Seven Common Problems With The Ford 4R55E Transmission

Posted by on Friday, March 15th, 2013

The 4R55E is a four speed automatic transmission made by the Ford Corporation and was used in vehicles made between 1995 and 2001.  It is similar in design to the 4R44E except that it has an increased maximum torque capacity of 550 lbs.  This transmission was used primarily in light duty SUV’s and Ford trucks. As a shop owner, it is in your best interest to learn about some of the most common problems found in this transmission. Let’s take a look at a the problems most commonly found with the Ford 4R55E transmission.

4R55E transmission


1)  Solenoid failure: The 4R55 is an electronic transmission and as such, it contains a few solenoids. All solenoids are subject to failure. The two most likely to fail are the transmission pressure control solenoid and the torque converter solenoid. All of the solenoids can be easily checked with an ohm meter. The reading on a good functioning solenoid should be around 20 to 30 ohms. A low reading means that there is most likely a short in the internal wiring and no reading means the wire is broken. In either case, the solenoid will need to be replaced with a new one.

4R55E solenoid


2)  No 2nd or 4th gear:  This is often caused by the solenoid regulator valve being out of position. The shop manual will show you the correct position.

3)  No 3rd or 4th gear: If the 2 – 3 shift valve spring is missing, or someone has installed it wrong, you will lose 3rd and 4th gear.

4) No upshifting:  This problem can be caused by the solenoid regulator valve being out of position.

5)  Slips on the 2 – 3 shift:There are two different issues that can cause this problem. Either the bore in which the intermediate servo pin rides in is worn out, or the spring on the intermediate servo piston is too strong.

Internal parts of a 4R55E


6) No reverse:  If the transmission has no reverse you most likely have a bad SSA solenoid.

7)  Delay going into reverse of a forward gear: Has the valve body been removed recently for any reason? If so, there is a possibility you did not align it correctly with the alignment pins. This will cause  an internal leak that will result in a drop in the transmissions line pressure.

No automatic transmission is designed to last forever. The 4R55E is no exception. If you find yourself in the position where you need to replace a 4R55E transmission, I highly recommend you consider replacing it with a re-manufactured transmission over one that has had a simple rebuild.

Like all things mechanical, a transmission will not last forever, regardless of how well you take care of it. If a decision has to be made to replace the transmission, I highly recommend you consider a re-manufactured transmission as your first choice. They differ from a rebuilt transmission in the fact that they are as good as a new transmission at a greatly reduced price and often include modifications and upgrades that make them much more durable. A re-manufactured transmission also comes with a much better warranty: three years compared to 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.

4 Responses to “Seven Common Problems With The Ford 4R55E Transmission”

  1. Brian Donnelly says:

    Do you have any idea what would cause this transmission to do a slow downshift between 4 and 3 at highway speeds? Going up a gentle slope it will downshift but with a rough sound and it takes more time than expected. If the driver goes out to pass it works well and downshifts OK – it is only when slightly more pose is needed going up a hill.
    Thank you.
    Brian Donnelly

    • Regis F. says:

      I would run a computer scan real quick Brain. Sounds like a computer glitch could possible be the problem. Did you use a hand held tuner to tune your motor? Electronic tunes also modify the way the transmission shifts. If you have put a tune in it go back and look at the setting to see if one is out of whack.

  2. ron says:

    1999 ford Ranger 4 liter auto transmission I nave no reverse forward ok .

  3. ron says:

    1999 ford ranger 4liter 2wh auto transmission w/ no reverse forward is OK

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