While traveling cross country last year, we experienced some issues with our transmission. It seemed to be slipping out of gear randomly. I guess we had noticed the issue once or twice before but the trouble became worse when we hit the hot weather. We stopped at a Ford dealership half way across Oklahoma, where they performed a quick inspection, and there were no external signs of a problem. No leaks and the fluid wasn’t burning. As we approached the Sierra Nevada, the issue got so bad that we were not able to accelerate past 30 miles an hour, and we were sure that the transmission would die at any moment.
However, it never happened. We had a few more really rough patches but thankfully, Lady T made the trip home. We had the transmission fluid flushed and filter replaced as soon as we got back but that didn’t remedy the problem. After speaking to a couple of mechanics, it seemed like we would end up paying Ford to diagnose the issue to determine if we needed to rebuild the transmission.
BUT, we decided to hold off just a bit longer to see what else we could find out online. Jay started digging in every forum he came across and eventually exchanged messages with a few people who told us about a Transmission Range Sensor aka the Neutral Safety Switch. Also, several people mentioned that some motorhomes with the Ford E350 chassis have a deeper transmission fluid pan, which requires a different style filter with a longer spout. At this point, we were willing to try anything that would save us the money on a new transmission.
Jay ordered the Transmission Range Sensor and a deep pan filter and we did the work ourselves. Replacing the sensor was the easy part. The tough part was draining and inspecting the filter. The pan that holds the fluid and connects to the transmission has no drain plug and 20 bolts holding it in! After spending a Saturday afternoon, we got the pan drained and inspected the filter. Of course, the pan on Lady T does NOT require a special filter, so the only thing we accomplished was making a big mess!
So far this year, we have driven Lady T to Vermont, NH and Maine and we have not experienced the issue again! We hope that replacing the sensor did the trick but we will continue to monitor it and update as we drive her more and prepare for our month long road trip in September.
Check out the videos and photos below of us changing the sensor and fluids!