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2002 Explorer Transmission Problem..Need Help

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by gbranh, November 30, 2009.

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    1. gbranh

      gbranh New Member

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      Hello! This is my first post on this forum. Let me start by stating that I'm a huge car nut, and have built my own cars in the past. I know engines inside and out, but automatic transmissions are my weak point, so much so that I'm forced to appeal to a Ford dealership or tranny shop for help, but I'm afraid to be taken for a ride!

      And now, my problem:

      My wife drives a 2002 Explorer XLT, 4.0V6, 4WD. It has 106,000 miles, and up until last week, has behaved perfectly. She noticed early last week that the "4HIGH" light came on on the dash, despite not hitting the "4HIGH" button, blinked for a few seconds, and went off. This is the first time it's ever done this.

      Now, the tranny has developed what feels like a hard shift into 4th (or is it 5th?), and a hard shift/shudder into overdrive. It doesn't do it consistently, only on occasion, and appears to be more pronounced under a light load. We've never towed anything with it, and she drives responsibly, so it hasn't been abused. I can say we haven't changed the tranny fluid in 4 years or so. There are no leaks whatsoever from the engine or tranny, no DTCs, etc.

      So, before I take this to the dealership and get smacked with a $3k-$4k tranny swap, what do I need to know? Is this common, is there a cheaper repair, is my tranny shot, etc?

      Thanks, guys and gals!

      Greg
       
      Last edited: November 30, 2009
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    3. gbranh

      gbranh New Member

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      Okay, I've been driving the truck for a few days, since I rarely drive it, and wanted to be able to articulate the problem to the tranny shop.

      I can't say there's any obvious symptoms. In fact, if I wasn't paying attention, I'd probably not even notice the sypmtom.

      It feels like it shifts into 4th slightly harder than it should, and when going into O/D, it "may" shudder slightly...ever so slightly.

      When the truck is cold and the tranny fluid is cold, it is more pronounced, but even at that, it's very minor.

      It has 50,000 on the ODO since the last fluid change, and we've never towed anything, and the battery is getting weak...I wonder if a fluid change and new battery may help. Seems I read a thread here on the forum that a weak battery was the cause of someone else's tranny-related symptoms.

      Greg
       
    4. tbe2002

      tbe2002 Active Member

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      Fluid and filter change is probably a good place to start. I would also replace the solenoid block in the transmission. They tend to start having issues around 60 - 70k so you are past due. Just do a search on them and you will find that they are pretty common to start to cause minor issues.
       
    5. mainsource

      mainsource New Member

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      tbe2002 is right. Try the cheap stuff first. Fluid/filter change, etc.

      A thorough mechanic should take their time driving your truck to duplicate the problem.

      Mine was doing the same thing. If its a true mechanical problem with the transmission it will continue to get worse. That slight shudder that's hardly noticeable will eventually become more pronounced. I wound up getting a transmission overhaul. Yours may or may not be that severe. Unfortunately, it seems that on this generation of Explorer the transmission is only good for about 100k miles...
       
    6. 96s281

      96s281 New Member

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      If it can drive around for a month or so as is, then maybe think about getting an extended warranty? They tend to kick in around 30 days or 1000 miles after purchase.
       
    7. gbranh

      gbranh New Member

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      Perfect, thanks for the info, guys! I'm taking into the tranny guy tomorrow, and I'm going to have him diagnose it. I think I'm mentally prepared to pay him for the fluid change, to at least pay him something for his time, and then I'll respond back here with his diagnosis for further assistance.

      I'm a huge DIY-er on my cars, and hate to pay someone else, so if this is something I can work on myself, that would be great. My wife literally drives the truck 3 miles to work each day, so it's not like the thing gets abused. If I can limp it along for another 10,000 miles, that would translate to a couple more years of useful life.

      I have a 4-post lift in my garage, so I can get the car 6 feet in the air to work on it. That'll make life much easier.

      BTW, if there's a good place to post somewhere here on the forum, I'd like to offer up my garage to anyone in the Olathe, KS (KC Metro area) who needs to get their vehicle on a lift. I have all the compressed air and tools they'd need!

      Thanks for your help, guys! I'm a huge contributor and moderator at ffcobra.com, but I think I'm gonna have to start spending time here. You guys seem like good folk! Perhaps I can help someone else out here with other things I've learned about this truck.

      Thanks again, and I'll report back soon,

      Greg
       
      Last edited: December 2, 2009
    8. gbranh

      gbranh New Member

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      Update

      I dropped the truck off at Certified Transmission in Olathe, KS last night after hours. Left the keys in the drop box.

      I received a call at 930 this AM from the manager of the shop, and he first apologized for not having envelopes out front for night-drop off. I thought that was a nice gesture.

      He then asked me to describe the symptoms that led me to bring him the truck; he would then share with me what they found.

      I told him what I told you guys, and he then said:

      Highway test drive: check. no problems
      City test drive: check. no problems
      Fluid level: check
      Fluid condition: a bit dirty, but check
      alternator charging properly: check
      tire pressure: check
      battery condition: check
      computer codes: 1 code (don't know the code), but it referenced high voltage to the 4x4 module
      4HI Operation: check
      4LO Operation: check
      4AUTO Operation: check

      In a nutshell, he said everything checks out okay, and there really wasn't anything wrong. He conceded that something must be "different" or my wife wouldn't have mentioned it. He did say he could do a drain, clean and fill, (he didn't want to flush), but that it may not make any symptoms go away that my wife was seeing, so he didn't want to waste my money. He did say that the shuddering she may be feeling has been described by some customers as a feeling of "driving over a washboard road", which she said is sort of what it felt like. He stated that this can be caused by old fluid that is nearing the end of it's life.

      In the end, he wants her to keep driving it as-is, and if the symptoms persist or get more pronounced, to bring it in, and they'll service it, check solenoid block, etc.

      I offered to pay him for his time, but he wouldn't take any money. What a guy!

      I think I've found a shop I can trust. I found the founder and CEO of Certified Transmission (they are a chain of 14 shops), and sent him a praise email, and copied the manager of the shop. They both responded nicely, and said they just like treat customers they way they'd like to be treated.

      Good times,

      Greg
       
    9. jakedrew

      jakedrew Active Member

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      sounds like a good shop.
       
    10. felishabowman85

      felishabowman85 New Member

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      Greg mine does the same thing I suggest keeping an eye on this problem bc that's how it starts then the transmission censor starts going bad and bands in the transmission starts breaking then it becomes a Hugh problem. Not saying this will happen to yours but that's how mine began and know I have to replace the transmission
       
    11. RicketyExplorer

      RicketyExplorer New Member

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