Last week I started my truck and, 5 seconds later, heard a beep. I looked down at the dash and noticed a message in the console.
TRANS FAULT no O/D
I shut it down and restarted it, hoping it was a glitch. The same message popped up. I backed out, didn't hear or feel anything unusual, and parked it so we could pull our car out.
The next day I drove it to the nearest Ford dealer to have someone take a look at it. The truck drove and shifted fine. From what I had read after seeing the message, I expected a sensor would need replacement. Investigating the transmission codes would cost $99, and it'd be another $99 if they needed to look in the transmission pan.
The service department called later to say that there were metal chunks in the transmission pan. They recommended installing a remanufactured Ford transmission ($2800) or installing a new torque converter ($1330 labor + any parts that turned out to be necessary). The second option was a little more open-ended price-wise, and was the more invasive of the two options.
Now, some details about my truck. It's a 2004 F-150 with a 4.6L V8, 2WD. I towed a small U-Haul trailer years ago during a move. It only has 58,000 miles, and most of that is highway. When we lived in midtown Atlanta, it remained parked for the better part of two years.
I contacted the Ford Customer Service department to tell them about my problem. I also wrote to @FordService on Twitter. The Twitter team is fast and responded within minutes; they noticed I had already filed an issue using the contact form on their website. I heard back from someone in the Customer Relationship Center (CRC), but it wasn't what I had hoped for. My truck is out of warranty, and though they wish they could help, they can't.
(I wish all companies could be like Apple - with any major failures we've had, Apple handed us brand-new equipment, even when out-of-warranty)
The person at the CRC did say that if a recall or Customer Satisfaction Program is initiated in the future based on any discoveries, I'd obviously be eligible for a refund.
The problem is that if people are randomly posting to forums or not posting at all, Ford may not know how extensive the issue is.
The person that handled managing my service was nice; she would check on my truck occasionally and give me status updates. The new transmission was installed a day ahead of the original estimate and cost a bit less than originally quoted.
Unfortunately, ten minutes after driving away, the check engine light came on and I entered limp mode. After waiting around for the tech to get back from lunch, the diagnosis was that the ignition timing was off after a battery disconnect. That should not have happened, and forgetful things like that are the reason I stayed away from the labor-intensive torque converter replacment - just more that can go wrong.
They reflashed my PCM to get the latest timings and things, so far, have been fine.