Yet another PTU bites the dust! | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations
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Yet another PTU bites the dust!

krazykarguy

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Last Sunday, my wife was driving our '16 Platinum and got the tell-tale gear oil stench. 61k miles.

She got it home and the stench was quite clearly coming from the vent tube at the top of the PTU. It smelled just like a differential that had been run completely dry.

I had already done the PTU vent hose extension, with the intent of changing the PTU fluid, but discovered I did not have any tools that could remove the drain plug. I left it alone until the next oil change.

Well, that didn't happen. I pumped 12+ oz. of Royal Purple 75w/140 down the extended vent hose. It seemed 'kind of' OK. The PTU and the output seals were dry - no leaks whatsoever! Wife drove it all this week, as I was out of town in my car on business.

However, the car didn't want to move well in reverse as of Thursday. It needed a bunch of throttle just to move, and last night it sounded like there were rocks in the transmission. Checked the PTU, and rear diff, both were completely dry outside. The transmission fluid was red, at the proper level, and did not smell of gear lube. Same for the oil level.

Limped it to the local Ford dealership and am waiting for the confirmation that the PTU is fried, expecting a $$$$ estimate later. If I get what I am expecting, I will be contacting Ford, as I am not a happy camper right now.

We had experienced the 58-68mph shudder for quite some time, and it got REALLY bad as this PTU began to fail. I suggest anyone who gets this shudder get their PTUs serviced ASAP as I believe this was a precursor symptom of the PTU on it's way out.

I'll update this thread as the story progresses.
 



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peterk9

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Members have reported that a failing PTU will give off a propane-type smell.

Peter
 






krazykarguy

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Members have reported that a failing PTU will give off a propane-type smell.

Peter
That’s how my wife described it.

However, a trained nose (read: 20+ years of working on and around cars) can tell its fried/sludged up gear oil.

Which happens to be exactly what’s in that box of garbage Ford calls a PTU.
 






Odrapnew

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Sounds like you might have more than just PTU damage.
A failed PTU doesn't directly result in no movement from transmission, but a failed PTU could damage the trans.

I know in the Mazda CX9 world, when PTU fails (basically same design as Explorer), it can take out the input shaft to the PTU.
Trans and FWD works fine, but no drive to rear wheels. Final repair is new PTU and new/rebuilt transmission ($$$)
A few have removed the PTU and drove the car FWD because the repair cost was not worth the repair.

I'm curious, you said you couldn't remove drain plug, but filled PTU with 12oz of fluid?
Can you clarify?
 






krazykarguy

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Just got the bad news. PTU split the case wide open during the diagnostic test drive in the parking lot. Case puked it's guts out.

$3,400 to repair. Seems kind of steep, but we're stuck now since the car is immobilized at the dealership. Plus, as a Platinum, it has the cooler (which doesn't seem to cool anything), and the only replacement option is Ford OEM.

The Dorman Aftermarket unit does not have the cooler, and the do not offer one with it.

I have opened a case with Ford Customer Care, hoping they might be willing to help out with the bill.

ptu1.JPG



ptu2.JPG
 






krazykarguy

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Sounds like you might have more than just PTU damage.
A failed PTU doesn't directly result in no movement from transmission, but a failed PTU could damage the trans.

I know in the Mazda CX9 world, when PTU fails (basically same design as Explorer), it can take out the input shaft to the PTU.
Trans and FWD works fine, but no drive to rear wheels. Final repair is new PTU and new/rebuilt transmission ($$$)
A few have removed the PTU and drove the car FWD because the repair cost was not worth the repair.

I'm curious, you said you couldn't remove drain plug, but filled PTU with 12oz of fluid?
Can you clarify?
I installed a brass barb fitting and a longer hose extension on the existing vent hose. Slowly filled it with ~12oz via this hose as a 'band-aid'. I hoped it would get us farther than 100 miles and 5 days, but here we are...
As info, the reverse issue noted above was not transmission engagement of the reverse gear, but the PTU binding up, locking the rear wheels and conversely needing to send power to the front to move the car. This was far better (nearly non-existent) moving forward. At the moment, there does not seem to be any transmission damage.
 






Odrapnew

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I installed a brass barb fitting and a longer hose extension on the existing vent hose. Slowly filled it with ~12oz via this hose as a 'band-aid'. I hoped it would get us farther than 100 miles and 5 days, but here we are...
As info, the reverse issue noted above was not transmission engagement of the reverse gear, but the PTU binding up, locking the rear wheels and conversely needing to send power to the front to move the car. This was far better (nearly non-existent) moving forward. At the moment, there does not seem to be any transmission damage.

Not sure adding fluid without knowing current fill level was the best idea, but I don't think it really mattered. I'm sure it was just a matter of time before it completely failed.

I'm guessing the 'rocks in transmission' sound was a chunk of a gear or something in the PTU and it was just a matter of time before that chunk wedged somewhere, causing the case to split.

As for cost, it does seem a bit high based on past prices, but these days, everything is $$$.
 






peterk9

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Sorry to read about the PTU issue but that is just one other reason I always suggest getting an ESP. It likely would have been about 1/2 that cost.

Peter
 






mguy13sport

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Mine leaks onto the exhaust in the same spot but its just the poorly sealed case. I could actually peel the gasket material away easily. You want to check if the fluid is pouring out of the vent nipple as that's what indicates boiling fluid.

Since the dealership has your car they will just want to replace everything. 3400 is very steep price. I'm sure you could find a used low mile PTU for a couple hundred.
 






ExPlat

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Sorry to hear this but it is definitely predictable. My 2016 Platinum's PTU (at 29,000 miles) did not give any noises or vibration before it broke, it just 'snapped and clunked' backing up, we were 20 miles or so away from home on a weekend. During the drive home was when we enjoyed the burnt oil/propane smell, binding, rocks in the transmission and other destruction symptoms of the failed PTU. I'd had that Explorer to the dealership for so many other warranty matters that I called to order a tow truck to pick it up on Monday. Sure enough, a new PTU was installed under warranty. I had the transmission serviced at the same time as a precaution.
I am at 46k miles now and just bought another extended ESP Warranty, just in case.
I wish you good luck in getting some help from Ford, that is expensive.
We had experienced the 58-68mph shudder for quite some time, and it got REALLY bad as this PTU began to fail. I suggest anyone who gets this shudder get their PTUs serviced ASAP as I believe this was a precursor symptom of the PTU on it's way out.

I'll update this thread as the story progresses.
 






krazykarguy

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I sure hope that Ford comes through, the failure rate on these things is pretty unacceptable, especially on a $55k Platinum. The engineers definitely phoned this one in.

As far as ‘adding fluid without knowing the current level’, if you have seen these PTUs dissected you will see that what WAS 18oz of 75w-140 has turned into 4oz of black sludge. If you smell burning, it’s too late. So putting 12oz in it was a no-brainer.

The heat can boil off the fluid without it dumping out the vent, especially if the guts of the PTU is generating its own heat by excess gear and bearing friction.
 


















94Eddie

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Dorman makes a PTU that addresses some of the shortcomings of the OEM unit. Now I know this is Dorman I am talking about but it might be worth looking into what they offer to see if it is worth using.
 






peterk9

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I sure hope that Ford comes through, the failure rate on these things is pretty unacceptable, especially on a $55k Platinum. The engineers definitely phoned this one in.

............................................
It's unacceptable on any vehicle regardless of price.

Peter
 






Pepper2829

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On the wife's '13 Limited (3.5 NA), I first saw a small black puddle after a drive. This was at around 100,000kms. Thats when I found out about the ptu issues. Under warranty I had complained about a 'propane' smell and what I thought was a transmission whine. For the smell, the dealer added a seal on the hatch and nothing about the whine, said it was normal (even though this is whats described in their tsb for the ptu) I ended drilling and tapping for a drain plug and change the fluid at every oil change, also extended the vent using one from a turbo unit. Its been over 50,000kms and no worse. Still a slight whine around 2500rpm that I suspect is the ptu.
 






Green94

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Sorry to hear about your situation. I just swapped out the PTU in my 2014 Explorer Sport as more of preventative maintenance rather than a failure, with 125k miles on the clock. I opted to do it myself after getting two quotes at $2500 and $2700, respectively. Got the parts from Levittown Ford for $1084 shipped and that is for a PTU with the cooler like yours and required gaskets. It came pre-filled with fluid, and I double checked prior to install.

As for the install itself, royal pain. I did manage to get it out between the engine/trans and subframe, but not without removing the turbo oil drain and coolant lines. Without removing them, there was not enough room to align the new PTU to seat into the transmission. And I was using a jack to rock the engine/trans forward, but it doesn't help with the left to right room in that confined space. Removal of parts is what takes the longest, disassembling the passenger side suspension, complete exhaust minus the front catalytic converter and the aforementioned oil/coolant lines. Not sure if it was worth saving $1500, but seems like it now that the job is complete and behind me.

I installed new front lower control arms with ball joints and transmission mounts while I was at it too. So after the recent rear lateral link recall replacement (I replaced the trailing arms as well), my suspension should be in good shape.
 












BrettS.

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I change my PTU fluid every 10k / annually along with drain and refill the trans. I am always amazed at the amount of metal shavings on the drain plug of the PTU. Being a PIU I am fortunate to have an easy access drain plug for the PTU. Take a 1/4 allen wrench. I know Ford says "lifetime" fluid but in my opinion the fluid will break down and cease providing adequate lubrication long before the end of life of the vehicle. The engine oil, trans oil, and PTU all drain pretty easy on jackstands/ramps. Drive up, drain each system, swap oil filter, pull airbox, and refill each. The PTU takes the longest to fill because of the small hose and tendency to hydrolock if you pour too fast.
 



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krazykarguy

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I received the best news of the week yesterday...

Ford has stepped up and is covering $1,885.60 of the repairs!

Total out of pocket for me is going to be $1300 or so, but that is a reasonable expense to 'reset the clock' on our PTU. That's basically what it would cost me to do it myself with a new Ford DG1Z-7251-F PTU on jackstands (which I'd rather not do).

I certainly will be following the Makuloco technique (i.e. extended vent hose for fill) every other oil change.
 






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