Piston Slap: A Torino’s parking pawl-em, lost ground, and tongues that lost their grooves?


Gordon writes: 

I own a 1968 Ford Torino GT convertible with a 302 and C4 automatic column shift. I have three questions that maybe you can help me with. First, the column shift jumps out of park. I have adjusted the linkage according to the service manual and still the problem is there. Second, my fuel gauge always shows full when car is running or when ignition is on even with the tank partially empty. When the ignition is turned off it very slowly drops to empty, and when the ignition is turned on the needle very slowly moves to full and stays there. The tank and sending unit were replaced about three years ago, it worked fine until last year.

Finally, do you have any idea what kind of clips or fasteners are used to secure the belt-line trim around the back of the top. The boot has no snaps—it fastens to the trim with plastic clips. Thank you for reading, and any ideas on how to fix these issues is appreciated!

Sajeev answers: 

A cool car with a trio of needs? Let’s see if we can address them, as nothing takes away from the fun of classic car ownership like those “little things” that snowball into monumental annoyances when trying to enjoy the car on a regular basis!

Regarding the first issue, if you are absolutely sure the linkages are adjusted correctly and everything looks right in the steering column, I reckon the park pawl has gone bad inside the C4 automatic transmission. Here are the parts that could be worn out and need replacement, and yes, you have to dig into the transmission to replace the pawl.

Ford C4 Park Pawl parts
eBay | arccoinsandautocollectibles

Addressing the park pawl might be a good reason for a full transmission rebuild (with a shift kit and a looser stall convertor?), but perhaps ensuring the emergency brake’s reliability is all you need. All that takes is cleaning/lubricating/replacing the external cables and internal levers for the brake shoes (assuming you still have rear drum brakes) which is clearly far more cost-effective. And it likely serves the same purpose. (I say this because Houston is a very flat city; your geographic conditions may vary.)

The fuel gauge is another story. Often the quality of replacement parts is suspect, including that of aftermarket fuel-sending units. But before you blame the sending unit, check the wiring from the tank to the gauge for a short on the power side or a bad ground. (It’s probably the latter.) The video below is a good general guide, but you might need to know the specs of the Torino’s fuel gauge to ensure it is still accurate.

Regarding the convertible-top boot? Everything I see suggests that the Torino’s boot attaches to the body with a plastic “tongue” that slides into the chrome trim’s groove. The tongue-and-groove system isn’t unique to Torinos, but the decorative chrome trim around it is absolutely unique to 1968 through ’69 Torinos. If your boot is missing any amount of the plastic tongue, see if a local trim shop can stitch in a new tongue—or just buy a new boot.

Sorry my advice is so labor-intensive (especially on the transmission), but I hope it gives you a new angle to address! Best of luck.

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