When To Replace Your Ford Transmission

When you step on the gas to accelerate or press the brake pedal to slow down or stop, the transmission is hard at work transferring engine power to the drive shaft by shifting gears and regulating torque. Over the years, Ford has installed several different types and models of transmissions. While some models sold in Massachusetts can only be equipped with one type of transmission, other models may have at least one additional option.

Types of Transmissions

Depending upon the year, model and trim package, a Ford car, truck or SUV could be equipped with a manual, automatic or continuously variable transmission. Sometimes referred to as a stick shift, a manual transmission typically includes between four and six forward gears and one for reverse. Because manual transmissions typically deliver better gas economy, they are often installed in smaller vehicles designed for maximum fuel efficiency. A manual gearbox provides the driver better control while maneuvering in the snow and ice, especially when the vehicle initially moves forward. In addition to being easier to maintain, some car aficionados also consider a stick more fun to drive.

It's estimated that 95% of vehicles on the road are equipped with an automatic transmission. Unlike a manual transmission, an automatic does not require extra driving skills to master the pedal controls. This ease of use makes them very popular. Although other models like the Cruise-O-Matic have been installed, the C-series is the company’s primary model of automatic transmission. Each subsequent version has provided a dramatic improvement over its predecessor. A C-series transmission can be visually identified by the shape of the oil pan and the number of bolts securing it in place. While the C3 has 13 bolts, the C4 and C6 have 11 and 14 bolts respectively. Although the C3 oil pan has a recess on the rear passenger side, the recess on the rear passenger side of the C6 also faces to the rear of the vehicle. Instead of a recess, the C4 has a bulge on the front passenger side. The Cruise-O-Matic has a cast iron oil pan. Various models of the automatic overdrive transmission may have the same pan design and number of bolts as other models.

Ford has also installed continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in some of its vehicles. This single-speed transmission is designed to seamlessly shift through a continuous range of gears. While not as fuel efficient as a manual gearbox, a CVT usually offers better miles per gallon than a standard automatic. A CVT can be found in a Ford Escape Hybrid, Five Hundred and Focus C-Max as well as the Freestyle and Fusion Hybrid.

When is it Time to Replace a Transmission?

While a manual gearbox generally requires less maintenance than an automatic, both types of transmissions are susceptible to similar issues. How long a transmission lasts depends upon a number of factors. These include maintenance, temperature, lubrication and driver inputs. In addition to the engine, the transmission is linked to other car components, including the electrical system, cooling system, chassis and differential. Problems in these areas can also affect the transmission. Manufactured to close tolerances, modern transmissions are engineered to work with specific components and lubrication. The transmission sub-components include gears, planetary carriers, hydraulic pumps and pressure switches. The type of lubricating fluid used also plays a role in wear and how well heat is transferred away from the transmission. When a transmission fails completely, the problem usually occurs deep inside the component. While it may be cost effective to repair a minor problem, it may be less expensive to replace the entire transmission instead of fixing numerous issues.

Removing a Ford Transmission

Removing a Ford transmission is a relatively straightforward task.

  1. Raise the hood, and use the proper size wrench to remove the bolts securing the transmission to the engine.
  2. Remove the dipstick tube. On most Ford vehicles, the dipstick tube is mounted on the passenger side. The top of the tube is secured with a single bolt. Remove the bolt, and pull the tube straight up.
  3. Raise the vehicle using a lift or properly sized jack stands. Take precautions to ensure that the vehicle cannot move while you are working underneath it.
  4. Disconnect the driveshaft from the differential and the transmission.
  5. From underneath the vehicle, disconnect the speedometer cable and shift linkage. Loosen the integral nut at the tip of the speedometer cable at the point that the cable enters the transmission. Pull the cable out. Detach the metal clip or remove the nut and bolt that hold the shift linkage in place. Pull the linkage away from the transmission.
  6. Remove the starter. This part is usually secured in place by two bolts.
  7. Position a transmission jack underneath the transmission, and raise the jack until it rests firmly against the transmission.
  8. Disconnect the cross members that secure the transmission to the frame by removing the nut and bolt combinations at both ends of each cross member. Raise the jack slightly. Using the jack, pull the transmission toward the rear of the vehicle to disconnect it from the engine.

Simply reverse the steps of this procedure to install the new transmission.

How to Identify Ford Transmission Codes

If the problem is so severe that the transmission must be replaced, you need to know the type of transmission installed in your vehicle. Although some Ford transmissions are readily identifiable, the best way to determine which model is installed in your vehicle is to use the ID tag attached to the component. Automakers use unique codes to identify the year, make and model. The transmission ID tag is located on the top surface of the component or underneath the servo bolts. Examine the tag to locate the numbers separated by a hyphen. This code identifies the exact transmission model. Cross-reference the code with an online database, or give us a call. A member of our trained staff will be happy to assist you.

Why Use a Genuine Ford OEM Transmission?

Ford OEM transmissions are manufactured from top-quality materials to the exact standards as those required for components installed at the factory. As a result, OEM Ford transmissions will fit and function correctly without the need for extra parts or special modifications. The equipment will deliver the same level of performance and reliability as the transmission installed at the automaker’s plant. In addition to saving you time and money, this helps you avoid the frustration that can arise when evaluating aftermarket products.

At fordgenuineautoparts.com, we carry a large variety of Ford OEM transmissions. To find the component that you need, search our extensive catalog by VIN, keyword or part number. You can also enter your vehicle’s year, make and model by using the drop-down menu. We will ship the part right to your door.