To keep the Transmission questions rolling... - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource

Drivetrain Tech General discussion of drivetrain for the Ford Ranger.

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Old 09-24-2012
TNRanger23's Avatar
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 215
To keep the Transmission questions rolling...

I have a 2004 Single Cab 2.3L XLT.

I bought this truck brand new from the dealer, within the first three months, there was a recall for the transmission, the recall claimed that Ford had put the wrong type of fluid in them. The dealer said the transmission was toast and put a new one in.

Shortly after that, I lost my job (I was 21 and in college at the time) and my mom needed a vehicle so she took over the payments and drove the truck for years.

Around 2009 she bought a new F-150 and I got the truck back, I found out that she had never changed the transmission fluid, ever. I was advised by a Ford tech as well as a tech at Firestone and a local transmission place in Nashville not to change the fluid, just to drive it until it died and get a new one or get it rebuilt.

Around March of this year, I noticed that the truck was starting to shift kinda hard, it wasn't bucking or jumping, but you could feel it shift. It hasn't really changed much at all since then, I haven't had the money to get a rebuild and have been scared to go to a transmission shop for fear that they'll want to take it apart to diagnose it, then there's no going back.

I went out tonight for the first time in six-eight months and checked the tranny fluid. It's brown, it's not red, it's not black, it's brown. It smells burnt, but it's not gritty, it's slick, smooth, and there's no visible pieces of metal on the dipstick.

While driving home tonight (I went out specifically to drive 25 or so miles so I could warm it up, being that it's Sunday night, there was minimal traffic on the road, so I was out testing it.) I decided to try to test it out. I had been noticing that when it would go to shift gears, it would go up to 3,000rpm's before shifting, and you could feel it change.

Tonight, while out just playing around with it, I noticed that it really only goes up to 3,000rpm's if I'm trying to get up to speed quickly, (which most Texas and Florida guys can likely relate to, having to pull out onto a highway with a 55mph or 60mph speed limit) it rarely ever goes past 3,000rpm's unless I gun it and try to pass someone, which I've only done once in the last six-eight months because I don't want to kill it, and when I did it, it didn't have much power, atleast imho it didn't.

When I'm sitting in my driveway, cycling through the gears (with my foot on the break) I find that it shifts into most of my gears fairly easy, when I shift into reverse, it takes a couple seconds and you can feel it jump, I'm not sure if that's normal, but to be honest, I can't ever remember a time when it didn't have any of these symptoms.

What am I looking at ? The truck is currently sitting just shy of 147,000 miles. I'm prepared to have the tranny rebuilt, there have been a couple shops that told me, everything out the door for less than $1,500.

Should I try to have the fluid changed ? (not flushed, but changed) would that make a difference with the shifting ? I noticed when I checked the fluid that it was overfull by a little bit, which is weird considering it hasn't ever been changed. The only thing that's ever gone wrong with this truck in the past was it needed a major tuneup and a Co2 sensor went bad. I'm wondering if, since I'm getting up in the miles, if it's not about to turn into a money pit.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do about the transmission ?

Part of me wants to just leave it alone, drive it until it dies, save my money, and just buy something new when it does, then again, it's been in my family for eight years and I love the truck.

Thanks for reading, looking forward to you guys advice and comments.

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Old 09-24-2012
Kris03's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: glastonbury, ct
Posts: 1,236
I didnt read the whole thing but i have to say it bugs me when people say not to change their tranny fluid. Every 30k is a rule for me except i you have Merc LV. You wouldnt leave old dirty oil in your engine passed its change date. Leaving it in there will cause you more problems. Especially if its been in there sincr the new transmission. Flush it out. Back flush the cooler and replace the filter. Amd if its real bad sometimes at work we have to flush it twice.
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Old 09-24-2012
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: stockton ca
Posts: 92
If it were mine, I'd flush and change the filter. The thought process of leaving old, contaminated fluid inside of the tranny is that all the metal shavings are whats holding the clutches and plates together. I never really bought into it, but it makes sense.
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Old 09-24-2012
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Havertown,PA
Posts: 467
I would flush it too! I think it would only improve it.
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Old 09-25-2012
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Santa Clarita
Posts: 23
since you are already pricing it out for a new tranny, go ahead and change it. I know at my work we wont touch it if it hasent been changed in over 100000 miles because of the metal shaving holding the clutch packs together. Worst case scenario is that you get that rebuilt trans when this one starts to slip harder from new fluid and may go out. Its really up to you. I got a flush for free and jumped on it even though my reverse gear does the same thing as yours, however, i also think the delearship changed it before i bought the truck. Your decision
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Old 09-25-2012
TNRanger23's Avatar
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 215
Thanks for the replies..

I talked to a few shops locally here in Conroe, TX and they mostly said that they didn't want to mess with it unless I was going to have it atleast taken apart and cleaned.

One guy said that he's taken transmissions that haven't had the fluid changed in 100,000 miles, changed the fluid and filter, only to have the transmission die before even leaving the parking lot.

The truck drives and it drives okay, I'm thinking about just driving it until it dies as I'm already planning to replace the transmission as it is.

Ironically, I got a call the other day from one of the finance managers at a Ford dealer up the road that I was dealing with about 9 months ago, he called to tell me that he had a 2010 Ranger Sport, extended cab 4.0 on his lot, 50,000 miles for only $17,995!

I couldn't help but laugh, been there and done that.

Thanks again for the replies. I'm just scared that if I mess with the fluid and filter right now that it'll completely destroy the tranny.
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