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Hi all,

I have a 2014 Explorer XLT, with the 3.5 engine. Recently, it started having an issue that I interpreted as a 'miss'. Particularly when I first start accelerating (and worse when going uphill), the vehicle seems to miss and jerk, enough to be a bit alarming, almost reminiscent of a fuel issue or a spark plug issue.

I took it to a mechanic that I trust, that has been doing great work for us for years. He initially thought perhaps it would be an ignition coil, but his testing did not show any such issue. It was his opinion at that point that the problem was in the torque converter, and he recommended that I take the vehicle to a transmission shop.

I spoke to the shop he recommended, and they're backed up a bit so it will be a couple weeks before they can actually take a look. But I did speak to the head mechanic and owner on the phone at length. I described the issue to him, as well as the other mechanic's diagnosis.

The transmission mechanic's opinion is that the torque converter will need to be replaced. He also mentioned some sort of computerized component that is likely damaged that will also probably need to be replaced. The ballpark numbers he threw out there were insane, at least in my opinion. I'm obviously going to get a second opinion (and get the vehicle in to someone who actually has time to look at it), but I wanted to run this by the folks here that know a little bit about what they're talking about.

His ballpark estimate for replacing the torque converter only was around $2500. He recommended replacing the full assembly including whatever computerized parts are involved... Sorry I'm probably butchering that description, but I'm far from a mechanic. But anyway, for the entire deal he thought it would be roughly double that amount, around $5k. That seems absolutely bonkers to me, I would imagine I could get the entire transmission replaced for less, right? Am I being unreasonable?

Anyway, I am most definitely going to get another professional opinion locally, I just wanted to put some feelers out here to see what you all think. Also, if anyone has navigated a similar situation with this vehicle, I'd love to hear how it turned out and what your issue ended up being. Thanks for taking time to read.
 

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What did the first mechanic test or check for? Normally first thing would be a test drive then hook up a code scanner, look for OBD2 codes, Ford specific codes, and if nothing, look at real-time sensor data for anything out of expected range, like long term fuel trims, fuel pressure, but really anything.

Does the vehicle have trouble ramping RPM when in park? Granted it may have a rev limiter in park, don't know about neutral. It would be crucial to know if it has any misfires.

I'd also check to see if there are any TSB's on your VIN, certain revisions of transmission may have newer PCM firmware issued to resolve problems. I know a year or two later they had a program for torque converter issues but don't recall which engines it applied to.

How many miles on it? At average vehicle yearly driven miles, or say close to 100K mi it might be due for new spark plugs.

If it is AWD, and you've never changed the PTU fluid, it is long overdue for that, some suggest that should happen every 30K mi so do that ASAP if applicable. Maybe it's not related, but a PTU operating with fluid cooked till it's like mud, can be an unexpected strain on the transmission. If the PTU fluid is really bad, empty it, refill, drive a few dozen miles, empty and refill with clean fluid again.

Basically I'm mentioning things that, if not done already, need doing anyway so can't hurt to get that out of the way and see if it makes a difference.

An aftermarket reman. torque converter is around $200, or Motorcraft new, a little over $300. Of course a shop would markup that, and a few hours labor, but $2500 seems significantly high. Maybe they have so much business that they are comfortable quoting everyone a premium, but then they don't really know till they look at it. Not sure why or how they can diagnose that any electronics need replaced over the phone.

Definitely get a second opinion, and do not tell the 2nd shop, what the first diagnosed or they may just want to do the same job for slightly lower price even if not all (if any) of that is needed.

Lastly, I don't know what I'm talking about, know less about these transmissions than any other subsystem, though I did look up the cost of the torque converter and know it shouldn't take an addt'l $2200 labor to put one in, let alone another $2500 for incidental parts needed along the way.

Entire transmission replaced, hard to guess but if new, maybe. If a pull from a junkyard, absolutely not near $5K. You can get those used for under $1K, and not multiple-thousand dollars labor. On the other hand, it might be half worn out, and if your torque converter pushed debris through the tranny pump, there could be more that needs done (they can inspect and decide during the replacement process).

For the amount of money you're talking about, I might even get a 3rd estimate, and ask if they'll waive a diagnostic fee if you have them do the work. I'd look for a mom 'n pop shop, rather than a chain or dealership for the 3rd estimate. They tend to be more likely to have old timers who would replace what's wrong instead of entire assemblies.

Is it a 3.5L naturally aspirated or ecoboost? If the EB, could be you aren't getting boost. That's about all I have at the moment and half of the above is probably leading you on a wild goose chase. ;)
 
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