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1997 5R55E Reoccurring P0761 Fault


97Sandbox

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Do you have a manual that pictures and describes the internals?
Yes, I have been using a copy of the ATSG manual and it is incredibly helpful as a supplement to the advice I've read in past threads here on EF and the resources on Sonnax's site.

I gave up on getting out the valve in the SS4 bore and tried to just put the VB back together -- I can't get the further inboard L pin in place (noted by pick in image below) for the SS4 valving, so I think I'm just going to buy a reman VB from Sonnax.
20201122_115723.jpg


It looks like the Sonnax reman VB comes with upgrades equivalent to a shift kit and all of their valves have a different anodization, presumable for better wear characteristics. The whole VB costs about the same as what I've already sunk into my old VB between the solenoids, shift kit, and other misc. bits, so it seems like a good purchase to me. Anyone have good luck with the Sonnax reman VB?
 


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I would trust their VB's, I don't think that was a product available in the 2006 range when I did my 99 5R work. They are the top level of products available for automatics. What do those cost BTW, I have no idea the range? I just noticed they were available when I looked early this year for other things on their site.
 




97Sandbox

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What do those cost BTW, I have no idea the range?
As of today, they're $369.99 on RockAuto with an option to return a core for $50 back or $349.99 on Amazon.

RockAuto's info tab includes:
"Most electrical problems with this valve body are virtually eliminated by stringent remanufacturing and testing procedures. The most important step in the remanufacturing process is installing a new OE EPC solenoid. Research has shown that over eighty-five percent of used EPCs do not meet testing criteria for optimum performance. This valve body receives an updated EPC bracket and pressure regulator boost valve and sleeve are replaced.

Finally, this valve body receives seven additional exclusive updates
(I assume these are all of the different Sonnax valve upgrades). All shift solenoids and lockup solenoids are tested three different ways. First, they are individually tested on a regular analog Sol-X for efficiency. They are then individually tested on a digital Sol-X for amperage and calibration. Finally, they are tested on the valve body testing machine as part of the finished valve body, so you can rest assured this valve body will get you back on the road!"

Considering I spent $447.43 to try to upgrade my '97 VB, the Sonnax reman looks like a very fair deal.
 




97Sandbox

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For anyone interested, the $447.43 I spent includes:
- 4x OEM (Bosch) shift solenoids
- 1x OEM EPC
- 1x OEM TCC (ended up being for the 4R70 though and vendor wouldn't take it back. Anyone need one?)
- OEM (Ford Bracket) for shift solenoids 1 and 3 (thought mine might be cracked, but it ended up being fine)
- Superior shift kit
- Case (12 qt.) of Motorcraft Mercon V (most of which I had to drain back out)
- Separator plate gasket and VB gasket from local Ford dealer
- Ford TSB blow off valve and updated separator plate (found in a Ranger in my local salvage yard -- I actually got all of the VB internals and sep. plate for $10)
- Motorcraft filter, o-rings, and cork pan gasket set (OEM filter bolt was not included, so I couldn't even install the filter because the aftermarket filter bolts are shorter)
- shipping on all of the above

And that doesn't include what I paid for the picks, aluminum pie pans to hold the VB and parts in, petroleum Jelly for assembly, or any of what I got for the OD servo (OEM servo piston was about $30 shipped).
 




97Sandbox

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I'm going to go buy a Sonnax VB and a new pan gasket now -- hoping for the best! I'll let y'all know how the install goes and if it gets my '97 back to shifting through all five gears.
 




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Sonnax has a good product with the valve bodys.

Looks like you are having trouble with the coast clutch valve and retainer based on your location of the pick. If this valve doesn't function properly you will lose the OD band control.

5r55e coast clutch valve.JPG
 




97Sandbox

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Thanks for coming through with another great diagram and sharing more of your expertise James!

It's reassuring to hear that the specific valve which seems to be seized in my VB is related to the symptom (loss of overdrive) I've been experiencing. Any thought as to why this stuck valve would trigger a code for SS3 Performance instead of SS4 Performance? I thought the particular solenoid in this valve's bore, the Coast Clutch Solenoid as you referred to it, was SS4.

Regardless, I'm happy to see that y'all feel favorably about the Sonnax VB. I'm getting excited to receive it and put it in the '97 -- hopefully it'll ship quick and I can be back on the interstates next weekend!
 




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That's very good to see the stuck valve is one in the diagram points to the OD band function. Every part in a VB is important, and they have to fit tightly to work properly. Unfortunately it doesn't take much to affect how the components operate. Just the slightest burr in the edge of one of the valves can mess things up. Tiny debris is a long term worry, it accumulates and can cause problems, but that doesn't look to be the cause of that VB problem.

Does Sonnax take in any used VB's, I wonder if they yet do, or solicit cores?
 




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Does Sonnax take in any used VB's, I wonder if they yet do, or solicit cores?
I'm not totally sure, but RockAuto lists a $50 core credit if I send my original VB back in the Sonnax packaging. I'd imagine the RA folks then send it off to Sonnax to be built into someone else's reman VB.
 




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That's good. I noticed this past Spring that Rock Auto carries quite a few Sonnax parts. I think they had just begun to, I saw about half of the parts I needed to build my next 4R trans. They had one of the high dollar upgrade parts(about $200), and most of the small kit parts(in the #20-$30 range). Those were slightly cheaper than to buy them elsewhere.
 




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It's reassuring to hear that the specific valve which seems to be seized in my VB is related to the symptom (loss of overdrive) I've been experiencing. Any thought as to why this stuck valve would trigger a code for SS3 Performance instead of SS4 Performance? I thought the particular solenoid in this valve's bore, the Coast Clutch Solenoid as you referred to it, was SS4.
SS3 is responsible for 2nd and 5th, the coast clutch solenoid (SS4) is only active in reverse and Drive, 2nd and Low. The computer commanded the SS3 solenoid for 2nd and 5th, it didn't see the ratio change and thinks the solenoid didn't do its job and sets the code.

The solenoid in the valve bore doesn't always mean the solenoid controls that particular valve, notice the epc solenoid in the 1 2 shift valve bore, the valve is sealed from the solenoid by that plug and retainer between the solenoid and valve, same with the coast clutch (SS4) solenoid.

Here is a chart that shows the solenoid function for the 5R55E.

5r55e solenoid firing order.JPG
 




97Sandbox

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SS3 is responsible for 2nd and 5th, the coast clutch solenoid (SS4) is only active in reverse and Drive, 2nd and Low. The computer commanded the SS3 solenoid for 2nd and 5th, it didn't see the ratio change and thinks the solenoid didn't do its job and sets the code.
Thanks for yet another great explanation!

The solenoid in the valve bore doesn't always mean the solenoid controls that particular valve, notice the epc solenoid in the 1 2 shift valve bore, the valve is sealed from the solenoid by that plug and retainer between the solenoid and valve, same with the coast clutch (SS4) solenoid.
When you lay it all out like that, it makes perfect sense, but it would have certainly taken me awhile to reach that conclusion.

Admittedly, I've seen a few of those charts while researching the 5R55E, but I have struggled to wrap my head around the physical implications in the context of the mechanics of the VB -- there's still a lot I'm working to understand about automatic transmissions in general. With how the various valves and solenoids all work to open/close so many different circuits, there's just a lot going on! A buddy of mine (drives an M5OD Ranger and has been cringing at my entire attempt to fix my 5R55E) referred to the valve body as a "hydraulic computer" and I think that analogy captures the complexity fairly well.
 




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Hey y'all, thought I'd post a quick update:

Sonnax VB came in the mail yesterday and it looks amazing! All new solenoids and bonded gaskets on the separator plate. I'm just itching to install it, but I'm still waiting on the Duraprene pan gasket.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about filters. Since some dust has accumulated on both the motorcraft filter that I couldn't install and the carquest filter I ran for about five miles, I've decided to order another motorcraft filter and just pick up a 55 mm M6 bolt from the hardware store to hold it in. RockAuto also carries motorcraft add-on external filters -- anyone recommend those?
 




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It would be smart to add an inline filter in the rubber hose that goes to the front cooler. Wipe out the pan etc, very well, and the slightly used filters are fine if nothing major got into them(dust is nothing).
 




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External add on filters have benefits and downsides. We use to use them years ago mostly after rebuilds where transmission failure created a lot of debris, we would add them after the cooler in the radiator to help catch debris coming from the radiator especially on governor controlled transmissions. The governor would be the first thing to stick due to debris after rebuild.

Todays electronically controlled transmissions dont seem to be affected so much by this since they use governors any more. Also we have stepped up our game with being able to flush the coolers in the radiators more efficiently with better equipment like the Hot Flush system.

The biggest issue I have with the external filters is that you have to cut the rubber cooler line to install them, this creates a very likely spot to leak from. Rubber cooler lines and cheap hose clamps is a recipe for failure, every year we see many vehicles come through the shop (especially when colder weather arrives) that are low on fluid due to a leak or even worse towed in from the side of the road because the cooler line has blown off and covered the engine compartment, the entire undercarriage and the back of the car with transmission fluid and what a mess this is!

If you decide to add one I would recommend a better clamp like the Fuel injection clamps, they do a better job on rubber hoses than the worm style clamps and keep a eye on them from time to time making sure they are tight, just speaking from experience here.

One thing to keep in mind is the internal filter in all modern transmission are large enough to handle any and all debris the transmission will create over it entire lifetime of service, if you have a restricted filter you have bigger problems that just the filter.
 




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Ditto, James is right, online filters can be worth while, but the line connections can be a big concern. I'm used to the clamp issues and have watched mine carefully. The stock rubber line connections on these all should be worked on a bit. I cut off a bit from each end of the rubber lines when they are this old. They have deformed and don't seal that well. new rubber hoses would be the best solution for those.

I wish the low cost external filters came with better barbed ends. The Push-Lok connectors are great. Those are still under patent I'd bet, but those ends would never let go if the filters had those ends on them. I have cut a few hoses off of those fittings, that's an adventure.
 




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Thanks guys!

It sounds like the inline filter may not be worth the trouble in my situation. The fluid wasn't all that contaminated when I first dropped the pan. Now that I've done it twice, the fluid is looking really clean haha!

I'll be sure to clean any debris off of the motorcraft filter and wipe out the pan again before reassembling -- thanks for letting me know I shouldn't need a new filter!

The Push-Lok connectors are great. Those are still under patent I'd bet, but those ends would never let go if the filters had those ends on them.
You mean like the style that our fuel filters use?

One other product I saw listed alongside the Mercon V was Transmission Fluid Conditioner -- do either of you recommend using something like that?
 




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No, a Push Lok connector is a sharp barbed end, it works for most strong hoses, and a hose clamp is basically insurance(you have to cut the hose off(the barbs are very sharp and deep)).

I'd only look at fluid additives from Lubegard, they make quality products for transmissions(additives). They also make a power steering fluid that I like better than other high end brands, but never mind that.

A high quality Mercon V ATF is the main point for fluids, avoid old fluid and low end brands.
 




97Sandbox

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No, a Push Lok connector is a sharp barbed end, it works for most strong hoses, and a hose clamp is basically insurance(you have to cut the hose off(the barbs are very sharp and deep)).
Okay, yeah I've seen those before for air hoses.

I'd only look at fluid additives from Lubegard, they make quality products for transmissions(additives). They also make a power steering fluid that I like better than other high end brands, but never mind that.

A high quality Mercon V ATF is the main point for fluids, avoid old fluid and low end brands.
I've only been using the real deal Motorcraft Mercon V because I don't wanna risk screwing anything up haha! I may order a bottle of the Lubegard for good measure -- thanks for the recommendation!
 


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You have it well covered I think, given the VB that seems to be the source of the problem. The rest is all good measure to keep it running right, and to not need to go back into it, for a long time.
 




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