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I have a 2001 E350 15 Passenger van with the 6.8 v10, automatic transmission, roughly 75,000 miles and I am having some issues with the transmission staying in low gear while going down hills.

The issue I'm having is trying to use the engine to help slow the van when descending a steep gravel road in the mountains. Without it helping the brakes get really hot by the time I'm off the mountain. It doesn't matter what position I put the shifter into it doesn't seem to stay in first or second gear when trying to use it to assist slowing down. I have tried both moving it into first or second while moving and even stopping and starting off in first gear.
If I'm not trying to slow down and start off in first and accelerate it will stay in first until I manually shift it in to the next gear.
I have checked the transmission fluid and even made sure I was doing it right and it shows full on the dipstick.

I had a similar issues on a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo where it wouldn't stay in first gear when the lever was in first that was fixed by replacing a sensor on the side of the transmission but I haven't found much info on the van.

Does this sound like a sensor issue, trans fluid issue, or am I missing something else?
 

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Welcome to the Forum
Have you always had this problem?
Have you serviced the transmission?
Why don't you drop by autozone and have them pull codes from your computer and let us know what the codes are
 

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I have a 2001 E350 15 Passenger van with the 6.8 v10, automatic transmission, roughly 75,000 miles and I am having some issues with the transmission staying in low gear while going down hills.

The issue I'm having is trying to use the engine to help slow the van when descending a steep gravel road in the mountains. Without it helping the brakes get really hot by the time I'm off the mountain. It doesn't matter what position I put the shifter into it doesn't seem to stay in first or second gear when trying to use it to assist slowing down. I have tried both moving it into first or second while moving and even stopping and starting off in first gear.
If I'm not trying to slow down and start off in first and accelerate it will stay in first until I manually shift it in to the next gear.
I have checked the transmission fluid and even made sure I was doing it right and it shows full on the dipstick.

I had a similar issues on a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo where it wouldn't stay in first gear when the lever was in first that was fixed by replacing a sensor on the side of the transmission but I haven't found much info on the van.

Does this sound like a sensor issue, trans fluid issue, or am I missing something else?
Here is a trouble shoot in detailhttps://www.diyford.com/ford-aode4r70w-guide-calibration-building-troubleshooting/
 

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Welcome to the FFO!
I think what you have stated is normal and let me recap what you have stated so I am clear on the issue.

From a stop, if you move the shifter to first it will stay in first until the shifter lever is moved out of first
If you are moving and in D, down shifting to a lower gear specifically 1st or second, the transmission will upshift at some point.

If you could post speeds and/or RPMs if known that would help. And those numbers do not have to be totally accurate.

The design of the transmission will not allow a manual downshift to some gears if RPMs are over a certain amount. This prevents transmission damage.

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