylinder needed to be replaced and were able to do it the next day. The brakes now work like they ought to. I changed the oil a couple of weeks ago. It had been about 2500 miles since the last change and the oil filter was very heavy when removed...It had trapped a lot of sludge. I refilled with Castrol "High Mileage" 20w50 oil and have had very good oil pressure.
The Grand Marquis has done full time driving duty since late December (50 miles a day, 7 days a week).
I had a problem last week with the automatic transmission oil cooler. I noticed the radiator was stained with oil and discovered a leak at one of the hoses going to the aftermarket transmission cooler. The leak seemed to come suddenly as every thing appeared O.K. when I checked the oil the week before. I was able to fix the problem by tightening up the hose clamps on the oil cooler. I added about a pint and a half of Type F transmission fluid to get the fluid level back where it should be.
I replaced the spark plug wires yesterday...some of the old factory wires pulled off of the connector at the boot when I removed them plus there were some odd wires from other vehicles on there so I finally got all new wires on.
Cold starting is very good....it starts right up in 30 degree weather. It could use better choke performance, as the choke seems to open too early, resulting in a too lean mixture once you try to get on the road and poor acceleration till it warms up, then acceleration is very good. One of the next items on the replacement schedule is a new carburetor.

Also I got the 1990 Mercury going again. It had had a flat tire for a long time and I finally got it changed and running again. It will need some work on the headlights before it is road-ready though.

3/2/06: I just returned from a trip to Denton, TX. in the Grand Marquis. Performance was pretty good overall, had hardly any trouble. I was in Denton for 5 days and it got pretty cold (25-30 degrees).

When I went to leave, I had trouble with the automatic transmission not wanting to shift out of first gear. I pulled into the Kroger parking lot and checked the fluid...fluid level was fine. When I went to go back on the road, the transmission worked fine. Usually the car gets driven 7 days a week, but I was on vacation and we went places in Gregory's car so the Grand Marquis sat for 5 days...this combined with the cold may have caused something to stick in the transmission? Have not had any trouble with it again though.

I got about 16 M.P.G. during the trip.

One thing I have noticed back at home is that the oil pressure light will sometimes flicker after coming to a stop getting off the freeway. After driving slower on city streets and coming to a stop again, though, there is no indication from the light. The weird thing is that I drove for hours on end on my trip, more constant time than I have ever driven the car, and never once did the oil light flicker at a stop.
I'm thinking that perhaps the oil filter may be filled with a large amount of sludge again causing slightly lower than normal oil pressure. The last oil filter I used was a Motorcraft, this one on it now is a Fram...I'll see what an oil change and new Motorcraft oil filter do. I may try also installing a temperature gauge to determine if the engine is overheating after high-speed driving (for some silly reason, this car does not have one)

5/6/06: I noticed a few weeks ago that the Mercury diary somehow was missing part of its text...don't know how that happened but I restored it from a backup file.
I changed the oil and filter about a month ago and used a Motorcraft filter and Castrol 20W50 "High Mileage" oil and have had not had the oil pressure light come on, even after 30 min. of 70 mph driving in 99 degree weather. Something about the Fram filter seemed to cause lower oil pressure...am not sure if it was that the filter trapped more sludge and was getting clogged or there was some incompatibility...I think I will stick with the Motorcraft. The Marquis has been running fine...have noticed a small oil leak from the passenger's side valve cover gasket so I think I will go ahead and replace it. I did the driver's side gasket a while back but since I was in a pinch for time and the passenger's side one looked OK then, I left it alone.

8/26/06: I noticed smoke coming from the passenger's side exhaust manifold and saw that the valve cover appeared to be leaking some more oil so it was time to change the gasket! I had the other Fel-Pro neoprene gasket in the trunk so I changed it. First thing I noticed is that all of the valve cover bolts were loose when I took it off...also some of them were missing! I had never removed this cover before so shame on whoever worked on this before for losing the bolts.
I scraped off the old gasket material from the valve cover and cleaned it as best I could. Wiped off the cylinder head mounting surface with some Gumout, luckily none of the old gasket was stuck to the head.
It seems to be working leak-free now but I would like to replace the two missing bolts with some new ones.
Photos of the valve cover gasket replacement are on the photo page.

Also noticed that one of the spark plugs had worked loose somehow on that cylinder bank so I tightened it. The Marquis had been having kind of a rough idle recently and I discovered several vacuum leaks...one in the hose to the PCV valve and one at a hose that connects to the base of the carb. I was hearing the telltale hissing noise of vacuum leaks so I repaired the problems and the idle is much better.

Have ordered a new replacement carburetor from Advance Auto Parts so will be installing that soon: hope to help the starting performance and fuel effeciency.

10/3/06: I installed the new carburetor on the Mercury in early September. It was fairly easy, just had to disconnect the fuel line, vacuum lines, throttle and transmission kickdown linkages, and remove the four mounting bolts. The throttle cable fastens to the carburetor with a ball-and-socket arrangement and a clip for extra security.
I was having a bit of trouble with a rough idle when I first tested the new carb. I found that vacuum port at the bottom left of the carb (not used on this car) was leaking through the factory-provided cap. I fixed that with a vacuum hose attached to the port with the end of the hose plugged.

The fuel filter screws into the float bowl of the carb and was replaced with a new one.

Starting performance is much better...it usually starts with the first turn of the key. No more flooding and stalling problems for the most part...occasionally it takes a longer period of cranking to start first thing in the morning but is still a lot better than the old carb.

Went on a trip to Denton recently...no trouble at all with the car in about a 750 mile round trip. Gas mileage was still about 16 MPG.

Was noticing some more shifting difficulties on the car: sometimes it would not shift out of 1st gear and sometimes it acted like the transmission was slipping. I took it to a transmission shop and they said it was starting out in 2nd gear and that was accounting for the power loss from a stop. The shop found that the car used an FMX transmission rather than the more common C-6. Since the FMX is hard to find replacement parts for, the shop quoted me $900 for a retrofit of a C-6 into it plus a new driveshaft and shift linkage.
This sounds like a good idea to me to get a more widely used transmission installed...I plan to go ahead with the repair next month.

Feb. 9, 2007
I drove the Grand Marquis into town this week and the transmission functioned fine so I don't think an entire transmission replacement was needed. I may try removing the transmission pan, replacing the fluid and making my own check for foreign material.
I did have an overheating problem though! When I got to Midland the temperature warning light came on, so we took the car to Carillo's automotive shop. They determined that the radiator was totally plugged so they will be ordering a new one along with replacing the thermostat. While the car is in the shop I may have them install a new water pump too and perhaps get a temperature gauge installed.

I have no earthly idea why Ford chose to install no gauges in this car...you cannot tell you have an overheating problem till you have no cooling system function at all. The next old car I get I think I will do a total preventive restoration job such as a new radiator before these parts fail! I don't think the car suffered too much as the warning light was only on less than 5 minutes total.

Here is what I would just replace out of hand on the next old car restoration (most of which I had to replace as it failed on the Marquis):
Alternator, voltage regulator, battery, tires, thermostat, radiator, hoses, belts, fuel pump, carburetor, PCV valve, valve cover gaskets. and have the master cylinder and brake pads replaced.
Just about every accessory device on this car has worn out!
These old cars will not stand up to hard service with old accessory components even if the engine appears to run well when first tested.

May 26,2007
I have installed the new gauges in the car...got a triple gauge set from Autozone with temperature, voltage, and oil pressure, and mounted it where the ashtray was. I was able to find a fitting near the water outlet on the engine where I could install the temperature probe, and the voltmeter was hooked up to a circuit that had power when the key was turned on. I hooked up the gauge lighting circuit to the cigarette lighter lamp.

I didn't hook up the oil gauge as the oil warning light system is working properly and I didn't want a plastic tube with pressurized oil hooked up which might leak. Sometime I may hook the oil pressure gauge up with copper tubing. When Carrillo's shop tested the oil pressure they found it was in the 50 PSI range hot, so I do have a knowledge of what the pressure is actually doing.

About a month ago one of the rear tires went flat so I decided to replace both the rear tires as they looked worn, and get some new chrome wheels at Discount Tire because the hubcaps will not easily stay on the stock wheels. I have just done the rear and will soon put new wheels and tires on the front.

Took the Marquis to Midland Frame and Wheel last week and had all the brake parts checked and got the front rubber brake lines replaced as they were getting brittle.

Last weekend I tried to start the car and the starter relay only clicked. Looked at the battery cables and they looked somewhat corroded...got new battery cables and starter relay and installed them and this solved the problem.

January 12, 2008
Since the last update the car has been mostly doing well....I have made several trips to the Dallas area and Abilene just fine.
I now have all new chrome wheels on all wheels. The new tires which fit these wheels for some reason are a little wider than the stock ones so I had to remove the fender skirts from the rear wheels so they wouldn't rub up against the tires...I stored them in the trunk.

In Sept. I re-painted the top of the car in a forest green color. When I first got the car it had a completely disintegrated vinyl top which I removed then and painted it with a beige paint. That paint job was kind of a quick job and I wanted a better looking result...I sanded off as much of the old junk as I could and gave it two coats of oil-based Rustoleum forest green enamel. It looks great from any normal distance but of course couldn't compete at a car show, etc. like a real automotive paint job. To me it looks a lot like a Mallard duck with a beige body and green head.

Had to take the car twice to Midland Frame & Wheel for wheel and brake problems. The first time, the wheel bearings on one of the front wheels disintegrated and the wheel began turning eccentrically. Then in Dec. 2007, the brake action was getting pretty poor and it needed the front brake pads replaced.

Was having a transmission shift problem in Dec. 2007. The transmission would not shift out of 1st gear automatically. I would have to manually shift the lever from "D" to "2" and then back to "D" to make it shift. Then, in Drive, it would only shift to 3rd gear if you accelerated to around 60 MPH.
It turns out the problem was that the rubber vacuum line from the vacuum manifold had come disconnected from the vacuum modulator line. This was also causing really bad idle and stalling when cold. Re-connecting the line got the transmission shifting perfectly again, thank goodness!

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