96 EXPLORER Automatic Transmission - What does it really need? on 1996 Ford Explorer

My faithful servant a 1996 Explorer XLT 6 cylinder with Automatic Control Trac 4WD (with 180,000 Miles)has given me few troubles & still looks & runs good & has done more than expected for so many years & miles, until now.
The transmission has become completely inoperable, it will not at all go into any gear, forward or reverse. It did so instantaneously, from one moment running flawlessly, as always to the next, like flipping off a switch, it is totally non functioning, period. In my past I have had a number of other vehicles eventually have automatic transmission problems that would end up needing a major rebuild-repair or replacement. In all of these previous vehicle transmissions there was always advance warnings, tell tale signs like the typical slipping into gear, sluggiah shifts & the easily noticable hints of transmission troubles ahead. Not at all with this Explorer. It had properly & fully functioned flawlessly all the way to the point where while driving downhill then leveling off & having to speed up the engine in order to maintain speed where at an instant the trtansmission stopped working & every forward or reverse gear while engaged was exactly like reving the enjine in neutral. Not even it's attempt to be powering any gear.
I did have it towed to two Transmission specialsts & was told by both that the transmission had to be rebuilt-exchanged at an amount that is realistically a bit more that the value of the vehicle. My gut feeling really is that I sense that neither shop actually did any substantial evualation to it because at both shops the vehicle had to be towed away suspicially from the exact spot in their parking lot that the Tow driver had previously left it when the vehicle was towed to them for diagnosis.
To me whe way it had ceased operating in an instant & knowing that this transmission is controlled by a somewhat complicated computer "brain" I suspect that perhaps the cause of the probles may be something electrical, from some wire connection seperating, or the "brain" malfunctioning or missing an update or set of codes or perhaps some fuseable link or circuit breaker - fuse tripped & thus produces these results. I really do not want to have this otherwise reliable, fully functioning vehicle that has served me well to be junked for parts & scrap when it is still viable. Could anyone please make some suggestions as to what is the real problem & hopefully offer a suggestion as what I can do to keep it functioning & appreciated without an expensive unwise or unnecessary repair. I would be very appreciative for any help. Mike K

1 answer 4 comments
usually there are signs that tranny is failing. it failed suddenly, sounds more like disconnected somewhere. check connection to the tranny underneath. it may be loose or damaged. if it looks intact, then try cleaning it thoroughly.
Thanks for your reply & suggestions. Like I had stated in my plea for help...this Explorer's Transmission failure was completely like flipping a switch. It was fullly functioning without any of even the slightest indications that there might possibly be a potential problem. Then for no real reason it was completely non functioning. I will completely check all electrical connections as well as an inspection of all attaching bolts, nuts etc. for any possible bdislocated parts. Again thanks for your concern & suggestion. Mike K
Dear Mike,
Would you mind telling me how did you manage to repair (if so) your Explorer transmission? I also have an Explorer AWD 4x4 control track (mine is 1997-transmission 5R55E) with problems. The rear works fine but it goes forward only if the engine is around or plus 3000 rpm (D or 1st). After that the transmission works fine until neutral (N) is used. My mechanic has cleaned the body valve gasket changed the oil and filter. Before that, it was necessary 5000 rpm to start going ahead. I´m in Brazil and it is much more difficult to get repair here. I appreciate any help you could give me.
Regards, André Brennand
Ford explorer are known for transmission problems the best thing to do is make sure to change filter/fluid and use the right type of transmission fluid. Also the valve body gasket are known to blow so get your mechanic or technician to check or change the gaskets that all to it.
I to am having problems w my 96 its not a 4x4 bit reading all your post I'd be happy to know if anyone successfully self repaired their trani.
Lets start with what I've already done, first and by far the easiest was changing the throttle body sensor it has plenty to do with shifting I've conned to learn.next my valve control body gaskets and wire harness that connects to the 6 solenoids and of course next 5 fluid New pan gasket, not once have I came avoid any metal flake so I'm feeling my disk/washers are fine. I've priced a New skunks
Solenoid pack and this is some thing I'm not sure I need , this is my grey area , jumping back ac few v word's my wire harness was completely eroded an the casing falling off brittle to the touch so 134$ later I got lucky and hired one down. I'm now at a loss I really world take any advice and or I hope at least I've said something one of you haven't tried yet. Thanks