Ford F150 Transmission Problems & Overview

The Ford F-Series is a lineup of full size pickup trucks that started in 1948. It has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for the past 33 years (since 1982). The F-150 was introduced in 1975 as an option between the existing F-100 and F-250 in order to get around emission control regulations. The F-150 makes up approximately 70% of total F-Series pickup sales.

Something seems wrong with your F-150? Let’s look at some of the most common Ford F150 transmission problems, and see what you can do to get your truck back on the road.

Common Issues/Codes Summary

Coming soon.

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Recalls & Known Problems

2011-2012 F-150 Reverse Gear Engagement and/or Lighting Issues (NHTSA Recall Number: 12V190000)

Ford had to recall 10,500 units of the 2011-2012 Ford F-150, to fix a faulty sensor called the Transmission Range Sensor, or TRS. Sometimes referred to as the Neutral Safety Switch, this sensor monitors the gearshift lever, and tells the Powertrain Control Module what gear you’ve just selected. Except on those 10k trucks, where the TRS wasn’t properly calibrated to the Reverse gear.

If you have one of the recalled F-150’s, that defective TRS is going to do one of two things. Number 1: The transmission range sensor isn’t going to recognize that you’ve shifted into reverse. So it’s not going to tell the PCM to engage reverse, and you go nowhere. Number 2: The TRS sees that you’ve shifted into reverse, it emails the PCM and tells it to activate reverse, but it forgets to CC the backup lights and the little ‘R’ light on the dash. If this happens, you could inadvertently back over somebody in a parking lot, because they didn’t see your reverse lights (that would be bad).

In 2012, Ford instructed its dealers to inspect and replace faulty TRS sensors on affected 2011-2012 F150 models. If you’re experiencing this problem, or are unsure if the recall repair was performed on your F-150, you can call Ford Customer Service at 1-866-436-7332. Have your VIN number handy, and refer to this Ford recall campaign number: 12C23

2012 F-150 Shifter May Be Moved Out of Park Without Pressing the Brake Pedal (NHTSA Recall Number: 11V582000)

Ford recalled 16,091 units of the 2011 Ford F150, to replace a defective brake shift interlock switch. This little device is designed to prevent the shifter from being moved out of Park unless the brake pedal is depressed.

If the brake shift interlock switch isn’t working properly, the shifter will be able to move out of park, without the brake pedal being depressed. Should this happen, the truck could instantly lunge forward or backward, causing an accident with another vehicle or striking a pedestrian walking by (again, that would be very bad).

In 2011, Ford instructed its dealers to inspect and replace faulty brake shift interlock switch on affected 2011 F150 models. If you’re experiencing this problem, or are unsure if the recall repair was performed on your truck, you can call Ford Customer Service at 1-866-436-7332. Have your VIN number handy, and refer to this Ford recall campaign number: 11C21

What Transmission Does a Ford F-150 Have?

YearModelEngineTrans TypeDrive
1983-1980F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LC6RWD
1983-1980F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LC64WD
1988-1985F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1988-1985F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAOD4WD
1988-1985F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LC6RWD
1988-1985F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LC64WD
1988-1985F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1991-1989F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1991-1989F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1991-1989F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAOD4WD
1991-1990F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
1991-1990F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LC64WD
1991-1990F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LC6RWD
1992F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
1992F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
1992F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1992F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAOD4WD
1992F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1993F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1993F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAODRWD
1993F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LAOD4WD
1993F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
1994F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
1995F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
1995F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4OD4WD
1996F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4OD4WD
1996F1504.9L, 5.0L, 5.8LE4ODRWD
2004F150 Heritage4.2L4R70WRWD
2004F150 Heritage4.2L4R70WRWD
2004F150 Heritage4.2L4R70WRWD
2004F150 Heritage4.6L4R70WRWD
2004F150 Heritage4.2L4R70W4WD
2004F150 Heritage4.6L4R70W4WD
2004F150 Heritage4.2L4R70WRWD
2008-2007F1504.2L4R75E (ACES 4R70W)RWD
2008-2007F1504.2L4R75E (ACES 4R75W)RWD

How to Diagnose & Fix

  1. Check the OBD Codes
  2. Check the Fluid Level
  3. Test Transmission Pressure
  4. Drop the Transmission Pan
  5. Repair, Replace or Rebuild

What to Read Next

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20 thoughts on “Ford F150 Transmission Problems & Overview

  1. I purchased a Ford F-150 Triton from a dealership. The day after I hear a strange engine noise that I’d describe as “grinding”. I immediately called the dealer and let them know. The manager said that the noise is most likely due to the truck not being drive for a long time and because it was raining. When I called back several days later (the noise was still happening), he told me that particular model often makes that noise. He suggested I put Lucas motor oil and everything will be okay.

    This can’t be true, right? Why did they sell me a vehicle with know issues?

  2. I have driven a number of Ford F-150s (I used to sell trucks, among other things) and I have run across the problem you are talking about. Actually, you shouldn’t be hearing anything at this point if it’s new.

    I know it’s not the transmission in your F-150, however, it is related to the drivetrain, specifically, the universal joint. Now, I am assuming that your F-150 has four-wheel-drive. Since it does, there are actually two universal joints, one for the rear wheels and the other for the front. I suspect that since your vehicle must have been sitting for a length of time that some of the fluid in the U-joints has evaporated and the level has dipped. In this instance, the gearing in the universal can set up quite a racket. I’d have the dealer check there first.

    Also, you may want to check the transmission fluid level as it may be down significantly and that, in turn, may be causing a bit of metal-on-metal grinding which isn’t a good thing, at all.

    Finally, the old gag about putting in heavy (Lucas) motor oil to fix everything is really just that an old gag. Yes, it may quiet things down but if you don’t find the root of the problem then you are going to have a gooey transmission with the same issues.

    Since your F-150 is new, by the way, the dealer has to fix it.

    And, why do they sell vehicles with known issues. There are so many possible reasons that it’s tough to tell why. Suffice to say, it’s all profit motive.

  3. I got a call from my sister to go pick her kids up from school in my 97 ford f150 xlt with 4×4 and my nephew accidentally bumped the 4×4 on low and I hadn’t noticed, a few days later when I got to my sister’s house (where I park my truck for work) I tried to go home but my truck would barely accelerate. It sounded loud like it had lots of power but it would barely move. I can go forward and reverse but with minimal speed. Finally when I realized that the 4×4 low was on, I took it off and it still ran the same. I checked all the fluids and they were good but I also checked under the truck where the transmission was and it was wet like something had been leaking. The drive shaft was still sturdy, I removed the positive connection off the battery for a few minutes and still nothing. Can you please give me an idea of what could be wrong with my truck?? Thanks

  4. I have a 1980 ford f150 5.0 4 spd bulldog. I changed the clutch and when I put the shifter back in where it is a toploader it just falls down into 2nd and 4th and won’t go Into 1st 3rd or reverse with the clutch pressed. I’ve changed the fluid adjusted the z bar and I still can’t get it to work. It’s driving me crazy. Please help!!!!

  5. I had transmission problems and took it to trans shop they told me that just buy looking at oil pan which was very dirty that they could tell it needed a rebuild is that true ? Also I got it rebuild for 1100 its a 2000 ford f150 4*4 but now when it down shifts it has a little tug which dirent have before they gave me 12 month warranty so I took back and they sraret saying it was mi diferencial that caused it so I checked diferencial with mecanik and he said its fine what should I do

  6. I have a 1994 f150 5.0. About a year ago I noticed that while driving for extended periods of time, my transmission would slip for a second ( like going into neutral ). I also feel a slight snag when the truck switches between 1st and 2nd gear. I had the truck checked out and the guy told me the torque converter is going out and I should have the transmission rebuilt. I’ve drove the truck for almost a year now without having it repaired. I only drive about 15 miles a day and don’t take it on any long trips. I’m wondering if anyone knows a rough estaminet to have the transmission rebuilt. This is an automatic transmission with overdrive.

  7. I have a f150 lariat 4×4 2004 have had a bother motor put in now havein trouble with gearbox put it into drive go down the road and stop it will go into to reverse then sit for a bit and it will go into drive and will keep doin it

  8. I pulled my 07 ford f150 stx 4.6 into a friends driveway over winter while in 2wd, when I went to reverse out I started to spin a little but so I made sure to completely stop the engine from revving, and wheels from spinning. I put it in neutral then twisted my dash 4×4 switch into 4high. Once the 4high light showed up on my dash I switched it into reverse anddddddddd NOTHING! A message then appeared on my dash saying “trans fault” or something to that extent. I have all my forward gears and neutral, when I switch into reverse it feels like it kicks in but when I press on the gas all it does is rev up. I refuse to pay thousands of dollars to have a shop fix it so I am hoping for any help at all.

    Thank you

  9. I have a 1996 Ford F 150 4 by 4 with a C6 transmission and it’s slipping while I’m driving I step on the gas and it seems like the truck doesn’t want to go nowhere if I let off the gas it seems like it wants to catch into gear this is a junkyard transmission I just took out the other one and put this one in and I’m having the same exact problem I’m wondering if it’s the transmission or something else what could be the problem thank you I need help badly

  10. I have a 2011 Ford F150 Supercrew Lariat w/5.0 V8. It currently has just under 114,000 miles on it. Love the truck. My only problem with this truck has been a concerning transmission. Often, but not always, when beginning to drive away in a parking lot or bumper to bumper traffic, the tranny drops into second with a large bang. Sometimes its mild other times it literally feels like you’ve been rear ended.

    This has occurred almost from day one. I’ve brought the truck back three times over the its life. The first time Ford applied a Technical Service Bulletin, no success. The second time, they told me Ford is aware of the problem but does not know how to correct it. The third they did a software update. Nothing has worked, it still does this. Now after 114,000 miles, I’m hearing some play in the rear U-joint.

    How do I get Ford to install a new transmission?

  11. I put a new transmission in my 2005 f150 5.4 and double checked everything made sure all wires are hooked up and blots tighten and in but once I start it the truck won’t move after putting it into any gear WHT could it be

    • Have you figured anything out as to why it still won’t shift into gear? I have the same exact problem right now and I just purchased a transmission.

  12. I have a customer 2012 F-150 5.0lt coyote engine. We did an engine swap, per customer request with an exact replacement crate engine. Everything has been fine, however, now on the dash, when the vehicle is in drive, it is showing the gear shifts, as if the vehicle is in manual option. There are no codes, and as far as I can track with my computer, nothing wrong with the transmission. Suggestions?

    • You can turn the gear display off and on. While in Automatic Drive, press the manual shift up to turn it on, and down to turn it off. I like to keep mine on so I can watch shifting patterns. Unfortunately, at 34,000 miles, mine has developed the first to second gear lurching problem reported here and elsewhere. Other than that, great truck.

  13. I have an F150 STX 4ad 5 liter 305 6 speed. It has 114,852 miles. Recently. I got out of. A Good 35 minutes and it & just decided to Roll Forward(Thank goodness My Husband can run- (No one was around it) he caught it Before it could hit anything). Now tell me How could that have Happened? I can’t get out of my Truck WITHOUT putting it in Park. To push seat back(I sit close to steering wheel). ANY HELP WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.Thank You So Much.

  14. I have I believe an ’06 ford f150, 7 days after I bought it the tranny went completely out. Took it back and the warrenty stated we had to pay half to rebuild the transmission. $1,000.00 and 9 months later my truck won’t click into gear. It starts up but it just revs in drive. Is it my first gear? It goes in reverse just fine. Our warrenty for the rebuild was only for 6 months!!! PLEASE HELP!!!

  15. I just replaced tranny in my 93 f150 and started it put it in reverse seemed like it went in gear but then shut it off and when tried to crank it back up couldn’t get it to go back in park so wouldn’t crank so had to start it off the cylenoid but gear shiftier still wont go into any gear in thinking linkage might b locked up but ain’t sure anybody got any suggestions

  16. I have a 2001 f150 4×4 supercrew 5,4. After hurricane Matthew I drove through water to check on my wife’s family. Two days later my truck once it hits 35 mph. It seems not to shift into overdrive and it revs up and won’t accelerate. I can get to 55 but I have to cut the overdrive off. Could it be solenoids? Overdrive band? Computer?

  17. 2013 F150 w/ 86K miles. transmission is slipping, not moving at times. After I stop the engine and restart; it works great again. Problem started three weeks ago and is getting worse daily. was told to replace the transmission. This is BS – Ford should build a better transmission period. I have always driven Fords but this is BS. They need to fix the problem. My cost is $2,900 !!

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