Ford 4F27E transmission flares from 2nd to 3rd

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Dec 30, 2019
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This is on a 2008 Focus S (roll up windows, manual door locks, base everything except 4AT option) with the 4 speed automatic that I previously owned and is now back with me. It’s got about 119k miles.
Car sat for about 10 months while it was given to a family member as they had an unexpected health problem.

Prior to giving it to them, I had dropped the trans pan and change the filter and replaced the fluid with Valvoline Maxlife ATF. That was about 7k miles ago. I noticed that during cold starts, the first shift event going from 2nd to 3rd results in a flare. It shifts fine from 1-2 and from 3 to 4. Basically, it will attempt to shift from 2-3 but the RPMs go up about 500-1000 revs for a maybe a second or two and then it shifts. After this is done, all subsequent shifts from 2-3 and other gears are all normal.

I did cycle out some more ATF via the trans cooler line - 8 quarts total (2 Maxlife ATF + 6 Valvoline Dex6/Mercon LV blue bottle). Same problem persists. Fluid is clean and pink and at the correct level.

Any recommendations on what could be causing this issue? CEL light isn’t illuminated on the dash.
 

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That’s what I was worried about. I was reading online that solenoid E handles the 2-3 shift. Does anyone know if changing out the solenoid E or all of them if I’m in there anyways would be of any help?
 
This is on a 2008 Focus S (roll up windows, manual door locks, base everything except 4AT option) with the 4 speed automatic that I previously owned and is now back with me. It’s got about 119k miles.
Car sat for about 10 months while it was given to a family member as they had an unexpected health problem.

Prior to giving it to them, I had dropped the trans pan and change the filter and replaced the fluid with Valvoline Maxlife ATF. That was about 7k miles ago. I noticed that during cold starts, the first shift event going from 2nd to 3rd results in a flare. It shifts fine from 1-2 and from 3 to 4. Basically, it will attempt to shift from 2-3 but the RPMs go up about 500-1000 revs for a maybe a second or two and then it shifts. After this is done, all subsequent shifts from 2-3 and other gears are all normal.

I did cycle out some more ATF via the trans cooler line - 8 quarts total (2 Maxlife ATF + 6 Valvoline Dex6/Mercon LV blue bottle). Same problem persists. Fluid is clean and pink and at the correct level.

Any recommendations on what could be causing this issue? CEL light isn’t illuminated on the dash.
Did you reset the shift logic when you changed the fluid? In my 6F35 I did not initially reset the logic, and new fluid barely changed the performance of the shifts and it behaved similar to what you describe. After resetting the logic, the transmission shifted like new.
 
The 2-3 shift flare in these is a common problem. Provided the pump is good, my guess would be either the direct clutch is fried, solenoid E is sticking on, or the driver side cover plate, which is notorious for wear in the main shaft bushing area that has a few seals in it. When they or the bushing wear and start leaking, the problems start. It was worse in the Mazda version of this transmission in the early Mazda 3's and Mazda 2, as the Mazda used an aluminum bushing in the end cover and Ford used a steel busing, and the fluid cooling return was superior in the Ford version compared to the way Mazda routed it. Mazda routed the fluid back to the pan and Ford wisely routed it to this bushing area.

This model transmission (and the 5-speed [FNR5] variant Mazda and Ford both used in the 2010-ish years) really needs early and frequent fluid changes, which makes them fairly decent and reliable. But if the fluid in these isnt changed on a fairly regular basis, they get funky.

You can get the solenoids fairly cheap, I would probably replace all of them in an effort to salvage this trans. I would also switch to Mercon V fluid. Removing and replacing the end cover (very visible if you remove the driver side wheel) isnt too terrible of a job either, you might consider that.

I have a 112-page rebuild manual for this transmission in PDF format if you want it. Its a 7.2 Mb file, if your email will handle that send me a private message with your email address and I'll send it to you if you want it.

Also, check this out:
https://www.vehicleservicepros.com/...rticle/21186837/fixing-the-fordmazda-23-flare
 
My 2006 started doing this about 40k miles ago and it is still running with 281k on it. When it is cold, I just ease up on the gas when it shifts from 2nd to 3rd. Hoping for 300k just to say I did it.
 
Did you reset the shift logic when you changed the fluid? In my 6F35 I did not initially reset the logic, and new fluid barely changed the performance of the shifts and it behaved similar to what you describe. After resetting the logic, the transmission shifted like new.
That’s a good point! I just went out over lunch and did a 10 min PCM reset as laid out by Ford tech makuloco (alligator clip from positive terminal cable to the unplugged negative terminal cable.

Test drove it and it flared about 500rpm the first shift again. The second 2-3 shift had a barely perceptible flare. I’ll know if it made any difference when I head home later in the evening. Is there anything else for a PCM reset?
 
Thank you @RedSpider - I sent you a PM. Also, now that I know the correct search terms, seems to be a somewhat common issue on the US MK2 Focii (or Focuses?).
 
My 2006 started doing this about 40k miles ago and it is still running with 281k on it. When it is cold, I just ease up on the gas when it shifts from 2nd to 3rd. Hoping for 300k just to say I did it.
That’s good to know. I take it gentle when it’s cold and try to keep the Revs around 2-2.5k RPMs. Any recommendations on what you’ve been doing to keep it running with the 2-3 flare for so long?
 
That’s good to know. I take it gentle when it’s cold and try to keep the Revs around 2-2.5k RPMs. Any recommendations on what you’ve been doing to keep it running with the 2-3 flare for so long?
I have changed the ATF and filter several times over the years. A fluid change didn't seem to help this problem. I barely notice it in the warmer temps, but since it is getting cold here I am starting to notice it again. I am just using Motorcraft Mercon V fluid. Mine is a commuter car for work so it sees about 99% highway miles. No major problems since I bought it with 91k on it. It's not worth anything so I will drive it until it quits. M1 0W20 EP every 10K whether it needs it or not and it barely drops from the full mark.
 
You can always try a bottle of BITOGs favorite transmission mechanic in a bottle and see if that improves anything. If you've got a sticky solenoid or some varnished up passages it may help, it won't fix a true mechanical failure but, nothing but dismantling the transmission will fix that, so a $10-15 bottle of Lubegard is probably worth the try.

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Doesn’t hurt to try it, I had forgotten about the bitog favorite. I plan on putting in about 5oz and leaving it be without draining any ATF (because thanks Ford not putting a drain plug in there).
 
Doesn’t hurt to try it, I had forgotten about the bitog favorite. I plan on putting in about 5oz and leaving it be without draining any ATF (because thanks Ford not putting a drain plug in there).
If you have a little hand transfer pump, you might be able to get that down the dipstick tube to suck out about 10oz.
 
I'm making an assumption but a Mazda 2 transmission pan and pre-2007 Mazda 3 pan would possibly fit, giving you a drain plug. There was some overlap in using the four speed and five speed automatic after 2007 so you'd have to try to figure out which one you're looking at. The five speed MIGHT fit as well since its a variation of this transmission but I dont know for a fact that it would actually fit.
 
I was able to siphon out 8 oz of ATZ through the dipstick and added back about 8oz Lubeguard. It’s certainly better but there’s still a little bit of flaring/slipping from 2-3 the first shift on a cold start. Any way I could throw in the remaining 2oz of Lubeguard in and continue to monitor? The Focus doesn’t get driven much and has racked up a whopping 12 miles in the last week.
 
I haven't personally used Lubegard but Seafoam TransTune stopped my 6R140 from dropping into Limp when cold.

If you truly have a sticky solenoid the TransTune might help. Obviously I probably wouldn't combine it with Lubegard, although for a brief time it might be ok? Also the two products may be essentially the same - I wouldn't know.
 
I haven't personally used Lubegard but Seafoam TransTune stopped my 6R140 from dropping into Limp when cold.

If you truly have a sticky solenoid the TransTune might help. Obviously I probably wouldn't combine it with Lubegard, although for a brief time it might be ok? Also the two products may be essentially the same - I wouldn't know.
Lubegard has an entirely different means of working, Seafoam transtune is just red dyed seafoam, it's mostly naphthenic oil, a light petroleum oil/solvent, and isopropyl alcohol, Lubegard's product is mostly petroleum lubricating oils mixed with their proprietary ester additive that's meant to mimic what sperm whale oil used to do for ATF in the days of old.
 
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