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Transmission Problems

My 2002 Explorer LTD with 155K miles on it is in terrific shape except for a worsening rough shift into overdrive (automatic transmission) and a clunk which occurs with increasing frequency when I shift into reverse. I would love to keep the car but don’t want to spend the money for a new or rebuilt transmission. Is there any hope for a less expensive repair and if so what would you suggest? There is no access for owner approach to transmission fluid - I have already looked in the manual. I would need to take the truck to a garage as I cannot do repairs myself. Thanks for your help. Midge

You may actually have two different problems.

The “clunk” when you shift into reverse could be the result of a worn-out U-joint on the driveshaft. This is not a very expensive repair, but it should not be deferred. If the bad U-joint is the forward one, if it breaks the forward end of the driveshaft will hit the pavement and your vehicle could wind up doing its impersonation of a pole-vaulter.

The rough shift definitely needs to be checked out by a transmission specialist. If you have faithfully changed the trans fluid (and filter) every 3 yrs/30k miles, you may luck out with low-cost repairs. If this transmission has not been serviced as I described, then at 155k miles, you are right on target for trans failure.

I suggest that you take the vehicle to an independent transmission shop that has been in business for at least 3 years. Whatever you do, DO NOT take it to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or any other chain operation. Those “chain” places are notorious for telling you that you need a new/rebuilt transmission, even if cheaper repairs are all that is needed. And, both their workmanship and their guarantees are usually questionable.

A trans shop can take care of a U-joint problem, in addition to diagnosing your trans problem. Maybe you will luck out, and normal trans functioning will be restored by a fluid and filter change–although that is not likely if the trans has not been serviced properly in the past.

Good luck!

Thanks for the prompt help. The truck has been serviced VERY regularly over the 155K miles so I hope your suggestions will resolve my problems.
Thanks again.