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It's called the dreaded mechanical diode. If you have a build date between 7/00 to 3/01 then you have one. I did a informal survey awhile back, and yes you are correct, there is a fairly high rate of failure. Basically my survey showed you have a 50/50 chance of failure from mile 100 to 45000. After 45k your odds get lower for the mechanical diode to fail, after about 78000 your pretty much home free from the standpoint that your failure rate falls inline with the general 4R100 failure rate for that many miles. I think the reason the failure rate has started to jump now is because were heading into the summer season and everyone is starting to pull their RV's and boats, this really puts the preassure on the weak link. Join the club, I have 56k on mine with no problems, another 20k and I am over the hump.
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and the fact you can boil your fluid, if you are not running an aftermarket Trans gauge. I have a few folks that called and told me the factory Gauge just went from normal to high is a fraction of a second while towing up hills, and they ahd to stop and get it cooled down. Whixh Ford would wise up and put real Gauges, and educate their customers better.