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Ford Trucks:  F-150, F-250, F-350

Transmission Cooler for Ford F-150 and F-250 Trucks in the Maryland Area

Install a transmission cooler is one of the best improvements that can be made to a Ford F-150 or F-250 truck that is operated in the Maryland area, where temperatures can get very high in the summertime. When discussing the improvement in the durability of Ford F-150 transmissions, there are noticeable differences that should be considered between the terms "heavy-duty" and "high-performance". Heavy-duty 4R100 transmission usage is best defined as using a truck for towing or hauling heavy loads up Maryland's long and steep inclines. High performance should be used to describe a Ford F-150 whose engine has been modified to increase the overall torque or horsepower output. The best improvement that can be done for heavy-duty use is to increase the capacity of the transmission cooling system. Many Ford trucks in the Maryland area will already have an external cooler installed from the factory, but the standard capacity of the unit is often limited. Upgrading the cooling capacity involves installing an external transmission fluid cooler in-line with the existing unit, located in the radiator. When an external cooler already exists, it can either be replaced with a larger unit, or a second cooler can be installed that would run in series or in parallel with the existing cooler.

F-150 Transmission Shift and Torque Converter Upgrades for Maryland Use

Upgrades to be considered for high-performance use in Maryland are to increase the internal pressure within the transmission by installing a line pressure boost valves that have a higher ratio. Raising the boost pressure within a transmission increases the torque carrying capacity for both the gear-shifting elements and also the torque converter clutch. For best results, both of these upgrades should be considered on Ford F-150 trucks that are going to be operated in an overloaded capacity. Many companies in Maryland use their Ford trucks for commercial use, and the extra weight can cause the transmission to slip or shift softly. Installing aftermarket components made by Sonnax will help firm up the shifts, which increases durability for the 4R100.

Ford F-150 Truck Transmission Performance and Durability on the 4R100

Many Ford F-150 truck owners in Maryland inquire as to how to best improve the performance and durability of their automatic transmission, especially for heavy-duty use and or towing. The 4R100 is the latest version of the original E4OD transmission and includes a number of updates and fixes to correct issues that have plagued these transmissions throughout the years. , when operating properly, the transmission delivers excellent performance and is quite durable. As the truck owner increases the total mileage of the Ford F-150, certain components within the transmission will begin to wear over time, usually, the internal spool valves located within the valve body. Worn or sticking valves within the valve body are detrimental to transmission performance and the effects can usually be recognized by the driver, allowing corrective measures to be taken before permanent damage is done.

Valve Body Repair for Ford F-150 Trucks

These valves are also known to stick on high mileage Ford trucks, which can cause problems with gears slipping while the transmission is shifting as well as torque converter clutch application. In some cases, a valve can stick open which can cause an F-150 truck to skip over a gear, or to freewheel into neutral. If the driver begins to notice the problem early on, measures can be taken to correct these shifting problems and prevent other issues in the future. The best approach is to repair the valve body, as opposed to replacing it. The recommended repair service for these problems includes replacing the shift valves and line pressure boost valves with upgraded components made by companies such as Sonnax. The Sonnax replacement transmission components are made from materials specifically designed for the 4R100 to alleviate these shifting issues. These components can be replaced without removing the transmission from the Ford F-150 truck and the work can usually be done within a couple of hours. During the repair service, the transmission fluid is replaced as well.

4R100 Transmission Pulling Off Slowly or in a Higher Gear from a Stop

A Ford F-150 Truck with a 4R100 transmission may experience a problem where it appears to be starting off slowly or pulling off in a higher gear. This may be especially noticeable on steep inclines that are common in Maryland. When the transmission is scanned, the codes that come up maybe P0715, which is an insufficient input from the transmission speed sensor (TSS). There may also be a P0717 code, which is defined as an intermittent signal from the transmission speed sensor. This problem may be caused by a sticking solenoid regulator valve in the main control valve body. If this regulator valve sticks open, the fluid pressure that goes to the solenoid pack is cut off. When the shift selector is in the drive "D" position, this loss of pressure will force the transmission to take off in fourth gear.

The most likely cause is that the solenoid regulator valve is stuck with debris, which can be cleaned to free up the valve. This problem is often misdiagnosed as being a faulty solenoid pack, so it is advised to always check the regulator valve before replacing the solenoid pack. If there is no metal in the transmission pan, then this would probably be the way to go. If this valve cannot be unstuck, then the valve body may need to be replaced.

Torque Converter for Ford F-150, F-250 and F-350 Trucks in Maryland

Ford truck torque converters are subject to considerable force and vibration, so choosing a heavy-duty torque converter is crucial. Different levels of torque converter modification are available, so internal components can be selected to match the performance level of a diesel or gasoline engine. Weight is also a consideration, as F-250 and F-350 are generally beefier than the F-150, and are often used to haul heavier loads. Ford Trucks in Maryland can operate in temperatures over 100 degrees in the Summer, and this can affect the amount of heat within a transmission. Maryland also has its share of steep roads, which can affect transmission operation when hauling heavy loads. Here are a number of upgrades to consider for a heavy-duty torque converter:

Billet Torque Converter Cover

All 4R100 and E4OD torque converters in Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks should be provided with billet steel front covers, and every performance converter you see will note the use of a billet cover. The front cover is the front side of the torque converter that sits against the engine's flywheel. The front cover has four or six studs on it, used to bolt it to the flywheel. The other side of the torque converter housing is called the pump and faces the transmission. Billet front covers are much stronger than the stamped steel parts that they replace. They are thicker in critical areas which helps to prevent ballooning of the converter. The material is not only stronger but also harder, so it is less prone to wear and tear in the places that are subject to it. A commonly worn area is where the outer converter clutch splines meet the cover on the inside, as shown here. A billet torque converter cover will prevent this from happening.

Ford Truck Torque Converter Stall Speed for Maryland

Here in Maryland, the terms tighter converter or looser converter are commonly used to describe the stall speed, but these terms can also describe the efficiency of the torque converter. Higher stall converters produce more heat than lower stall converters, so the stall speed RPM should be chosen carefully and according to the application. Hauling heavy loads in Maryland will require that the torque converter allow the engine to operate within the proper RPM range. While a lower stall converter is generally more efficient, it may drop the engine RPMs under the working powerband, which is undesirable. So when planning on towing, this needs to be considered. A good rule of thumb is to use your existing converter as a guide when choosing a new ford truck torque converter for use in Maryland or similar terrain.

Bearings To Replace Thrust Washers

Many standard thrust washers are made of special types of nylon, which are slippery enough to get the job done but can melt from excessive heat. Most of the heat within an automatic transmission originates from the torque converter. Where possible, it is always beneficial to replace thrust washers with bearings.

Triple Disc Lockup Clutch

The lock-up clutch inside the torque converter can come as a single or triple clutch configuration. In most cases, a triple disk converter can be used to replace a single disk converter, providing more holding power.

Fin Brazing

The strength of a torque converter can be increased by brazing the internal fins. Brazing is accomplished with much less heat than steel arc welding, which prevents the warping of steel components. Our Ford Powerstroke torque converters are typically hand brazed with the rod, which is much more reliable than furnace brazing.

Heavy Duty Transmissions for Ford Diesel Trucks 4R100

There are a number of transmission parts that can be upgraded within a Ford truck transmission to increase its performance and durability. Heavy-duty hardened internal transmission parts include the Input Shaft, Intermediate Shaft, Output Shaft, Billet Overdrive Planetary Gear Housing, and Billet Forward Clutch Drum. A Heavy Duty or High-Performance torque converter is the most common upgrade for 4R100 and E4OD Ford truck transmissions and is always included with our units. Ford trucks with a turbocharged Powerstroke diesel engine typically produce over 500 ft-lbs of torque, while modified Power Stroke engines typically produce 700 to 800 ft-lbs of torque. High amounts of torque can exceed the design limits of internal parts such as the input shaft, intermediate shaft, and output shaft. Excessive torque can also break the overdrive planetary gear housing and shear out the splines on the forward clutch drum.

Ford Explorer, Lincoln LS, and Mercury Mountaineer Transmission Service and Repair

Today, these 5-speed transmissions are most widely used in the Ford Explorer as well as the Mercury Mountaineer. We also see some Lincolns and Jaguars that use this transmission type. The unit has many different variations known by the following designations: 5R55-E, 5R55-W, 5R55-N, and 5R55-S. Throughout many years this transmission has disappointed car, truck, and SUV owners with its poor reliability and expensive repair bills. These automatic transmissions are known to have mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical problems that vary among the different models.

Ford Explorer Automatic Transmission Problems

Ford started producing the A4LD in 1985. It was essentially an overdrive version of the C3 transmission, which was produced in the 1970s for smaller vehicles such as the Pinto. In 1995, Ford began producing electronic versions of this transmission, which we see variations of today. These models are relatively smaller and lighter than the other rear-wheel drive and 4WD car and SUV transmissions that Ford produces, limiting their torque handling capability. This issue has been a problem for owners and often causes premature transmission failure, especially in the heavier Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers with 4WD and larger 4.0 and 4.6L liter engines as the transmissions were not ideally designed for these heavier units. Ford has made changes over the years including increasing the number of pinion gears in the planetary carriers. Later carriers were also strengthened by upgrading from aluminum to steel.

Ford has made numerous changes to this transmission over the past 20 years. In 1995, the transmission was redesigned and became electronically controlled, bringing new diagnostic issues. In 1997, another ratio was added between the existing 1st and 2nd gears, creating a 5 speed. There are 4 major variations of this transmission, each having multiple issues. These problems are addressed by using upgrades from companies such as Sonnax and TransGo.

Here are some fundamental problems that exist and the upgrades we use to correct them. Many transmission malfunctions are due to wear in the hydraulic mechanisms of the transmission; they include the valve body, the canister valve in the pump (not the pump itself), and the overdrive and intermediate servo pin bores in the case. For more information about bore wear, click here.

Wear of Valve in the Ford Explorer Transmission Pump

The pump flow control valve is located in the front transmission pump and wears out at a fairly predictable rate. The valve in heavier Explorer trucks may fail a little sooner than it would in a Jaguar. Replacement valves are made by a number of companies, which use a harder grade of steel, significantly reducing the rate of wear. We use an upgraded pump flow control valve made by Sonnax, which should outlast the lifespan of the vehicle.

Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute Automatic Transmissions

The Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute both utilize the CD4E automatic transmission. The CD4E is also used in the Ford Contour and Mazda 626. These transmissions have a number of issues including loss of forward, no second gear, no third gear, and torque converter clutch failure. All of these failures stem from problems within the valve body, which is the control mechanism within the transmission.

Broken Ford Escape Input Drum Assembly

A loss of forwarding motion is generally caused by a broken input drum assembly. The vehicle may or may not still move if the shifter is placed in the low gear position. This failure occurs when a malfunction of the pressure control circuit causes a severe spike in operating pressure. This excessive pressure stresses the drum, causing it to fail. A pressure spike can also break the band, causing loss of the second and fourth gear. To correct problems within the valve body, we install a TransGo upgrade package. This kit tackles the problem from two directions. It upgrades the pressure control system, reducing the likelihood of a pressure spike. It also includes a failsafe valve which bleeds off excess pressure should a pressure spike occur. That way, no pressure spike will damage the band.

Torque Converter Problems on Ford Escape Transmissions

Torque converter clutch problems are caused by excessive bore wear within the transmission valve body on the Ford Escape. Early signs of a torque converter clutch malfunction are the illumination of warning lights and a noticeable drop in fuel economy, especially on the highway. Installing upgraded valves manufactured by Sonnax will permanently correct the valve body problems. If torque converter clutch problems are addressed early on, proper transmission function can be restored without replacing the torque converter or removing the transmission.

High Line Pressure Breaks the Transmission Band on Ford Escape

The CD4E transmission frequently exhibits such symptoms as lube failure, harsh shifts, and solenoid line pressure instability. Wear of the pressure regulator balance circuit creates high line pressure. High line pressure can result in a broken clutch drum, causing no forward movement, and can also break the transmission band, causing no second or fourth gear. High line pressure positions the valve in such a way that it reduces the flow into the converter/cooler circuits. If the vehicle goes into failsafe, the lube circuit can be shut off completely on the OEM design valve. The OEM converter regulator valve shuts off cooler/converter flow at 90 to 100 PSI. Sonnax offers a pressure regulator valve kit, with a converter regulator valve and PR valve that work together to limit converter pressure, ensuring continuous flow during a failsafe condition.

Ford Freestar and Ford Taurus Transmission Failure

The Ford Freestar and Windstar share the same automatic transmission as the Taurus and its cousins, the Sable and Continental, which suffer the same problems with failure. The worn shafts in this photo are from these transmissions, and the damage is caused by a poorly designed pump shaft bearing, which the shaft rides inside. We install an upgraded bearing that alleviates this problem. Another issue is worn boost valves for mainline pressure and torque converter clutch application. Earlier problems with these vehicles were a cracked aluminum forward clutch piston, but that was corrected back in 1995 using an upgraded steel piston. Any information you see related to a cracked aluminum piston on newer Ford Windstar, Freestar and Taurus automatic transmissions is inaccurate.

Ford Cracked or Broken Transmission Cases

On many of these units, the final drive differential has a weak ring gear. Hard use can cause the differential carrier gears to create enough load to break the ring gear, which cracks the transmission case. This usually causes a lot of transmission fluid to leak out. Running the vehicle low on transmission fluid can cause catastrophic damage to the transmission. Heavier cars or minivans such as the Windstar and Freestar appear to suffer from a broken transmission case more often than lighter vehicles like the Ford Taurus as a result of the added weight on the transmission.

Transmission Slipping Gear Shifts Caused by Worn Pressure Boost Valves

While transmission slipping is often blamed on the pressure control solenoid, the culprit is usually a worn mainline pressure boost valve. This valve controls pressure within the main transmission hydraulic circuits, so all gear shifts can be adversely affected. The valve piston is cylindrically shaped and is designed to fit snugly within an aluminum sleeve. Because the pressure valve is fairly short relative to its height, it's leading and trailing edges tend to wear out the sleeve. The height to length ratio, known as aspect ratio, has a directly proportional impact on the rate of wear between the valve plunger and the sleeve. Assuming the height remains constant, the shorter the valve, the faster it wears out.

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