A Case of Mistaken Identity - Transmission Digest

A Case of Mistaken Identity

The recent JATCO five-speed automatic transaxle shown in Figure 1 can be found in a variety of vehicles. In the Mazda6 and MPV it is known as the JA5A-EL; in the Jaguar X type it is known as the JF506E; in the VW Golf, GTI and Jetta it is known as the 09A; and in the Land Rover Freelander it is called the JF506E as in Jaguar vehicles.
A Case of Mistaken Identity

Technically Speaking

Author: Wayne Colonna, Technical Editor

Filler tube on JATCO five-speed proves to be somewhat elusive

Technically Speaking

  • Author: Wayne Colonna, Technical Editor

Filler tube on JATCO five-speed proves to be somewhat elusive

The recent JATCO five-speed automatic transaxle shown in Figure 1 can be found in a variety of vehicles. In the Mazda6 and MPV it is known as the JA5A-EL; in the Jaguar X type it is known as the JF506E; in the VW Golf, GTI and Jetta it is known as the 09A; and in the Land Rover Freelander it is called the JF506E as in Jaguar vehicles.

When you remove the back cover of this transmission, you will see a familiar fluid-level check pipe (figures 2 and 3). To fill the transmission, you remove the plug at the bottom of the case (see figures 4 and 5) and add fluid until it overflows the check pipe.

Since this unit is new to many, the technician installing the transmission begins to look for the fill plug and spots a large bolt on the side of the case that presents itself as the most-likely candidate for the job (see figures 6 and 7).

After filling the unit, the technician starts the car and does a road test. He immediately discovers that there is no reverse. Forward is not so good, either. When the transmission is removed and completely disassembled, the only band in the transmission – called the reduction band – is out of place and inoperable (see Figure 8). The builder may think he missed the band anchor and fixes the problem without mentioning anything to the technician who installed the transmission. As a result, the technician repeats the process of filling the transmission with fluid, and the no-reverse condition occurs again.

The bolt that appears to be a fill plug is actually the anchor stud for the reduction band (see figures 9 and 10). The proper fill location, on top of the pan, goes unnoticed because it looks like a vent (see Figure 11). The fill tube in Figure 11 is on the Freelander unit. VW and Jaguar units have the short fill tube off the left side of the pan. The tube on the Jaguars looks more like a fill pipe than a vent, as it is slightly longer and has a bend. The Mazda unit has an actual filler tube and dipstick (would it be proper to say Ford/Mazda has a better idea?).

There is one other transmission in use that also experiences a case of mistaken identity, and that is the AW55-50 or AF23/33-5 transmission used in Volvo and Saturn vehicles. Figure 12 shows a bolt that looks like a fill plug on top of the transmission. Pull this plug to fill the unit and you set free the third band. And you will not be singing the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Free Band” – or was that “Free Bird”? Another case of mistaken identity, I guess.

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