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Ford Explorer Mercury Mountaineer 2005 and earlier



  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I wrote to Consumer Reports about their drastic increase in reports of transmission problems on Explorers specifically. Other vehicles that use the 5R55E seem to be alright (Sport Trac for instance), however, the sealed units in the 2002-2005 generation seem to be very problematic.

    My wife drives a 2000 Explorer 4.0 SOHC with the 5R55E and it has always shifted fine, but I guess I feel lucky. The internals of the transmission are great, but their are a few main problems from what I can gather.

    1) To many electronic components (6 solenoids), and one that is variable (called EPC solenoid) that controls how your transmission shifts. This is the "learning" component that adjusts to your driving style.

    2) Other valve body problems such as: Reverse servo seals (now double lipped instead of single lipped), valve body separator plate gasket breaches, and other more minor design issues.

    3) Finally, I completely disagree with Ford sealing the transmission. I don't care what anyone says, this is plain dumb. Sealed for life, when life = 150,000 miles, isn't good enough. Average truck life is 180,000 miles now, get with it Ford. In addition to that, when the thing needs to be serviced, it is a labor intensive undertaking. I am waiting to see if the 6-speed in the new Explorer is sealed. If it is, I wont be buying one. Please don't try to defend Ford's use of them again, the posts I have seen here are evidence enough that this is a mistake.

    With that said, I really really like the 06 Explorer. I sat in one at the auto show in Detroit, and was amazed at how nice and comfortable it was. The interior appointments put my wife's 00 Limited to shame. Since my Expedition's miles are starting to rack up, I will be seriously considering one of 06/07's in the future, given that Ford don't cop out on a dipstick for the transmission.

    FWIW: The 00 Explorer has been a pretty darn good truck. I had to put on new upper and lower ball joints, in addition to new shocks. However, we go through suspension parts like water where I live. The dirt roads are brutal, and wifey driving 35-40 miles an hour down them to "skip" over the bumps, doesn't help. Switched to Rancho brand shocks, from the Edelbrocks(sp?). Working great for now at about 100,000 miles!
  • my neighbor just bought a 1997 mountaineer and it has the keyless entry on the door,,,the one with the electronic push buttons on the door,,anyway,,he was told in order to get the existing code it is located somewhere in the car ...does anyone know where the factory puts them,,,
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Of course, I'll admit it! I'm not that kind of disingenuous poster who fabricates data. And, worse than that, it was not the pesky solenoid. I haven't heard of this since 1978, but it was the pesky second band separating. Herego; the entire transmission was rebuilt again. Smooth shifting again. However, I don't have a lot of confidence in this car anymore, and will probably give it back in a year when the lease is up. Other than the transmission, it's been perfect. But.....this is a major issue.

    The thing is - I don't believe anybody on the planet makes a better designed SUV of this size. So, I may buy yet another one. One more thing - my dealer has never given me a single problem about repairs. No arguments, got a free loaner, and the repairs were done on time.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    This appears to be a sealed tranny, there is no dipstick and the service interval for changing the fluid and filter is 150,000 miles.

  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    The code is located on the driver side in the cargo area behind the car jack access panel. After you take off the panel (you'll need a flashlight) look for a black or grey box sitting above the wheel well. On the outside of that box is a sticker with the 5 digit code. It is a bit hard to see, but I have done it two times with pre-owned Explorer's our family has purchased.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Thanks Mark,

    I have been trying to look for information on this tranny, but it has so far been a futile effort. Maybe I am looking in the wrong areas, but thought a google search would work-it hasn't.

    The sealed part really is a let down. I just don't like it being that much harder to service if need be. I really want the V8 (like 292HP), but I want to be able to trust the transmission, and it seems like the 5R55W in the 2002-2005 Explorer was having its limits pushed with the 239HP in that generation's V8.

    NVbanker: Sorry to hear about your woe(s), you've been a pretty loyal Ford owner (I think I recall you having a great dealer). Was it your 2002 that was a V6 that had strange shifts cured by a reflash?

    If I recall correctly, the A4LD in the 1991-1992 Explorer's had a dual wrap band (overdrive) that failed frequently. In 1992, Ford switched to a better single wrap design.
  • You can find the manuals with all the information at the Automatic Transmission Service Group:
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Thank you, I checked out the link this morning, and found it interesting. It looks like they want you to buy a book for information on each transmission. I may do that for at least one transmission I have currently ((4R70W) for good reading) to feed my growing curiosity about how automatic transmissions work. If you type in "project frankentranny" in a google search, anyone can see a rebuild of a 4R55E using 5R55E parts. I found it very interesting, because it helped me understand better how the automatic transmission works and the strengths and faults with the 4R/5R55E transmissions. There are numerous aftermarket modifications you can make to it with varying degrees of involvement and monetary commitment. If I remember correctly from the diary of the rebuild, the actual drums, clutches, and other rotating mass were well designed save for one minor area in the overdrive drum. The valve body is where the modifications were implemented. Some holes drilled larger in the valve body separator plate for quicker clutch activation, replacement of the EPC solenoid, among a few other things. I know I am throwing out all kinds of terms and words, with my point being that for those interested in how these hydraulic masterpieces work, the transmission rebuild diary was very enlightening.

    Does anyone here know if the 6R60 is the transmission co-developed with GM? If GM is using it, I wonder if they are sealing it up in their applications? Is the 6R60 based on the 5R55* at all?

    After I found out here yesterday that the 6R60 is sealed, I was trying to think in my head of why an automotive company would want to do that. First thought makes me think they want the transmission to fail. If its actual life is 150,000 miles, then Ford should warranty it for that period. I know, unrealistic. I was able to dig up a 2006 service suggestion guide for 2006 Ford vehicles yesterday. At 150,000 miles, Ford suggests changing the transmission fluid for the first time. Maybe that means that the fluid itself has a life of 150,000 miles. Not sure if I feel any better about that. I hope that the 6R's come with a giant transmission oil cooler to help slow the inevitable break down of the fluid from heat.

    More: I know I'm rambling, sorry folks I'm almost done.

    It's been a while since we've owned a Honda at our house (2001), but I don't recall us ever having to pay as close of attention to the maintenance on those as our Fords. When I say that, I am not talking about the oil and filter. That was religiously changed at 3,000-7,500mile intervals per the owners manual. With our Fords, I feel like I can't miss a beat. If I am right on top of maintenance, then Fords will treat you well. With that said, how many people do I know (lets say a few) that own foreign vehicles that barely do maintenance. Maybe that is where Ford's thinking is. Since many people may not know or remember to do maintenance, they will try an eliminate it as much as possible. Problem is, I don't think Ford has this down to a science yet. To date, I still haven't seen a 5R55W-S have more than 100,000 miles yet. I know it is rare that many people could do that in 4 1/2 years, but the lack of evidence surrounding the longevity of these transmissions isn't confidence inspiring.

    Finally, are the days of Explorer's making it to 250-300K gone? Time will tell I suppose.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    This is definately NOT the Co-developed with GM 6 speed which will make its debute in the Ford Edge this fall.

    That tranny is FWD platform only.

    It is my understanding that the 6R60 is a ZF unit from Europe.

  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Thanks again for input!

    I did some more looking around on the internet and came across Ford's media release for their new 6-speed automatics.
    This is what I found:
    New 6F Front wheel drive, six-speed automatic co-developed with GM,rated for up to 300HP

    6R Ford developed and built in Livonia, Mich. Only application is in the '06 Explorer and Mountaineer so far.

    Aisin front wheel drive, six-speed automatic:
    Used in Five-Hundred, Montego, Milan, Fusion, and Zephyr.

    ZF 6-speed RWD
    Used only in the Navigator

    Since Ford developed and is building the 6R, I wonder if it has links to the 5R's? Looks like I will have to buy one of those books to find out. Not that it matters. The 6R may be a 5R with all of the bugs worked out that plagued the 5R55W-S.
  • zeeman84zeeman84 Posts: 16
    I am thinking about ordering a Explorer with the navigation radio. Any problems with these units? Any order delays with the nav. radio?

  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Yes, I bleed Ford Blue, jrc..... Still like Ford design over anything else, but they have their issues from time to time.

    And, you are correct, it was my 02 with the V-6 that the reflash cured the wierd shifing perfectly. That transmission turned out to be extraordinarily smooth.

    My 04 had one of those with the bad fluid fill.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    "My 04 had one of those with the bad fluid fill."

    It amazes me....100+ years of building cars, and the wrong fluid gets in to the tranny. Yea, I know it was a Ford "vendor issue" - but c'mon!
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Yup, while I may look like a disgruntled customer, I actually bleed Ford blue as well. Ford's pretty lucky to have a few loyal people around where they can practically do no wrong, but I can't say for certain that if I had a continuous problems with a major component (i.e. Transmission), that I wouldn't think twice about buying one again. Like Chuck1 said, how are these mistakes made at this day and age. Quality checks are not a value-added activity to a company, but they are to the customer. I love Fords, but I feel like every time I purchase one I am taking a bit more of a gamble than if I bought a Honda, or Toyota. Oh well, it keeps things interesting.

    I am still considering the Explorer for my next vehicle despite the transmission being sealed. I just like it too much, and the Expedition is too big for me anymore. However, has anyone with the sealed transmission paid for the fluid to be changed before the 150K mark? How much does it cost? Odd thing about the 6R, is even when you get the fluid changed, they tell you that you don't have to change the filter-strange. It's my hope that the fluid changes wont be excessively expensive so that I can do it at 50-60K intervals for my personal peace of mind.

    I have some friends that bought an 06 Mountaineer back in December, and they love it so far.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    If I buy another Mountaineer, Explorer, Navigator or Expedition - it would be because I still feel the design is the best. Only Nissan has come close with an IRS, useful folding 3rd row seat, etc. And you're no better off risk wise with the Nissan than with the Ford. Worse actually at the moment, as Nissan has had nightmares with their Titan & Armada. I will not, however, buy a Sequoia, even though they may be the best in reliability, because the 3rd row seat still has to be removed for cargo space, instead of folded into the floor.

    Ford is with trucks and SUVs like Toyota is with cars - the best designs first. Anyway, that's how I feel.
  • ustazzafustazzaf Posts: 311
    It was in the owners manual of my 1999.
  • alman08alman08 Posts: 282
    ATF changed was included in the 30k/60k/90k service. I paid $600 for the 60k service.

    02 explorer xlt v8
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 13,604
    '02 with v8 also.
    just because the 'service interval' is 150k, it does not mean that you have to wait that long. i had mine done at 30k. it has worked better since then. another 6k until 60k.
    did brakes at 54k.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • I've got a Shopmanual for '06 Explorer and Mountaineer.
    I look up the Automatic Transmission Section.
    The parts of 6R60 are very similliar with ZF 6HP26.
    And the Structure of 6R60 and 6HP is the same.
    I don't think that Ford developed the 6R60, but just
    produces 6R60 in Ford's Plant.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I agree with you on the dipstick thing. I've been told, however, that it's very difficult to route a tube up to the surface on some applications, Lincoln LS, Explorer. They have also tested this transmission, and they say, under normal circumstances, it'll last 100,000 without a service. I guess that's long enough? It usually is for me, but I know some people drive more than I do...

    Toyota gets a dipstick up there, why can't Ford?
  • I think there is always room to snake a tube up to the top of the engine compartment. Myself, I don't want to buy anything that won't make it past 200,000 miles, as I buy them at 100,000 miles. At 100k, they still sell for 10K, so there is some value there, and I have found them to be very reliable in the high milage range if they are well maintained, I have no quams about taking them on a 2K to 4K road trip. I've never had to replace a water pump on an Explorer. Radiator rarely. Starter only once.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    What would be the point of a dipstick? Its not the fluid getting low that is the problem its the fact that the fluid wears out. The molecules of the fluid simply break down over time. How would a dipstick tell you if it was time to replace your fluid?

  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Perhaps you could use it to check the fluid for debris and change of color? :)

    tidester, host
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Don't forget the smell test too. See if it's burned....
    Not to mention being able to re-fill it after a purge. Hey, now there's a thought!
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    You have way more patients then I.

  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Of course! On a transmission the dipstick tube IS the refill tube - it's purposely made to be about 3/4 in in diameter so you can stick a funnel into it. I've never filled one any other way on any cars I've had.
  • The other replies are correct, the dipstick serves many useful functions. nvbanker is right about the refill, in fact, it is NOT called a dipstick tube, the correct name for it is the Filler Tube. And it is important to check the fluid level, because the fluid can leak out, and it is important to maintain the correct fluid level. It is also important to use the dipstick to check a sample of the fluid for the color and smell. That can tell you a lot about the transmissions health. Also, fluid does not so much "wear out", it eventually becomes contaminated with fiction material and microscopic metal particles. Then only way the fluid "wears out" in a modern transmission is if it overheats, usually caused by overloading, or abuse.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Check out the new Interactive Video Tour of the 2006 Explorer.

    Steve, Host
  • frrussrefrrussre Posts: 41
    We just drove from NYC to Columbus OHIO. When we started the trip, the mileage on the truck was 1230. At a speed of 65-70 mph, we got 18 mpg. On the return journey, at same speeds, we got 20 mpg. Mileage now 2674. The test was done, full tank to full tank. We did one full tank on the way there & one full tank test on the return. Therefore this did not include local driving.
    Reclining back seat was very useful, on the long drive.
    Reg. Frank R.
    PS. Our 204 Ex XLT V8, never did this well, even after 15,000 on the clock.
  • mtnman1mtnman1 Central OhioPosts: 431
    Frank, I have a 2004 Mountaineer v-8 AWD. I get anywhere from 19 to 21 MPG. Last October we drove from Westerville, Oh. to south of Myrtle Beach S.C. and back. Averaged 19 to 20 MPG per tank and I-77 runs through some very Mountainess terrain in WVA and VA. Got 20 MPG on a trip to Pittsburgh a month ago and 21 MPG on the return trip. I set my cruise 5 miles above the speed limit when I'm on the expressway. Hopefully your mileage will improve when you hit about 5000 miles and fully broken in. Otherwise I would say that is disappointing since Ford claims the MPG has been improved. By the way, what part of Columbus were you visiting? Westerville is a suburb to the northeast of Columbus.
    2012 Highlander Limited AWD V6 and 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE
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