Shifting auto trans

I just bought a 2004 ford explorer XLT 4x4 with automatic trans.and I noticed that when shifting gears (reverse to drive or drive to reverse ) I sometimes hear a small clunking sound. I’ve always owned cars and this is my first suv and 4x4, is this normal or is this a sign of trany problems?

It’s just all the lash being taken up in the driveline. When in drive, all the torque is applied to the driveline in one direction. When you shift into reverse, the lash for the gears in the transmission and rear differential is taken up because driveline is rotating in the opposite direction, and you hear a clunk.

If there’s no other noises or vibrations while the vehicle is driven, then what you’re hearing is normal.


In addition to Tester’s good advice, I want to add that you should have the transmission fluid on this vehicle changed every 30k miles if you want to be able to prevent transmission failure. If you cannot verify that this was done at 30k, 60k, 90k (you failed to tell us the vehicle’s odometer mileage), then you should consider this to be a high priority.

Just DO NOT go to any quick lube place or any chain transmission shops for this service. Go to an independent trans shop.

Whether this is listed in the Ford Maintenance Schedule or not, you need to change the trans fluid (and filter) every 30k.

There are many vehicles that “clunk” when shifting as you do,the complaint is common. I would not be at all suprised if somewhere in the Explore line there is a Technical Service Bulletin that adresses driveline clunk, I know there are many for GM products. My 2004 F-150 doesn’t “clunk” though.

is it at a certain speed? It may be the ABS self test.
If the owner didn’t provide maintenance records, get all the fluids changed asap.

my o.d. reading is 66,000 miles. I had firestone do a complete check and had them change all fluids ( coolant, transfer case, fuel filter, and spark plugs ) they said trans fluid was very clean and must have been done recently, so I’m waiting till next year to have that done. thanks for all advice!

I would not wait. A new transmission will cost you over $2K. Transmission fluid can look fine and still need changing. 30K is a max service interval. In heavy use, you should do it more often. Be sure you use the correct fluid or you will trash it fast.