I have a `98 Mustang GT 4.6L and the other day I went to leave the grocery and had no forward gears only reverse. I was told to drain the fluid from the pan and check the magnet to see how much metal is on it. Can you tell me the easiest way to do this? I would appreciate any and all suggestions.
Check your fluid level first. If it isn't full, top it off. Also try locking out O/D or putting it low gear to see if it moves. Transmission model would help too. Most likely looking at a rebuild or replacing the unit.
You didn't' mention if it was auto or manual. The Manual on the 98 GT should be the T45. I don't know much about those. If it's a auto, then its going to be a 4R70W. These have the misfortune that the spot weld on the Sun gear sometimes breaks and you lose first. Also if the fluid is burnt you may have smoked the forward clutch pads. If it's the sun gear and you could get the car moving more than 20 mph forward (coasting down a hill?) the transmission may start pulling. Also possible ( but not likely) that you have a AODE transmission. These simply don't pull forward if they are more than two quarts low.
If this is anything like the 01 Mustang I had, you won't have a drain plug on your transmission pan. Easiest way to do this and be able to reuse the fluid is to thoroughly clean the transmission pan, especially arounds the bolts.
Get a catch pan, preferably one that drains into a reservoir through a small round hole on top like in the picture. You can cover the hole with a few layers of cheesecloth and tape it down so it filters through it too. You then will need to back off the transmission pan bolts starting on one corner and working your way around slowly. Do not take the bolts out yet. You want the first corner to be looser than the rest. If the pan doesn't separate by its own weight, slightly tug on the looser corner. Preferably the car is on ramps so its all on one side of the pan and you can kinda control where the fluid is coming out. once it stops draining out noticeably, push the pan up firmly with one hand and finish removing the bolts with the other. Place your other hand on the pan and slowly lower it while keeping it level since there is still fluid in it most likely. Pour the rest of the fluid, if any, into the catch pan. In the bottom of the catch pan is the magnet or magnets if you have more than one. Normal vehicle wear will leave a soft grey like paste on the magnet. Most catastrophic will leave larger peices of metal on it.
If your fluid smells burnt or isn't a bright red, just replace it.
Attached are a picture of the catch pan and a infographic on things you may find in your transmission pan.
I hope you get your car fixed.
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