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Ford Taurus Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

Ford Taurus Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

The Ford Taurus is a good used large car. It has oodles of trunk space, and its suspension easily smooths over most road flaws. Also, the severity and frequency of repairs are lower than other vehicles, so the Taurus is one of the more reliable vehicles on the road. In this article, we’ll discuss the transmissions used in various generations of the Ford Taurus and discuss them in further detail.

The earlier models of the Ford Taurus were equipped with the Ford AXOD transmission. This transmission was upgraded and improved into AXOD-E, AX4S, AX4N/4F50N transmissions in the later models.

That’s a significant divergence from other Ford models like the Ford Focus which uses the 4F27E (among others) or the Ford Fusion which has it’s set of transmission variations.

But sticking with the Taurus, we’ll cover everything you need to know for you to have a proper understanding of transmissions for different models, their classifications, their problems, and the most viable fluids. Transmission prices have also been mentioned in this article to help you get an estimate of how much you will be spending.

How Long Does a Ford Taurus Transmission Last?

With regular oil changes and routine maintenance, a Ford Taurus can easily last or surpass 200,000 miles. As such, if you drive between 10,000 and 20,000 miles a year, there’s a good chance that your Taurus will last between 10 and 20 years.

Like most cars, the Ford Taurus’s longevity depends on maintenance, which will extend the engine’s life well beyond 200,000 miles into the 300,000-mile range. After it reaches 200,000 miles usage, it demands extra care.

How Much Does a Ford Taurus Transmission Cost?

Everyone would want to be familiar with the prices when one needs to change the transmission of one’s car. Prices vary according to your vehicle type and model. Most commonly, prices range from $2500- $3000. Here we have mentioned estimated prices for your Ford Focus transmissions:

  • AXOD costs around $1500-$2000
  • AXOD-E costs around $1500-$2000.
  • AX4S costs around $2000-$2500.
  • AX4N/4F50N costs around $2000-$2500.

How Reliable Is The Transmission On A Ford Taurus?

Late ’90s and early 2000s Ford Taurus models experienced transmission issues. Post-2008 redesign models showed improvements, though 2010-2012 models still reported hard or delayed shifts. The most reliable transmissions are found in 2013 and newer models, thanks to upgraded software and parts. Regular maintenance, including fluid changes, is essential for all years.

Common Ford Taurus Transmission Problems


Earlier AXOD and AXOD-E models have a poor reliability record due to internal lubrication problems. These were mostly remedied by 1995. These transaxles require fluid and filter changes every 30,000 miles to maximize service life.

Failure of the “Neutral to Drive Accumulator” causes hard shifts into a drive gear (R, OD, D, 1) from “N” or “P”. This can become quite violent. Reasons for this part’s failure: Piston stuck, or seals or springs damaged or missing. Correction for this problem: Check these parts for damage.

Replace as required (located inside the transaxle, recommended that a transmission shop do the repair, but a full rebuild of the transaxle is NOT required). In general, however, difficulty shifting from neutral to overdrive, OD to N, N to R, and R to N is most likely caused by a stretched shifter cable.

Other issues such as locking and/or breaking the parking “pawl” occur in these transmissions primarily due to owner negligence in not operating the parking brake properly, or not using the parking brake at all. If the vehicle is allowed to “rollback” onto the pawl with heavy force (such as when parking on a steep incline), the pawl may break off or seize the gears so that either the vehicle rolls away, or when the owner starts the vehicle and attempts to put the vehicle in gear, they are unable to move the shift lever from Park.

This creates a compound issue in which the shifter linkage or cable can break due to excess force. The vehicle’s owner guide states the appropriate procedure is to engage the parking brake before shifting to Park, rather than relying on the pawl, as the pawl is a last line of defense to prevent the vehicle from moving unintentionally. If the parking pawl breaks off or bends, serious transaxle damage can occur.

AX4S / AX4N/4F50N

Slipping, Erratic Shifting, Harsh Forward or Reverse Gear Engagement are the most common AX4N / AX4S transmission problems are slipping between gears, erratic up or downshifts, or a hard slam when the AX4N / AX4S transmission engages Drive or Reverse. There are several design flaws in this transmission, and any one of them could be causing these symptoms.

Another frequent problem is overheating. This happens when the moving parts inside the transmission are creating more friction heat than the ATF can remove. The most common cause of this condition is towing heavy loads, driving in stop/go traffic, or on mountain roads where the transmission has to shift a lot.

Intermediate clutch failures resulting in poor 1–2 shifts or slipping are common on all AX family members.

Difference Between Transmissions


The AXOD was a 4-speed automatic transaxle for transverse front-wheel drive automobiles from the Ford Motor Company. It was introduced in the 1986 Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable (with the 3.0 L Vulcan V6). Production of the final member of the family, the 4F50N (a renaming of the AX4N), ended in November 2006. The AXOD has a code letter of “T” on its data plate. The AXOD transaxle has 17 bolts to retain its fluid pan.


The AXOD was updated with electronic controls in 1991 as the AXOD-E. The electronic shifting and torque converter controls were integrated with the Taurus’s electronic control module for smoother shifts. It had a data plate code of “T” for 1991 and 1992 models.


The AXOD-E was renamed AX4S in 1993. In addition to the name change, improvements in the lubrication of the gearset and capacity upgrades were made. A centrifugal piston assembly was implemented in the intermediate clutch position to improve 1st–2nd and 2nd–1st shift quality and an increase in the clutch’s durability was made on some models. High energy friction materials were also introduced. A new twin-piston torque converter clutch (TCC) was introduced with the AX4S and the AX4N on some models. The transaxle pan on this model will sometimes read “AXOD Metric” since it is based on the AXOD transaxle. The data plate code for this transmission is “L.”


The AX4N is an improved version of the basic AXOD and is more reliable. This transaxle shifting is non-synchronous (as indicated by the “N” in AX4N) and has improved shift quality over the previous AX4S. Although similar in design and dimensions, it is a different transaxle than previous AXOD transmissions.

The AX4N has 19 bolts to retain the fluid pan. It was used in the 1996–99 Taurus SHO models and was standard on Duratec-powered models. It also appears in some 1994–2002 Vulcan-powered models. It became standard with both engines in 2003. It was renamed the 4F50N in 2001. The data plate code is “X.”

Transmission Fluids and the Ford Taurus

Transmission fluid is the lubricant for all the moving parts that make up your vehicle’s transmission. Due to the heat generated in the transmission, the fluid can break down over time. What type of transmission fluid you need depends on your vehicle? Your car’s manual provides transmission fluid service requirements. Regular transmission service is necessary to keep your car on the road. The Ford Taurus needs to have the transmission fluid and filter changed every 30,000 to 40,000 miles or every two years.

  • The best lubricant for the AXOD is Mercon V.
  • The best lubricant for the AXOD-E is Mercon V.
  • The best lubricant for the AX4S is Mercon V.
  • The best lubricant for the AX4N/4F50N is Mercon V.


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