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Ford Freestar Transmission Problems



  • nadinebnadineb Posts: 190
    NHTSA just moved the Defect Petition on the 2004 model year to a Preliminary Evaluation on August 23. It is just for the 2004 models.
  • It is obvious that it does include years beyond that. It's too bad they are only starting with the 2004 models and not including the other years that have the very same issue.
  • What a weekend from hell. I am a single parent with three children and my transmission died. Can't get a new car because I owe to much money and have no way to work. Can't afford to fix it. :sick: :cry: :mad:

    The car gave me no problems before that and it just would not go forward. I have read all of your posts and it would seem that Ford would have done a recall on the vans. Wonder if someone should call a news station an report it. Ford does not seem to want to help. If I new how and who to contact I would do it.

    I have always like Fords and have nerver had a problem until this one. I really need some help. Any suggestions.
  • Start with your local dealer and the Ford Motor Company, and your state's attorney general's office. File a complaint with the National Highway Safety Administration, the more they get the more Ford will have to answer for.
    The dealership has ways of helping. Ford didn't like it, but they helped me the first time mine went. Mine has now gone twice, so get it fixed if you can get their help, and get out of that van as quickly as you can. I am in the same boat with owing more on it than it will ever be worth, and now have much more cash into it than I should. Ford needs to face this problem head on, but they are not. It doesn't say much for the American auto industry. My next car will be foreign engineered and produced, I am that disgusted with the issue.
  • nadinebnadineb Posts: 190
    There are too many sad stories on this site. I do not understand why the government is not taking any action against this company.

    I feel so bad for Singlewkids. Ford provides secret warranties through the dealerships. Ask Ford how a recall is made on a vehicle. See what they tell you. Keep fighting for what you know is right!
  • Root cause of Torque converter failure, from my point of view. From what I have been reading most folks are on vacation and probably carrying additional weight (luggage, people, etc, which one would expect to) and traveling on hot days so there appears to be a greater load on the engine and transmission. After some duration of time on the trip, the combination of the heated transmission fluid and extra weight/load causes the splines on the torque converter to fail. Once the metal pieces from the converter splines enter the transmission fluid, they end up contaminating your entire transmission system. Now you’re into having to replace your entire transmission vice just the torque converter which more than doubles your repair bill.
  • I have the Mercury Monteray. I agree will everything you say. Mine issue took place on a hot day coming out of the mountains. The only difference is I had 3 adults and no other extra weight. My transmission person explained it the same way you did.
    It has been replaced and works great now. However, we did take out an extended warranty on the rebuilt transmission.
  • Your extra load was the mountains....
  • I was alone, in an empty car, about ten minutes from my house, on a hot Texas day in August, (about 100 degrees), when my transmission failed with absolutely no warning. My car hadn't been over 45 MPH, until I started to accelerate onto the tollway ramp, where it failed. I doubt if my transmission ever had a chance to overheat.
  • You need to read a little longer and a little deeper, sir, because your point of view is wrong. I am a former auto technician/service manager with a college degree in automotive technology, no longer in that line of work though. I own an '05 Freestar with a tranny that gave up the ghost without warning after church in the parking lot in January at 52K miles. No mountains, no luggage, no heat. The trans had been serviced right on schedule at about 30K. While heat, weight will add to the fatigue, the problem is with the DESIGN--bad converters. It goes and then instantly spreads metal and destroys the tranny. I love the van overall, but I'm waiting and hoping to get some $$ back someday.
  • That was not the case either time mine went. First time, the van was empty, driving it alone with no cargo on a mild summer morning. Second time was just my daughter and I in the van, no cargo, and it was an early evening in February. I'm not letting them off the hook with a weather explanation. This issue seems to me to have not as much to do with the weather and conditions inside the vehicle as it does with faulty engineering.
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Not the case here. It failed on a cold December evening with only the driver in the van. Temperature has little effect. Hot transmission fluid would be around 200 deg under a heavy load. That wouldn't even soften lead.

    From what I've been able to learn is that it is due to inadequate heat treating of the input shaft. This could happen a couple of ways. 1). Ford decided to save a few bucks and skimp on the heat treating. 2) Ford specified the correct level of heat treating, but their supplier decided to make a few extra dollars and skimped on it. In this case, Ford's QA staff should have caught it.
  • Well, mine was just one passenger (140 lbs) on a rainy evening in March. Had not been on any recent road trips and I was just coming home from a quick trip to Home Depot. (2006 Freestar, 46,000 miles)
  • Roger that...I was drawing my conclusion on several write ups, which I believe was the straw that broke the camel's back...."Metal fatigue is the progressive and localized structural damage that occurs when a material is subjected to cyclic loadings." Yes I believe that the spline shaft material had defects
    , either from the heat treatment or just poor raw materials.

    "The AXOD and its successors are built in Ford's Van [non-permissible content removed] Transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Production of the final member of the family, the 4F50N (a renaming of the AX4N), ended in November 2006."

    Youtube video shows Ford's tranmission plant, even with the torque converter robot.
  • "Why ATF Wears Out
    An automatic transmission creates a lot of internal heat through friction: the friction of the fluid churning inside the torque converter, friction created when the clutch plates engage, and the normal friction created by gears and bearings carrying their loads.

    It doesn't take long for the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to heat up once the vehicle is in motion. Normal driving will raise fluid temperatures to 175 degrees F., which is the usual temperature range at which most fluids are designed to operate. If fluid temperatures can be held to 175 degrees F., ATF will last almost indefinitely -- say up to 100,000 miles. But if the fluid temperature goes much higher, the life of the fluid begins to plummet. The problem is even normal driving can push fluid temperatures well beyond safe limits. And once that happens, the trouble begins.

    At elevated operating temperatures, ATF oxidizes, turns brown and takes on a smell like burnt toast. As heat destroys the fluid's lubricating qualities and friction characteristics, varnish begins to form on internal parts (such as the valve body) which interferes with the operation of the transmission. If the temperature gets above 250 degrees F., rubber seals begin to harden, which leads to leaks and pressure losses. At higher temperatures the transmission begins to slip, which only aggravates overheating even more. Eventually the clutches burn out and the transmission calls it quits. The only way to repair the damage now is with an overhaul -- a job which can easily run upwards of $1500 on a late model front-wheel drive car or minivan.

    As a rule of thumb, every 20 degree increase in operating temperature above 175 degrees F. cuts the life of the fluid in half!

    At 195 degrees F., for instance, fluid life is reduced to 50,000 miles. At 220 degrees, which is commonly encountered in many transmissions, the fluid is only good for about 25,000 miles. At 240 degrees F., the fluid won't go much over 10,000 miles. Add another 20 degrees, and life expectancy drops to 5,000 miles. Go to 295 or 300 degrees F., and 1,000 to 1,500 miles is about all you'll get before the transmission burns up.

    If you think this is propaganda put forth by the suppliers of ATF to sell more fluid, think again. According to the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association, 90% of ALL transmission failures are caused by overheating. And most of these can be blamed on worn out fluid that should have been replaced.

    On most vehicles, the automatic transmission fluid is cooled by a small heat exchanger inside the bottom or end tank of the radiator. Hot ATF from the transmission circulates through a short loop of pipe and is thus "cooled." Cooling is a relative term here, however, because the radiator itself may be running at anywhere from 180 to 220 degrees F.!

    Tests have shown that the typical original equipment oil cooler is marginal at best. ATF that enters the radiator cooler at 300 degrees F. leaves at 240 to 270 degrees F., which is only a 10 to 20% drop in temperature, and is nowhere good enough for extended fluid life.

    Any number of things can push ATF temperatures beyond the system's ability to maintain safe limits: towing a trailer, mountain driving, driving at sustained high speeds during hot weather, stop-and-go driving in city traffic, "rocking" an automatic transmission from drive to reverse to free a tire from mud or snow, etc. Problems in the cooling system itself such as a low coolant level, a defective cooling fan, fan clutch, thermostat or water pump, an obstructed radiator, etc., will also diminish ATF cooling efficiency. In some cases, transmission overheating can even lead to engine coolant overheating! That's why there's a good demand for auxiliary add-on transmission coolers. "
  • nadinebnadineb Posts: 190
    The explanation of the failures is somewhat foreign to me, but I do understand that the fear I felt as this vehicle failed. Ford needs to fix this situation and make it right. I can not believe that our government has not stepped up to the plate to force Ford to correct this issue as they did with Toyota.
  • 1ST time I have ever done this. My 2004 Ford Freestar had a complete transmission failure with only 29,000 miles on it and of course Ford put a new one in and this Aug 14th, that one failed with 32,000 miles and no warranty left on the 3 yrs...and it failed completely on ;90 just into NY at 60 miles an hour.....horrible and of course I was stuck up there for a week...I can't understand this whole thing - of course I had to put in a new transmission and there went 3,000.00 One person in car with vacation things and one collie...
  • Who should I address my complaint at NHTSA - I sent it to the general address but it was returned saying I had to put a name and floor number in the address. Thanks.
  • I went online to their site to register my complaint. I also talked to Ford Customer Service. A lot of good that did. I am saving all my repair information in case Ford has a change of heart. Not holding my breath on this! I checked into the class action suits but, my understanding is that an attorney wants a retainer and if the suit is won they will, after taking their fees send your portion of the settlement. Wasn't willing to put out anymore money at this point.
  • Ours died this past weekend, oh my goodness they said $1400.00 to fix. Who has this kind of money? and they were not sure if the pump is ok yet in the tranmission. UG!!
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