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A4LD rebuild


chrisbronco2

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Hi folks,
Need to get my transmission rebuilt but want to check with y’all to see if a better, more reliable option is available or would fit a 1990 2.9 4WD. Not doing the 4.0 swap or other modifications, just want a dependable daily driver. Thanks!
 


lil_Blue_Ford

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So, personally, my opinion is that the A4LD gets a bad rap mostly from abuse and there are a few weak spots in the transmission. There’s a lot of upgrades from the later production A4LDs that resolve a lot of that and a good transmission builder should use those parts. Over on the Explorer forums they have a lot of information on it. So there’s a bunch of hard parts mods that can be done to beef it up.

Also, the bands need adjusted periodically, between 20 and 50k miles, I’d error on the lower side. They also prefer being cool, so extra auxiliary coolers in front of the radiator. My green Ranger doesn’t have an A4LD (or even the 5R55 anymore which was based off the A4LD), but I still modded and fit an F-150 cooler in there. The fluid should be changed along with the filter periodically as well.

The really important step is valve body work. I did a Transgo shift kit in my 92 and went almost full bore with everything (wish I would have gone all the way, but almost all the way proved good). There’s a few other things beyond the shift kit you can do and it was an impressive change. Even doing the purge procedure it took a week or two of driving it before it really started to smooth all the way out (there were hiccups early on), but once it smoothed out, it was amazing. Snappy, crisp shifts and getting on the throttle too hard from a stop would light up the back tires despite the limited slip rear (it would hook to the side so I know I was spinning both). That was impossible prior to the work. The crisp shifts instead of the sloppy, mushy shifts normally help reduce heat in the transmission because the sloppy shifts it’s essentially slipping and building heat.



 

chrisbronco2

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May 18, 2023
Messages
12
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Location
Houston, TX
Vehicle Year
1990
Make / Model
Ford Bronco II
Transmission
Automatic
So, personally, my opinion is that the A4LD gets a bad rap mostly from abuse and there are a few weak spots in the transmission. There’s a lot of upgrades from the later production A4LDs that resolve a lot of that and a good transmission builder should use those parts. Over on the Explorer forums they have a lot of information on it. So there’s a bunch of hard parts mods that can be done to beef it up.

Also, the bands need adjusted periodically, between 20 and 50k miles, I’d error on the lower side. They also prefer being cool, so extra auxiliary coolers in front of the radiator. My green Ranger doesn’t have an A4LD (or even the 5R55 anymore which was based off the A4LD), but I still modded and fit an F-150 cooler in there. The fluid should be changed along with the filter periodically as well.

The really important step is valve body work. I did a Transgo shift kit in my 92 and went almost full bore with everything (wish I would have gone all the way, but almost all the way proved good). There’s a few other things beyond the shift kit you can do and it was an impressive change. Even doing the purge procedure it took a week or two of driving it before it really started to smooth all the way out (there were hiccups early on), but once it smoothed out, it was amazing. Snappy, crisp shifts and getting on the throttle too hard from a stop would light up the back tires despite the limited slip rear (it would hook to the side so I know I was spinning both). That was impossible prior to the work. The crisp shifts instead of the sloppy, mushy shifts normally help reduce heat in the transmission because the sloppy shifts it’s essentially slipping and building heat.



So if I was to make a checklist of, say, the 4 or 5 most important things to make sure my transmission guy does during the job, what items would be on that list for sure?
 

RonD

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New pump
New sprags(one-way clutches)
New OD drum

Rebuilds usually just include new clutches and bands and cleaned/rebuilt valve body with new gaskets
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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So if I was to make a checklist of, say, the 4 or 5 most important things to make sure my transmission guy does during the job, what items would be on that list for sure?
New pump
New sprags(one-way clutches)
New OD drum

Rebuilds usually just include new clutches and bands and cleaned/rebuilt valve body with new gaskets
^^ That. I’ll also say at minimum to do the Transgo shift kit in the valve body as well (it’s like $30-50 for the kit). If you really want to go full bore, then do all of the suggested valve body mods.
 

chrisbronco2

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Location
Houston, TX
Vehicle Year
1990
Make / Model
Ford Bronco II
Transmission
Automatic
So the oil pan gasket needs to be replaced during the rebuild and the shop is telling me that since the transmission is out, they're going to charge me 1/2 the labor, 3.5 hours instead of 7 hours. Is 3.5 hours accurate for the oil pan? Seems like a lot since the transmission is already out.

Separately, they charged me for the labor to remove & replace, disassemble & diagnose but told me that price would go toward the rebuild. Then for the rebuild, in addition to parts, they're charging separate, albeit smaller, "rebuild labor". That seems like BS, but not sure if that's just typical pricing at a transmission shop.
 

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