Whether you are searching through a core pile or looking for a specific part to complete a rebuild, sorting out the various identifying features of Ford E4OD, 4R100 and 5R110W converters can drive you crazy. A six-stud version of each converter that happens to have the same K factor (impeller blade angle) will look almost identical. If you have not educated yourself on the subtle contour differences where the impellers mate to the impeller hubs, or cannot recognize the 0.200″ difference in the relationship of the pilot to mounting pad difference in the 5R110W compared to the E4OD and 4R100, you can become easily frustrated. The following are part-by-part differences, as well as some hints for identifying each one.
Case in point is a 1992 Ford Bronco (Figure 1) with a 5.8-liter engine and E4OD transmission. The vehicle came to our shop with shifting issues. The owner said he was driving along and all of a sudden it shifted down and then slammed back into gear, and then a short time later it shifted down again but this time would not upshift. He thought it was stuck in low, although it did not act up on the way to our shop that morning. The owner had recently bought this vehicle with some known issues. There was a rear-ABS lamp on and the Check Engine lamp was not on.
This all started with my looking at multiple converter failures caused by the converter bolts damaging the backs on Toyota A245E/A246E transmissions used with the 1.8-liter engine. We also see this in other Toyota applications, maybe more so than with other vehicle manufacturers.
My intentions were to order some factory bolts to get the proper dimensions and possibly send these reman units out with new bolts, either OE or an economical replacement bolt. I was hoping this would eliminate any confusion for the R&R technician as to which bolts were the proper ones to go into the converter, hence eliminating unwanted warranty repairs.
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.
We had a 1995 Ford Super Duty with a 7.3-liter diesel engine and E4OD transmission that had no trouble codes but appeared to be going in and out of TCC lockup at steady cruise speed. If you accelerated hard when this was going on the TCC would engage properly until you came back to cruising speed and there was no more load on the engine. This was a commercial truck that had a heavy air compressor in the back and was always towing a big trailer, so the problem was very noticeable as the truck was being driven.
Converter shops around the country are seeing an increase in complaints about the late-model 5R55N/S/W converters; more specifically, the noise they make. These noises are described as a clattering sound, often compared with the sound made by the early E4OD multi-clutch converters. The sounds seem to be made by metal-to-metal contact, and all disappear when the TCC is applied.
The 4R100 has come by its flow problems honestly. It has inherited them from the E4OD.
As if the transmission industry weren’t difficult already, technicians also have to contend with new or remanufactured products that malfunction right out of the box.
Remember, earlier in the article I mentioned that this was a fleet vehicle. You know what happens with fleet vehicles; they borrow good working components from one vehicle and put it in the vehicle that’s not working. Now, maybe the fleet mechanic had every intention of replacing the borrowed part, but it never happened. It was forgotten, and the fleet mechanic on a different shift ran into the transmission stuck in 4th gear and sent it to this transmission shop.
Believe it or not, the cause of all of this was a faulty signal switch, or what Ford calls a multi-function switch. Replacing the switch solved all the complaints.
If you were involved in the transmission industry when the E4OD transmissions began coming to local shops, you probably experienced the nightmare of cracked converter clutches. The primitive code-retrieval methods on the early transmissions were usually little help in finding the root cause of the problem. The aftermarket converter rebuilders recognized the cracks in the converter clutches early on. Some made vain attempts at welding the cracked converter clutches, while most others recommended a factory replacement converter.