News: Doug's Tech Tips: Super Duty Automatic Transmissions  
 

 

 
 

An automatic transmission is designed to burn up from the moment you first start it up. The question is how long it’s gonna last and where is it gonna pop. Most of the time, it’s on the side of a mountain…with your family in the truck…your house in tow…and just outta cell phone range.

We offer products that will improve how your transmission shifts, this in turn will prolong its life. These modifications include a TransGo Shift Kit, torque converter lock up kit, an auxiliary transmission cooler, a Mag-Hytec transmission pan, and synthetic transmission fluid.

The long soft shifts from the factory make for a cushy ride and are a good way to sell trucks, but in reality they do more harm than good. The longer the shift takes, the longer the clutches are slipping This creates heat and wears the clutches faster. A shift kit improves the shifts by making them faster and firmer. This allows the clutches to engage faster and reduces wear and heat buildup.  Shift kits also improve lubrication. This puts more lube oil where it’s needed most, again reducing heat and wear. A converter lockup kit is a shift kit for the torque converter. It works along with the shift kit to convert the “Pulsed Type” lockup to an “On-Off Type” lockup. From the factory the torque converter ramps up to full lockup, with periods of slippage in between. The lockup kit gets rid of this slippage by simply turning the converter on at a certain point and eliminating heat from slippage. Remember that the converter produces 80% of all the heat a transmission makes, this kit greatly reduces that.

The proper way to install these shift kit components is to remove the transmission from the truck and make the required modifications to the front pump. The shift kit itself has components for the pump while the T/C lockup kit is a special set of valves that install into the pump (hence, it’s installed along with a shift kit). Without pulling the tranny and properly installing these components, you can’t get the whole benefit.

Most of the time a shift kit and torque converter lockup kit is not enough. The fluid may still get too hot and lead to premature transmission failure. For this, we recommend our auxiliary transmission coolers. These coolers go inline with the factory cooler and mount behind the grill. They are plumbed to get the hottest fluid from the tranny first, then finish the job in the factory cooler. In any heat exchange system, the hottest fluid should go to the coolest cooler first. The higher the temperature differential (Delta P), the better the heat exchanger. These coolers work great for everyday driving as well as heavy hauling.

After we have performed these modifications we refill the transmission with synthetic fluid, which dissipates heat better and doesn’t break down like organic fluid. This fluid is more expensive than organic, but it will allow the transmission to run cooler and last longer. Even with all these modifications we sometimes need to add more fluid capacity, which gives the transmission a larger volume of fluid to dissipate the heat in. We recommend Mag-Hytec transmission pans. They are CNC machined from high strength cast aluminum and hold an additional 8 quarts of fluid. They have a magnetic drain plug and fins for additional strength and cooling.

All this may seem like a lot to add to a “perfectly good” factory transmission, but in the long run these modifications will keep you on the road and give you piece of mind.