Dilemna: Fix It / Rebuild or New Transmission | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Dilemna: Fix It / Rebuild or New Transmission


Active Member
July 9, 2008
Reaction score
City, State
Dallas, TX
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 Explorer XLT
After experiencing a transmission flare slip in my Explorer, I have learned that there are potentially 5 inexpensive problems that cause the same symptoms: clogged filter, faulty shift solenoid, faulty epc solenoid, loose valve body, blown or faulty valve body gasket. It occurred to me that finding the cause is a process of elimination that a transmission shop may not have the luxury of pursuing.

For example, let's say a transmission flared with 85,000 miles and it left the operator stranded. What if the "shop" fixed the problem by replacing the electronic pressure control solenoid? And, 2 months later.....a valve body gasket blew out.......And, 2 months later a shift solenoid expired? Regardless of how upstanding the shop was trying to be for saving the owner money --- their reputation in the public arena would suffer for not being able to fix the problem.

And what if this is the primary vehicle for a soccer mom who couriers 4 children to dance, cheerleading, baseball and soccer games? Or, what if it belongs to a single female who travels long to and from college? These are people who do not need to be stranded on the road at night in the name of saving a few dollars.

Realistically, if the transmission went out 2 months after the first incident, the shop would probably not get a second chance since it would be perceived that they are incompetent.

I guess it is a slippery slope in trying to meter the necessary service vs. a more permanent solution such as a rebuild or a new transmission. Therefore, I am not sure what I would do if I owned the transmission shop.

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There are other factors in what causes a shift flare such as a loose band, a bad servo piston, a warped valve body, or a leaking valve body. Are you worried about the transmission being totally dead or flaring in certain gears? The computer is always involved, and will set a code if the problem is severe enough.

Dropping the pan usually tells a lot, when there are hard parts damaged it shows up at the bottom in the form of metal bits and sludge that a good shop can analyze.

When a transmission starts to act up people hope and pray for an inexpensive solution, but more often than not, after about 80-100k miles, it's going to need a rebuild for $2,500+. I have a shop that I have used for 3 rebuilds on different vehicles over the last 12 years that I trust, and he tells me that the Explorer Automatics from the mid 90's rarely make it beyond about 115,00 miles based on what his customers are bringing in.

The manufacturer recommends that the fluid be changed at 30k miles but no one apparently does it.


I guess I didn't communicate the point of my message very clear. I'm not saying that I am trying to decide between a Fix / Rebuild or New transmission for my situation.

Instead, I now realize there are a lot of "minor" things that can cause the flare / slip. And these issues can manifest themselves in a series of breakdowns as the mileage increases.

Therefore, if I was a transmission shop, instead of addressing a specific item, I might be more inclined to recommend a comprehensive rebuild/or new replacement for a high mileage tranny if it is the primary vehicle for a mom and kids so that I minimize their chances of getting stranded.


I have 209,000 on my transmission before this shift flare. I cannot express how pleased I have been with my Explorer. And, I bought my mom one just like it several years ago and she has 185,000 on hers. She told me the other day that her transmission was shuttering a little bit when it is cold, but after it warms up it is fine. I have a feeling that is just going to be a filter/fluid issue.

We're both on borrowed time, because of the mileage. But, so what..... in my opinion, we are both winners with these Ford Explorers.

I may go ahead and have hers rebuilt or replaced for the same reason I made this posting. It isn't worth taking a chance on some of these more common and predictable issues leaving her stranded. Too many people die each year after having car trouble.

Predictable is Preventable.