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  #1  
Old 08-02-2012, 11:44 PM
wvbackcountry98 wvbackcountry98 is offline
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Exclamation 2010 F-150 4.6L Transmission Trouble

I everyone, I am a newbie here but treat me with respect. I have a 2010 F150 XLT, Super Crew, 4X4, 5.5' Bed, with the 4.6L 3-V V8 and 6-speed auto transmission. I purchased my truck August 2010 used with 3,200 miles. I now have 55,350 miles on it and counting. Well, throughout my ownership of the truck, I've always had transmission problems with it. A hard shift from 5th to 4th gear on the highway at speeds of 65mph plus.

Back in 2010 after I bought it, I put about 400 miles on it then it started the hard shift. It shifted with a hard bang like somebody hit the floor of the truck with a sledgehammer & you could feel it vibrate/thump when the cruise was set at about 70mph. I live in hill country, so every time I'd hit a hill, the truck would downshift from 6th to 5th, then 5th to 4th. The shift from 5th to 4th is where the bang occurred. I took it back to the local dealer and they suggested a transmission re-flash... well, they pop the hood to do the re-flash and come back out and tell me the re-flash is only available for the 5.4L.

So, I continued on with the truck doing this. About 3 months later I took it to the best local dealer around and they had just received the update to be able to re-flash the transmissions in this model for the 4.6L 3V.

They re-flashed it and it quit the shift until about 15,000 miles. Then the hard shift came back, so back to the dealer we go. Once again, they re-flash the transmission, problem solved until about 30,000 miles then it comes back. This time when it came back the shift wasn't as "hard" but it was still enough to make me worry about my truck. So they re-flashed and it we're good.

Until, 42,000 miles. Then it started again. Took it back to the dealer, they re-flashed yet AGAIN. It was good. I even noticed a power improvement and faster throttle response.

Then at 46,000 miles, one evening I noticed a puddle of transmission fluid under the truck. Take it to the dealer and they replaced something, I can't even remember but it wasn't included in the warranty. So, $386 came out of my pocket to get it fixed.

Now I'm at 55,000 miles, the truck has been doing the shift for the past 6-7K miles. I just had hope I might break the transmission and they'd put a new one in it.

Sometimes it does it now, sometimes it doesn't. It's 50/50. Like on the interstate toward town it will do it terribly. Shut it down, start back up and drive home on the interstate and it never does it... it's frustrating and I'm nearing the end of my warranty. I LOVE this truck but this problem has plagued it basically it's whole life. I fear premature transmission failure or something of the like after my warranty...

So, I was thinking the other day... would a tune/tuner of some sort do the trick? I know the tuners re-program the truck computer to make it run & shift different, right?

Somebody please tell me, is a tuner the solution to my near 60,000 mile/2 year problem??? I was thinking an SCT Tune?

If I modified the truck with a tune, I'd also add an aftermarket air intake, aftermarket transmission oil cooler, and maybe some aftermarket exhausts. Would this make my truck breathe and shift better?

*Another note, I tow a lot with the truck seeing as how I own 3 businesses. Therefore it wouldn't hurt to make the transmission run cooler.*

I just need to know: IS A TUNER THE SOLUTION TO MY PROBLEM?
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:20 PM
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couple thoughts ...

assuming you have the factory tow package, you already have a trans cooler so the trans should not be overheating. if you DONT have the factory tow, then you should install a cooler as soon as possible.

either way, go big or go home. it is nearly impossible to over-cool a transmission. Get a cooler with the highest GCWR rating available and look for a "plate and fin" construction, as opposed to a "tube and fin". the plate style cost more, but cool much better and consume less realestate behind the grille. factory coolers are all plate and fin types, now, for exactly this reason.

if you have room to mout one in front of the AC condenser, as opposed to strapping it right to the condenser, consider one with a built in fan. My favorite is the B&M because it comes with a thermostat and fan as a package. Derale makes a killer cooler with a fan, but you need to buy the thermostat separate. the nice thing with the t-stat and fan is it will kick on and cool the trans when you are not driving at highway speeds. backing a trailer is a trasmission's worst nightmare, and conventional coolers don't help a bit because you arent forcing air through the grille. obviously, they cost more, but doing things the best way possible always does.

Super Duty's put the trans cooler between the condenser and the radiator. the thiking here is that the engine mounted fan will draw air though the cooler all the time, negating the need for a dedicated electric fan. i would say this would be the most dificult to replicate, though. seems like a lot of work unless the provisions are already there.

as to the transmission behavior ... it is learned behavior. these transmissions have an adaptive learning strategy. that is why the reflash works for you. the only way to 'unlearn' that harsh shift is with a reflash. so they reflash it, and you continue to use it like a truck (as it should be), and it re-learns to shift like that.

if i were to guess, it is because you tow with it. if i were to guess further, i would say that the harsh 5-4 shift is only when unloaded. i would not be surprised if it feels fine with a trailer on, and feels harsh with out it. i would guess that it is learning to shift harder because you tow often. more load requires a "harder" shift to get the same "shift feel". so it is trying to achieve a specific shift "feel" and it has to harder with a load on for the driver to get that same "feel" .... not sure if that makes sense or not, but that is what i would guess is going on.

so ... how do you fix it?

i've hear nothing but positive things about 5-stars tunes. ESPECIALLY when it comes to thier trasmission tunes.

i would start by giving Mike a call. If he can help you, he will tell you.

as for the cold air and exhaust kits. do them if you like, but dont expect a huge return on investment. buy them for looks and sound if you are into that sort of thing, but buying them in hopes of them paying off in the long run is bad ju-ju in my opinion.

hopefully others who have used Mike's tunes will chime in for a 1st hand opinion.

good luck, and welcome to the forum!
keep us posted!!
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  #3  
Old 08-03-2012, 02:47 PM
wvbackcountry98 wvbackcountry98 is offline
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Originally Posted by meborder View Post
couple thoughts ...

assuming you have the factory tow package, you already have a trans cooler so the trans should not be overheating. if you DONT have the factory tow, then you should install a cooler as soon as possible.

either way, go big or go home. it is nearly impossible to over-cool a transmission. Get a cooler with the highest GCWR rating available and look for a "plate and fin" construction, as opposed to a "tube and fin". the plate style cost more, but cool much better and consume less realestate behind the grille. factory coolers are all plate and fin types, now, for exactly this reason.

if you have room to mout one in front of the AC condenser, as opposed to strapping it right to the condenser, consider one with a built in fan. My favorite is the B&M because it comes with a thermostat and fan as a package. Derale makes a killer cooler with a fan, but you need to buy the thermostat separate. the nice thing with the t-stat and fan is it will kick on and cool the trans when you are not driving at highway speeds. backing a trailer is a trasmission's worst nightmare, and conventional coolers don't help a bit because you arent forcing air through the grille. obviously, they cost more, but doing things the best way possible always does.

Super Duty's put the trans cooler between the condenser and the radiator. the thiking here is that the engine mounted fan will draw air though the cooler all the time, negating the need for a dedicated electric fan. i would say this would be the most dificult to replicate, though. seems like a lot of work unless the provisions are already there.

as to the transmission behavior ... it is learned behavior. these transmissions have an adaptive learning strategy. that is why the reflash works for you. the only way to 'unlearn' that harsh shift is with a reflash. so they reflash it, and you continue to use it like a truck (as it should be), and it re-learns to shift like that.

if i were to guess, it is because you tow with it. if i were to guess further, i would say that the harsh 5-4 shift is only when unloaded. i would not be surprised if it feels fine with a trailer on, and feels harsh with out it. i would guess that it is learning to shift harder because you tow often. more load requires a "harder" shift to get the same "shift feel". so it is trying to achieve a specific shift "feel" and it has to harder with a load on for the driver to get that same "feel" .... not sure if that makes sense or not, but that is what i would guess is going on.

so ... how do you fix it?

i've hear nothing but positive things about 5-stars tunes. ESPECIALLY when it comes to thier trasmission tunes.

i would start by giving Mike a call. If he can help you, he will tell you.

as for the cold air and exhaust kits. do them if you like, but dont expect a huge return on investment. buy them for looks and sound if you are into that sort of thing, but buying them in hopes of them paying off in the long run is bad ju-ju in my opinion.

hopefully others who have used Mike's tunes will chime in for a 1st hand opinion.

good luck, and welcome to the forum!
keep us posted!!


The truck does the shift while towing too, with tow/haul mode or without. Keep in mind I never towed a lot until about 15K miles, from then on it does quite a bit of it. I don't understand how the transmission would've "learned" to shift like that with me. It does a lot of rural, hilly road driving at speeds of 30-50 usually. And the interstate is where it occurs when I come up on a hill. I usually run the 4-lanes & interstates 65-75mph. I don't run the truck hard. Always change oil every 3K. Keep up on all maintenance, it has to be Ford's/the truck's fault. I don't take excellent care of the body of the truck, but it really is taken well care of engine/transmission wise. I don't have the tow package, no so no transmission cooler but the transmission only gets hot while pulling certain mountains on I-68 with a load behind me. But I always pull off & let it cool if it gets too warm. I'm thinking of investing in a Super Duty next time around if an F-150 can't "handle" my driving.
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:47 PM
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An F-150 with Max Tow can handle anything that any half ton is capable of and will come fully equipped with coolers, the correct gears, etc.

Do you know what your axle ratios are? The 4.6L 3V trucks were built when there was no V-6 offering and it was intended to be the most fuel efficient of the line up.

Have you given any consideration to purchasing and extended warranty? The Ford ESP may not be an option because you're beyond the 3/36K mark. Your dealer maybe able to assist you with another option.

I don't know much about tuners but if you plan to keep the truck for a bit, then it maybe cheaper than paying for a reflash every 15K miles.

Additionally, since you tow frequently, you may have the dealer do a transmission fluid exchange and see if that makes any difference. Supposedly the Mercon LV fluid is good for 150K however, you may consult your owners manual and see what it says for your model year truck for severe duty use.

My last suggestion would be to trade the truck and start over. Keep us posted sir and welcome to FTE!
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tseekins View Post
An F-150 with Max Tow can handle anything that any half ton is capable of and will come fully equipped with coolers, the correct gears, etc.

Do you know what your axle ratios are? The 4.6L 3V trucks were built when there was no V-6 offering and it was intended to be the most fuel efficient of the line up.

Have you given any consideration to purchasing and extended warranty? The Ford ESP may not be an option because you're beyond the 3/36K mark. Your dealer maybe able to assist you with another option.

I don't know much about tuners but if you plan to keep the truck for a bit, then it maybe cheaper than paying for a reflash every 15K miles.

Additionally, since you tow frequently, you may have the dealer do a transmission fluid exchange and see if that makes any difference. Supposedly the Mercon LV fluid is good for 150K however, you may consult your owners manual and see what it says for your model year truck for severe duty use.

My last suggestion would be to trade the truck and start over. Keep us posted sir and welcome to FTE!

Thanks for the welcome, & will do. It's only about a 3,000 pound load at max. The truck has 3.55 gears. The tuners seem to run in the $400-$500 range which I would spend RIGHT NOW if I knew for sure it would fix my problem. I'm not sure how much a re-flash would be after my warranty expires, especially every 15K miles. That would add up I figure Plus I'm a pretty busy person and it would be an annoying problem to deal with for the rest of the life of the truck... I plan to keep it for at least 100,000 miles and when I reach that point, if I feel like it, I'll keep it longer. Another added benefit of tuning is more horsepower and torque AKA towing power. Which, I'm satisfied with the truck's power already anyway but you can never have too much power, right? Lol

The reason I bought this truck was because it was pre-owned with only 3200 miles and it was practically new... if I'd have bought it new it would've been around $36-37K. It was almost $29K pre-owned. My first intentions were not that it would be a tow truck.. but as time went on, I opened a new business and I HAD to use this as the main tow truck for it.. I'm honestly satisfied with the truck, I just wish it wouldn't do this.

And, as far as trading goes, no way - not in the financial situation I'm in at the moment. I mean, I could go out and get a new truck but it wouldn't be a real smart move on my part. I just opened these stores and it required a lot of credit card money and loans to get it started. So all profits from the stores go towards paying off loans/credit cards and I live myself off another construction business I own, which is operated by a 2011 F350 6.2L! Great truck btw.

As I figure it, I'll have everything paid off in 2 years. Then I'd be in the market for a new truck, MAYBE. So I gotta keep this truck AT LEAST 2 more years.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:42 PM
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i didn't mean to imply that it was something YOU were doing, to cause this issue, so i hope you didn't take it that way.

these transmissions "learn" how the driver drives, and then tries to anticipate the driver's style to provide a smooth shift. the problem is that the adaptive programing is a little on the slow and narrow minded side. problems like yours can arrise when the driver's current input is outside of the norm.

so if you baby it by nature, and then suddenly stomp it or get after it in a hurry, the trans gets confused and can goof up the shift(s).

i solved this oddity in my work truck by learning to occasionally drive it harder than i normally would. it is a little hard to do for me, because i do not like to beat on vehicles, but in this case the truck acually drives a TON better by reminding it that every once in a while i will kick it in the ***.

something to try .... loaded and unloaded, put your foot into abruptly enough to force a 6-5-4 downshift, then abrubptly lift and allow a 4-5-6 upshift. do that a few times (half dozen) at random. then do it again, but this time roll into it just a little slower but still force that 6-5-4 downshift (it may take more throttle angle to force that 5-4 downshift), then roll out of it about the same pace and allow the upshift. do that a few times, then floor it a few times to force that same downshift. and lift as fast as you can after flooring it letting it upshift.

i know it seems odd and pointless at first, but you are trying to retrain the computer to learn how to shift smoothly under all throttle input conditions.

keep in mind that the shift strategy is based on not just the amout of throttle added, but the fortitued which it is added as well. that is to say, the quicker you roll into the throttle, the more likely it is to downshift, and the slower your roll into it the more likely it is to hold that gear. even if the amount of throttle input was the same, it will respond differently based on how quickly the throttle input changed.

also, you may have noticed, in tow/haul mode it is programmed to hold gears if you abruptly lift out of the throttle. this is to help you slow down without having to use the brakes. so don't let that surprise you if you are towing. if you roll out slowly it will upshift, but if you snap your foot off the throttle (or cancle the cruse by turning it off) it will hold that gear. this can be usefull if you can learn to use it.

good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 08-04-2012, 09:27 AM
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First- welcome. Second, why wasn't the leaky trans thing covered? B to B is 3/36 but Powertrain is 5/60. If you bought it used, Certified Pre-owned can get you 6 or 7 yrs/100k. Anyway, I rarely tow with my truck. I have a 5.4 w/3.55 and almost a 35" tire which is mostly for looking sexy and commuting to the jobsites. I sometimes haul firewood, but 2 weeks ago I towed a fairly heavy load in my father-in-laws trailer and it pulled it pretty well I'd say. Dad and my son were loading the trailer while I cut with the chainsaw and when I looked I was like OOPS, thats alot of wood in there. I wasn't about to unload any so I ran with it. No problem!
Point is, I also have a tow/performance tune in 87 and 91 octane from 5Star. I have been running it for 18 of the 25k on the truck and the shifting is wonderful. I would call him and see what he can do for you. I can say personally his customer support is top-notch, and I have yet to read any negative about his tunes. Good luck, and keep us posted
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Old 08-04-2012, 10:07 PM
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First- welcome. Second, why wasn't the leaky trans thing covered? B to B is 3/36 but Powertrain is 5/60. If you bought it used, Certified Pre-owned can get you 6 or 7 yrs/100k. Anyway, I rarely tow with my truck. I have a 5.4 w/3.55 and almost a 35" tire which is mostly for looking sexy and commuting to the jobsites. I sometimes haul firewood, but 2 weeks ago I towed a fairly heavy load in my father-in-laws trailer and it pulled it pretty well I'd say. Dad and my son were loading the trailer while I cut with the chainsaw and when I looked I was like OOPS, thats alot of wood in there. I wasn't about to unload any so I ran with it. No problem!
Point is, I also have a tow/performance tune in 87 and 91 octane from 5Star. I have been running it for 18 of the 25k on the truck and the shifting is wonderful. I would call him and see what he can do for you. I can say personally his customer support is top-notch, and I have yet to read any negative about his tunes. Good luck, and keep us posted

The truck wasn't certified pre-owned, but I think the dealer just wanted to screw me over that - which wasn't fair but there's nothing I can do about it now. Don't get me wrong, this truck does pull very good, I'm impressed with its performance, it's just that I worry about the shift! What exactly does 5-star do? Would I have to drive my truck miles & miles to their location to get it tuned, or do they have different locations throughout the US? I've looked on their website and I've saw where I can buy different tuners off of them such as the SCT.. but could you explain to me how it works? ~ Thanks!
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Old 08-04-2012, 11:25 PM
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The truck wasn't certified pre-owned, but I think the dealer just wanted to screw me over that - which wasn't fair but there's nothing I can do about it now. Don't get me wrong, this truck does pull very good, I'm impressed with its performance, it's just that I worry about the shift! What exactly does 5-star do? Would I have to drive my truck miles & miles to their location to get it tuned, or do they have different locations throughout the US? I've looked on their website and I've saw where I can buy different tuners off of them such as the SCT.. but could you explain to me how it works? ~ Thanks!

This would've been a huge red flag to me in buying the truck. I know that isn't helpful now but a new truck with a couple thousand miles and no certification? Lemon.
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Old 08-05-2012, 05:24 AM
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C'mon guys / gals, the OP stated that the truck only 3200 miles on it at the time of purchase. It's pretty hard to hurt a tough vehicle in that short of a time span.
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Old 08-05-2012, 06:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wvbackcountry98 View Post
What exactly does 5-star do? Would I have to drive my truck miles & miles to their location to get it tuned, or do they have different locations throughout the US? I've looked on their website and I've saw where I can buy different tuners off of them such as the SCT.. but could you explain to me how it works? ~ Thanks!
5Star makes your truck run and shift the way it should Give Mike a call, you buy the SCT tuner and up to 3 "custom" tunes can be stored in it, shipped to your door. Plug and play, just pull a few fuses- fuel pump and 1 other IIRC so it doesn't interfere with the upload- takes 10-20 min on my gas truck, but when I had the SCT for the 6.0 it was much shorter for some reason. SCT with the custom tunes is the way to go IMHO. He is a great guy and I'd almost guarantee you will not be sorry if you go with him. The tunes reflash the ECM (and TCM I think) You will store your stock tune in the SCT and just replace it with the custom one, and you can switch to the other 2 you get whenever you like. I.E. if you have a Performance tune and a tow tune, just switch when you need to tow then switch back when you're not towing. Like I said, I have a Performance/Tow tune he wrote and it runs very well I run the 87 tune but I have a 91 octane tune I can run, if gas prices ever get back down to where they should be.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:39 AM
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This would've been a huge red flag to me in buying the truck. I know that isn't helpful now but a new truck with a couple thousand miles and no certification? Lemon.
don't you have to have documentation that all of your sevice work was done on time at authorized service centers in order to qualify for 'certified status'

one oil change at home and your out.

wouldnt have been a red flag for me, but then again, i buy them when most of you guys are done with them. bout 7yrs old with a tick less than 100k seems to be the sweet spot for me. then i keep em for another 7yr/100k...exploder is on year 5 and 55k since i purchased it 7rs old and 93k on the clock. works out for me, anyway.
i digress.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:02 AM
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Maybe I be really wrong on this but here is my experience with hard shift. My 2004 4.6 started hard shifting but only when I forgot to take it out of OD. However, I had a problem with the truck going into forced idle. Turns out I had to replace the TPS (throttle position sensor) and reconfigure the computer. After that it did not hard shift. I'm thinking the computer couldn't tell the transmission when to shift. Just my theory.

note: it was hard shifting quite a while (6 months maybe) before I had the TPS problem.
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Old 08-07-2012, 01:42 PM
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if you have a 2010 with the 6sp, you cannot take it out of overdrive, unless you lock it down into 3rd.

you do have a tow/haul mode, but that will still use all 6 forward gears.

your shift strategy is based off of inputs from your TPS, so if that has gone wonky on you, then it would certinaly cause some drivability problems/querks.
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Old 08-09-2012, 06:09 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 06:09 PM
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