Converter for an overheating trans

Don’t blame the converter for an overheating trans

Many torque converters hit the
warranty scrap pile do to an unjustified short life. Torque converter failure due to heat can almost always be a result of improper towing or driving techniques.

This summer is expected to be no exception. Many rebuilders will be asked to replace the converter under warranty due to heat failure. In reality this is not true.

For instance, any vehicle equipped with an AXOD or AX4N torque converter towing more than a 2000 pound load must be driven in third gear. Many people choose to drive in overdrive, which is improper and can harm the converter.

According to Ford motor company, this transmission can overheat the overdrive planetary gear set and/or the torque converter causing a catastrophic failure. This is an instance when you may be asked to replace the converter under warranty when in fact the vehicle was not driven properly.

This same scenario applies to many light-duty passenger cars and smaller SUVs. If this should happen out of town in another rebuild facility, ask if the people are towing or loaded beyond normal capacity. You may save yourself the cost of paying for a rebuilt transmission and converter.

Many modern overdrive, automatic transmissions use combinations of clutch applications and torque converter lock-up function to achieve multiple gear ratios. This constant search for on and off applications can create severe heat under towing conditions.

Many front wheel drive Chrysler minivans are equipped with large 3.8 liter engines, reaching weight levels of over 4000 pounds, with cooling capacities restricted and ATF reservoir reduced in size to save space and weight. These type of vehicles have evolved from 2.0 liter engines with three speed transmissions and vehicle weight of barely 3000 pounds into the mammoth size they are today. Little consideration has gone into cooling capacity. Chrysler has increased the specification for its ATF by switching to the commonly called 9602 fluid. This is a synthetic type fluid and should be used as replacement fluid after rebuild. By using a lesser certified ATF and merely adding any additive alone is inadequate.

One more item that should be considered: Transmission thrust capacity is usually one third more than the vehicle is rated for. If you tow a 10,000 pound trailer behind any light or medium sized truck or SUV, a torque converter built for towing must be installed. If you are not familiar with rebuilding a converter to these standards, call one of the TCRA board members, and they would be glad to instruct you.

Not only can you sell this converter for a higher profit, but also your return rate lower and customer satisfaction will increase.

To avoid having warranty issues involving overheating misuse, be sure to investigate how the owner of the vehicle intends to drive it. If towing is found to be a common use for the vehicle, be sure to explain to the customer the difference and cost savings he will experience by purchasing and installing a converter to meet the needs of his activities.