Learning that you need the transmission replaced on your Ford Explorer is always disappointing news. Estimating the cost of that replacement can be difficult, as well. It’s a big job, involving the removal of the old transmission and installation of the new. Generally, you can expect to spend in the low thousands for a new tranny.
It’s possible to keep the costs down by using rebuilt parts. You should also be smart and shop around for the best prices on new transmission parts. If you have the proper tools and equipment, a level working space, and good car mechanics know-how, you can replace the transmission yourself.
How Does a Transmission Work?
The transmission is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Its job is to move power from the engine to the wheels. Back in the day, transmissions were all manual and used a clutch pedal. Manual transmissions are rare now, but you can still find them on standard cars.
We’ll use the 2003 Ford Explorer transmission for our example. It has a 5-speed automatic tranny, which is very common in a number of vehicles. Here are the parts of an automatic transmission and their function:
- The torque convertor pump receives power from the engine.
- The pump uses transmission fluid to send power to the turbine.
- The turbine returns the fluid to the pump using the stator.
- The stator multiplies the transmissions fluid’s power, allowing the pump to send more power back to the turbine.
- As the turbine spins, the central shaft spins and sends power to the planetary gear set.
- The planetary gear set determines how much power is sent to the rest of the drive train and the wheels.
Symptoms of a Bad Transmission
There are many signs you can look for to know when the transmission is going bad. If your Ford Explorer exhibits any of these, it’s time for a transmission or drivetrain checkup. You may need a new tranny or other vehicle drivetrain accessories.
- Hesitation or refusal to shift into gear
- Humming, buzzing, or clunking noises from the transmission
- Leaking automatic transmission fluid
- Burning smell
- Grinding, shaking, or jerking, especially when shifting gears
- Slipping gears
Driving with a bad transmission is unsafe. When your transmission is worn out, it’s imperative that you repair or replace it quickly.
Replacing the Transmission vs. Junking the Vehicle
Given the cost of transmission replacement, you may wonder if it’s simply time to let your ride go and buy a new one. The main thing to consider is the value of your Ford Explorer. If it still has a lot of good wear in it, the miles are reasonably low, and the rest of the systems are running well, replacing the tranny is a good idea.
However, when it’s one of those rides that you’ve been babying along for the last 10 years, it’s probably time to bid it an appropriate farewell. Before you decide, do your research and learn what the replacement cost is in your area.