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5R55E - no 2nd gear hot


Well-Known Member
December 30, 2005
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City, State
Courtenay, BC
Year, Model & Trim Level
99 B4000 4.0L OHV
Mazda B4000 4X4 4.0L 755000 km
Trans will shift thru all the gears cold properly. Let engine/trans warm up and a further 10 km and from a stop, trans will not 1-2 shift but rather a 1-3 shift then continue ok to 5th. A WOT test from stop gives you a flare going into
3rd gear. Can get 2nd gear manually all the time. I pulled code P0733. Using a star tester, a wiggle test was done on the trans external (16 pin) wiring harness and no change in solenoid status. No portable scanner/tester available as I live in a small town. I notice the above code is listed in a TSB. Trans has been service at 25000 km intervals and no towing or abuse. Last service at 75000 km's.

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Code is 733 or 732? 733 is a 3rd gear error. &32 is 2nd gear error. I find it interesting this occurs only when hot. Looking at the solenoid activation, I would suspect SSC but it needs to be on for 5th too. I note by asterisk that in the 2nd gear application of the SSC, it says "PCM controlled." Hmmmm...
While we think about possible inputs... the pinpoint tests to be run using the NGS are J, L and M. J us shift solenoids, L is EPC and M is output shaft speed sensor and turbine shaft speed sensor.

yet I come back to the only when hot problem, suggesting a leak with thinned ATF.... back to the VB and separator plate and gasket.

Wondering which will be easiest for you to investigate 1st?

5R55E trans

I checked the resistance of the 4 shift solenoids, EPC, & TCC using the 16 pin connector on outside of trans and readings all fell within spec. I can assume that the internal wiring harness is ok. I checked these readings when trans cold and at operating temp.
Well it looks like I will have to pull the trans oil pan. When I look at the VB, If there is a gasket blowout problem, will I see any evidence around the perimeter of the VB. I will check the solenoid metal retainer for cracks.
I ordered the Mazda update for the VB which includeds the service kit and seperator plate with bonded gaskets. Do I need to order the cover gasket for the reverse servo or does it come in the kit? The dealer wanted $46 per alignment pin for VB. Go figure! Do I really need them or is there another option like a drill bit as a pin?
This is going to be my first time at any trans work so please bare with me. I think what is bothering me the most is when I get the VB off trans and go to remove seperator plate that the balls and spring,etc, parts will jump out of position and I won't have a clue where they belong. Can I turn VB upside down before I remove seperator plate to drain oil out without displacing the internal parts. Should I remove the solenoids (one at a time) to check for debris and would you change the o-rings if solenoid removed? How would you check the solenoid valve for flow. I believe they operate on 12 vdc - yes/no?

5R55E trans

Can I assume that when I select 2nd gear manually (using column shifter) that the main parts (bands,cluthes etc) are ok?

Your instincts are excellent. Let me try and relive some of your worries. With the sep plate still attached, nothing can fall out of the VB. With bonded gaskets, you really do not need alignment pins. They are nice, but less than essential. Yes if you can manually select 2nd, you know the operative parts involved in that shift are fine.

Remember to check the retainer for cracks or breaks allowing an off position solenoid, now or in the fuuture. Depending on mileage I'd not be overly concerned about O rings on the solenoids... but if you have the appropriate size in an assortment to replace them - by all means be my guest. Also depending on mileage I have decided that if you have more than 75,000 on your trannie, and you are in there anyway, it is good practice to replace the EPC solenoid. It ain't cheap, so it's your call, but over time it WILL fail and cause you frustration trying to figure out what is wrong. Cost at dealer ? $160. Cost thru Ford Parts Network (site sponsor)? $112. You can always come back and add that later without removing the VB. You will do fine. trannies are not as tough to work on as they want us to believe. If you need help PM me. My sense is you are a sharp cookie and will do fine. I really think all you need is in the Diary - even if something falls out !

5R55E trans

Well I certainly appreciate your words of wisdom and now await the TSB parts to arrive. I looked at a picture of the valve body in my shop manaul with all the spools/springs,etc, and it looks pretty intimidating. Do I need to take all these parts out of the VB for cleaning? My manual states that SS1 & SS3 are on to get 2nd gear when pcm commanded. Should I pull both these solenoids out of there place in the VB and check the bore/spool and spring out?

Whenever you dismantle a valve body, it's always a good idea to be as thorough as possible, since there are a lot of crevices that could clog. Just because one section didn't present a problem doesn't mean that there isn't some sort of build up in that particular bore. A thorough clean out is always recommended. If you read the A4LD rebuild diary, you will see that Glacier actually put his valve body in a dishwasher! I wouldn't recommend this if your wife is home, or could find out. Anyway, just make sure that you use either WD40, or a special valve body cleaning solution. Brake cleaner isn't recommended as a final spray, since it will remove all of the lubrication on the bore's insides, and create a rough surface for the internal parts. Always finish it off with WD40, or a similar lubricant.

Wrench, if you haven't done so yet, I'd read the 5R55E Valve Body Rebuild Diary. I think you should at a minimum thoroughly explore those bores. BrooklynBay makes a good point.

[ Caution: what follows is not probable, so relax and don't expect to find this... but...SHOULD you find some metal flake that may have jammed a spool (i've seen it happen) take that as a sign to explore the entire VB thoroughly and consider adding an external filter too. In such a case (remote as it is) you are living on borrowed time.]

Thanks Glacier for that mouse pad! I just received it today. I have a question for you. Could hydrogen peroxide be used in an electric parts washer to clean a valve body, or other transmission parts? I've never tried it, so I would like to know what your opinion is before I would attempt to do so. I know that they usually use a special solution similar to brake cleaner in those things. I came across a handy tool tray that is made specifically for valve body work. Here is the link: http://www.atec-trans-tool.com/product-detail.asp?sku=T-0170-A&gid=6&cid=6&sid=73. They actually make 3 models, but this one looks like the most useful out of them.

5r55e Vb

I dropped the oil pan, the oil and the pan were spotless. I checked all the VB bolts and none were loose and the solenoid retaining brackets were in good shape. Removed VB and found seperator plate gasket on VB side blown out in two area's. One was at the reverse servo at the backend, center and the other area was right by the SS2 shift solenoid. I would not have seen either one if I had not taken off the VB. I am now going to clean the VB, install the OEM service kit and sperator plate with bonded gaskets.

Hard to imagine I'd be saying this, but that's GREAT news. You are going to have a good fix and be back in the pink! See, I told you transmissions were not all THAT mysterious!

I originally thought that bonded gaskets were from the factory, not just as an upgrade. Glacier, what do you think about what I said in the previous post about the hydrogen peroxide?

I am skeptical about using Hydrogen peroxide. I have no solid knowldedge, but I do not imagine it will cut the effects of oil and grease and ATF. There are a lot of degreaser/clearners out there that are water soluble and I would rather imagine cheaper than peroxide as well.

FORD came up with the bonded gaskets AFTER the problems started to appear, in 2000 I believe. They made them available back to MY 1998. I am not certain, but I think a running change was made in production and in 2001 or so the factory used bonded plates during assembly at the factory on the 5R55E models. Take this with a grain of salt, I am not certain of it.

5r55e Vb

I need to find the torque value for the three bolts that hold the seperator plate to the VB. I can't read the value on the posted bulletin due to it being blury. :(

I'm surprised that the torque value of those bolts is so low. I know on the A4LD that the valve body bolts are about 120 inch lbs. Would that torque rating be the same on this valve body's bolts as well? Would the 70 inch pound rating also apply to the A4LD's separator bolts?

I notice in the 5R55E VB diary that you show a spring beside the the new blowoff valve and retaining clip. My throttle kit (Ford # 1L5Z-7M203-JB) only came with the blowoff valve and retainer clip. Is the spring something new or from a different VB year? My parts came from the Mazda bulletin 02-12 issued 08/02 and according to dealer that was the latest version for the upgrade. My instruction page which was included with the blowoff valve was also not as completet as your 3 pager. I know that Ford of Canada built my truck so I can't figure out what's up.

Brooklyn...yes the A4LD is exactly the same. Wrench.. look at post # 45 in the series. No spring. Not sure which spring are seeing, but the mod did not come with a spring.

5r55e Vb

I was looking at post #20 in the VB diary. Any suggestions for a lint free cloth to use?

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I'd not obsess about a lint free cloth. If all you have on hand are non-fuzzy paper towels, go for it, carefully, and watch for any remnants.