Getting (and Staying) Connected - Transmission Digest

Getting (and Staying) Connected

Being the technical director for the valve-body and solenoid department, I’ve seen more than my share of errors and mistakes that people have made while working with automatic transmissions. The majority involve electrical components, most of them involving the connectors in some way. Often damage to a connector is done during the disconnection process. We’ve all been told not to wiggle a connector to get it off because it can expand the pin cavities in the connector and cause the pins to have poor or no connection when the connector is plugged back in; for example, in Chrysler 604s.

Getting (and Staying) Connected

R&R Tech

Subject: Problems caused by electrical connectors
Units: 604, E4OD, 4R100, 42LE, 45RFE, 545RFE, 68RFE
Vehicle Application: Chrysler, Ford models
Essential Reading: Diagnostician, R & R
Author: Ron Clark

R&R Tech

  • Subject: Problems caused by electrical connectors
  • Units: 604, E4OD, 4R100, 42LE, 45RFE, 545RFE, 68RFE
  • Vehicle Application: Chrysler, Ford models
  • Essential Reading: Diagnostician, R & R
  • Author: Ron Clark

Being the technical director for the valve-body and solenoid department, I’ve seen more than my share of errors and mistakes that people have made while working with automatic transmissions. The majority involve electrical components, most of them involving the connectors in some way. Often damage to a connector is done during the disconnection process. We’ve all been told not to wiggle a connector to get it off because it can expand the pin cavities in the connector and cause the pins to have poor or no connection when the connector is plugged back in; for example, in Chrysler 604s.

Also, connectors can have special problems we need to watch out for, such as inserts that may come loose from the solenoid block and stay in the harness connector, as in the early E4OD (Figure 1).

In the later E4OD and the 4R100, Ford just reversed the problem so that now part of the harness connector may stick in the solenoid block (Figure 2). Miss either one of these and you may not be able to connect the harness to the block, or the connector won’t have a weather seal and corrosion can quickly set in and cause serious problems.

The 42LE connector also has an issue with wires flexing and breaking. You’ll need to peel back the insulation to see this headache causer; Figure 3 shows you where to look.

These are just a few examples. There is one, however, that if you’re not careful will cause a lot of trouble. That’s the harness connector used on the 45RFE, 545RFE and 68RFE. This connector makes you release two locks before you can move down the lever that holds the connector on.

The first one is red and is fairly easy to see; the second is black like the connector itself, and if you don’t know it’s there you will break it off trying to force the holding lever down. If the lock is broken off and you try to reconnect without it, the connector won’t stay down and you soon have a condition like that in Figure 4 and lots of DTCs stored in the computer.

Figure 5 shows a connector with the lock broken off; Figure 6 shows how it should look.

Figure 7 illustrates the first lock. It’s the red one and it gets pushed down; it holds the second lock in place and you can’t release the second lock until the red one is out of the way.

Figure 8 shows you the second lock. With the red lock out of the way you can push this lock in and it will release the holding lever (Figure 9).

Now simply rotate the holding lever down and it will lift itself part way off the solenoid block (Figure 10).

If that lock is ever broken off you will need to devise a way to hold the lever securely up in place and the connector down tight to the solenoid block. If you look inside the connector you will see the weather seal; this has to fit snugly on top of the block connector.

To reconnect, push the connector down until the lever engages the ears on the side of the solenoid block. Rotate the lever all the way up until it snaps into the lock; this will pull the connector down.
Now push the red lock back up and you’re finished.

Ron Clark is technical director for the valve-body and solenoid department at Certified Transmission.

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