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Transmission Whining


Active Member
July 6, 2011
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 Eddie Bauer
2006 Ford Explorer 4.0l V6 transmission whining when in all gears, including neutral. Verified transmission noise by removing serpentine belt. Car still makes noise when car is not moving, so not wheel bearings or anything. Started off as a noise that would go away after a few minutes of driving. Now in winter, noise persists throughout all driving. As of today, I started having driveability problems. The transmission started slipping and hunting for a gear it felt like. Malfunction light came on, but I haven't had it pulled yet. The common faulty shift solenoid seems suspect, but I haven't read of anyone having the whine accompany that problem as of yet. What should I do diagnostics wise?

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You can get a code-reader app for your smartphone for free and an ELM327 OBD-II dongle cheap off Amazon or eBay. Very handy for reading codes and seeing other parameters.

Have you checked the fluid level? Low fluid would do do what you're describing

I have not checked the fluid level. My understanding is that the case is sealed and you cannot check the fluid level. There is no dipstick.

Update on the issue. It started slipping and acting weird this afternoon. I go to drive it and the issues got worse. I tried to take the truck on the interstate to see if the problem affected the higher gears. I couldn't get the truck over 40 mph. I tried limping it home on back roads where the problem got progressively worse until I could not drive the car at all. I lost all gears including reverse, 1, 2,3, Drive. Nothing. I could shut it off for awhile, turn it back on, and then I could move it a little bit. But not enough for a remotely driveable vehicle. I had it towed to a transmission shop.

I looked underneath and the pan is dry. So, if I'm losing fluid, I'm not sure where from or to. There is a coolant leak coming down the passenger side frame rail from the rear of the engine bay area. Willing to bet it's unrelated. Do these v6's even have transmission coolers?

Scratching my head. I drove the truck over 800 miles in the past week with no issues. Just the whining that only started being persistent a couple of days ago. Issues this afternoon, broke down on the side of the road this evening.

What the hell?

they have a tranny cooler if you have the tow package. if you have the big hitch receiver on the back then you should have a cooler.

your coolent leak is probably the heater hose. 3 hoses joined by a plastic T right under the intake pipe... Cheap and easy fix but given the tranny issue you're probably better off scrapping the truck at this point unless the body is immaculate.

I was told by the shop that the torque converter failed and likely caused other damage to the transmission. I thought about what to do with it for a couple of days. This happened a couple hundred miles from my house, otherwise I would be repairing the vehicle myself. I decided to fix it instead of leaving it behind. The shop in Chicago that's doing the rebuild seems to be pretty reputable. They quoted me $1600-1800 on the rebuild which seems pretty fair. They'll be doing the brass sleeves for the solenoids as well as all of the internals. Also comes with a 2 year 24k mile warranty. I'm pretty happy with my decision. No regrets so far.

Since I'm dumping a bunch of money into it now, I figure I'm going to go ahead and address alot of the other issues to make the truck as dependable as possible.

The truck has had a little rattle when in drive at low idle (most noticeable idling at drivethroughs, that kind of thing) since i've owned it at 48k. I'm presuming that the chain needs replacement or the tensioner's at a minimum. I've been towed because of catastrophic failure of 3 different cars in 2018... I'm done playing around. hahah.

My questions:

1. Does this generation of Explorers have the timing issues that the earlier Explorer's did with the "death rattle"? I will pull the motor and do all of the chains and guides if I need too, but obviously I'd prefer not to.

2. What brand of timing components is everyone using? Is Cloyes a safe bet?

3. Also considered doing the chains accessible on the front of the motor without pulling the entire motor. Has anybody heard of the rear chain or guide failing?

4. My truck is only 2WD, so it shouldn't have a balance shaft, correct?

5. Regarding the coolant leak:

The heater valve - I need to replace it obviously. I'm not in the same city as the car, but would like to order a new one for the journey home after they repair the transmission. There's a 2 way and a 3 way available. Does anybody know which one might belong to my 2006 4.0 V6 EB 2WD?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice