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**SOLVED** 5R55E No/Weak Reverse, 1st Engine Braking Works

Clayton

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2003 4x4 4.0 5R55E (Trans code D)

**SOLVED**
Got busy with work/life, but found some hours here and there.

There were indeed supposed to be check balls in the VB. I contacted ShiftRite and at first they were apologetic (though didn't offer any sort of refund for wasting my time troubleshooting their error), then I figured no big deal I'll just see if they have any input on my continued issue. I typically wouldn't expect free consultation from a shop for a DIY'er, but it seemed the least they could do after wasting a day of my time, however many quarts of ATF, and a good serving of frustration. Well, they thought different I guess. They stopped replying. Oh well, their business practices will catch up with them.

Anyways, I ordered Sonnax 56532-01k, a reverse servo sleave kit as a last resort before dropping the trans and digging in. Not sure if I mentioned, but the filler neck was corroded and leaked, which caused fluid to drip all down the passenger side of the trans and onto the cat-- I pulled that, cleaned it good, and jb welded it. Well, when I went to pull the pan to get at the reverse servo again I noticed there was still a leak. With the cat and the heatshield there, I couldn't really see up there. Well, I cut out the exhaust, pulled the shield, and guess what I found...



Intermediate servo cover snap ring must have corroded and failed, letting the servo cover cock to the side, pinch the o-ring and create enough of a leak to cause the gear that requires the highest pressure, reverse, to not engage or have weak engagement. Kinda crazy, I drove the truck 200+mi home like this! I was able to get the snap ring and had a close enough O-ring on the shelf. Case casting that retains the ring doesn't seem to be damaged at all. Truck drives as it should now. Gear engagements can come with a bit of a clunk, but nothing too harsh, and from what I understand this is a feature of the shift kit that came in the VB I bought. Had the dealership special order the correct o-rings-- I'm going to replace the OD servo cover snap ring too and may as well do the O-ring while at it.

So that's it. Thanks for all the help everyone. Automatic tranmissions were mystical magic boxes to me before setting out to solve this issue, and while I haven't by any means mastered them, I have a good foundation from which to troubleshoot them. That wouldn't have been possible without all the generous assistance offered in this thread. So, again, thanks!
Before researching this problem, automatics were essentially mysterious magic cornucopias of gear leveraged propulsion. Now I know a tiny bit more, but it's all fragments, so any help troubleshooting this no reverse issue is much appreciated.

Everything works great except no/weak reverse. If I put it in reverse, there's not even a slight clunk of going into gear, but it will very very slowly roll. If I give it gas it just "slips" like if it were a manual with the clutch mostly engaged. Also the gear shift indicator falls a little to the right of the corresponding gear for every selection-- not sure if that is meaningful at all. No codes are thrown.

What I've done so far:
  • Truck passes manual 1st engine braking test, so it would appear the band is intact, which is a big relief.

  • Disconnected the output speed sensor, which caused absolutely no reverse.

  • Disconnected blue TCM(?) connector with the lever keeper. This caused a pretty harsh clunk into reverse, but otherwise it reverse worked as it should, no slipping. As would be expected, threw a handful of codes.

  • Disconnected both TCM and output speed sensor simultaneously, because, why not? Same results as disconnected output speed sensor, absolutely no reverse.

  • Scan tool appears to be getting an accurate reading from output speed sensor
From what I've read, it's possible this is something electrical, but if it's not a bad speed sensor, this is unlikely. Alternatively, unplugging the "brains" forces the trans into full pressure limp mode, thereby creating enough pressure to overcome an internal leak on the reverse circuit.

This seems helpful, but I have no clue what several of these terms are referring to, SSA solenoid, EPC, line rise, etc... From the troubleshooting tips section at https://www.sonnax.com/tech_resources/201-18-troubleshooting-tips-for-4r44e-5r55e-transmissions
No/Slow Reverse:
The SSA solenoid must be turned on, allowing flow through the solenoid, or direct clutch will not apply until EPC rises to 20 psi. The direct clutch psi will then slowly rise following EPC until clutch holds. Always install new servo pistons. Both servos are charged on the release side in reverse. Inspect the center support sleeve, sealing rings and direct drum sleeve for cracks. Ensure the vehicle has line rise, as reverse will not engage until line is 120 psi.
My plan of action at this point is to hook up a pressure gauge and see what I get in reverse. Either way, it would appear I'll be dropping the valve body, but I'm not super confident in what I'll be looking for and what tests to run and how to run them. Let me know if I'm on the right path, and if you have any insights, pics, diagrams, and/or videos that might be helpful, that'd be apprecaited.
 
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cbxer55

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Good article on the transmission. Thanks for posting it.

I have the same trans in my 07 Mustang. Been having a blinking OD OFF light after about 30 minutes driving. Shut it off and restart, it comes back after about 30 minutes. If I turn the OD off and leave it off, it never blinks. So it must be something with the OD, even though it drives and shifts just fine and I see no slippage on the tach. Guess I need to buy a scanner that can read trans codes and find out what the problem is.
 

Clayton

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Glad it was helpful, and now that you mention the OD light, mine on the ranger comes on when the "brains" are unplugged, but otherwise doesn't flash.
 

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Checking the pressure would rule out a lot of possibilities. The MLPS (neutral safety switch) plays a huge role into telling PCM how to set up the shift strategy. With what you described of the shift indicator falls past the gear selected I would definitely look at that. There are 2 screws on the bottom of the column that will work loose. I believe 30 Torx, someone please correct me as it’s been a minute or two since I’ve been under a dash to do this repair. LOL!
This PDF might help also

Brad
 
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Orca

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Disclaimer: I'm no transmission expert (not even close!), but I've been trying for a while to learn more in preparation for possible future issues.
Also the gear shift indicator falls a little to the right of the corresponding gear for every selection-- not sure if that is meaningful at all.
As for your gear shift indicator, I was about to suggest the same thing as Transman304. In fact, I just checked those 2 screws on my 2004 Ranger a few days ago. He is correct -- you'll need a Torx #30 driver. There's a decent video on this that you should watch:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4-h5wStWMc

This seems helpful, but I have no clue what several of these terms are referring to, SSA solenoid, EPC, line rise, etc...
As for "SSA", that's "Shift Solenoid A", also referred to as "Shift Solenoid 1" in some manuals. "EPC" = "Electronic Pressure Control" (which seems to be used to mean "line pressure").

How sophisticated is your scantool? There are several PIDs on a Ford Ranger that you can use to get information on the 4 shift solenoids, the transmission line pressure, neutral safety switch, etc. Some of those PIDs might help in your troubleshooting if you can access them.
 

Clayton

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Thanks for the links guys, and thanks for the breakdown on the abbreviations, I get the reason to abbreviate, but for a lay person it can be rough swimming in a sea of them. I'm gonna check out the video and pdf now, under dash adjustments sound easier than tearing into the trans, and always good to eliminate the easy stuff first.

My scantool is a MaxiDiag MD802. I'm not sure if I'm not using it right. Are the PID's found in the live data? I think the only live data related to the trans that my scan tool offers is the speed sensor, but I could be wrong.
 

cbxer55

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Checking the pressure would rule out a lot of possibilities. The MLPS (neutral safety switch) plays a huge role into telling PCM how to set up the shift strategy. With what you described of the shift indicator falls past the gear selected I would definitely look at that. There are 2 screws on the bottom of the column that will work loose. I believe 30 Torx, someone please correct me as it’s been a minute or two since I’ve been under a dash to do this repair. LOL!
This PDF might help also

Brad
Exactly. I've had to tighten those two screws more than once. Last time, I took them out one at a time and put some blue Loctite on them. That was three years ago. Been good since.

And yeah, when those screws are loose, the shifter is real sloppy. Sometimes the truck wouldn't start unless I grabbed the shifter and pulled it up hard.

And T30 is correct.

I have a friend that has a transmission shop a mile away. I had him change the fluid and filter on the Stang a few months back. The old fluid was definitely shot, wasn't even red anymore, kind of a light brown color. Even then, it doesn't change all the fluid, only about 50%. What a PITA it is changing the transmission fluid on a vehicle with no transmission dipstick!!! Does the trans in your Ranger have a dipstick? Who's bright idea is it to make a vehicle with no transmission dipstick anyway?
 
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Orca

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My scantool is a MaxiDiag MD802. I'm not sure if I'm not using it right. Are the PID's found in the live data? I think the only live data related to the trans that my scan tool offers is the speed sensor, but I could be wrong.
I downloaded the manual for your Autel MD802 and took a look. Yes, it looks like their "Live Data" is how they access PIDs. But since all of the PIDs they show in the manual are standard OBD2 PIDs (e.g. Engine Coolant Temperature) it's hard to tell if that's all they offer or if they support any manufacturer-specific PIDs, the latter of which you'd need for things like transmission solenoids, etc.

I don't want to derail your thread, but you might want to look into FORScan or Torque Pro at some point. The former probably has several of the PIDs you want to investigate. The latter may have some good Ford-specific PIDs and should allow you to enter a "custom" PID where necessary.
 

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The autel md802 does not have vehicle specific PIDs. You can access some trans info in live data but not solenoids, pressures, temps, ratios etc. Need a better scanner or forscan for that.
 

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Thanks for the links guys, and thanks for the breakdown on the abbreviations, I get the reason to abbreviate, but for a lay person it can be rough swimming in a sea of them. I'm gonna check out the video and pdf now, under dash adjustments sound easier than tearing into the trans, and always good to eliminate the easy stuff first.

My scantool is a MaxiDiag MD802. I'm not sure if I'm not using it right. Are the PID's found in the live data? I think the only live data related to the trans that my scan tool offers is the speed sensor, but I could be wrong.
When you look at live data, all the different individual readings are called "PIDs". Thats it... Just the "tech" term for the individual readings and a quick way for a advanced user to identify them. A tech can just say bring up PID #127 which could just be the ECT temp.
 

Clayton

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The two T30 torx on the column shifter were fully snug, but was worth a try.

cbxer55, yep, the ranger 5r55e has a dipstick-- that's pretty odd for an AT not to have one.

As for the shortcomings of the MaxiDiag and getting scan software, I'll look into FORscan. An OBD link + updatable software makes hardware/software combo scantools seem archaic.

Not a ton of progress today, but I managed to get mainline and EPC pressure readings. As you can see, the readings were really high. The truck is new to me, but it had slipped my mind-- the PO was upfront about everything including that he tried a fluid change and trans additive in the hopes it would correct the no R, and that he overfilled it. The numbers look a bit more reasonable after draining the trans to the correct fill level. I'm not sure what to make of the slightly high R idle pressure.



Transman304, the Altra PDF is great, I'm still foggy on how all the parts interact, but this is helping a ton. Aside from the pressure test, I also confirmed that R lights are working, so that should rule out the neutral safety switch, right? I'm at a bit of a loss now, 1st has engine braking, eliminating the band, pressures seem adequate if not high. Do adequate pressures rule out the valve body gasket (on 2003 it should be the updated bonded one anyways)? Is anything else ruled out? If the R servo is bad, would that affect pressure?
 

Clayton

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When you look at live data, all the different individual readings are called "PIDs". Thats it... Just the "tech" term for the individual readings and a quick way for a advanced user to identify them. A tech can just say bring up PID #127 which could just be the ECT temp.
Ah, ok, that makes sense, thanks for clearing that up!
 

Clayton

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Just checked pressure on the EPC circuit with the "brains" unplugged. got 135/140 across the board, and reverse only engaged on one try this time.

I'm going to dig into the Altra PDF and see if I can't glean any more helpful diagnostics, and if not I'll dive into the Forscan world.

Btw, I've seen "First, check to see if you have manual 1 and if you have engine braking in it" in several places. My trans passes this check, but none of the places I've seen this diagnostic procedure mentioned have I seen someone explain what passing or failing this test implies. It would seem that same drum/band combo is used in engine braking in manual 1 somehow? So the band would seem to be fine-- then what else does it imply? The servo is good? It feels like I might have enough clues to pinpoint the issue, but I'm coming up short on how they all interact.
 
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Clayton

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Bump?

Got busy out of nowhere and just getting back to this trans issue-- I'm thinking I'm gonna pull the valve body and inspect the gasket, maybe figure out if I can rig up something to air test servos. Or do I need to just bite the bullet and buy a OBDII dongle so I can run Forscan?
 

Clayton

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I went ahead and decided to not be a cheap ass and ordered a OBDLink MX. Here are all the PID's I found that were transmission related and cycled through the gears.

EDIT: found solenoid applications in the Altra manual. Looks like those check out-- but how does the computer know the position of the solenoid? Is it just telling us whether or not it's applying voltage, meaning a bad solenoid would still read as being in the correct position in the PID?

What should we make of the transmission range switch voltage being maxed out and reading "error"?






 
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