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New Ford F-150 Truck Transmission

Dear Click and Clack -

Just so you know, no person or animal was hurt in this “event”. I recently purchased a new 2009 Ford F-150 XL as part of the Federal “cash for clunkers” program, trading in my 1988 Ford F-150 4.6L 4-speed automatic with no cruise control. It’s just a basic work truck, regular cab with an 8-foot bed. I am happy with the new truck which has only 350 miles on it, but last week the throttle stuck wide open while I was entering an on-ramp to an interstate highay. Out of sheer panic, after the brakes started to fade, I accidentally shifted the automatic transmission into reverse when I was trying to get it into neutral. The tires immediately reversed rotation and started spining backwards and created a lot of smoke. It did slow the truck down. Once it stopped, the rear tires kept spinning in reverse until I could finally un-stick the throttle by kicking the accelerator peddle. Needless to say, I took it right back to the local dealer were I purchased it, driving very careful. The dealer found that the edge of the accelerator pedal was getting caught on the floor mat which has little raised ridges on it. I don’t really fault the dealer or Ford since I transferred the floor mats from my 1988 Ford. They dealer told me the transmission and tires were fine. Can you tell me how to tell if I really did any damage to the transmission? Should I report this as a possible safety issue to Ford?


Silver Spring, Maryland

This is not a safety issue for Ford, just a safety issue for everyone. Floor mats can be a danger, especially when they not custom designed for the vehicle.

You could have damaged the transmission, and certainly took a few miles off the rear tires. I’d suggest practicing how to use the key to kill the ignition in case it happens again. You can turn the key to kill the motor and quickly move it to “on” so the steering dosen’t lock up and drive the car to the shoulder of the road.

When you get new floor mats check them to see if the gas petal clears ok. Then assume the mats will move, as they alway do, and check the gas petal when the mats are out of position - just in case.

If your previous truck was a 1988, it did not have the 4.6L V8. The modular engines were first available in the F-150 starting in the 1997 model year. Anyway. I’m surprised the transmission actually engaged reverse. Most electronically controlled transmissions have built in fail safes that won’t engage reverse if the vehicle is traveling over 10 MPH or so. Other than some tire wear, you probably didn’t hurt anything.

It isn’t a safety issue on Ford’s part since you had the floor mats from the old truck put in the new truck, if you were reporting it as a safety defect you would have to mention that the truck didn’t have OEM mats, so it’s more of a personal blunder than anything.

As you have learned there is no safety feature protecting your transmission from going into reverse at any speed or throttle openning. Old nonelectronic transmissions had a reverse lockout valve activated by the governor pressure to block engagement of reverse above ~ 10 mph. Luckily, the tires were able to break free and spin to limit torque. If you did not break anything (drive shaft, u-joints, engine mounts, differential, etc.) and reverse and all forward ratios are operational, you probably did minimal damage. There would probably be some wear on the reverse clutch frictions due their engaging in such a severe manner.

BTW, do you have the 6 speed transmission in this truck? IIRC it would be the same transmission as the 6L65E in the GM trucks.