Ford Automatic 4 speed

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

February 2001

Dear Consumer:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about the AXOD, AXOD-E, AX4S or AX4N automatic transmission in your vehicle. One or another of these transmissions are used in many vehicles including the Taurus, Sable, Windstar, and Continental. CAS has received numerous complaints on chronic stalling, slippage, harsh or erratic shifting, hesitation, and/or sudden failure.

The AXO, AXOD-E automatic 4-speed overdrive transmission has been plagued with performance problems since its introduction in 1986. The transmissions in the 1991 Taurus/Sable and Continental are especially prone to erratic operation, overheating and/or sudden failure. A 1995 survey by Consumer Reports found that nearly 20 percent of the owners of the 1991 Taurus/Sable and Continental had experienced a serious transmission problem in the preceding 12 months, four times the average problem rate for automatic transmissions in all 1991 vehicles.

Geartrain meltdown due to an inadequate supply of pressurized lubricating oil is one of the primary causes of transmission failure in vehicles built prior to 1993. Independent transmission shops typically address the inherent design defect in the AXO, AXOD-E transmission by enlarging the orifice which feeds the lube oil and making sure that the bushings, which help control the oil flow, are replaced if the least bit worn. In mid-1992, Ford redesigned the tubes above the oil filter and sent its dealers a service bulletin that attributed geartrain meltdown in all vehicles built in 1991 to a faulty gasket (TSB 92-26A-12). In July 1995, Ford extended the warranty on the automatic transmissions in all 1991 Tauruses/Sables and Continentals to six years/60,000 miles (Owner Notification Program 94M84). Owners complain Ford limits the program to only one free repair attempt, so make sure your first repair is a new transmission.

Cracks in the forward clutch piston is another notorious problem with the AXO, AXOD-E transmission from 1986 through 1995. These cracks cause the forward clutch to disengage, making the transmission feel as though it is in "neutral." In 1995, Ford began making the piston out of steel rather than aluminum to eliminate the cracking problem. To avoid costly repairs, mechanics recommend that the steel piston be installed in the forward clutch drum (refer to TSB 94-24-7) when any internal transmission work is performed.

You’ll find more information on Ford automatic transmission problems below and what you can do about them plus a complaint box. Your information will help us build a strong case against Ford as we fight for action on Ford’s faulty transmissions.

We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is tax-deductible which entitles you to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership form along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis.


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

Continental Sable Taurus Taurus SHO Windstar

SYMPTOMS TRANSAXLE MODELS TSB # No torque converter engagement in cold weather. AX4S 1993-95 3.2L SHO 96-7-13 Intermittent no &/or delayed 1-2 upshift. ATX (FLC)
ATX (FLC) 1987-90 Taurus
1987-90 Taurus 94-12-1l 94-1-6 No forward/reverse. AXOD-E


AX4S, AXOD & AXOD-E 1986-92 Taurus, Sable, Continental
1995-98 Taurus, Sable, Continental
1986-95 Taurus, Sable, 1988-94 Continental, 1993-95 SHO, 1995 Windstar 92-26A-3


No shift, harsh or extended shifts. AXOD




AX4S, AX4N AX4S 1986-90 Taurus, Sable, 1988-90 Continental
1986-90 Taurus, Sable, 1988-90 Continental
1991-92 Taurus, Sable, Continental
1996 Taurus, Sable with 3.0L
1993-98 All
1996-98 Windstar with 3.8L 89-22-4




98-22-1 No reverse AX4S, AX4N 1999 Windstar, Taurus, Sable, Continental 99-7-6 Shudder during 1-2 upshift. AXOD


1986-90 Taurus, Sable, 1988-90 Continental 90-1-12 Harsh downshifts. AXOD 1986-90 Taurus, Sable 89-23-8 Long upshifts & premature transaxle wear. AXOD 1986-88 Taurus, Sable, 1988-90 Continental 89-22-3 Metallic "click" during reverse engagement. AX4N 1994-96 Taurus, Sable, Continental, SHO 96-5-9 Shift concerns &/or diagnostic trouble code displayed. AXOD-E

AX4S 1992 Taurus, Sable, Continental
1996 Taurus, Sable 94-10-12

96-3-5 Leak at torque converter hub seal. AXOD, AXOD-E & AX4S 1986-94 Taurus, Sable, Continental, SHO 94-6-7 Engine stalls when coming to a stop. AXOD-E 1992 Taurus, Sable, Continental 93-14-5 Console shift lever doesn’t align with floor shift lever. AXOD-E 1993 Taurus, Sable, Continental 93-16-4 A/T whine & front planetary assembly wear. AXOD-E 1991-92 Taurus, Sable, Continental 92-26A-1 Insufficient lube. AXOD-E 1991-92 Taurus, Sable, Continental 92-26A-12 Extended/delayed downshifts, hesitation & wide open throttle at speeds above 55 mph. AX4S
AX4N 1993 SHO with 3.2L
1996-97 Taurus, Sable with 3.0L 93-14-14 97-7-2 Extended or no 2-3 upshift &/or high RPM during 2-3 upshift. AX4S 1996-97 Taurus, Sable, Windstar with 3.0L 97-9-12 "Ticking" in transaxle area AX4N 1995 Continental 95-10-6 Torque converter clutch not engaging AX4N 1996-98 Taurus, Sable 98-6-5 No fourth gear, diagnostic trouble code displayed AX4N 1995-98 Taurus, Sable 98-10-7 Intermittent neutral after stop, harsh 1-2 shift AX4S 1996-98 Windstar 98-22-1 Harsh 3-2 downshift, shudder when accelerating through turn AX4S 1995-00 Windstar, Taurus, Sable 99-18-4