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Old 06-17-2024, 10:53 AM   #1
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2003 E250 2wd Gas - Diff/Trans failure

Hey folks, been awhile since my last post and unfortunately my return to SMB forum is on the heels of an expensive problem.

I was in the Sierra Nevada backcountry for a few days, came back to the van, drove down the mountain and started to hear a whirring noise that increased with acceleration. At first it was not that loud, but then started to get progressively louder. I pulled into a gas station to see if I could diagnose. I was stopped waiting for someone to pull out of a parking spot and when I went to accelerate again, the RPMs went up by the van didn't move much. The overdrive light started flashing as well. Then it sort of creeped forward to let me park.

I let the van sit, started it back up and it let me drive again, so I figured I'd try and at least make it another 10 or so miles to Inyokern in case I got stuck there for a few hours. On the highway, it had a lot of trouble getting up to speed but then seemed to hold above 50mph without issue. I didn't want to risk driving any further and get stranded in the desert stretch between Ridgecrest and Adelanto, so I pulled into a gas station near Inyokern and realized my only option home on Father's day Sunday was an incredibly expensive tow.

I'm now home, and my wallet is much lighter, but I'm afraid that's likely to get worse once I figure out what's going on and what needs repaired.

There's a clear leak coming out of the rear diff, it looks like the seal may have failed. I'm not sure if my problems could be as simple as a full loss of diff oil, or if something else has failed in the diff/transmission.

I'm located in North County San Diego (Carlsbad). I believe I can drive the van a few miles but am reluctant to take it much farther. I can also get another tow from AAA if needed.

I took a look at the Google Maps resource and didn't see anything in North County. There is a local Big O shop that's always worked on the basics for the van and they said they can take a look. But, I'm not sure if that's the best first step or if it would be better to take it somewhere that specializes in this type of work? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 06-17-2024, 01:28 PM   #2
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Do you have scanner to check codes? A flashing O/D light would indicate trans issue. Sometimes the # of flashes in a sequence case translate to a code.

Helpful info so you of include:
Engine
Transmission model - 4r100 if V10 or 7.3, likely 4r70 if 5.4 but in rare instance 4R100
Mileage

Have you checked the trans fluid dip stick? Full (ck w engine running and in park) Color? Smell? Particles?
Any trans leaks?
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Old 06-17-2024, 01:55 PM   #3
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Ah shoot, meant to include some of that info!

Engine: 5.4
Trans: has U on door sticker, so assume 4r70
Mileage: around 125k
Fluid: I checked the trans fluid. Seemed normal pinkish color, didn't seem to have any particles when I looked. Didn't notice any smell but didn't give it a good sniff either.
Leaks: none that I noticed near the front/transmission. It was on the tow truck flat bed for a good 4 hours and the only leaks we saw on the flatbed were directly under the diff.
Codes: I don't have a reader. But, it only flashed one time and hasn't done it since.
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Old 06-17-2024, 07:17 PM   #4
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I think you have two problems. Flashing OD light means trans trouble. Leaking rear diff is probably just that. You probably banged it on something and compromised the diff cover seal. Welcome to the club, I did the same with a freshly serviced rear diff just a week ago and mine is now leaking.

I can't recommend anyone in your area but I would be really surprised if someone on here couldn't recommend a good shop in San Diego. Maybe call Agile Offroad and ask John?
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Old 06-17-2024, 08:29 PM   #5
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Thanks Scotty, that's a good idea to give Agile a call, I'll do that tomorrow. Though, I may need to wait a few weeks to get upgraded AAA that will tow me downtown without charging extra (if they have a good shop that way).

And yeah I read about the flashing OD which is what has me in a panic. I thought maybe I could get that warning if the diff was acting up and causing some sort of chain reaction in the trans, but likely wishful thinking. One can dream!
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Old 06-18-2024, 11:31 AM   #6
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Called Agile - they don't have anyone they recommend. The search continues.
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Old 06-18-2024, 04:29 PM   #7
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You talked to Agile or you talked to John at Agile?

Significant difference.

If you simply cold called Agile you probably got someone who just wanted to sell you Sprinter accessories.
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Old 06-18-2024, 05:34 PM   #8
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They asked John for me, and he said "they don't have any recommendations since they mostly work on sprinters these days"
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Old 06-18-2024, 06:20 PM   #9
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I get it, but you probably would have a very different conversation with John if you could bend his ear in person.

He and the old guard there have forgotten more than most of us will ever know about Ford van drivetrains.

There is a repair shop/mechanic thread on here somewhere. Have you seen it?
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Old 06-18-2024, 08:18 PM   #10
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Yeah I asked to speak to him directly but no dice. Unfortunately I'm about an hour north so driving down to meet him is unlikely too. I did check out the mechanic thread, didn’t see any obvious spots in SD. Also reviewed the google map, looks like one mechanic showing up in SD called auto medic, but also about 40 min south. Not sure if I can drive it that far but will give them a call just in case.
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