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Need Some 1992 Explorer Trans Diagnostic Help


January 12, 2014
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Year, Model & Trim Level
1992 Ford Explorer Sport
For the past few months I've been having a fairly regular problem with my transmission. When cruising around 30 to 45 mph the transmission seems to shift up a gear too high and the motor lugs. If I come to a hill or what to speed up and I give it gas it downshifts sometimes and then upshifts too early and bounces back and forth. Other times it stays locked in gear and won't downshift unless I really stomp on the gas. When it's lugging if I take my foot off the gas or brake the transmission stays locked in gear, really brings down the RPM's, almost stalls and then there's a clunk and it shifts down. Last week it stalled twice (once with 4X4 on, once in 2 wheel) instead of downshifting. And sometimes it operates like nothing is wrong.

When I accelerate it usually has no problems, but sometimes I get upshift/downshift bounce for awhile around 35-45mph and rarely at 50-60mph and is fine at speeds above 65.

If I'm going to have to slow down from 30-45 to stop at a light I can shift it manually into neutral or 2nd or 1st and there is no problem with disengagement. I can start it in 1st and shift into 2nd and run it with no problems.

I have checked the vacuum lines, replaced the vacuum modulator, have no fluid leaks, no idiot lights, and seems to be independent of temperature - happens when the transmission is hot, cold, whatever.

Any ideas/help with what's going wrong would be greatly appreciated!

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The TCC solenoid is about to fail. (possibly)

The TCC solenoid "prevents" lock up, not the other way round.

That's why the intermittent fail to unlock.

In 1st or 2nd TCC lock is not possible and is then hydraulically switched, so it is independent of the solenoid in 1st or 2nd.

Also point blank shot that the TCC solenoid is gone.

However do some more reading here as there are other causes for TCC issues.

Some as simple as the PCM temp sensor. (there are two one for the guage and one for the computer) If this is bad it usually prevents TCC all together. (prevents lock up until engine is warmed up)

Could be the wiring, External or inside the trans pan.

Also could be the TPS and/or VSS

Throttle position and Vehicle speed are also inputs the PCM uses to control lock up.

So double check all these components before you get all "rebuild happy"

All this being said the fact that your's is failing to "unlock" but otherwise works point's to the electric TCC solenoid.

Your weird up-shifts however are more likely the kick-down cable out of adjustment.

Thanks for the pointers! I adjusted the kick-down this morning but it didn't make any difference with the bouncing shifting. I'll be checking out the sensors when the rain clears up.

Put he gear selector in "D" not overdrive.

That should take care of the up-shift flares. (bouncing)

This is what we call "morning sickness" and is unrelated to the TCC issue.

Cold whether makes this worse.

Manually shifting 1-2-D until it's warmed up will help.

When it is really cold out I can't even get 3rd gear for about the first mile. Been drive'n it this way for three years now.

Just drive it 3 speed style (in "D" drive) until you get above 45 mph and you'll be able to get by until the weather warms up.

And of course double check the fluid level.

Good luck.

I've tried putting in in drive but get the same issues, happens regardless of the operating temp or the outside temp. I've driven for 3 hours @ highway speed and when I pull off I have the same issues & the fluid level is good.

Ok with all that info I think your governor is sticking really bad. Broken spring on it maybe.

Good news is that can be cleaned up without pulling the trans.

You've got multiple things going on that are adding up but should be correctable.

The TCC solenoid sounds bad as well as the governor sticking.

Also now that you have adjusted the kick down cable it's time to do the shift cable as well.

The procedure for adjusting the cable at the transmission is something like this:
Shift System Adjustment, Ranger, Explorer and Aerostar

1. Place transmission shift select lever in the OD position.

2. Hang a three-pound weight on the end of the shift select lever.

3. Raise the vehicle on a hoist.

4. Release lock tab on the top side of the cable by pushing down on the two tangs.

5. Disconnect the shift cable from the transmission lever.

6. Shift the transmission into overdrive. On Ranger and Explorer vehicles, move the transmission lever all the way rearward (counterclockwise) and then forward three detent positions. On Aerostar vehicles, move the transmission lever all the way forward (counterclockwise) and then rearward three detent positions.

7. Reattach shift cable to transmission lever.

8. Completely push down the lock tab on the shift cable, making sure it fully engages, locking cable in place.

9. Make sure shift cable is clipped to floorpan.

10. Lower vehicle down from hoist.

11. Adjust shift indicator pointer while transmission is still in the OD position.

12. Remove the weight and check for proper engagement of all gears, including park

A stretched cable will keep the transmission from shifting to the correct detent stop but if you feel the transmission is slipping while in gear, there's a good chance the clutch bands or shift solenoids may need servicing in the transmission.

Check this thread for info on cleaning/replacing the governor.

Good pics at post # 110 so you see whats involved.

Keep searching here for more info and get as much info as you can.

There are lots of easy to do tune-ups (cheap) that can be done to get some more life out of your trans.

I'm going to check the sensors after work tomorrow, wishing it something easy like a sensor but I think I'll have to do the TCC solenoid which requires a trip to my Dad's where I can work in a garage. Governor sounds like it might be faulty from my checking around the forum so I'll check that out too.

I hope I can get some more life out of it, we rebuilt it 6ish years ago, and I don't want to do that again! haha

Thanks for the help!

Come back and post your results,, could be useful info!

Tell us exactly what you found so it can be used in the future for this set of symptoms.

Will do, it's going to be a week or two before I can work on it, parts need to be shipped and I didn't want to pay crazy money for fast shipping. Hoping it won't take me more than 2 days to get it all swapped out and back on the road!

Well I finally had time to work on the transmission; replaced the TCC solenoid, the 3-4 solenoid (since I had the valve body off), throttle position sensor, and the VSS. The trans fluid didn't look bad and no bits of metal in it either. Buttoned everything back up and took it for a test drive - and nothing changed.

So could my problems all be caused by a faulty governor? I'm going to adjust the bands tomorrow if the lock nuts have been loosened up by pb blaster.

If/when I go to work on the governor can I drop the transfer case without draining it?

I'm lost now.

So your saying you have 1st and 2nd. But then nothing above that?

At least nothing consistent?

3rd gear some times?

4th gear never?

TCC sometimes? TCC never.

I can't seem to figure out which gear your having trouble with.

Try re-posting your question in the transmission section, Get the trans guru's to have a look/listen.

I have all gears but the when I have it in OD or D it seems to shift up too early to 3rd & 4th in OD or 3rd in D, when I'm running at 35mph+ then take my foot off the gas or hit the brakes to slow down/stop the transmission stays locked in high gear - sometimes it will unlock with a bang or other times it will stall out. If i'm quick I can shift it into 2nd to unlock it. Also sometimes at 35-45mph it will jump between gears and this happens 55-60mph but not as much. These all happen if the transmission is hot or cold.

I replaced the 3-4 solenoid because I had the valve body out and I was worried if one solenoid went the other might not be too far behind. I replaced the VSS and the TPS just to eliminate them as a possibility in case i was getting a momentary drop in voltage that wasn't getting picked up on the volt meter. Adjusted the bands and that also didn't seem to change anything.

I'll try re-posting in the transmission section to see if anyone there has any other ideas. Thanks for your help!

I haven't given up on ya brother. Post 12 clears up my confusion.

It still sounds like my first thought; from post # 2

That the TCC is sticking. (and engaging to early)

None of the forward gears will stall the engine when you come to a stop.

If the Torque Converter Clutch is still locked when you come to a stop it will stall the engine.

The red arrow shows the shuttle valve spring. This is also a potential cause of your problem.

Did you pull the shuttle valve out to inspect when you replaced the TCC solenoid?


If/when I go to work on the governor can I drop the transfer case without draining it?[/QUOTE said:
Yes, it only holds 1.7 qt. so it doesn't add enough weight to be a concern.

I posted in the transmission section and got the same advise about that spring, I didn't check it because I only had the weekend to work on it and didn't want to get in too deep. Well I suppose I'll have to pull it again, but at this point I might pull it and rebuild the whole valve body.

Weight of the fluid wasn't my concern with the transfer case - I'm lazy and didn't want to drain & refill it if I didn't have to haha

Thanks for the advise, now just need to save up for the parts and find some time to work on it.