Diesel Excursion transmission woes

We bought a 2001 Ford Excursion, diesel, with 242K miles to use exclusively as a tow vehicle for a 5000# trailer. We paid $9K, then $2K for ball bearings, brakes and transmission servicing. Recently the transmission has started to slip and the engine races shortly towing. We are concerned we may need to replace the transmission for an additional $3K. We “knew” the Ex might need some work with such high mileage, but are wondering if we got in over our heads. Question, should we continue to invest in expensive repairs or look for a different tow vehicle?

The problem MAY be a dirty valve or faulty solenoid or sensor.

You could try fixing by doing a fluid and filter change.

242K miles is quite a bit even for a diesel.

After those miles towing and 6 years, a few things may be worn out, not just the tranny.

Myself, I wouldn’t have bought for the mileage alone. But, that’s just me.

Well it had been a company car used by a corporate type doing all highway driving, the previous owner did not use it as a primary tow vehicle. Our intention when we bought the Excursion was as a tow vehicle, maybe 5000 miles per year, not as a primary vehicle. Otherwise the SUV has all the comforts and space we need.

Vehicles with 240,000 miles on them are salvage, it’s as simple as that. Now, with the blown tranny, it IS salvage, so you may as well have it rebuilt and PRAY the engine holds together for a few years while you recoup your money by driving it sparingly…

Yes there a stories and testimonials of these trucks going 350,000 miles with no problems. But NOBODY brags about the ones that are ready for the shredder at 200K…You never hear about those…

Opinions on the relative value of motor vehicles are facinationg! The state department of motor vehicles determined the value of this truck to be twice the amount I paid for it knowing the high mileage and age. Maybe my state DMV had an ulterior motive to try to get more tax money from me when I registered this truck, but I would hope they at least make an overture of unbiased value.

As with any used vehicle the “IF” factor is previous care and maintenance. These big diesel transmissions require fluid changes, check the manual. Perhaps this one didn’t get that until you had it done. The trans is pricey but the engine is good for a long time yet with proper maintenance. It is also important that you only use Ford oil or Shell Rotella engine oil in motor. Oil pressure and anti-foaming is part of the fuel injection system. If the trans is going, start networking with folks for a good independant shop. Not necessarily the dealer or franchise ones. These trannies are electronically operated and there could be an issue other than the hard parts internally. I have a 2001 diesel HD unit that I maintain dearly and I wouldn’t give it up. I have never had a problem, only maintenance. Especially now with the higher mileage, follow the maintenance schedule for everything as a “minimum!”

So it sounds like you are a fan and think there is value to keeping something despite high mileage. We never planned to use this truck as a primary vehicle and thought it might be worth repairing since we anticipate driving it just 5000 miles per year. The weight of the trailer we pull, 5000#, should not be a big strain on an engine that is rated at 10000# towing capacity. I have seen similar Ex sold for over $20K with NADA values of $15 to $17K. At what point do the cost of repairs exceed the value of the truck?

Yes, I am a fan of the older Ford diesel vehicles. I don’t argue with success. I drive a 2001 F-250 HD pick-up with extended cab and 8’ box. About three times a year I pull a trailer weighing 11,000 pounds for 150 miles each way. I am careful. I change the tranny fluid every 35 to 40,000 miles. Something else you should know about this trans is that when pulling a heavy load or a lighter one going up a long grade, you should get out of overdrive. The vehicle will pull the load, but the trans will get fire hot and will be slowly hurt.
As far a $$$ go, you have to look at the what you are getting for the cost. Just because a book says it is worth a certain amount doesn’t mean you should bail out. You have the vehicle. It will service your needs. It has the size, comfort and accessories you want. Yes, there will be repairs and maintenance. Maybe at or more than the book value but not your value for what you want it for. Even new vehicles have problems, that is why the manufacturer gives a warranty. Even with a trans you will invest less than what it is worth. Just my opinion. Follow the manuals maintenance schedule to the letter at least. Always use the right engine oil for this motor. Very important especially for cold weather starting and smooth operation. I will also add that when purchasing fuel, most brands do not meet the cetane rating standards (like octane in gas)required for this engine by Ford. Sad but true. The one that comes the closest is BP. Again, this is important in cold weather. I use a cetane boost addative at fill up at the recommended rate. $5.50 treats 100 gallons. This insures starting, power, mileage and injector cleanliness also. Diesel vehicles require more maintenance and it also costs more to do. However, with proper care they run almost forever. There is a reason diesels are used exclusively in mediem to big trucks and anything in the equipment line. More power and torque, good fuel economy for the work performed and longevity. Good luck with the transmission issue. Invest the time and find a good independant shop.

Thanks for your advice and comments. You sound like a reasonable person who looks beyond the obvious to find the inherent value. Yes we do have the right vehicle for our needs. I do think a replacement would cost us even more money - higher purchase price, sales tax, insurance and property tax. I think that would be throwing good money after bad. Since we don’t need to use this vehicle as a daily truck, we will take the time to find a shop that specializes in diesels and knows transmissions. I think we will also keep our fingers crossed, say a few prayers and make sure that AAA RV policy is renewed! Thanks again for your level headed advice.

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