How To Fix The Transmission Shifting Problem On A Ford Explorer Made In The Mid- To Late-Nineties

Ford Explorers made in the mid- to late-1990s will typically develop a shifting problem in the automatic transmission when changing gears. The most pronounced symptom you will recognize is when the transmission has trouble shifting into different gears while you press down on the gas pedal, but when you ease up on the pedal, the Explorer shifts right into gear. The common reason for this happening is that the valve body gasket is worn out. This is a project amateur mechanics who know where the transmission is located can fix by themselves. Here is how to fix the shifting problem on A Ford Explorer made between the mid- to late-1990s by replacing the valve body gaskets.

Remove Transmission Pan

You need to remove the transmission pan to gain access the underside of the transmission. You need to remove the 15 bolts around the perimeter of the pan. Use a 15mm socket and ratchet to first remove 13 of the bolts – you need to keep the two bolts in the rear of the pan in place until you place a catch basin under the transmission pan. Loosen the last two bolts and pry the pan down a little with a flat head screwdriver. The transmission fluid will start to pour out into the catch basin at this point. Let as much fluid drain out as possible before removing the last two bolts.

Place a floor jack under the pan and raise it so it keeps the pan from falling. Remove the last two bolts. Hold the pan with one hand while you remove the jack. Carefully lower the pan and pour the rest of the fluid into the catch basin.

Remove Transmission Fluid Filter

The transmission fluid filter is held to the bottom of the transmission with 8mm bolts. Remove the bolts and take off the filter.

Remove Electrical Leads

There are six electrical leads connected to the bottom of the transmission. Disconnect the leads and push the wires to the side.

Remove Valve Body

There are 22 10mm bolts holding the valve body to the bottom of the transmission. These bolts are of different lengths. You should set the bolts down on a laid out newspaper in the same way they are arranged in the valve body. This way you know which bolt goes where. Remove all of the bolts except one on the perimeter and one in the middle of the valve body.

There is a small cover on the top left-hand side of the transmission. Remove the four 10mm bolts for the small cover down. Transmission fluid will start running out of the transmission at this point so keep the catch basin in a position to collect it.

Remove the 10mm bolt on the perimeter of the valve body and then take the one out of the middle of it. Hold the valve body up with your hand while you remove the middle bolt to keep it from falling. Lower the valve body and set it on a flat surface.

Remove Gaskets

Remove the gasket from the top of the valve body. The second gasket is under the cover to the valve body. Remove the three bolts for the cover with a T-30 torque screw ratchet. Peel the gasket off of the valve body.

Install New Gaskets

Put the new gasket on the valve body and replace the cover. Put the other new gasket on top of the cover and then place the valve body back into position under the transmission. Bolt the valve body to the bottom of the transmission and put everything back together in the opposite order in which you took it apart.

New Transmission Fluid

Pour 8 quarts of new transmission fluid into the transmission. Make sure you use the right type of fluid for the Ford explorer. You will have several choices and you should have the auto parts store you're buying the fluid from to look up which one is best for your Explorer. Once you put in the new transmission fluid, the shifting problem should be resolved.

Call an auto repair shop for more help.