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it sounds like the gearbox is very low on fluid. maybe the drain bung has come out of the torque converter. you will need the car on stands, and remove the cover under the engine and gearbox with 4 screws. it will be dirty and hard to get to but you need to turn the engine over by hand with a socket on the front of the engine (battery disconnected) until you see a bung on the torque converter which is underneath between the engine and gearbox. there is a small cutaway in the bell housing so that you can see it. there should be a small bolt with an internal 5mm allen key head, if it is loose or there is a just a hole you may have your problem. i am fairly sure a merc of thois age will have the bung. also check the gearbox bung as well. if you get someone to pour fluid in while you are under neath you may be able to see where it comes out. some fluid will come out if you overfill the gearbox without running it, i.e. with a complete fill of fluid you need to start the engine to fill the torque converter.
Locate the fill plug. This is typically on the top of the gearbox. If you are having problems locating it, follow the speedometer cable down to where it connects to the transmission; the fill plug will be near the cable.
Remove the fill plug.
Place a clean funnel in the fill hole and fill the gearbox with gear oil. Check your vehicle specifications to see how much is needed. Re-install the fill plug when done, hand-tighten and then torque the plug down with a socket wrench one turn.
if it is an auto there is a dipstick with a red top in the left had rear of engine compartment( on a righthand drive model) which will tell you the level the warning lights are on almost permenantly on most discos they are nortorious for reading the wrong temperature I bet theres nothing wrong with the tranny temp just a dodgy sender if you want to drain the oils there is a drain plug under gearbox and a level plug on the side it is easier to fill from dipstick until fluid comes out level plug
CHECKING FLUID LEVEL
1. With the vehicle on a level surface and the fluid in the transaxle cold, remove the filler plug and check the fluid level. The fluid should come to the bottom edge of the plug hole.
2. If the level is low, add SAE 80 manual transaxle fluid through the filler plug hole until the fluid begins to run out.
3. Reinstall the filler plug and tighten it securely. The speed gears and the synchronizer parts on this vehicle receive lubrication through specific passages in the mainshaft. It takes 1.8 liters (1.90 quarts) to fill the transaxle completely.
its located next to drive shaft some on left hand side others on right hand side depending what gearbox.