I just purchased a used 2001 ford explorer from a private seller, vehicle seemed perfect on the test drive, however on the way home the od light on the dash started blinking continously, and seemed like lost high gear. Worked fine in low or second but no drive, got home and parked. I haven’t a clue what to check first. Also there is no engine light on. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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It sounds as if your “new” Explorer has gone into a form of “limp-home” mode. In “limp-home,” the transmission shuts down several gears and leaves you with enough movement to get to a service area or home where you can have the SUV towed to a service area.
You can confirm this, when you get the Explorer to a service area, by having the technician plug in an OBD-II diagnostic scanner and read the codes that may be generated. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that there is an 07XX code or two generated and reported. These are Ford codes for transmission-related problems.
If there is an 07XX code have the technician check the areas suggested because, by and large, they are accurate and can pinpoint a problem. It does take time, though, to get to the trouble spot because the spot usually is deep inside the transmission and getting there requires a pretty thorough teardown. that’s the downside. The upside is that when your technician is in the transmission, it’s easier to track down the exact problem.
From your description, though, I think there are three areas to concentrate on:
1. The torque converter: It is possible that the torque converter is going a bit intermittent. When this happens, it can slip a gear or seem to lose a gear, at times. This one is unlikely, though, and I only mention it as a place to point to when you talk to your technician.
2. The solenoids: Your Explorer’s gearing is actually determined by a pair of solenoids that are driven by, among other things, a series of sensors that monitor Air Flow, Barometric Pressure and such. When everything lines up correctly, an electronic signal is sent from the Explorer’s Engine Control Computer (ECC) telling the solenoids to choose the next gear in series. It is possible that one or both of the solenoids has started to go and you are experiencing the first stages. The good news here is that this is a relatively quick and inexpensive — for a transmission — job at about $400 for solenoids and labor.
3. Valve body: It is possible that one or more the check valves (little pop-off valves that are little more the spring-loaded ball-bearings) is sticking at times. When this happens the flow of transmission fluid that works through the valve body — another device that determines your gearing — is disrupted, taking out one or more gears. If the problem clears quickly, then it is likely the valve body. Since the valve body is easily accessible, it is a relatively inexpensive fix, depending on the number of check valves involved. It can cost about $850 in labor and parts to fix this device.
That’s my initial thinking on your problem. Let me know what your technician says. I’d like to hear.