Transmission won't shift into third. HELP! - Diesel Forum -
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-27-2008, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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Transmission won't shift into third. HELP!

2001 E-350 7.3 4R100 transmission 91K miles

Going down the interstate last friday hit some stop and go traffic. Starting out first gear ok, smooth shift into second, but when going into 3rd the motor rev'd and it acted like the brake was being applied, but no shift into 3rd. Any ideas?

I was in Orlando, fl. NOT the place to be with a transmission failure, I knew nobody and it was friday night. After much thinking and a call to a friend that had worked for ford a flat rate mechanic for 30 years.

We both agreed that it would be a wise choice to get the Van home.

Cooking the transmission the rest of the way would be far better than taking a chance staying in a motel and watching the $$$ go taking the Van in for a transmission repair at a unknown shop.

I checked the fluid when I first had the problem, full and almost no smell. We drove the Van home (136 miles at 25 MPH in second gear), I thought for sure I would get stopped and had already got out license and registration and insurance.

We drove all night, but did not get stopped.

I checked today and noticed a slight burnt smell, just faintly.....

I decoded my date code and my transmission was built on October 4, 2000.

Which means I have a transmission with a "mechanical diode".

I thought diode failure was no shift first to second.

I have the AutoEnginuity and out of 6 times runing it threw a P1670 code twice, other than that, showed nothing wrong. KOEO and KOER, are there any more tests I can run? Last two tests nothing wrong. Did not reset anything.

What I am attempting to determine is, does my transmission need to be rebuilt?

Or did I overlook checking external trans wiring harness or connector or could it be PCM shift command problems or a bad shift solenoid pack or "internal hydraulic failure" at worst.

So, is there anything I can check or do to trouble shoot the transmission.

What can I check to make sure that the transmission has failed internally. I figure once you pull the transmission and open it up, you might as well rebuild it.

I'm seriously looking at BTS and a second choice of Suncoast, I had my last van 13 years and the one before 14 years, so I want a quality rebuilt transmission if I do need one.

If I can fix it without pulling it or check this or that to make sure of the trouble I'll do that.

If I have to pull it myself I will and order one freighted to me, I can do that also. I just want to make an intelligent decision.

Any ideas?????? Suggestions?????? Things to check?????????? Did this happen to you????? What about BTS? Suncoast? any other places, what experience did you have!

Thanks in advance,
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-27-2008, 07:15 PM
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I am not sure what your problem is, but one thing I am sure of,
you said the magic word. BTS. I have a 99 f-350 with 211,000
miles on it and went out to BTS in Feb of this year and I love
the way my tranny shifts. If you don't mind the $$ Brian builds
the best 4R100 in the country, and is second to nobody in his
warranty. The tranny is $4100 and he put the 6.0 cooler on my
truck since it is way better than the 8 row stock cooler. It was
about $325. Check out BTS AT You will put
the last tranny in when you put in the best BTS!!

Charles Murphy
Bessemer City NC
BTS Bubba and still shifting real smooth
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-27-2008, 08:20 PM
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It may have more to do with the mechanical diode, but mine stopped shifting into 2nd (no diode) when the clutch pack was toasted. But, mine took the gear (luckily nuttin else) with it. Generally if you drain a bit of fluid, you'll get chunks of clutch material if yer not dual filtered.

Most everyone will agree that BTS is the way to go. My rebuild was about $2900 including B&M master rebuild kit, BD triple disc TC, new 2nd gear hard parts and TransGo shift kit. So for about $1200 and a trip to BTS (install is free if you go there) you'll have the real deal. I had neither the time or money at the time to BTS mine, but I can say I like my rebuild MUCH better than stock.

best of luck to ya!


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2008, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transmission won't shift into third. HELP!

I started this thread:

Went out and did my field work today.

I wanted to see who did what and how much it costs....

So my cost, installed unless other wise stated, out the door tax included for a 4R100 trans on 4/28/08

Local Ford $tealership HD new trans $4437.29 3yr 100,000 mi warranty looked up prices on computer

Suncoast ship2me included $4309.02 did not see any warranty info got email quote and I get to put it in or pay to have it put in

Local 1 New trans not HD $3816.00 3yr 36,000 warranty gave price quote without looking up anything? This shop does all kinds of repairs, has reputation for being very honest and fair.

Next nearest Ford $tealership new HD trans $3606.07 3yr 100,000 mi warranty got print out quote from parts and printout quote from service.

Local 2 Rebuild my trans to HD at local shop $3400 2yr 50,000 mi warranty this guy only works on transmissions, gave quote without looking up anything, seemed familiar with transmission.

Local 3 Rebuild my trans at local shop $2650 did not mention warranty, did not look up prices.

Local 4 Rebuild my trans at local shop $2014 1yr 12,000 miles. This was the most informative of everyplace. Gave me more ideas on trouble shooting my transmission to make sure trouble was either electric or hydraulic. I feel as he did if you have to take out the transmission, you might as well rebuild it or replace it. He also mentioned, since you keep your vans so long 13-14 years and since you do quite a bit of traveling, he suggested buying a Ford transmission and he would put it in.

I explored that idea the rest of the day. I can pull out and replace my transmission, I could put a rebuild kit in mine. But I've not done that before and I don't really want to use my Van for practice. The main reason is I travel with the van and I don't want to get stuck "who knows where" with a non-working transmission and no way for me to fix it.

Which brings me back to warranty, if Local 4 puts in the HD new Ford trans, then the trans is warranted and not the labor, same goes for me if I put it in. Oh, in my area, I also checked and the shops want from 350 to 700 to R&R (remove & replace)the transmission. This includes cleaning out the trans lines and trans cooler in radiator and filling up with fluid and testing transmission.

I just don't want to be stuck out on the road at the mercy of some shop....

Then there is always the possibility that if Local 4 installs the Ford HD transmission and it fails, then Ford could say it failed because of something Local 4 did.... leaving me spending $$$$ again. And of course the labor is not covered. Lets see, Local 4 said he would R&R the trans for $508.80 and Ford said $565.89. So for $57.09 more, I get the 3yr warranty on labor from Ford.

I really want a BTS transmission, I did give Brian a call a few times today and finally left a message and did not get a reply it is 9:30 PM or so now.

I understand he is busy and if I want to get in touch with him I can be persistent enough to finally talk to him.

But, for me it brings me back to square one. It's about 1200 miles from my place to Brian's shop and my Van only has first and second and I can only drive at 25 way can I make the trip. So I would order a transmission and save the 350 to 700 dollars the local shops want to install the transmission and flush out the lines, etc, etc.

Back to square one, I read (all day yesterday) the threads for the 4R100, BTS, Suncoast, Monster Box, John Wood and I think it was ATS.

Many posts about Brian and BTS, he honors his warranty above and beyond.
I read posts where there is a problem and Brian does his best and solves the problem.

But there is something to be said for a 3yr 100,000 mile warranty from Ford.

I know that the Ford New transmission is not the quality of the BTS or Suncoast. I do know that I can be persistent enough to get Ford to honor the ford warranty parts and labor. I have heard many many ford war stories and all I ever do is sometimes buy a ford part that I can't get online at the ford dealers.

So, I'm going to sleep on it tonight and make my choice in the morning....

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 09:56 AM
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Zed, if you can get the RPM's up to about 2600-2800 in second gear and let off the fuel quick, see if it will shift hard into 3rd gear, then pick up speed and it should go into OD ok. If that works, then pretty much the diode. I drove mine almost 700 miles to BTS with 2nd gear out.

Have a little over 10,000 miles on the bTS and I still have a big grin on my face. This thing is so tight I can almost shift it like a standard shift truck by feathering the fuel pedal at the correct RPMs.

Good luck.


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by PSDForever View Post
Zed, if you can get the RPM's up to about 2600-2800 in second gear and let off the fuel quick, see if it will shift hard into 3rd gear, then pick up speed and it should go into OD ok. If that works, then pretty much the diode. I drove mine almost 700 miles to BTS with 2nd gear out.
That will not work. The mechanical diode engages on the 1-2 shift, not the 2-3. When it fails it does not allow the 1-2 shift until high RPM. If the trans makes the 1-2 but not the 2-3 it most certainly is not the mechanical diode.

Your problem could be a bad shift solenoid or a stuck shift valve in the valve body. Most likely it is not a major trans failure, but I can't rule that out. Before spending big bucks on a new trans, spending a bit on a trans pro diagnosing what's wrong could save you a few thousand dollars.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 02:37 PM
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When my diode went out it would shift from 1st to 2nd and then felt like back to 1st. Sounds like the same symtoms that you have.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 04:55 PM
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I lost 2nd gear sprague and daily drove for a month before driving 750 miles to BTS, but I could skip 2nd gear and hit drive and OD, so highway driving was not an issue.

One thing to consider about that Ford warranty--if you have upgrades or a chip or stuff other than stock, they may not honor that warranty. Some people in the past have gone the Ford rebuilt way w/the warranty only to have problems and have that warranty voided and be back at square one.

BTS has 2 year unconditional warranty no matter what you use the van for or what your mods are and when I talked to Brian about after that, he said bring me the truck or trans and I'll take care of it. He's proud of his product. I can say that. My trans was $3900 + 325 for 6.0 cooler.

2001 Silver F-250 7.3L 4WD, extended cab, 130k miles, BF Goodrich A/T 285/75; BTS auto tranny w/6.0 cooler, AIS severe duty intake and filter w/Zoodad mod, 6 position chip from BTS, 4" turbo-back exhaust, Magnaflow muffler w/5" tip, Speedliner sprayed-in liner, Monroe Reflex shocks, Isspro pillar gauges
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-01-2008, 09:17 PM
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Mine Had The Same Problem Started It Up One Day Went To Go Drive It And It Wouldnt Shift Out Of 2nd But I Know Sometimes Ford Electronics Can Wig Out At Any Second So I Went Under The Truck And Wiggled The Wire Harness On The Pass Side Of Tranny And Unpluged It And Plugged It Back In And Started My Truck And It Shifted Just Fine Pulled 17000 Pounds With It Afterwards Tenn Ti Mich Still No Problems.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-18-2008, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to Mark Kovalsky who gave me some pointers on what to check. I measured the resistance of SSA and SSB (the shift solenoids, in range), I dropped the pan, looked for chunks or big pieces parts (none). Removed the accumulator valve body and closely inspected it, took it apart and cleaned it, drained the TC, blew out the coolers with air, after disconnecting them from the transmission. I took a 12V supply and powered up SSA and SSB, they went clunk, clunk and visually inspected them. I used the AutoEnginuity to check out the DTR, it showed up where the shift lever was pointing. I wired up two volt meters and used the AutoEnginuity to make sure that SSA and SSB were being turned on and off at the right times depending on what gear was being used. Actually I figured out how to use the AutoEnginuity after I had connected up the volt meters, but since they were connected where the wires go into the transmission, it proved the wiring harness was OK. Volt meters matched AutoEnginuity.... proper on off being sent to SSA and SSB depending on what gear was selected or asked for on my test drive.

Put it back together new ATF, back to square one.

First to second OK, second to third, like I put on the brakes.

I did purchase the ATSG 4R100 transmission manual at a local transmission parts warehouse, the guy selling me the book said he thought it might be just a snap ring, went in the back and pulled the part and showed it to me. Said the old one was like a C and the new one was a spiral. Then he got busy and never did tell me which one it was, he is local, I can go by or call him. He did say, that with only 91K on the transmission that he would just replace the snap ring, transmission would last forever......after pulling the pan he said that I can inspect the overdrive clutches and if they are not burnt, then just replace the snap ring.

I did read about a zillion postings here and one of the guys mentioned that when his mechanical diode went out, he could not shift into third, even though the TSB said if it went out, it would be a bad first to second shift.

I did reconfirm nearest Ford $tealership new HD trans $3606.07 + tax and 3yr 100,000 mi warranty installed. Thats $2868.10 for the trans and the rest labor and a extra $35 for misc. I mentioned that it would probably be a good idea to replace the rear main seal on the engine. The Service Writer then mentioned that even though I determined I need a new transmission, that they wanted to check also. That is reasonable, I don't work on Fords for a living and I could have missed something.

He did not mention, new cooler and external filter, is he throwing them in or do I have to pay $$$ extra.... Or is he not going to install them???

I understand this to be a quote on a NEW 4R100 HD transmission, I wonder if they have a rebuilt???

I don't have a chip, I did add a coolant filter and CCV mod. I don't think they would void my warranty because of that or would they?

So, yes if money and time were not object I would go with a BTS. I need to get the truck back on the road in a timely manner.

I do like the idea of a nation wide warranty, that narrows it down to Ford if I want that. I just wonder if the local $ealership is going to run up the bill (by run up, I mean way more than fair) when they check out my transmission and if they are going to forget the cooler and filter or if they are going to have me pay the big bucks for them.

I keep my ford vans 13 or 14 years, I don' run them hard, but I do keep about 500 to 1000 lbs of stuff on the truck most all of the time and sometimes really pack it full.

I've looked on EBay, they have rebuilt transmissions, one re-builder is about 120 miles away "transparts1" in Tampa, FL. Anybody done business with them?

I can pull my transmission, but not being proficient at transmission repair, I don't want to practice on mine.

If it is cost effective, I can order or go get a rebuilt and replace it.

If I go with a Ford transmission, they will warranty the transmission and I might as well have them install it and have the warranty on the installation also. Then again, this is my first transmission failure on anything and I've had ford vans since the 1960's, so possibly I am over concerned about a "on the road" failure.

I did read Smokey Wren's post:
summary of the post...
time to replace transmission.
three choices
1) gamble with local rebuilder
2) go with Ford
3)BTS really good or check out suncoast in FL or John Wood.

All I want to do is make sure I have done every possible test that can be done without pulling the transmission......

If anybody has any suggestions I'm listening,

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-31-2008, 08:05 AM
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Wow.....this is the story of my last week(mostly). I have a 2001 F350, was pulling the fiver back from Eastern CO, lost second gear. Not going to go into all the details, needless to say this will be my 3rd trans in 119,000 miles. Struggled all week, got advice to buy BTS, SunCoast, JWoods etc but Ford offered me the 100,000 mile nationwide, full replacement parts/labor for $2800.00. Added in a new 6.0 cooler and inline filter plus labor and less than $4K. Just so I dont start a firestorm with the first post on this board, I have no issue with those that go aftermarket and do the install etc. I just have no desire to either do the work myself or send a tranny back to some other state and wait for a fix/repair.
My rig as of 2 minutes ago has started the HD 4R100 install. Here's to a break free few years.

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-31-2008, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by diner View Post
1) gamble with local rebuilder
2) go with Ford
3)BTS really good or check out suncoast in FL or John Wood.

1. Are you keeping the truck for any length of time? If so, I wouldn't

2. Considering they are the ones that gave us the diode, I wouldn't unless I don't plan to keep the truck for much longer.

3. BTS will warranty you for the life of your truck even if it is outside the 2 yr written warranty. Not too sure what the others will do.

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