Broken band apply strut found in the pan. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Broken band apply strut found in the pan.


New Member
December 13, 2009
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City, State
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
'94 XLT
Hello good people of the Explorer forums - I've been reading your stuff since I acquired my XLT last year - this is an awesome source of information and discussion.

My problem is that my tranny seemed to me to be shifting late into 2nd gear (had to baby the gas pedal to get it to shift up). I have approx 170K miles on the odometer - fluid looked a bit dark but not burnt - no telling if it had ever been changed.

I replaced the modulator first off - that didn't fix the problem. I dropped the pan and found a busted intermediate band anchor in lying in the bottom.

as seen here:

There were no metal shavings on the magnet - only just a couple of tiny ones in the bottom of the pan (I'm hoping they are from the busted anchor).

According to a helpful worker at my local transmission shop the Explorer might be skipping 2nd altogether and jumping right into 3rd. He said that a broken anchor is a very, very rare case. He couldn't say what might have caused it other than the anchor getting ****eyed and snapping under strain. One of the little tab ears broke off completely.

I managed to talk the transmission shop out of a replacement anchor - so with the pan off I tried to push the new anchor into the unseen hook on the band (many times - over several hours) but with no luck. The anchor had to go so far in before engaging the band that the adjuster bolt could not tighten up the whole assembly. At one point the anchor even fell into a low spot above the valve body and it took me over an hour to fish it out with a piece of bent wire. The band itself seemed loose and sloppy - with a screwdriver I could push it forward and aft (in the directions of the front and rear bumpers) at least an inch. I'm guessing that this is not good.

My thinking from all of this is that the 'apply' side anchor is probably disengaged and that the whole band is just hanging loosely in place. Could that explain why my attempts to engage the adjustment anchor failed completely? (as well as my late shifting out of 1st - and why I sometimes hear a little scraping sound while driving?)

I have read one of the posts here that says that by dropping the valve body assembly I might be able to see and re-attach the intermediate 'apply' side anchor/lever assembly thereby allowing me to re-set the adjustment-side anchor/bolt assembly and get my little XLT back on her two hind feet.

I've never done that before... I don't mind dropping the VB if there are no complicated surprises AND if I will be able to see and re-attach the 'apply' hardware - thereby allowing me to re-set the adjustment anchor. I just don't want to take this route if it would be a complete waste of time - or if there are concerns that would keep a newbie like me from even attempting this fix. I would very much like to get the opinions of the people here before I took everything apart again.

I'm a complete drive-train 'virgin' so I'm not sure even exactly which transmission is hanging under my XLT. Here is a picture of the pan for starters:


I guess my real question is - Will dropping the VB give me access to the 'apply' side hardware of my intermediate band? If so will it be relatively easy to put back into place? Also - I've read the VB rebuild diary as well as the 'stairway to a VB re-build diary' on this forum group. I don't seem to have the magical 'gold' bolts that should not be removed (mine all look grey). I also do not have any original manual for my vehicle or transmission... Would it be at all possible to get some step by step instructions for safely dropping my VB and re-setting the apply side hardware as well as the adjustment anchor? Will there be a steele plate in the way once I drop the VB?

I'm afraid I'm just a poor, working class stiff with no money for shop repairs and also someone who will be completely lost without my XLT.

If I get answers that are favorable to me doing this job I promise I will take plenty of photographs - - and I will post a complete description of this potential fix - step by step so that anyone with similar problems in future will have at least some guidelines to follow.

thanks so much,
thinblueline - BPD-212

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I'm as lost as you are when it comes to an automatic transmission. Get ahold of Glacier991 if you can. He's the expert. Also try looking at his rebuild thread for some info. I think its a sticky.

I'm not an expert, but the anchor was probably broken when it "passed" into the pan. The intermediate band probably has broken, allowing the anchor to drop.

tranny most likely has to come out.


J...that's my take on the situation.

thanks - and one more question

I appreciate you folks getting back to me so quickly. It looks like we're all in the same boat with our limited knowledge of automatic trannys.

I'm wondering though - I've read a few things about broken bands but what exactly does that mean? Is is that the little metal hook ends (that the anchors engage) break off? Or is it that the C-shaped band itself breaks? Or does the padding material on the the band wear out or shatter in some way as to give the band a broken status? If any of these things happen should I see debris in the pan to confirm such a fatal 'broken band' situation? - I saw no such debris in my pan so I am just trying to make sure...

Please forgive my ignorance but I've heard about broken bands for a while and am trying to understand the difference in that diagnosis versus a total loss of band tension due to an adjustment anchor dislodging or breaking (thereby causing the 'apply-side' hardware to fall loosely onto the valve body).

If a band 'breaks' - how does it usually break and what evidence am I likely to see (if any) in the pan?

thanks again folks - I can't tell you how much your assistance means to me...

Welcome to this forum! The band has tabs on both sides. These anchors press against the tabs. Take a look at how the anchor is designed. The center has an opening which aligns with the tabs on the band so they lock together. The tabs on a band are welded, and sometimes snap off. You will have to take the valve body out to check the band, and install a new anchor providing that the band is good. The sticky in the transmission section on band adjustment has a step by step procedure.

Thanks again guys -

BrooklynBay - I checked the sticky on band adjustment as you suggested. It really did not cover any details about looking at the band/anchors with the VB removed. Did you mean one of the stickies about VB removal/rebuilding? I probably need to know my exact transmission model number so that I can find some type of online manual before following the VB removal procedures.

Am I correct in thinking that I have a 4LD transmission in my 94 Explorer? I've asked two different tranny shop guys and neither seemed to know which transmission I had off the top of their heads.

One clue I can give is that looking at the bottom of the VB I cannot see the apply side hardware as shown in the picture here:


My VB does not seem to have that square inspection hole as pictured above. I can however see the adjustment side anchor spots on both bands. OD anchor is fine - intermediate, of course is sitting on my computer desk in the house.

I did not have any band parts at all in the pan. If the band turns out to be intact is re-setting both anchors something that can be done easily? Even the VB rebuild threads don't seem to mention anything about the bands/anchors.

thanks -


Just to clarify -

The image in my previous post is NOT my transmission. I'm sure you recognize it from a previous thread on this site.

That picture shows exactly what my VB does NOT look like.

-just wanted to be clear-

sorry to be such an annoying newb

Thanks BrooklynBay

The pic does show the anchor in place but it is not of my tranny - it's just a photo I pointed at for for reference.

I see now that my transmission will have that same square access hole but I'll need to drop the VB before I see it.

Concerning the adjustment anchor strut on the 4Ld - Glacier991 said in that band thread (quote):
"If the bolt backs out too far the adjuster could fall out of position into the pan and it is a PITA to replace it under the car (it can be done however)"

Is there any magic trick as to exactly how it can be done? I tried for hours on the adjust side with no results.

One HUGE key question here that might make me change tactics completely: - Is it likely that the apply side anchor is still in place or is it likely that it fell loose when the adjust anchor broke and dropped?

IF it DID drop is it even possible to find/re-align a loose apply anchor through that tiny square hole?