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Old 06-10-2006, 06:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi, first post here. When I married my lovely wife last year I also inherited the service on her Taurus wagon. The specs are 2003 SE Wagon, 3.0 Duratec, no traction control, and according to the owner's manual the 4F50N tranny.

The tranny was WAY past due for a fluid change. According to the manual it should be done every 30K miles. It has nearly 59K miles so I figured I better get to it. Rather than dropping the pan I decided to use an extractor pump down the dipstick tube. I managed to pull out almost 6.5 quarts which I replaced with Valvoline MERCON-V. I fully realize I only pulled a little over half the total ATF capacity but I plan on doing another extraction in about 10K miles.

Anyway, the tranny seems to work OK although I do notice a very SLIGHT TQ shudder when the tranny is cold. Once it's up to operating temp it's fine. Is this normal or should I be concerned? And what is the overall reliability of these 4F50N trannys? Are they good for the long haul or are they prone to problems?

Any comments appreciated.
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Old 06-10-2006, 07:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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They are good transaxles.
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Old 06-10-2006, 08:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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4F50N = Gen 4 AX4N

They seen to do alright as long as you keep up on the maintenance. The Gen 4 transmissions seem to have a lower failure rate than the previous generations.

For changing the fluid, Paul Nimz (SHOZ123) wrote up how to flush your transmission at home. From what I've heard it's not very difficult, although I havent tried it myself yet. I'll be doing it sometime in the next couple weeks when I get my remote transmission filter since I'm almost due for a change.

The AX4N is generally considered to be more reliable than the AX4s which never came on a Duratec anyway, and the 4F50N is the best of the bunch.

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Old 06-10-2006, 10:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I did a fluid change on my 02 Sable (with this trans) today. There is a really easy way to do it, if you don't drop the pan. I was able to reach in through the lower grill opening and pull the hose of the output side of the factory trans cooler. (This is the finned tube, in front of the radiator, on the drivers side of the car.) I slipped one end of a clear, tygon hose onto the cooler and the other end into a 1 gallon jug. Start the engine and let the transmission pump out 1 gallon. Shut engine off. Pour 1 gallon of new fluid into the trans mission and repeat. (I did only 3 gallons because the local AZ only had 12 quarts of Mobil 1 ATF in stock.) When I put the return hose back on the cooler I used a worm drive hose clamp to make it easier to get off in the future. This is also a good place to splice in a aux transmission cooler.
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Old 06-10-2006, 10:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd be surprised if the new tranny is much better than the AX4N. The AX4N in the SHO isn't much better than the AXODE in the V6 SHOs. The only reason we haven't seen many failures with the newer tranny is the fact that they generally haven't seen as many miles as the older trannys.

I would definitely drop the pan and change the filter. This is almost as important as keeping the fluid fresh. I'd also go with a quality synthetic fluid. I've had good luck with Amsoil so far, knock on wood.
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I would second dropping the pan. Most likely if the tranny has gone 59K+ without change your gonna need to change the filter. I'm not sure how much experience you have had, but I did it for my first time last year and it was simple enough.

I also definately recommend synthetics (AmsOil or Mobil 1).
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Old 06-11-2006, 06:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the feedback! I have a few follow up questions..

Isn't all MERCON-V, regardless of brand, a semi-synthetic? I've read that it is. You certainly pay a premium price for it. The Valvoline MERCON-V cost over $3.50/quart. Certainly much more than standard MERCON. And I considered Mobil1 ATF but I've read many conflicting stories as to it's compatibility with MERCON-V standards so I was leery about using it. Dunno about Amsoil. Is Mobil1 ATF fully compatible or not?

Any comments about the slight torque convertor shudder that I sometimes notice when the transaxle is cold? Should I be concerned about it?

I'll certainly take under advisement that I should drop the pan and change the filter. I just wish American auto makers would put a drain plug in the pan to make it less messy. Being a stick shift man automatics are somewhat foreign to me.
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Old 06-11-2006, 07:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The 4F50N/AX4N does not appear to be particularly more reliable than any previous Taurus/Sable transmission. We're already seeing failures in the 2000+ cars at 100K miles or less.

Mercon V is a standard that ATF must meet or exceed to be called Mercon V. Thus you can also get Mercon V-compliant fluid that is fully synthetic.
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Old 06-11-2006, 10:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Axe Man@Jun 11 2006, 07:34 AM
Thanks for the feedback! I have a few follow up questions..

Isn't all MERCON-V, regardless of brand, a semi-synthetic? I've read that it is. You certainly pay a premium price for it. The Valvoline MERCON-V cost over $3.50/quart. Certainly much more than standard MERCON. And I considered Mobil1 ATF but I've read many conflicting stories as to it's compatibility with MERCON-V standards so I was leery about using it. Dunno about Amsoil. Is Mobil1 ATF fully compatible or not?

Any comments about the slight torque convertor shudder that I sometimes notice when the transaxle is cold? Should I be concerned about it?

I'll certainly take under advisement that I should drop the pan and change the filter. I just wish American auto makers would put a drain plug in the pan to make it less messy. Being a stick shift man automatics are somewhat foreign to me.
Dont worry about the shudder when its cold, its a common thing.

Amsoil will work, but if you think $3.50 is expensive, amsoil is close to double that.

Mercon V, is the same regardless of brand.

May want to take the time to add a secondary tranny cooler, they can be purchased at bulkpart.com for cheap. Its added insurance, although the gen4 trannies have held up pretty well so far.

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Old 06-11-2006, 10:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The current Mobile 1 ATF is Mercon V compliant.
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