This reader's Ford Explorer had a problem with delayed shifting from first gear when the vehicle was cold. It demonstrates the need to get several opinions from the experts and to do sufficient reading on your problem such that it becomes evident to you that you really need to spend the big bucks. In this case it wasn't.

Thanks for the excellent FAQ on the Explorers.

My son has a 93' Explorer with 75,000 miles. His transmission (auto) recently began sticking in 1st gear when first started in the morning(cold). Once the vehicle is driven 2-3 miles the transmission will start shifting to 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Several transmission shops recommending rebuilding the transmission at costs from $1,500 to $2,000. My son being an engineer reasoned that a sticking problem did not require a complete overhaul, so he drove it for six months until he could come to visit us in Houston. I went with him again to several shops and we got the same story, need an overhaul.

Our last visit was to a Ford dealer parts dept. for a factory manual, with hopes for information on transmission troubleshooting. While talking to the parts men I ask if they heard of the problem. I was told to see the service manager. He said that if the transmission fluid got dirty the close tolerance fit of the speed governor would cause sticking and cause the problem. The service manager printed a drawing and showed us how to fix the problem.

The governor is inside the tail shaft housing which can be removed without taking out the transmission. The governor is just a weight which is attached to a hydraulic piston which when pulled out by centrifugal force causes hydraulic control fluid pressure to be diverted to cause shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. A light spring pushed the weight/piston back when speed is reduced to allow downshift to 1st.

When we pulled the tail shaft housing we removed the weight/piston assembly and found them stuck in the aluminum housing. Once removed, cleaned and polished the assembly moved very smoothly. We change the output shaft seal (slight leakage), transmission filter, gasket and fluid. THE TRANSMISSION WORKED PERFECTLY !!! The transmission fluid was over due about 15,000 miles for a change. I believe the timing is 30,000 miles. My son learned the lesson of necessary maintenance.

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