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Transmission Poll & ZF PS

Updated 10/21/01

This is the second failure I have heard about on the list with synthetic ATF. Tim had it in his car when his failed. I had a Ford mechanic tell me that the synthetic AFT and Mecron V isn't holding up as good as the Mercron / Dexron III. I am a firm believer in synthetic motor oil but not every synthetic fluid is better. Any impute from out Ford technicians...Scooter...who have more insight into this. I once sent out a request so I could build a database on transmission failures....miles, fluid type, symptoms, etc...but I didn't get one response.

Bob Fijal

OK, lets do one now.... a poll on current owners and transmission histories. After shelling out $4500 for a new trans for my Explorer (110,000 miles) and about to get one for my Stealth (150,000), I'd like to think that we can keep our SHO trannys intact for at least 100k.

I'd also like to know what you guys are doing to keep them alive. When the Explorer trans gave up the ghost, the Ford tech guy asked me how often I had it serviced. "Never" was the reply.
"Did you tow with it?".
"Oh, you should have had it serviced at 50,000 mile intervals"

...but the manual didn't tell me that.

I'll go first:

97, 38k, no known problems.

Michael W Frey
'98 SHO

29,300 - serviced with Mobil 1 ATF
52,500 or so - scheduled to have serviced with Mobil 1 ATF on May 25

I have had no tranny problems with it being both strong and smooth for me...fingers crossed!

Paul M.
'98 TR
Ford ESP until 75,000

From what I hear, the type of failures in these transmissions would be difficult to pin on any fluid. Tim: What came apart in yours?
In the Gen II SHO's there was a split in a key housing that let pressure out. This could not be blamed on fluid in any reasonable way.

I doubt if a quality synthetic ATF is responsible, but I guess anything is possible. Still, I think most tranny experts say synthetic is just fine. All good synthetic ATF's like Amsoil and Mobil 1 should meet all manufacturers requirements, this includes the proper friction for clutches and things like that.

Don Mallinson
76K No problems, still shifts smoothly.
97 White SHO
Gutted MAF
26mm sway bar
TB bypass

A database could be beneficial to track ATX failures but I don't think Ford would take an interest at this late date. I believe that engineering design is more of an issue than synthetic Vs dino juice - at least that seems to be the case on the Gen II's. My original Gen II ATX at 103k bit the dust (planetaries) at 30 mph w/ light throttle within a few thousand miles of my fluid change w/ Mercon / Dextron III - but it was slipping badly then banging on the 1 -2 shift anyway. FPS recommended synthetic when I bought my later model '95 rebuilt modified tranny w/ Transgo from them. I would think that the synthetic would hold up better to the heat if there is a design flaw in lubrication - especially to the planetary gears like in the Gen II's.

It appears that the Gen II ATX would generally fail from 60 to 100k with most occurring towards the higher mileage side, but I know of one SHOklahoma club member who has 219k on his original unit - I understand that it may fail very soon & is being very careful w/ it. It's interesting that the Gen III failures seem to occur quite a bit sooner. Are Lincoln's experiencing the same early failure rate, etc?

FWIW, all ATX trannies in the Taurus / Sable model lines are not known for their strength & longevity! This has been an ongoing problem since 1986 & is well documented / known. Fortunately I sold my early '86 LX in late '87 at 45k before it went too. My '95 Lumina that I had as a company car had to have its ATX rebuilt at 25k w/ mostly long distance road use.........they just don't make 'em like they use to.

Bill H.
'98 WT
'93 Red ATX

96 with 54k. No repairs, using Ford ATF for now, changed at about 42,000 miles that I know of, probably one time before that, before I bought the car. No problems yet.

Don Mallinson

Here's my info;

97 SHO with 70k on it. Just got the car, but was fluid was changed twice already by the time I got the car. No evidence of transmission problems.

93 SHO ATX, transmission rebuilt at 150k, got the car at 90k and changed fluid twice between 90k and 150k.

Normal ATX fluid used all times. Have not towed with either car.

Tom Scanlon

Just as a note, the SHO Club did a third Gen survey for the second issue of the magazine that just went out.

Out of 35 surveys returned we had four reported transmission problems, two complete failures out of those four. The other two were erratic shifting.

Average miles on all SHO's in the survey was 41,900.

The "least liked" thing on the V8 SHO was the automatic transmission. I suspect that had more to do with people wanting a manual tranny than any particular hate for that particular automatic compared to other automatics.

We have a fair supply of extra first and second issues of the SHO Club magazine if anyone is not a member yet, please consider joining for $30 for four issues (a year basically). You will get the second issue at this point when you join, but can order a back-issue of the first one for $9.50 extra. What a deal! (end commercial). :)

Don Mallinson
SHO Club

'98 SHO at 39k. Ford dealer fluid flush at 29k before purchase at 31k - no problems to date.

'93 SHO w/ FPS ATX replacing orginal at 102k. FPS tranny going strong on RedLine synthetic at 119k.

'88 EB Aerostar w/ trailer tow pkg & limited slip towing a large pop-up trailer all over the western mountains at 101k (lots of shifting) & going strong w/ 2 dino juice fluid changes - rear-end differential bearings replaced at 99k w/ 2 fluid change-outs.

Bill H.


'96 Stealth Bomber with 86,120 miles. Lots of nitrous shift (smooth as silk). The Superchip shifts on the other hand...YUK!! Hard slaps that were quicker, but much harder on the tranny. All four chip didn't last long in the car needless to say.

Tranny fluid changed at 55,000 miles and all is good good good. For some reason the '96's seem to be less problematic from what I have picked up from off this list the last two years.

Scott Waters
96 Stealth Bomber
Fastest V8SHO in the Land!!


Had I seen your solicitation for ATX failure info I would have responded as follows:

'97 SHO bought used 34k, no sign of ATX trouble. Changed ATF and filter at 38k. Used Amsoil full synth and motorcraft filter. Began experiencing 'neutral slam' (from a stop engine revs normally but no-go. Seconds later ATX engages while engine is turning ~2500 rpms; whaaamo!). Occurred most often when I've got a car-full of passengers or gear. At 42k ATX fails in my driveway. In 'D' and '1' no-go; even after letting it sit for a few hours. Was able to drive it by dropping it into '2' at each stop. Drove it for 2 days like this while I explored my options. Dealer diagnoses 'internal failure' and Ford offers to pay for labor if I buy the parts ($1700). I can't see putting synth ATF in it next time; even if it had nothing to do with the failure it doesn't seem to have helped any.

Brent R
'97 SHO


My experiences:

97 SHO 42K miles - tx fluid & filter swapped when purchased used with 30K on it. No problems to date

94 SLO 55K miles - tx fluid & filter swapped when purchased used with 40K on it. No problems to date

92 SLO 100K miles -tx fluid & filter swapped when purchased used with 65K on it. No problems to date

My thinking...an $80 Tx fluid & filter service beats a $2000 Tx rebuild.

John Logan

Bought this 97 on 6/13/00 with 33k It is now 05.14.01 and I have 67k on it. Changed fluid twice once at 40K and I month ago with 60K. The last 7k have been run with Redline synthetic fluid. Unstoppable!!!!!!!!

Kirk Doucette

I bought my car with 22k on it. Changed the tranny fluid at 30k using Pennzoil reg fluid. By 45k the Pennzoil was looking bad and I changed to Amsoil ATX. I now am ready for another change of fluid at 75K. The Amsoil looks good yet. I wouldn't put any other fluid in mine personally. I also will flush the PS with Amzoil at the same time I service the tranny.

Paul Nimz

'97 TR

I have a feeling that Ford Quality really took a nose dive beginning January 1, 1998. This is when (I believe) Ford instituted it's 5% cost reduction per year campaign. My experience in manufacturing is quality almost always take the first hit when cost reductions are mandated.

Paul Nimz
'97 TR

96 - bought w/32k - changed to Red Line synthetic @ 53k - fluid looked and smelled original. All seems to be good now at 73k miles (at least as good as these power-robbing trannys can!).

96 ES


'97, 61k. No problems. Serviced at 35,000. Will do again before vacation in 4 weeks.

Juan Dillon

25k on my 97...

keeping my fingers crossed....no problems yet. I had to replace the pan about a year ago. Some idiot in the front lost their muffler and it wend right under my car and punched a hole in the pan. Fortunately, I got off before any damage was done (and yes all the fluid was smoking out).

Calvin Chen

97 33k runs like new! Trany flush at 30k.

97 SHO Black 30k
Porterized Intake w/K&N Panel UDP
Thrush Turbo mufflers
Firestone SZ50 EP 225/50/ZR16's

97 71K, fluid power flushed @60K at Ford dealer shop. No major problems, slight (200rpm) engine rev on 3-OD shift. Had stop light slippage before fluid flush, but hasn't reappeared.

My driving with this car can be called 'matronly'...I don't drive it hard from stop lights, but I travel the expressway 90 miles each day, and hit 80-85 as long as traffic and Buford allows.

Jim Kruse.

Looks like I'd better plan on preventive maintenance like most of you other guys have done!!

Michael W Frey

97, 38k runs like new. Bought car at 37k, haven't flushed it yet but plan to do so in a week or two.

97 Black Satin

I have 49k, purchased my SHO in November with 45k miles on it. I'll be having the tranny fluid flushed next time I get my oil changed. (Within a couple of days.)

97 PG

98 SF... 25,595 miles on it.... planning to have the Power Steering and ATF flushed when close to 30k. So far no problems.

Bought the car Nov. 2, 2000 with 20,076 miles

Rene Carlos Cruz
98 SF
K & N panel filter
PIAA 9007s
Police Interceptor Club
Bendix Titanium Metallic Front Pads
Sunrise Red Colored Brake Calipers

98 SHO 57k - trans fluid nice and clean

Trans Fluid Advice:

In my last job in I was working closely with ZF who make transmissions for a lot of European manufacturers.

Their advice on changing transmission fluid was if it 'isn't broke don't fix it'

-i.e. if fluid isn't dirty leave it as it is - disturbing the sealed hyraulic system (especially emptying it) often does more harm than good (even by their skilled technicians in their prototype shops).

Trans Problems:

A few occasions of 'slippage':

- when having come to stop after long 70mph-0mph exit ramp coast down. Waited 2 minutes for traffic lights to change in D, pressed gas and revs rise to 4000rpm or so and car just stays stationary - moving stick to N then D again sort of fixes it and motion occurs.

-wonder if this is the 'Intermittent Neutral condition' that i saw on a TSB once?

Fox Casper

Mine's at 57k with one fluid flush at 34k, done by the dealer. Did not change the filter even though I asked them to. I was told that Ford does not recommend replacing the filter.

I'd be interested to know how many of our trannies failed shortly after switching to synthetic fluid?

To avoid list congestion, reply off list and I'll post the results.

Take care,
Rob Parker
La Porte City, Iowa

97 Black Satin
Bone stock

Formerly a stock 97 with 27,000 miles on it which went through 4 trannys. I only drove it 1/4 mile a day.

Randy Mercante

Note from the editor: Randy is being modest, he had one of the fastest NOS Gen 3's ever. It was a real pavement eater. And burped a few AX4N in the process. Randy 175 HP of NOS ain't stock. LOL

Randy thatís not nice to scare the new guys that don't know about your car ;)

97 SHO Black 30k
Porterized Intake w/K&N Panel UDP
Thrush Turbo mufflers
Firestone SZ50 EP 225/50/ZR16's

97 with 65k and at least red line run per day. Going to do the Ford recommended service next week. Never used to tow.


Any insight on our Power Steering unit, it's made by ZF. I know BMW says not to open the sealed ATX in their cars, no fluid changes needed.

Chris A

98 Bought 9/00 w/42,000. Flushed at 50,000, now at 61,000 with no probs...yet.

Robert Treto

98 SF

I had my PS fluid flushed at about 32k - was getting pretty dirty. I noticed a significant improvement in steering feel & response after the service. I had back to back PS fluid flushes on my '93 23k miles ago at about 95k due to the heavy crud in the system & it's turning black again (2nd BG flush at no charge).

On the value of the ATX change, there is an old theory that the burnt varnish & crud helps keep everything gummed together & new fluid will cleanse this away causing problems. With the limited particulate filtration we have & the stress / heat the fluid undergoes loosing its lubrication properties, I will continue to change mine at regular intervals. For years, FOMOCO has recommended a full flush instead of just doing the filter change-out & topping off the system. Not performing the recommended interval service may void any ESP warranty.

Bill H.

Sturman & Larken Ford, Pittsburgh got paid for changing the fluid at 30k under my prepaid maintenance but failed to do so. I changed the fluid & filter on my own dime at 35k using Mobil 1. The AX4N has a shaft/pump in the valve body with vanes that wore out. It is a bad design. I only let the Anderson Ford do it because it was covered under ESP and they are 1) unqualified 2) uncooperative 3) incompetent.

It happened last summer at 48k, now I have 61k with no problems. During the rebuild I put in an B&M aux ATF cooler which helps keep temps down.

Doug Lewis went back in after Anderson Ford botched the job and fixed the things the dealership over looked on the rebuild. I would be particular who rebuilt my SHO AX4N.

Ford rebuilt my ATX with Mecron V and it is fine so far. I was timid to take my SHO to the Indy convention and sure enough it acted up on the long hot trip and finally went.


1997, 48000, just had pan dropped and fluid changed. No known problems although it does shift rather hard when I wind it out getting onto the expressway then just let off the gas when it wants to shift at about 80. I figure that I'm better off just not doing that though...

Ryan Dudek
97 ES
Clarkston, MI

'96 SHO purchased May 96:
April '97- Full transmission flush @ 8,700 miles with Mobil Synthetic + filter change
July '99- Full transmission flush @ 33,000 miles with Mobil Synthetic + filter change
May '01- Full transmission flush @ 53, 800 miles with Mobil Synthetic + filter change

On the last change the filter was more noticeably dirty than at 33k miles. The pan had some ultra fine black silt on the bottom with some sticking to the magnet in the pan. The old fluid looked fine but the new fluid was more transparent than the replaced fluid.

Transmission has always shifted smoothly.

Don R

99' with 55k on her..........no problems yet .............changing the fluid next week (first time)

Jeff Haddock

Here's an easy way to check to see how dirty your ATX/PS fluid is. Using a white paper towel let a few drops of fluid drop off of the dipstick onto a white paper towel. Drip the same amount of new fluid next to it and compare with a bright backlighting. Always get your sample when the fluid is hot and the engine is running.

Paul Nimz
'97 TR
'93 EG mtx

'97 with almost 73K. Tranny fluid flush at 65K. Now starting to feel slipping while cruising between 60 - 70 MPH. Driven 100 miles per day.


97- 76k - bought with 43k, serviced at 56k (mercon IV) No problems


52 K no problems yet.  Did do a few neutral drops. No ESP. I break it I pay for it.

97 ES.  Holes in mufflers.
Rob Z.

Chris the only insight that I have into our ZF steering is that parts are very expensive and extremely difficult to get your hands on.  In late July '00 my power steering was leaking with 35,888 on the SHO.  Needless to say I took it to the dealer before I put on the additional 113 miles.

I don't have a lot of details about the whole thing because I was very busy with work (110 hours that week) but I can tell you it took 6 days to get the part and the Ford dealer that I was having do the work had to call directly to the plant in Germany that makes the gears and parts for our steering.  Ford didn't have any in their parts supply.   Being that it was under factory warrantee I don't know the retail cost of the whole thing, but the Ford dealer said that was somewhere in the ball park of $800-$1,000 for the entire job; labor and all.

My car was a Ford Exec. car out of Allen Park, MI so I know that it was taken care of before I got it with 28, 176

Moral of the story spend the $35-$50 and have your PS fluid flushed!

Paul M.
'98 TR

Bought with 25,000, original ATF in the tranny and Syntec 5-50 in the motor.

Tranny fluid started to burn & stink at 50,000. Did a full tranny flush / service with AMSOIL ATF from our buddy Don M. The AMSOIL dealer. Now at 67,000 miles. Shifts better, and I have confidence in the tranny. Next service will be 80,000 miles.

Oh yeah -- no more Syntec 5-50 either. AMSOIL 5W-30.

1997 Vibrant White

Well I guess you can add me to the list of tranny problems:( Go out this morning to take my SHO to the coin wash so I can clean her up, back out my driveway no problem put the car in Drive rpm's increases but the car does not move. Put the car in Reverse and it slams into gear and the car moves, put the car in Drive nothing, First nothing, Second car slams into Second and moves. Drive the car back up into the driveway in second and attempted to move the car in Drive and First no go. Disconnect the battery for an half hour to reset computer. Reconnect the battery start the car back out the driveway put the car in Drive no problem, try First gear car no problem, Second no problem. Starting to feel a little relieved, give it some gas car slams into gear when it downshift. 96 SHO with 43,000 miles, tranny flushed at Ford dealer at 31,000 miles. So how much time do I have to find a Tranny Shop?

Charles Cooper


Well add another dead tranny to the list 96 SHO 43,000 miles Ford Stealer wants $2700.00 for a rebuilt. I said no thanks. I have Aamco pick it up tomorrow. The price Aamco quoted me is $1900.00 for rebuilt a one year unlimited mileage $2200 for rebuilt and 3 year/50,000 miles warranty or $2400.00 for rebuilt and lifetime warranty. The car is 5 years old and I don't know how much longer I'm going to keep it so I wondering if I should get the extended warranty.

Charles Cooper


When my car was on the lift today. I noticed that there was a sticker on the tranny. The sticker was from ford. It said ax4n exchange program. It also had a tsb on it to reference. I can't remember which one it was. Could this mean my tranny was replaced? If so add me to the list of tranny failures. Possibly, don't know what happened to it. Bought the car two years ago with 51,000 miles on it. Now has 86,345 miles on it. Buford update me in the high mile club.

Adam Welling

96 SHO

I have 60k now on the pace car for the record 97 and 105k on the 96 for record. Transmission was replaced at 10 k on the 97 and again at 57k . And I am prepared to loose it in the future this time.

Shannon Burton

I have a '96 SHO with 98,000 miles and not a single tranny problem....I hope I don't jinx myself with this statement.


I'm not saying anything outright but I know of a hard driven '97 TR SHO that has '77k on it with the original tranny.

Paul Nimz

on my 97 sho with 85,000 miles no tranny problems . knock on wood..

future plans include rebuilding my ax4n with transgo kit, higher stall convertor, adding a extra set of direct  ,intermediate, and forward clutches, along with an aux cooler. this should beef up my tranny plenty to with stand the abuse

97 ebony satin

sho shop exhaust sho shop hiflow airbox baer track kit 17 in wheels crossdrilled rear rotors
vanity plates sarc switch 26mm sway bar strut brace optima batteries mobile video dvd, vcr, camera , 2 monitors audio upgrades police interceptor badge ventvisors, cardeflector, headlight covers
terminator 3 wing hood scoop TOO MANY MODS TO LIST

future plans nitrous, blower, rebilt engine with lower compression , je pistons ect

Well to add more to this when I was under my 99 a couple of weeks ago to change the oil I have a dayglo orange sticker which says something about the same of not repairing it but exchanging it.


99 TR
88 300ZX

My car has the same sticker I think on the 1996 model year. failures were handled on an exchange basis. My car had an engine replacement at 22,000km under Ford warranty for a rear main seal leak. I have the work orders from the original owner. so my car rolled over 114,000kms but the engine has 92000kms on it. I do not think ford would allow the transmissions to be torn down at the dealership level. mine had a date something like by August 1996 on it. car was built in may.. just past its 5th birthday... {clap clap} Sticker is a big green one with black lettering on it.

Clare Allenby
96 TR
Chrome V8 Badges
Cherry Bomb Turbo II Mufflers
P225/55R16 Yokohama Avid V4
35% Window Tint All around
London, ON

In the last 2 weeks I have had it at 2 Ford Dealers, one tranny shop, 2 general repair shops and a tune-up shop. None of these people can tell me what is whining and why. It sounds just like an empty power steering pump on a '71 Chevy pick-up! The tranny place hooked up their monitor to it, drove it around and said it showed no errors. Both dealers said they couldn't tell me anything until they dropped the tranny for $750, one of the places put in a new alternator insisting it was the cause, still whines, but of course I don't get the battery light above 5000 RPM now and none of the others had a clue either. Aamco was booked up and can't look at it till next week, maybe. The noise does not increase with steering deflection, just with RPM. I really think it is coming from the drivers side, but higher then the tranny. Thought the water pump but I have never heard one sound like this before. Not losing any antifreeze. Any ideas anyone? BTW, I priced the lower steering rod (actually an assembly) $198 at the dealer, OUCH! I discovered that hammer on wheel weights don't stay very well over 130. lost them all. Tire store put them back on free. Said if it happened again they would use the stick on type. Have 3000 on my oil change and am a quart low. Can't see any major leaks, not even really any minor ones visible. Should I get concerned about this too? I know some cars use oil, but since the manual say 7000 between changes this would be excessive consummation, no? I still am planning my vacation out to PA and Toronto starting Saturday. I figure if the tranny lunches in PA. I will at least have people their that may be competent in the SHO that can fix it. I'll just have to get a rent-a-wreck to finish the trip in and pick it up when I come back down from Canada.

'97 Black Satin - Grey Int 82k and looking for cheese & crackers Exhaust cutout variable backpressure mod (still experimenting) TB coolant bypass Cooper HPZ760's - 225-50x16 Painted Calipers Now gutted MAF body (IT DOES HELP!) Autolite P+ K&N cone inside the trunk, Now portorized Flowmasters no resonator, PIAA 9007's(these are great, I can see again at night!) Pilots fog and driving lights, Llumar full window tint Cerwin-Vega Stealth Series Speakers (stereo really is nice) and lots more planned, then more speeding tickets. I STILL love this Yamhammer

I have 131,000 miles (hard miles I might add) on my 97 SHO (one owner and that's me) and have never had a problem with my tranny. I have never had the fluid or filter changed either! I have a good friend that has been a mechanic for 14 years now, tells me if I have gone this long and haven't changed it don't do it now. Did I mention how much I love my car?

97 Green (I guess I'm colored blind)
Stock as a rock

On the V8SHO web site there is a transmission problem survey. Here is my experience. It seems most people have had good experience,.

96 SHO purchased with 28K serviced trans at time of purchase by Ford dealer serviced at 60K 90K 120K all at dealer where my SHO was purchased from.

At 134,000 miles my transmission went up in a huge cloud of smoke when it emptied itself of fluid at about 120mph

Had it gone at less than 100K mile it would have been covered by the ESP. I wonder if I would have been better off not servicing this tranny at all?

$2500 is what a replacement cost from the dealer.

96 WG

Hello Tim, I am submitting my information for the poll:

My 96 has 33,000 miles on it as of now and I have had the Ford dealer perform a full flush and fill on the transmission about 1,000 miles ago. The car has been in storage since May 1st as I am currently in Copenhagen, DK for the next month and a half. The only 'problem' I have had with the car's transmission occurs when the car is cold, the first upshift is extremely harsh, it sometimes feels as if it does not want to shift up, it doesn't clunk, it eventually performs the shift relatively smooth, it's almost as if the transmission is reluctant because it has yet to 'wake up' or something.

I never notice a problem when the car is warm or has been recently driven.

Upon my return, I will most likely have the car re inspected by the dealership to evaluate the situation. I understand that as far as 96's go, I have pretty low miles, I do not anticipate any failures, but as the time goes by and the extended warrantee runs out, it's gets a little scarier.

I hope this helps your research,

Damien Franczek
96 Rose Mist, 33K mi.
Thrush Turbos
K&N Panel, Porterized Intake

Hi Tim,

I own a 1996 SHO with 99,500 miles on it. I've had now transmission problem at all, of course I've never done any Neutral drops either. Lots of triple digits though...:-)


S. D. Mims
'96 SHO
Vanity Plate: SDM SHO
K & N Filter
MagnaFlows 11266 with Nakayama Racing Sports dual tips
UDP (coming soon)
Bel 980

I am yet another victim of a tranny failure. Without warning, the tranny slipped, reved, smoking, and I began to drift into the intersection. Luckily, I had enough momentum to coast to the curb. I then had it towed to AAMCO, (NOT FORD for obvious reasons). The tranny, which was fine before, now has to be replaced. Apparently, there was a massive fluid leak (Front seal failure), then the 8-9 bolts that hold the stator, or whatever it's called, vibrated loose and became striped. Torque converter damaged also. Total damage, $4,000! I called Hayward Ford to get any service issue information and the Service manager, without looking up anything said that there wasn't any issues with the Ford auto transaxle. Pissed off, I then called up Ford Corporate office and got another stonewall. The operator told me that there were no issues either, which was total B.S. She told me that she would give th info to the Ford engineers, but wouldn't get a call back from them. I went to the NHTSA website and found some others with the same problems I had. Ford as a company SUCKS!!! Accept for the Ford dealer that is in this SHO Group list. Perhaps the Ford Dealer on this list could look into this for me. Apparently there is something that my dealer and the corporate office won't tell me.

DeMarcus Davis
'96 ES
88,177 miles
Raider SHO

I would contact Doug Lewis for a shift kit if the tranny is out. Any reputable & knowledgeable shop will put it in for you. Make sure the pump shaft in the valve body is in good shape because that is what failed in my ATX.

I have noticed it took a year for my shift kit to break in. It shifts quicker and firmer than when first rebuilt last fall. Doug uses better HD clutches and more of them so that the clearance is less (take up is quicker).

As Don & I learned taking our cars to an autocross with a shift kit it not only shifts quicker but up shifts later and downshifts easier.

Best $100 mod - if you already have the ATX out.


Richard, the mechanic at the Ford Dealer where I had my tranny done gave me a complete opposite line. He said the rebuilt tranny from Motorcraft was better than rebuilding because all the parts are new and all the updates are included. Well the first rebuilt tranny they installed was shit and the second one is not much better, the shifting at half throttle is terrible the tranny shifts really hard. Is there a break-in period for a rebuilt tranny ?

Charles Cooper

For those who have had to replace their tranny.... mine is starting to feel harsh at the 1-2 shift.... This occurs when i drive at a leisurely pace... I also have tried to "manually" shift from 1-2 and it is also very harsh as well.. the shift feels rough and the car almost seems to jerk a bit....BTW I only have 16,800 miles... any suggestions.....

99 Black
Cold Air Induction
K&N Panel
Pilot Fog Lights
Painted Calipers
Blackout Taillights and side markers

I changed the fluid at 30k at the dealership and now I have 32k. I often run with the OD off for the thrill of it. All is well and will keep you posted.

Scott D Williams

I wouldn't trust the 2 dealers in my area to change the cabin filter much less touch my brakes. My tranny is expiring and one says the tech bulletins say noises and hard shifting is normal. They didn't open it up the hood even after driving it and confirming the noises existed. The other dealer said I had to pay a $750 "diagnoses fee" above the warranty before they would tell me what was wrong with it since it was still moving the car, though they were positive it was bad. Besides, I always do my own brakes, don't trust some snot nose tobacco spitting high school drop out redneck showing the crack of his ass in my car trying to figure out how to test the anti-lock panic stop at midnight after a couple of cans of beer. BTW, was charged $10 each rotor for turning, but it right at the minimum now.

'97 Black Satin - Grey Int
86k and Whiiinnneing

Well guys,

Tonight it happened. This great transmission that was put in my SHO back in January to replace that other great transmission puked all over my car. Itís only had 9k miles at most put on since it was installed. I noticed a little smoke come out of the hood on Friday after my short drive to work. It only lasted about 2 min though and was very minimal. I couldn't see where it was coming from though, and had no clue what it was. Well tonight was the first time I had driven more than 5 miles since then. When I stopped at one point, smoke was coming out from under the car and I could see tranny fluid on the exhaust pipe and a puddle forming on the pavement. I let it set for 20 min. When I started it back up, the SES light was on. Everything seemed fine though. Well...long story short...after about 5 or so miles, she started slipping. I stopped at an intersection after about 10 miles. When I accelerated, it was sad. RPMs were sky high, and she wasn't moving near as fast as she should. After about another 5 miles, i was doing just over 60 MPH while running at 4000-4500 RPMs in overdrive. And then she quickly died. After about a mile and a half, I had drifted to a stop... in the middle of the road. With it in Drive, you could hit the gas and nothing would happen at all. So here I am, trying to push it out of the road by myself...on a slightly uphill grade. Luckily some guy from PA just happened to pass by and back up to help me push. Why somebody from PA was in my little town, I have no clue. So we pushed it about 125 yards to a driveway, and we were both gasping for air. This was the only place to push it, as there was a big ditch right beside the road. I walked back to where she initially stopped, and there were serious puddles of tranny fluid in the road, not to mention a nice line following where I had been. I'd be surprised if any fluid is left in the tranny at all. The rear of the car was covered in tranny fluid, and by covered I mean there were puddles of it sitting where the trunk meets the bumper. So tonight the SHO sits on a trailer in a garage until morning when I can check with Jim Snead Ford in Waynesboro to see if they can get her in on Monday or Tuesday. This is a Blue Oval certified dealer, so I'm hoping they can do the job right this time. This transmission was put in by a Ford SVT dealer... so for those who think they are better with SHOs...think again. They guy who did the tranny work even had a Gen 2 SHO.

Hope to have better news tomorrow or the next day.


96 Medium Graphite that can't move
Borla Exhaust covered in tranny fluid

Llumar Window Tint - 50% front 35% rear...to look cool when beside the road with flashers on

Bendix Titanium Metallic Brake Pads which are useless when the car can't move
K-Deuce 4" Custom Front Air Dam that's bent across the bar on the trailer
Pirelli P7000 SS Z-rated Tires which suck because they are covered with red stuff
Amsoil 5W-30...not to be confused with the red stuff
Sax-Free Intake which makes no differenence when the tranny is dead
97-99 V8 Emblems that probably have tranny fluid on them too

The drama thickens as I get my local news channel, AAMCO Corporate office, Better Business Bureau, For Motor Company, and my car's financial company involved. The Details are in WORD format (attachment). I'm still amazed that when I found out that there were two '96 SHO's at the same AAMCO for transmission failure. My car had less mileage and slightly less damage than the other, but the other car owner was charged $2,700 and I was charged over $4,000! It was just a tranny rebuild job with a front-seal kit. The AAMCO owner has yet justified the discrepancy.

DeMarcus Davis
'96 Ebony Satin
88k miles

August 5, 2001


AAMCO Transmission Corporate Offices



Price Gouging



I am a purchaser of a 1996 Ford Taurus SHO. The current mileage is approximately 88,000. I take great pride in the personal upkeep of my vehicles. Although the V8 SHO is somewhat of a unique vehicle and requires consistent attention, it was still a pleasure to maintain, drive, and own.

I have never encountered any major problems with this vehicle until Memorial Day this year. Upon the changing of the traffic signal (green light), the car abruptly jerked and the engine began to rev without and further exceleration. Immediately I knew it was the transmission. Fortunately, I had enough momentum to pull over into the parking lot of a local Autozone. Upon further examination, I noticed that the transmission fluid was leaking badly. I went into the Autozone and purchased some fluid in order to see approximately where the leak was coming from. I started the vehicle and added fluid to the transmission since the engine was still warm. The fluid was coming out as fast as the fluid was being poured in. I then had the vehicle towed to my home about a mile away. A couple of days later and after shopping around for the repair facilities that offered good warranties, I chose AAMCO Transmission. Not because of price, but rather because of past negative experiences with the local Hayward Ford, (where I bought the car). It did not seem that their parts and service dept. even knew that the Taurus SHO came in with a V8 engine nor did they know that it had a Yammaha engine. This was very disturbing because other than the Ford Mustang, the Taurus SHO was the next fastest car in recent production that Ford made. Top speed for the Mustang (stock) is just under 150mph. The SHO is 144mph.

So before I had the car towed to AAMCO, I called Hayward Ford, because underneath the transmission pan, it had writing stating that before removal, please refer to a TSB # (technical service bulletin). I then gave Ford that information and the service mechanic was going to look up that TSB # and call me back. After an hour, he called back stating that he couldnít find anything pertaining to that number and that there should be a few more numbers to the TSB#. I told him that there were no other numbers. He then told me that he would look again and call me back. He never did. The next day, I called Hayward Ford and asked for the Service Manager. I asked him if there were any problems with the Taurus SHO tranny, ant recalls, or anything I have to be attentive to as far as repairing the tranny. Immediately, I was told that there were no issues, nor any recalls. He didnít even take the time to look it up! Later the following day, while I had the car towed to AAMCO, I called the Ford Corporate office to inquire about any recall information or technical issues regarding the SHO automatic transmission, because the AAMCO mechanic told me that the nature of the tranny failure was very unique and odd. Without warning or unusual vehicle behavior, the front seal separated and was damaged and the stator pump bolts have vibrated loose and nearly came apart. Not to mention that there was another 1996 Ford Taurus SHO there with the same exact transmission problem. I was told that there were NO service issues, complaints, or recalls and that they would not pay for any repairs since it was not looked at by a Ford dealership. I wasnít looking for Ford to pay for anything. I just wanted information. She later went on to say that she would pass on the information on to the Ford engineers but would not get any reply by the engineers. I knew that was inaccurate because I had found several complaints regarding the Taurus transmission on the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration website, (www.nhtsa.org). At that point I got very upset. I just told her thank you and hung up the phone.

After he received the go ahead to open up the tranny and further inspect it by me, he informed me that I would need to get a new tranny and front seal. The cost was just over$4,000 and the AAMCO mechanic, John, told me that I can think about it, but I had to get back to him in about 5 minutes because if I wanted to have the tranny replaced, he could have an SHO tranny ordered and delivered before 4pm that day. I decided to go ahead with it. I could get my membership with Kaiperm credit union to give me the loan and do a payroll deduction to pay it back.

A couple days later, the job was completed. I was told that the tranny wasnít going to the same as the original as far as performance. I thought that statement was odd in itself. Besides that, I was not ready to pay for it yet because there were problems with my Kaiperm membership. I let AAMCO know this. I was given some more time to get the money. After several tries to get the membership straightened out, I was told that if they didnít receive the money, that they would put a lien on the car. A week later, I ran into the owner of the other SHO that was there at the shop. I had met him a couple months earlier. He asked me if it was my SHO that was at the shop with his. He also commented that the mechanic had told him that I couldnít come up with the money and that they, (AAMCO), was going to sell it. I told him what was going on with me and that I was trying to go through my credit union to come up with the $4,000. He nearly went hysterical when I told him the price, because you see, the other SHO owner was charged $2,700 for the same repair! And his had more damage to his tranny. He then told me how the mechanic (John) had given him a price over the phone of $2,300 with a lifetime warranty, but when he went the shop, he was told that he "must have been mistaken. It was $2,700 with a 1 year warranty." He reluctantly paid the price and went to someone else to look at the repair. Apparently, the front-end wasnít re-aligned when the tranny was put back in and that they had by-passed the original set up of the tranny to where it no longer shifts properly. He took it back to AAMCO and informed him of the problem. AAMCO told him that they didnít need to re-align the front end. Which is a load of manure. After swapping our horror stories, we decided to confront AAMCO and try to get an understanding of how could two cars with the same type of unusual transmission failure be charged differently. Especially when the car with less damage is charged nearly twice as much. We have yet been able to get together and do this, since I work at a hospital and he works for the local transit system. I can furnish his name and phone number on request. I would just need to get his permission.

The bottom line:

Something is fishy going on. I now cannot see myself paying for a repair that was over-inflated and coming out with a sub-standard version of what I had. Please look into this.


Thank you,

cc: Triad Financial Corporation
Channel 7 News "7 On Your Side"
N. California Chapter Better Business Bureau
WWW.V8SHO.COM (Michael Ivy)
National Highway Safety Administration
Ford Motor Company

Can update mine to the Tranny Poll as expired. It took 2 days for them to get it in the air, another to get the tranny out. 10 days after taking the SHO in it is still in the shop. The first thing they told me was the Spag Basket was cracked and most likely was the cause of the noise (sounded like a dry power steering pump). The clutches were shot as well. They finished it and test drove it yesterday then called me to inform me that at first all was good, but the tech was taking a little extra time with it (sounds like having to much fun to me) and discovered it would not shift out of third. They determined the valve body is now bad and would remove it tomorrow to fix it too. He also mentioned he put a Trans-Go kit in it for safety measure.

'97 Black Satin - 93k

<<Carter, What happened and can you describe how the tranny went south? I've got a '96 Jim>>

For the last 8,000 miles the tranny has been intermittently making a whirring noise that at first sounded like a turbo or supercharger but then progressed into more like a power steering pump losing fluid for the final 2300 or so miles. None of the local Ford dealers or tranny places could say what it was or give an estimate on how much it was going to cost without charging $750 to remove it and open it up, so my warranty provider refused to have it repaired. The final blow occurred after I started the car and it sounded like a chain rubbing on the inside of the transmission case. It drove fine for about 8 miles then it would not shift up from second and the "OD" light began flashing. This was followed by the clutches slipping and the engine RPM continued to rise as the car slowed to a coasting stop. After the car stopped and was shut off I could restart it and get it to move only a few feet before it would slip out of gear again. This was handy for the tow truck when he showed up 2 hours later. The repair so far has consisted of replacing the broken sprag basket, all the clutches and the torque converter. They told me the entire valve body may have to be replaced as well now. Of course the best thing to come out of it is the tranny place said the warranty company confirmed they will cover all but the fluid and filter. I hope this answered your question and yours is not heading this way. Mine will have been in the shop 2 weeks as of Tuesday, though it was out driving around for a short 30 minute (?) test drive when it got stuck in third according to the tech. It went back up on the lift to be pulled yet again. I miss my SHO!!

Dear Tim,

Could you please add my story to the transmission poll. Around August 2001, my beautifully running 96 SHO with about 65,000 miles started having a transmission kick. It would kick every time I was driving slow or when I came to a stop. It was caused by low transmission fluid due to a front seal leak on my tranny (According to my mechanic). So I took my car to Remco transmissions here in NYC, and while the guy was just going to do a transmission rebuild and change all the seals, he also noticed that my torque converter and pretty much everything else was burnt. He attributed my front seal failure to the bad design of the transmission, and he claimed that because the transmission doesn't get enough cool air to cool it, my transmission fluid and everything else gets too hot. Thereby causing my front seal to fail only after 65,000 miles. So he replaced everything and also put on a transmission cooler for me. Total cost $2,400 dollars... ouch! Is there any way to get reimbursed for this by ford? Thanks for listening to me!

Ken Wong

P.S. I love the V8Sho website!!!!


I'm adding my little bit of info concerning my transmission.

My 96 now has exactly 41,225 miles on it. I completely flushed and re-filled the transmission through my dealership at 36,000 miles. The fluid looks OK, though a little bit of grey matter in the red. It shifts OK save for a bit of hesitation when the car is cold. I think it's shifting a bit harder than before, but with all this talk of failure, it could all be in my head. I have ESP protection, and I may indeed need to have my car looked at soon to confirm my problems.

Hope this helps..

I had an engine noise and I sent out an e-mail a little while back asking for help. I just got my car back from ford, Thank GOD for extended warranties, and come to find out it was my tranny. I'm not really mechanically inclined so tell me if what ford told me what caused the problem is even possible. They told me that pieces of the torque converter had cracked off and sent all types of metal fragments into my tranny which caused the insides of the tranny to be torn up. They replaced the tranny and it only cost me the $100.00 deductible but this is the second tranny I've gone through and I don't even race my car, that much. The first tranny went out at about 15K and it was burning tranny fluid so Ford told me they would just replace it since I was having so many problems with them. This second time I only had 40K on my motor, is this going to be an ongoing problem? I used to love FORD but now I'm having second thoughts. Please never bring your car to Future Ford in the Roseville automall in CA every time I have sent my car in they have scratched it and one time I came back and there was 100 miles put on my car that they couldn't explain to me.

Michael Barajas
99SHO Black
Dual chamber Flowmasters


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