411! BigRed Down!! | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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411! BigRed Down!!


Rust? You mean character!
June 18, 2003
Reaction score
City, State
Pittsburgh, PA
Year, Model & Trim Level
Well guys, my time has come to post that the x finally let me down. OD rolled over 128k and that must of been my number.... I really can not complain, its been very good to me.

Don't know what is exactly wrong with it but my guess is either the torque converter or the tq converter solenoid is shot. Also maybe a bad flywheel, not sure, these are just my guesses, you guys tell me what it sounds like to you. I've held off on getting any work done until i have at least a good guesstimate on what is wrong.

Problem Symptoms:
Well last year i noticed a weired clunk when i turned the truck off and this was in the winter. I didn't think much about it because i knew i had a bad alternator with very bad bearings. Went away for a while and never heard it again until the end of summer. Started to notice it made this clunky rattling noise when i put it in reverse or drive, not during idling in park or neutral. So i figured it was a heat shield, hunted and looked for something loose, no such luck. Then i had my dad run the truck in reverse and drive while i was under it listening and the noise was defiantly coming from the fly wheel housing. So this started to worry me. It only did it when it was cold and when i went to put it into gear, but after the drive line had tension on it after a few seconds it would go away.

I had no change in ride quality and no slipping or weired tq converter lockups, she actually ran the best ever in the last few months. Transmission never missed a beat and i hauled a trailer about a month ago with about 3000lbs on it and it did very well on our trip. Noise never got worse but it probably had a hand it the destruction.

Also, a "Manual" transmission flush was completed about a month ago right before my trailer haul. Fluid is fresh and red as can be.

Well after all this, she was doing very well on the way up to school and i came to a stop sign off of a off ramp and i noticed when i hit the brake for the first time the idle drooped rapidly from 2100 rpms to 500 rpms, not normal as I'm slowing down, normally they fall to about 1000 till i come to a stop. Well as i come to the stop it jerked as if i was in a manual car and it stalled. I restarted it in neutral and it stalled again. So now I'm blocking a busy intersection. With it still in neutral, i start it with my foot on the peddle to give it some gas and I threw it into drive. So went into gear fine and i just whipped it off the road. Put it in neutral, it was idling fine at first but i noticed as the rpms came down to normal idle it was idling very rough. So i turned it off to let it cool. I also noticed it was making that noise i was hearing a lot more then before and much louder. Started it up about a half hour later and it idled fine but as the idle dropped once again, the whole truck started shaking but it would still go into gear but now making the clunking and vibrating noise significantly more now. Also, not just in drive and reverse but now in park and neutral.

So as I am sitting there waiting i check all fluids for anything weired and do a full undercarriage look over, shacking stuff trying to figure out what this could be. Praying that its not something internal but i think the torque converter is screwed up. An a transmission rebuild is in my future.

So, any of you OHC Gods, an 5r55e gods, please speak your opinion. Like i said above, i am holding off on any work just yet because i wanted to know your guys opinion first.

Thank You for your time and donations are welcome also....

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[Insert smart ass comment here] :D


:) from another forum...lol

It sounds like the Torque convertor is not unlocking when it should. That can be due to a number or reasons, and not all require you pull the tranny.

Let's do a little TC review...

The torque convertor is what separates the transmission from the engine... kind of like the clutch in an automatic transmission. In the old days Torque convertors did not lock up mechanically.... they came close to 1:1 lockup at higher road speeds, but there was always some slippage. Slippage in this case was a heat producer, and cost some mileage.

A non-locked up TC will allow you to have the tranmission locked in gear, and the engine running without stalling... the disconnect? Fluid flowing around in the TC. The end result is like your foot on the clutch in a manual tranny.

Somewhere along the line Auto manufacturers realized that locking the TC at some point with a clutch could positively affect mileage, and reduce the temperatures that an unlocked TC produced... hence the "locking device" - a clutch inside the TC that could be electronically (solenoid) controlled. (Ever wondered what the LD in A4LD stands for? - Locking Device)

Now we control TC lockup with electronics and solenoids.

Sooo... lets look at the symptoms. When your TC clutch does not unlock, you WILL know it... it's like bringing a manual tranny to a stop with the clutch engaged. If your TC clutch fails to lock, it is a little harder to notice - but your temps will be higher as will your rpms.... and your mileage will suffer.

So, in THIS case... we appear to have a TC that is not unlocking when it should. In the FORD 5R55E the torque convertor lockup is inhibited... in other words absent proper operation, it will lock. Proper operation is needed to keep the clutch open, otherwise it fails into a locked position...meaning that if something is wrong, you will have a locking TC when you should not.

So lets run down a list... first of all, remember that the computer has to tell the transmission when to unlock the clutch in the TC... inputs include "brake on off switch", VSS and internal PCM programming. Also harnesses and wiring come into play and under suspicion.

Next we ask why is the clutch not unlocking.... since it requires hydraulic pressure to open/unlock, we ask... is there a leak in the TCC circuit?

So questions become: Is the VB torqued properly? Did the gasket blow out? Is the separator plate somehow damaged (low probability).

Next, is the TCC solenoid doing the job it is supposed to do? Is it's O ring damaged? Is the valving for this circuit operating properly (bore 200 and bore 201 - see the 5R55E VB Rebuild Diary). And/or - Is the spool stuck?

Lastly, assuming all else is ok, then - is it something internal to the TC itself? This would be the only reason to remove the tranny.

You have some diagnosing to do.

thats a lot of questions that I was anticipating and hope its not the TC itself.

Would the TCC solenoid be making that noise? Or is it pecies of the TC?

That is a tough Q.... noises in an auto tranny can arise from a number of places.... and manifest themselves in places that sound somewhat distant from where they are coming from unless you can get real close with a listening device....could yours be TC related? certainly a possibility. Not terrbily likely the TCC solenoids is making noise or has broken into pieces.

Im sorry but this sounds like its not gonna be a quick fix.....or a cheap one. while I love my explorer i think everyone knows that they are known for having great transmissions. I would find a good tranny shop and make an appiontment.

That is a tough Q.... noises in an auto tranny can arise from a number of places.... and manifest themselves in places that sound somewhat distant from where they are coming from unless you can get real close with a listening device....could yours be TC related? certainly a possibility. Not terrbily likely the TCC solenoids is making noise or has broken into pieces.

Thank you glacier, well I feel better about what it might be, I'll be calling my mechanic and asking him what he can do with it. The guy is awesome at figure out problems but i don't know if he does tranny work if that might be what is needed, we will see and I will post their diagnosis and what they want to replace and see what you guys think.

Its nice having tranny gurus on your side....:thumbsup:

Well, it was confirmed, the tc is comming apart on me and rebuild is in order. Not surprised.

I am about the damn price $2,600 for a new jasper transmission with a 3y/100,000mile warranty. 700 for dropping the transmission and replacing the tc, the rest for the transmission. Anyone think thats a bit steep? I don't know if the transmission is rebuilt or new, i think its probably rebuilt. Now remember, i took it to my main mechanic and he doesn't rebuild transmissions. My biggest concern is, Does it have either the Ford Shift Kit or the Transgo Shift kit, if it doesn't have any then I won't go threw with it.

So I am going to a local transmission shop to see what they'd price me on it.

$3300 for your tranny replaced with a rebuilt one sounds a bit steep to me.

i have the same transmission in my 2000. my torque converter basically grenaded...and shards of it went throughout the rest of my tranny, thus killing everything else along with it...(shakes fist at old tranny). well, i found a decent shop that would do the work, called Mr. Transmission, rated one of the best tranny shops in the US. Removal and replacement with rebuilt 5r55e came to a grand total of $2,170, came with 1 year, unlimited mile warrenty. I didnt have the time to do it myself(with the help of some tranny gurus on here), or the place, as im at school.

you might be payin extra for that warrenty...just a thought

Ditto the above. Chris, do you have any 5R55E available that he might buy from you, have you done that any more? If he hasn't hurt the trans, would you think that the trans is a good core for building? It could be a good candidate to trade towards a rebuilt unit common on eBay. Most of those don't require a core, and some do, one of them is up there in the Ohio valley area. Good luck,

Don, thank you for the help, it is greatly appreciated!!

Shopped around a lot today and found my winner. A guy I found in the yellow pages thats been doing trannys for about 54 years, so it says. Talked to him for about a half hour, nice guy and seemed rather dedicated to his work. I asked him for a quick quote for a transmission rebuild and new tc, he said between 1500 to 1800, probably towards 1800 for the new tc. I was like in aww. My second biggest problem was I wanted to make sure I did this right, shift kit and synthetic. Asked him if they could install a transgo shift kit for me, he laughs and says, thats already included in the price. Now, i'm in love with the guy. Then i was like well whats the extra cost for synthetic atf, he laughs once more and goes, thats also included in the price. He uses mobil 1 and was like, i learned 25 years ago that synthetic is the only way to go. An he is an authorized transgo dealer!!!....lol

Summary, I am happy, picking it up from my mechanics garage and making a appointment to drop it off at the tranny place.

I am tickled pink and rather excited!!!

Also, do you think it would be a bad idea to drive it to the next shop? I trailered it to my mechanic, should i do it again? I am thinking i should so i don't destroy anything else.

You really need to tow it. Driving it could tear up hard parts in the tranny that will increase the rebuild price drastically. Good luck with it.

Yes that is a big risk. If the symptoms were very minor and it drove "okay" I'd drive it. But if it really runs poorly I wouldn't risk it. A trans can burn itself up in a couple of minutes if things are bad enough inside. The price of hard parts is part of why the old A4LD is so expensive to do. Plus a transmission which fails badly rarely lasts too long into the future. I'm glad that you found someone who is more reasonable, and sounds good.

Well just got word back from my tranny guy. I just dropped the truck off on sunday, lol...I know I know, damn that took a while, school only allows me to complete progress on the weekends and its driving me nuts.

He just called me this morning confirming that he thinks I need a rebuild, I asked him what he thinks it is. He said it might be the O/D Cylinder, but like he said, I don't know for sure until I open her up.

So Updates to come....

Truck is done as of Monday at 4p, yes the same day as they called me. I was shocked and somewhat worried about how fast they got it done.

Well I asked him what they do with the cores and he said they hold onto them, rebuild them from head to toe, clean the case up the best they can and replace everything from where it meets the engine to the transfer case. An keep them on stock, thats how they had mine already for me. They also pre-fill the transmission before the put it in, so there is no dry time upon first start up.

He confirmed that it was the TC going out on me. Also, said that the bands were heavily worn and asked us if we had any work done on this before hand. No transmission work has been done since we had the bell housing gasket replaced, that was it. He was amazed that we got 128k out of it and said he's seen an average of 60 to 80k is the life of these transmissions.

Also asked us if we do any hauling, an I told him just about every year, load depending. He was really amazed after that statement an said keep up the good work then. He laughed an said that this one will last you a long long time because of the updated valve body and shift kit with synthetic.

Total price was about $1900 out the door. Comes with a two year/25000 mile warrantee

Well very good then, hopefully that will be the last trans work that you ever need for the truck.

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Yea I plan on it, I've been looking into an extra transmission cooler and i think i'm going to get one with a electric fan. I have an extra stock one laying around but I think i'm going to ditch that idea an try the electric fan to try an keep temps around 160 to 180, those are ideal temps, so I've read.

When I go home friday, I'll let you guys know how she feels, I haven't touched it since i dropped it off on saturday and i'm eager to see how she runs. Will be taking it easy for the first few months, no real hard acceleration till shes all broken in.

I was thinking about replacing the filter again in about 5,000 miles, just in case it ketches some burrs or what not from break in period. Thinks that a good idea?