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Transmission Replacement (2011 US Gas-Powered)

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My work recently purchased a second hand 2011 Transit Connect (Gas-Powered US Model) with approximately 70K miles. It has blown the transmission after something like 6 months and < 10k miles traveled (the Ford tech pulled the transmission oil pan and it was filled with metal shavings). I would like to purchase a replacement transmission and potentially install it myself. I have the following questions:

There are seperate parts listings for "From 1/17/11" and "Thru 1/16/11" - what is the difference? According to what I've read the transmission should be this transmission - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_4F27E_transmission Is there a model year difference?

In that same train of thought, it seems that the Ford Focus 03-11 uses the same transmission, are they completely interchangeable? The powertrains seem to be vastly similar.

Finally, is there anything I can do to extend the transmission life on this vehicle? It seems as if the engine/transmission were designed for fairly low loads and light usage, but we're using it as a work van to carry tools/ladders (nothing super-heavy, but non-trivial amount of weight and drag from roof-rack ladders). I briefly considered a manual transmission swap, but would a transmission cooler help?

Thanks in advance.

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Someone was selling a manual transmission here a few weeks ago.

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Yeah, replacement with a manual was one of my first questions! But my van's still under warranty, so I'd guess that that would be considered an unacceptable modification and void the warranty. Don't think I'd be having these troubles with a stick!

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