'97 Explorer Tranny solenoid digonosis | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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'97 Explorer Tranny solenoid digonosis

gts

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December 31, 2011
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City, State
Issaquah, WA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'97 Ford Explorer
So my Explorer quit working in 3rd and reverse. The engine just reves in these gears. If you manually put it in 1s or 2nd it goes just fine. If you get it on the road and up to 60 in manual 2nd then shift into drive let off the throttle for a few seconds until it shifts up into 4th it works fine as well.

I dropped the valve body to see if there was a blown gasket or anything and didn't see anything. However when I put it back together I realized one of the springs had fallen out from behind one of the other solenoids and I didn't see it in the bottom of the drain pan until I started dumping the fluid back in it. So when I pulled it back out of the shop now in manual 1st or 2nd it does the same thing where the engine reves way up and it barely moves. This got me thinking maybe either a spring is broken or one of the other valves is messed up.

How do you bench test the solenoids in these? How much voltage goes to them? Can you just put 12 volts to them or will that blow them up? Hoping to tear into this on New Year's day so any advice on this as soon as possible would be awesome! Also are the solenoids something that NAPA carries or do I have to get them from a tranny shop?
 



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A 97 Explorer has a 5R55E trans which is a 5 speed with a lock up torque converter. Solenoids can be checked for open circuit with an ohm meter but require a test machine to check actual function. You need an ATSG manual to check valve spring size and placement. They are 12 volt solenoids but the computer varies the voltage on some according to trans load.
Did you pull the trans codes?
 






Check the solenoid bracket(s) also.
 






I haven't pulled trans codes yet but the OD light isn't flashing either so I'm not sure what I'm going to find.

From what I've been reading up with so far the actual 4 shift solenoids are all on/off the other two solenoids are PWM. So I assume if they are full 12 volt solenoids and the PCM doesn't regulate the voltage down to them I could at least check the on/off function of them?
 






You can check all of them that way. But they still may have leakage.
 






You mean the valves may have leakage or the solenoids may have leakage? How do you check for leakage? And what do you look for?
 






The solenoids have a valve built into them. Leakage can only be tested with a special test machine, most people just replace the suspected ones.
 






OK so I checked over all the solenoids and they all seem to be working fine. They have the save resistance, and when I put voltage to them they all click. If I blow in the end of them I can hear the air escaping from the orfice in the back of the solenoid, then when I activate it it changes and comes out between the o-rings so they all seem to be functioning. Obviously if there is an actual internal leak I can't tell that but I'm going to say they are OK.

So my next question. If I put it in D it doesn't go. If I rev the piss out of it, it'll act like it wants to move but it doesn't actually move. However if I put it in manual 1st or 2nd it goes just fine. In D it should be starting out in 1st anyway so what does it do different in manul 1st or 2nd, vs being put in D?
 






Manual 1st and 2nd are different than Drive 1st and 2nd because different things are applied in order to achieve engine braking in manual 1st and 2nd which you don't have in drive. You need a ATSG manual. Read some of the stickes and search the forum, others have had the same problem. Coast clutch or rear one way clutch could be bad.
Did you put new gaskets on the valve body separator plate, upper and lower?
 






OK so I checked over all the solenoids and they all seem to be working fine. They have the save resistance, and when I put voltage to them they all click. If I blow in the end of them I can hear the air escaping from the orfice in the back of the solenoid, then when I activate it it changes and comes out between the o-rings so they all seem to be functioning. Obviously if there is an actual internal leak I can't tell that but I'm going to say they are OK.

So my next question. If I put it in D it doesn't go. If I rev the piss out of it, it'll act like it wants to move but it doesn't actually move. However if I put it in manual 1st or 2nd it goes just fine. In D it should be starting out in 1st anyway so what does it do different in manul 1st or 2nd, vs being put in D?

Manual 1st applies the low/reverse band and the coast clutch...Manual 2nd applies the intermediate band, the coast clutch and engages 3rd gear... BOTH positions turn on shift solenoid #4...

The solenoids are on at various times but #1 seems to be on as soon as the key is turned on and stays on until the tranny is in 4th or 5th gear...Now since you have lost 1st and 2nd gear I would begin to think that solenoid #1 is either defective, non functional, or the valve body is the source of the problem...Losing 3rd gear can be caused by solenoid #2 failing off or the vb not working to let the valves in the vb do their job...Since the solenoids all seem to function I would lean towards the vb as the problem... Leaking valves, gaskets, or a combo of those and low pressures causing your problems...

Did you ever find where the spring you found came from? When you reseated the solenoids, did they all fit into the vb completely? What abount the o-rings on each one? Since you still have drive of some type I wouldn't ditch your tranny just yet...
 












Will the coast clutch affect forwad motion if it's applied or not. My thinking is no, but I'm not sure. So besides that what else is it that would allow the clutches to engage and I have forward movement when manually shifted but not in D? The only other thing I can think of is the manual shift spool having something to do with it. How does it direct fluid differently when in D vs. 1st or 2nd?

What is the purpose of the rear one way clutch, and what does it do when it fails?

I pulled codes last night and the only code that came up was 4th gear incorrect ratio. I'm pretty sure 3rd has been the issue because it seems like when I get over 60ish and shift into D it still has 4th and 5th. But maybe it is 4th that's acting up. Now I'm not so sure.

Yes I knew where the sprint went as soon as I found it. The one solenoid popped out because of the spring pressure pushing against it. It was the forward most solenoid on the passengers side, which is the side with only two solenoids.

I haven't replaced any gaskets as of yet. The upper gasket looked fine and I didn't see anywhere obvious where it was leaking or blown. I didn't take the separator plate off the VB to check the lower gasket as of yet because I wanted to be able to put it back together and drive it out of my dad's garage so I didn't want to tear it up getting it apart.

I've half thought about just buying a Transgo Shift kit for it to get some of the updates and the new separator plate with new gaskets and hope that fixes it but I hate just throwing parts at it in hopes to fix it especially being I've been planning on getting rid of it anyway, I just need to get it fixed before I can sell it.
 






rear one-way clutch

The ATSG manual contains very little mechanical diagnostic data. For the rear one-way clutch:

Man. 1st - overrunning for driven and coasting
Man. 2nd - overrunning for driven and coasting
Drive 1st - hold for driven and overrrunning for coasting
Drive 2nd - hold for driven and overrrunning for coasting

The above may indicate that a rear one-way clutch with no hold capability matches your symptoms.
 






A Transgo shift kit will not fix a no drive condition.
 






The ATSG manual contains very little mechanical diagnostic data. For the rear one-way clutch:

Man. 1st - overrunning for driven and coasting
Man. 2nd - overrunning for driven and coasting
Drive 1st - hold for driven and overrrunning for coasting
Drive 2nd - hold for driven and overrrunning for coasting

The above may indicate that a rear one-way clutch with no hold capability matches your symptoms.

That does sound likely. If that's the case though then what drives it in Man 1st and 2nd? Is this clutch by chance serviceable from the rear of the tranny without having to pull the tranny and do a full rebuild?



A Transgo shift kit will not fix a no drive condition.

Obviously if there is something mechanically wrong it wouldn't fix it. My only thought was if I am going to buy gaskets and they come afixed to the sep plate and it is indeed just a blown gasket then that would fix the issue.
 






Nothing inside the trans can be removed from the rear, only comes apart from the front.
You could buy a re manufactured valve body, that has sleeves put in bores that were worn, and tested, like from Central Valve Bodies , this would eliminate all valve body problems, providing you instal it correctly. If it doesn't work then, it is a problem inside the trans.
 












I was afraid of that.

As to my other question as per your earlier post the clutch doesn't engage when in D. So what locks up to get forward motion in D?
 






what locks in Drive?

I was afraid of that.

As to my other question as per your earlier post the clutch doesn't engage when in D. So what locks up to get forward motion in D?

As I posted, when the transmission is being driven by the torque converter the rear one-way clutch is in hold when the selector is in Drive and 1st or 2nd gear is engaged. When the vehicle is coasting the rear one-way clutch is in overrun when the selector is in Drive and 1st or 2nd gear is engaged. I think that is why there is no engine breaking.
 



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As I posted, when the transmission is being driven by the torque converter the rear one-way clutch is in hold when the selector is in Drive and 1st or 2nd gear is engaged. When the vehicle is coasting the rear one-way clutch is in overrun when the selector is in Drive and 1st or 2nd gear is engaged. I think that is why there is no engine breaking.

You initially said the clutch is in hold in D 1st and 2nd, but not in manual 1st and 2nd. So I asked if the clutch is what is in hold propeling the vehicle forward in D 1st and 2nd, when it's in manual 1st or 2nd and the clutch isn't in hold what is engaged to propel the vehicle forward? Or is this clutch what actually locks to propel the vehicle, or is it the coast clutch?

Here first you're saying it's in hold in D 1st and 2nd, then you say it's in coast in D 1st and 2nd. I assume it was a typo.
 






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