Should I let the dealer take it apart? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Should I let the dealer take it apart?

December 11, 2006
Reaction score
City, State
Castaic CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
04 Explorer XLT V8 Tow
Greetings everyone,

I have an 04 V8 4x4 with tow package. I now have 43500mi on it. The 5r55w transmission has had the solinoid block TSB performed, and per the ford service manual and the advise of the dealer's tecnician, it has not been serviced. (100k mi sealed trans) I occasionally tow my 22ft TT which loaded weighs around 5100lbs. Even though the manual does not state it, I tow with OD off unless the ground is flat, if it begins to hunt at all I turn OD off. I also manually select the gear going up (and down) hills if there is any gear hunting, and do I my best to keep it so the torque converter stays locked.

Comming back from a vacation towing my trailer going up a long grade (South I 5 out of bakersfield in CA) the 4-3 downshift under load was very very hard. It did this a few times as the long grade would level and then get steep again. It also did it when I manually shifted into 3rd. Then at home while parking the trailer we noticed a small puddle of ATF. The fluid was pink and did not smell. Looking under the car I could see evidence that it had been leaking, dripping onto the crossmember and on to the front driveshaft which flung it everwhere and it appears the fluid is comming from the bellhousing. After that evening it stopped leaking, and drove normally. Two weeks later when I finally had the time (this is the only family car) I took it in for a diagnosis. No codes had been stored. I was told it might have gotten hot and switched to a failsafe mode causing the hard shifts. The tech told the advisor that it looked like it had been leaking out the front of the trans and he wants to remove it and do a teardown to determine the cause (To the tune of $800 to start).

My question is should I let them do it and take my money, considering it drives normally and doesn't leak? (1k mi since the trip) It is a lot of money (esp this time of year!) and time w/o my family car for a wild goose chase. Also, when I asked if they topped off the fluid, I was told no, that it hadn't leaked enough to cause abnormal driving and would not damage the trans, and if they filled it it "might" leak out again (This kind of sounds like a line of bull to me, more like they were too busy)

As a side note to this, before I bought the TT, I called a dealer and talked to a their master transmission tech. I asked if I should get an external cooler and/or change the reccomended service interval. His response was no to both. He said these vehicles and their drive trains are tested under extreme conditions and if I stayed withing the tow rating I would be fine as stock. In light of this experience I am thinking about adding an aftermarket plate cooler, any thoughts?

Thanks for all your help. I still have 4 years of payments left and I want it to survive at least that long!

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sounds like it overheated and boiled out if the leaking stopped and all shifts are back to normal i would just wait it out if money is tight if something is wrong and it does break it might cost more money in the long run though.

You probably just overheated and vented some fluid. I'd add a plate cooler as you suggest, change the fluid and filter - a flush might be a good idea if not done recently.... and keep an eye on it.

i agree

PS... long grades in OD are not a good idea. I realize you said 4-3 for the shifts but often if you lock out OD you can get ahead of the power curve and keep 4th (you may already be doing this, but just in case and as a reminder to others)