1996 ford f-150 E4OD Transmission Woes

I recently purchased a 1996 F-150, 5.0 with an E4od transmission. This transmission does not slip and shifts really well under quick acceleration. However under normal driving when it reaches approx. 30
mph cruising in town it wants to start what appears to be a very quick in and out or shutter like shifting. This happens up to 49 mph at certain points. It seems worse between 45-49. It never happens at 50 mph or above, nor does it matter if the od option on the end of the shift lever is on or off. It doesn't do any of this when the throttle is released into a coast, it only happens under acceleration. It does not seem to be any kind of engine nibbling / lean condition. Sometimes this strange shifting will actually vibrate the sheetmetal on the truck. It is worse when towing my 16 ft. enclosed trailer. The engine is smooth at 144,000 and does not faulter. The transmission fluid is clear and red and has no burned smell. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. If I can press on and drive it without causing damage I can tolerate the condition. Thank You.
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On Wed, 22 Aug 2007 01:15:20 -0700, palmetto

I believe what you are descrbing is converter shudder. It almost seems like driving accross the rumble strips placed at some intersections. The first thing to do is a complete service including draining the torque converter. Refill with a good quality fluid and use 2 containers of an additive product called Shudderfix sold by many transmission shops. This will usually cure a shudder that has not gone on for long. If this does not correct the problem, you are in for at least a replacement converter which will require the trans be removed. Unless you are a pretty well equipped DIY'er, this is not a driveway repair.
Good luck
Lugnut
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Thanks Lugnut, I am a well equipped DIY'er with tools and garage, I just needed a good starting point. Thanks a Bunch>
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On Wed, 22 Aug 2007 17:12:48 -0700, palmetto

The one thing you should have unless you are a weight lifter with good extended control is a transmission jack. The trans weighs about 285 lb with converter. Mine failed at 138K after abusing it with a couple of 10k pulls thru the mountains. I had maintained the trans with regular fluid changes. When my problem started, I chacked for seceral quotes to get the truck repaired. With most running at least $2500 at the time, I decided the worst I could do was lose a couple hundred and a weekend to do it myself. I bough a transmission jack at Northern for a hundred which would not cut it in a full time shop but, did what i needed. I already had a clutch pack compressor that I used with other Ford and Mopar units. All I needed was a set of very heavy snap ring pliers that I found at Sears on the rack, a reverse pack compressor and repair parts. I fashioned an intermediate clutch pack compressor from a couple of 2x4's cut to the proper length and clamped across the front of the bell housing with a short hydraulic jack between them to compress the pack - worked like a charm for far less than the pro tool at $200. Beyond that, you need a good ATSG manual for it, a good assortment of ordinary hand tools and patience. I did all of the updates and added a shift improvement kit for under $1000 including all parts, all updates and the tools I bought. The parts supplier I used does a lot of inhouse rebuilds for racing applications. He rebuilt my torque converter with the heavy duty LUK clutch for $230 of that $1K as opposed to the Ford price of over $600 at the time. Time wise, it cost me a 4th of July holiday. If you live near a large city, there may be a trans parts warehouse supplier around. I have used TPU here in Forest PArk, (Atlanta), GA for years. Shane can tell you everything you need and ship if needed. APD is also very good. Transparts has a warehouse on the other side of town and are less friendly to the DIY'er. I can't say my trans will last a long as the original since I only have about 80K on it since rebuild. I have occasionally abused it a few more times by towing way over weight with no problems.
While you are there, take advantage of the opportunity to replace the engine oil pan gasket and the rear seal. The rear seal requires the trans be removed t replace and the oil pan gasket tend to work their way out and leak around 140-150k miles. Use the late style Felpro or Motorcraft gasket with the metal plate reinforcement. You should also consider replacing the engine and trans mounts while you are there. These also tend to give way on the top side of 150K miles. Oil pan removal and mount replacement require the engine be lifted and the exhaust header be removed. Header removal is also required to remove the trans. If you remove the upper intake which takes hardy any time at all will allow you to lift the engine high enough to remove the pan and the engine mounts. You will also need to remove the fan schroud. I used a cherry picker with the equalizer and held it by the exhaust manifolds. Two things about the upper intake are you will need a long 1/4: drive with a Torx bit to remove the center bolt down between the runners and you must be careful not to pinch the plactic vacuum tubes at the rear of the manifold. I should also point out that the PCV valve is on the top rear of the block behind the manifold. This is a good time to service it. At your mileage, be sure to replace the filter in the hole under the PCV valve. You can extract it with long nosed pliers (needle nose). This filter tends to plug over time and cause crankcase pressure which make seals and gaskets leak as well as increased oil consumption.
There! You have my list of "while-UR-at-it" recommendations based purely on The College of Hard Knocks experience.
Good luck
Lugnut
BTW, upper intake torque is critical. You will need a torque wrench in in/lb's to do it. The oil pan gasket is also this way. And, make sure you use a flat surface to flatten the oil pan flange around the bolt holes as necessary just in case someone has already overtightened it to fix a leak with the original gasket.
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