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Its A4LD time again...


e21pilot

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It was just six years and 10K miles ago that I bolted in a beefed up A4LD transmission into my '92 4.0 2WD extended cab ranger. It worked fine up until this weekend when it started slipping out of OD when on the freeway. My local shop took off the pan and found a lot of clutch material in the tray and concluded I needed a rebuilt to replace all the clutch packs.

I have to say that I have towed a lot in those 10K miles and heavy at times but that is what I use the Ranger for and I am well pleased with it. Some have suggested I step up to a full-size 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck but the smaller Ranger has been a real benefit numerous times and I want to stick with it.

I am looking into putting another heayy-duty A4LD in to get my truck back on the road quickly but I wonder if there are any really heavy/extreme duty clutch packs out there that I could go with this time since I now know that the real wear point is the clutch packs, especially on 3rd gear for the way I tow (I'm mostly in "D" instead of "OD"). I already have two transmission coolers on the front of the radiator and a deep aluminum pan to help with cooling. I wonder if there is anything else I can do like maybe a better trans fluid, to make the clutches last longer given all the towing I do.

Thanks!
 


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e21pilot

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...been doing some interesting research on the A4LD and improvements that can be made. Using 5R55E internals sounds really interesting. Is there a shop out there that offers this kind of upgrade? Also, I have read the external manual lockup switches can help to cool these transmissions and get some longer life out of them. Is there a kit or schematic available for the A4LD to make up one these?
 

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That is absurd that it only lasted 10k.... how much weight are you hauling in that trailer? What gears do you have in the rear end? I'm assuming stock size tires?

With the upgrades you did last time, it should have lived a long and happy life. IMO either something went wrong with the rebuild or you're grossly overloaded (and I suspect not if you're happy with how it towed.) I have gone way over the tow/haul ratings for my Ranger pickups on occasion and it was pretty sketchy.
 

e21pilot

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I should have included more details in my original post. I am pulling a custom made dump trailer made from a 1990 extended cab Ranger frame with a 1989 Ranger 7' bed. With the added hydraulics, scissor hinge and the beefed up frame, it is around 1000 lbs, + payloads like a full yard of aggregate (2000 lbs) or rebar, steel etc (3000 lbs) gives a total of around +/- 4000lbs of trailer weight. I never have much in the truck when towing so we can assume the truck weight of +3000lbs for the extended cab. I believe this is on the heavy side of towing but still within the capacity of a 4.0 V6 automatic Ranger with a 3.23 rear ratio.

People have suggested my real issue may be one of cooling. I have two 1994 Explorer transmission coolers in series in front of my stock radiator and I connected them up to the output of the trans cooling line that runs though the radiator so I am using all three to cool. The v6 generally runs pretty cool although I have been told I should invest in a transmission temp gauge so I can really see what the transmission temperature is. I also installed a deep dish aluminum transmission pan to help with the cooling.

The evidence is suggesting that the 3rd gear (Drive position) clutches wore out before anything else because of either heat, weight or poor quality clutches or some combination thereof. I always tow in Drive so there could be some truth here.

I really want to find a path to a better transmission so I can get more use out of my Ranger.

In all the reading I have done, the combination of the manual lock up switch with a transmission temp gauge sounds like a really good idea to help keep trans temps low in real time. Is there a circuit diagram still out there for a good solution to this.

The idea of the internal 5R55E hard parts is also appealing but so far I have not found a single transmission rebuilder in my area that will put one together like this. This would be a fun project but I don't have that kind of time to do it myself.
 

sheep herder

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Lower gears in the rear end would take some of the stress off the transmission. I can't imagine pulling that much weight with 3.23's.

Also, doesn't the 4.0 OHV and the 4.0 SOHC have the same bolt pattern for the trans? Replace the A4LD with a 5R55E instead of rebuilding.
 

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You might be able to use 4R/5R55E but with an A4LD valve body, so you don't need to use newer computer, not sure if thats even possible

Heat is the issue, but might not be from a lack of external cooling
If clutches are slipping they get hot and wear out faster, could have been a valve body issue allowing 3rd to slip a bit
 

sheep herder

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I didn't think about the computer until after I posted that.
 

e21pilot

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Yes, I believe the computer is really the issue. Sticking with the stock computer pretty much means sticking with the A4LD solenoid setup and valve body.

I wonder what 5R55E hard parts/clutch packs etc. could go into my A4LD to benefit the towing capacity but still work fine as a 4-speed transmission.
 

e21pilot

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Been calling around some of the local transmission shops to find out if they have any solutions. Most of them say the whole lineage of C3-A4LD-5R55E were not a good design and known to fail in heavy duty applications. They think my real issue is cooling. I am going to research more into how I can improve the transmission cooling capacity. Some have suggested I could improve things by getting a very large single transmission cooler in front of the radiator hooked up in parallel (not series like I have now) with the radiator oil cooler lines along with a thermostat located on the output line going to the radiator and near the transmission to get the hottest reading.

I still like the idea of using 4R55E/5R55E internals if I can find someone who can build one of these.
 

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e21pilot

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Update: I have found a builder that will integrate some of the 4R44E hard parts into my older A4LD along with shift kit and better band upgrades which sound pretty good to me. The manual lock up switch for the torque converter idea has got me thinking. I am wondering if the stock transmission will lock up the torque converter on its own in Drive at a certain speed or just OD? I do most of my towing in Drive and would consider this mod if the transmission is not already locking up in Drive on its own -- again at a certain speed.
 

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It will lock in 3rd I think I read 35-40mph and based on throttle position as well
 

e21pilot

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That is interesting. I guess I have to get the voltmeter out and monitor the wire that goes to the lockup solenoid to know for sure. I think there are 3 wires and a ground in the transmission connector. Does anyone know which color wire is used for the TC lockup solenoid on a 92 Ranger?
 

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A4LD 3 wire connector
Red = 12v key on
Purple/yellow = TCC
Orange/yellow = 3/4
 


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