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03 Explorer 4wd 5r55w going into neutral while in drive or reverse

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by Wakeboardrb, January 13, 2018.

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    1. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      Hey guys, new member here. I started out with an 04 Mountaineer 4.6 with an AWD problem and recently sold that for a 03 4.0 Explorer that was in much better shape. The truck currently has 165k miles on it and within the last week has started giving me a pretty worrisome transmission problem.

      It happens at a few different times while driving. First off, if I go to start the truck up and shift into either drive or reverse, it doesn't always go into gear. Sometimes I have to feather the throttle to get the trans to shift into either 1st or reverse and move the truck. The other issue is that when I'm idling at a stoplight, it will fall out of gear as well. I don't believe it has come out of gear while I'm actually driving yet. If it has, I haven't noticed. Also the engine and trans are not throwing any codes and I checked the fluid via the check valve and it still had good color and didn't smell burnt.

      Now I'm aware of the servo bore issue, but I was reading on another thread here about someone that had pretty much the same issue as me. His problem was fixed by swapping out the valve body with a remanufactured part. Now I've been researching the shift correction kits like Superior and it seems like its pretty much a rebuild kit that addresses a lot of issues with shifting, but I'm a little unclear on whether it covers the issue I'm having.

      Does anyone have any experience with adding a shift/correction kit?

      Second, I'm interested in the AJ1E servo bore kit. It seems easy to install and looks like it does a pretty good job of addressing worn servo bores without having to gut the trans and re sleeve the casing. Anyone have any info on this?

      So I pretty much want to do everything I can without having to remove the trans and especially not having to re sleeve the casing. My buddy runs a transmission shop and quoted me around $2000, which is not in the cards right now.

      I'll of course be doing all the work myself and have access to a lift and pretty much any tool I need. I just dont want to have to pull the trans and especially don't want to have to gut the casing.

      Any help would be greatly appreciated. I pretty much just want to keep the truck until the end of the year and get something newer. So all I'm looking for is something to get me through until then.

      Thanks!
       
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    3. ScaryWoody

      ScaryWoody Member

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      I would try tightening the O?D and Intermediate bands. You can search here for the instructions. You just need a 19mm wrench, a 5/16" socket and a torque wrench. They may be loose. Doesn't solve the issue, just buys time. I'm doing mine today so I don't know yet how simple it is. I bought a modified servo kit that I will also be installing, I hope. Supposed too accommodate for the out f round servo bore.
       
    4. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      I'm just not sold on the servo bore fix yet. Some people say that it's a fix for pretty much everything these transmissions experience, but it seems like it only affects shift flares, loss of overdrive and trans codes. This is specifically 1st and reverse. The more I read about it, the more confusing it becomes.
       
    5. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      So now I'm torn between replacing the valve body or the solenoid pack or both. There was another thread on here where the guy solved his issue exactly the same as mine by putting a $70 remanned valve body on there.

      I'm going to call another transmission shop tomorrow, a guy that a good friend of mine refers work to when he doesn't want to mess with it. But it seems like most trans shops would rather just rebuild the whole transmission on the customers dime than try and take the time to diagnose and fix individual parts. That's understandable, as these things are tremendously complicated and they would rather fix a customers car the first time for a large sum of money rather than making a few hundred off of multiple jobs. That's not what I'm looking for though and way more than I'm willing to spend on the truck if it's avoidable.

      I have a wedding and honeymoon to pay for coming up. I will NOT drop $2000 into a truck I bought for $2500 that's barely worth $3k.
       
    6. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Try putting it in 3 instead of D and see if it will move when it won't in D...
       
    7. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      I’ll try that when I get home. Drove it a bit earlier and it was hesitating going into 1st like crazy. It’s only a 2-3 second delay though, might not have enough time to put it in third before it grabs.
       
    8. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Nah, if it don't grab when you first hit the gas just stop! Put it in 3rd, wait 2 seconds then go. 3 forces 3rd gear only and it feels like a CVT/Go-Kart as it will be the torque converter accelerating the vehicle. I'll be starting a thread on it soon, right now I have no working overdrive band, I don't know if it's the physical band or the solenoid controlling it, so I have no 2nd and 5th (overdrive) gears. So not wanting to further destroy anything by using drive and have 2nd slip as it goes from 1-2-3 I've been using 3rd only around town then flip to D with O/D off when I need to go faster than 40-45.

      Also, you really need to pull codes with ForScan (reg OBDII tools do not pull transmission codes).

      Mine says:

       
      Last edited: January 15, 2018
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    9. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      I used my brothers scan tool that pulls engine, trans, o2’s and abs. It showed nothing.
       
    10. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      talked to one of the guys at AJ1E (they make the servo bore kit) and he seems to think it's the line pressure relief valve. He said to drain the trans fluid, replace the filter and fill it back up to see if it unsticks the valve.

      I disconnected the battery for about an hour the other night to reset everything and now it seems like there's a shift flare between 1st and 2nd gear. Still everything from 2nd to 5th are operating normally with firm shifts. No flares in the upper gears. Not sure if the 1-2 flare was there before the battery was disconnected or not.

      Now I see why trans shops would rather rebuild or replace the whole transmission instead. It's enough to drive someone crazy.
       
    11. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      when I replace the fluids, do I absolutely need to use Mercon V or can something less expensive be substituted? The reasoning is I don't want to dump $60 worth of fluid in there only to have to drain it again a week later if I need to drop the pan again.
       
    12. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      Delayed/Soft Reverse Engagement
      Check the following: low line pressure, valve body (sticking valves), incorrectly tightened valve body bolts
      (cross-leaks), direct clutch assembly and/or reverse band and servo for damage.
      Delayed/Soft Forward Engagement
      Check the following: low line pressure, valve body (sticking valves), incorrectly tightened valve body bolts
      (cross-leaks), overdrive servo, overdrive band, center support and/or forward clutch assembly for damage.
       
    13. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Yes you must absolutely use only Mercon V, anything else will destroy the transmission.

      While Motorcraft Mercon-V ($6.89) or Valvoline Mercon V ($6.59) or Castrol Transmax Mercon V ($6.39) is the recommended, Walmart SuperTech ($4.27) would be the cheapest....

      https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tech-MERCON-V-Automatic-Transmission-Fluid-1qt/17134874

      Of course any of them would be cheaper if you can find them sold by the gallon or 2.5 gallon or best yet a 5 gallon bucket.
       
    14. Drewmcg

      Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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      Stick with Ford Mercon V. See if your local Ford dealer parts guy will sell you a 5 quart jug for $25 or so (they can price negotiate).
       
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    15. Drewmcg

      Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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      I did the AJ1E overdrive servo kit a couple of months ago, with 179k miles on my '02 Explorer XLS. Before change fifth year would go out on the highway after 45 minutes or so, and I'd lose overdrive around town frequently (w/ blinking o/d light).

      My buddy helped, on a lift. He tried for like 1.5 hours to get the snap ring out without drilling the hole they recommend. He then gave up, I drilled the hole, and we had the thing out and completed the repair in like 20 minutes. Complete fix. I've driven to Texas from Michigan and back, put over 5k on the trans since repair, and its flawless. Great kit. Have not done the intermediate servo yet, but expect to do so once warm weather is back.

      Obviously, this is not your immediate problem.
       
    16. Drewmcg

      Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    17. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      Thats what I'm leaning towards. Everything I've read seems to point to the valve body. It was what I orignally suspected and then after about a week of second guessing and confusing myself, it's what I keep coming back to. So that's where I'm going to start.

      I might get a remanned valve body and throw the superior shift kit in it. It actually looks pretty fun to install (I do a lot of salt water fishing reel rebuilding, so I love stuff with small parts.)
       
    18. TechGuru

      TechGuru Well-Known Member

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      Might as well replace the solenoid pack while you're in there...
       
    19. Drewmcg

      Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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      I had a "parts truck," built the same month (June '02) as my XLS. The parts truck had 116k miles; my ride 179k miles. I swapped the 4.0L engine into the XLS, and while I had the engine on the stand to replace timing chains (prophylactic repair), I swapped over the torque converter and solenoid pack on the theory that 63K miles less was better. All went well, and I'm riding happy with the overhauled XLS (after a later servo bore kit repair).

      I chose not to swap over the valve body, though I did buy an upgrade kit for one of the torque converter bits, which was relatively easy to install

      The only tricky bit taking off the solenoid pack is the 10mm (I think) bolt on the topside holding in the wiring harness. I was working in the dirt, no lift, on my back on uneven ground. A closed end gearwrench with a flexible head was a lifesaver for this bolt, which you have to remove/reinstall blind and in tight quarters.

      Be careful if you chose to replace the solenoid pack with an aftermarket one. This is a part that non-OEM may be worse than your (old) OEM part. I'd almost prefer to replace with a (relatively) low-mileage OEM part from a junkyard wreck.

      Dropping the pan on this trans will cost you 4-ish quarts of fluid, which theoretically you could recycle back into the truck (but not recommended). If it were me, I'd replace just the valve body, replace the filter, throw a 5 quart jug of new Motorcraft Mercon-V in there (you won't get it all pumped in, and will spill some), and run it for a few weeks at least. If you continue to have issues, you can replace the solenoid pack then--and the second 5-quart jug of ATF you put in at that point will further improve the average quality of your overall fluid (the capacity of these transmissions is something like 11-12 quarts, IIRC).

      By the way, the link I for the rebuilt valve body I included in my prior post seems to suggest that it *already has* upgrades installed--so I'm not sure why you would be further modifying it. If you want to tinker, perhaps you should not order the rebuild, and just pull out the old valve body and see if you can fix it. That was a step too far for me. You say you have a buddy in transmission repair. Maybe take the valve body and kit to him (or another good trans tech) and pay him to do the overhaul. But probably cheaper, less hassle, and less risk to just get the already-rebuilt unit off of ebay. Good luck.
       
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    20. Drewmcg

      Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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      p.s. If you do the repair and then have flaring at stop sign, don't freak out. Hobble home and double-check fluid level in the trans. These trans are tricky to get the fluid right, and they warn the hell out of you not to overfill. But I managed to underfill (following all the videos) not once, but twice. An extra quart (add maybe half a quart at time) and the thing shifts perfecto.
       
    21. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      Thanks for the info guys. Im going to start with the valve body and see where it gets me. If not I'll move up to the solenoid pack and servo bore.

      Question, the line pressure relief valve is in the pump. Can I remove the pump from under the truck or does it require the transmission to be removed? I saw some info about using a puller to yank it out, but not if the trans was still in the truck or not. That's a $30 part from SONNAX and worth looking into.
       
    22. JK080

      JK080 Transmission Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      You would have to remove the transmission to get to this valve, it can stick and cause all kinds of line pressure problems, sometimes the can hang wide open and you can't get any engagement in to a gear at all. Valve body problems with this transmission are mostly problems hot and during a shift.

      First thing to conform is fluid level, engine running in park.

      Remove pan and inspect filter and its seals to the valve body.

      Delayed engagements in both forward and reverse especially cold tend to be with the pump, the pump valve or converter drain back.

      Servo bores won't have anything to do with delayed engagements or falling out of gear at a light.
       
    23. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      Yeah, I'm 99% certain it's the line pressure relief valve. My plan of attack right now is to drain and drop the pan, put some more atf in there with lubeguard to see if it will unstick the valve. Just finding the time right now is a challenge for me.

      If that doesn't work, I guess I'll be pulling the transmission and replacing that valve. Sonnax makes a revised valve for like $40 that's supposed to completely resolve the sticking issue, but it's a matter of pulling the pump out. From what I gather, the pump is at the front of the trans, behind the torque converter so I'm hoping it wont require a complete teardown. I have a friend that has a full shop with lift in his garage and he's a BMW master tech that specializes in old BMW's, Mercedes and Jags, so he's extremely competent. He doesn't like doing transmission work and usually subs that kind of stuff out to a local shop, but I'd rather take care of it on my own instead of having to pay a shop $1,000+ to replace a $40 part.

      The reasoning behind the focus on the valve body was I read a previous thread on here about a guy that had the exact same symptoms as mine, but resolved it by replacing the valve body. My thinking is that when he replaced it and ran new fluid through the trans, it unstuck that valve and it actually had nothing to do with the valve body.

      Does anyone have a writeup on the process for removing the pump only? I see that I need a slide hammer and an adapter to hook on the pump, so hopefully that adapter doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

      So I'm confident now, it's just a matter of finding time to do the work. I can drive the truck now, but it's a little sketchy trying to pull onto a busy road when I have no idea if the truck will move or not. Plus I'm not confident in towing anything with that issue being there since I don't want to damage anything else. Thanks for the help!
       
    24. JK080

      JK080 Transmission Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      You will need a pump alignment tool to put the pump back together, I would recommend the TransGo shift kit. It will give you the valve and a alignment tool as well, I would just install the pump parts I dont like the rest of the kit for the valve body IMO. I think Superior makes the best valve but since you will need the pump tool the shift kit would be best.
       
    25. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      I've seen the pump alignment tool for sale seperately for like $15 so that's an option without having to go with the shift kit. But what about actually removing the pump? I don't want to crack the trans open and have to figure out how to yank that thing out. How hard is it to remove and will I need the specialty tool to pull it? Slide hammer is no problem, but I've only seen one place selling the pump adapter tool and they want like $200 for it.
       
    26. Wakeboardrb

      Wakeboardrb New Member

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      So I finally had enough time yesterday afternoon to mess around with the truck. I bought a little hand pump from the auto parts store and used the transmission fill adapter I got for $13 on amazon. I was going to pull the pan and replace the filter, but the kids had karate practice last night so I only had an hour to work on the truck.

      I ended up pumping 6 quarts of Mercon and 10oz of quick lube into the pan, started it up, ran through all the gears and drained it. I only got about 2 quarts out.

      Truck shifts perfect now. I drove it about 75 miles since yesterday and not once did it fall out of gear or have a hard time shifting into second. Every time I put it in drive or reverse it went in and stayed in gear no problem. It feels like it's shifting perfectly and consistently. I'm going to save the filter and replace it sometime in spring. Run another 5 quarts through it and replace the filter just to get more of the old fluid out of it.

      But I am so happy that it wasn't anything major. I have stressed myself out for the past few weeks thinking it was something major.

      Now the only thing left to do is call my buddy up that owns the transmission shop and tell him it wasnt the ****ing servo bores!
       

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