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'97 5R55E has no first gear-Need advice.

MotownGT

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July 29, 2008
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City, State
St. Clair Shores, MI
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 Explorer Sport
I will begin by apologizing if this post seems excessively long, but I am trying to provide as much information as I can.

I recently acquired a 1997 Explorer Sport 4x4. 4.0 SOHC, automatic, 101,400 miles. The mileage is 70% city, 30% highway according to the previous owner. No towing, and no serious off road usage. The previous owner claimed that the fluid was changed every 3 years or so (~30,000 mile interval) but could not produce any documentation to that effect. He claimed that he did the work himself, but did not keep receipts for ATF, gaskets, filters etc. Therefore, I am operating under the assumption that the fluid was in fact NOT changed on any sort of regular basis. The fluid is a bit on the dark side, but does not smell burned.

The major issue is that the transmission acts like it has lost first gear. When starting from a dead stop, placing the shifter in "D" will barely move the vehicle. The motor revs like the transmission is in neutral, and the truck will barely, and I mean barely, creep forward once the rpms reach 4000 or so. Same deal if the shifter is in "1." Placing the shifter in "2" allows the truck to go forward. It will accelerate in second gear as well as I would expect it to, given the torque of the motor and the rear gearing. Once the truck is moving 10mph or so, placing the shifter back in "D" will allow it to shift through the rest of the gears normally. I've done this and accelerated up to about 50-55mph without issue. However, when coasting to a stop, when the speed and rpms drop enough to where it would downshift back into first gear, the truck will coast to a stop and act like it's in neutral again. Reverse acts normally at all times.

So, with that said, what are my options here?

-Valve body: Based on the other threads in this forum, it seems like a rebuilt valve body is the solution to any number of transmission issues in Explorers. Do my issues sound like the symptoms of a failed valve body? Approximately how much money would I need to spend to get a good rebuilt valve body and the necessary solenoids? Are there any reputable online vendors?

-Bench rebuild: What sort of price range would you guys consider to be reasonable for a bench rebuild of the entire transmission? I have done enough R&Rs to be comfortable doing it on the explorer, but I would leave the internal work to someone else.

-Used transmission: One of the other members of this forum was kind enough to offer me a used 5R55E from a 2000 Explorer 4.0 for $400. He was told it has 35,000 miles on it. Would this transmission be a direct replacement for the one in my '97?

Any insight into this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 




pj8847

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March 18, 2005
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City, State
N.Y.C.
Year, Model & Trim Level
'95 XLT 4x4 4.0L OHV
Being that reverse works, that rules out the band being damaged or the low/reverse servo... 1st shares the same band as reverse if i remember correctly.

So you have 2nd through OD? Is the OD light blinking? even if it's not, do you have anyone that can check for any stored codes in the computer? (local autozone can do it since you can still drive it starting in 2nd)

Sounds like it could be a VB problem, since the low/reverse servo is working for reverse, but not low/1st... could be as simple as a solenoid taking a dump, the transmission range sensor being bad (or better known as the DTR), Electrical harness problem, or a blown out VB gasket. Or, it could be more severe as internal damage. (Overdrive One-Way Clutch, Rear One-Way Clutch, etc...).

First thing to check for would be codes, it could narrow down the cause if there are any stored...

To answer the other questions...

rebuilt/reman VB: Best place I have used to get a Vb from is Central Valve bodies... Donnie Lester is the man to talk to. I have the info somewhere, or you can do a search on the forums, many have used his services more recently then I, and will have much more updated info... (I believe I was the first on the forums to get a VB from him, and that was a while ago) or you have the option of doing it yourself with the helpful guides and diaries on the forums.

Bench rebuild: I wouldn't spend more then $700-$800 tops for complete rebuild including all hard parts, etc, as the bulk of the $2400 to $3500 shop prices are for the labor of removal/installation.

Used tranny: If it's known to be good, and is the same as yours, then it should be no problem (5R55E, just make sure bellhousings are the same, if they are, its a direct bolt up.)

Again...check for codes, it could help tremendously...
 




Joined
December 10, 2006
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Had same problem

I too had the same thing happen to my 97. Eventually reverse went not sure if it was the same problem or two separate incidents. I was told it was something internal by a local rebuild shop. Hope yours isnt good luck.
 




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