The most durable Ford transmission made from 1999 to 2004 was called the 4R100. It proceeded the venerable E4OD (Electronic 4 speed Over Drive), built from 1989 to 1998. And was proceeded by the 5R100 in 2005. Available today in our remanufactured transmission line.
The basis for upgrading the E4OD in 1999 was mostly because Ford redesigned the transmission for fully computerized vehicles. Not that the E40D was non computerized, in fact it was very electronically advanced and made full use of computerization. Along with updating the electronic control system for more reliable performance, a bevy of internal changes were made too.
With a growing body of owners and rebuilders agreeing on whether this transmission was really any better than its predecessor for various reasons. Some of the issues brought up by owners, were the same issues rebuilders had, viewed from a different angle. The owners of said transmissions knew that certain problems continued to occur, which put them in the market for a replacement transmission. Preferably one that was ‘beefed up’.
Transmission rebuilders were faced with semi-new methods of manufacturing certain parts and how to improve the durability at a reasonable price. Simply put, the new methods of manufacturing some of the internal parts of a 4R100 were in essence cheapening up the unit. For instance, the clutch drums were now made out of a relatively thin stamped steel, as opposed to the big thick heavy cast iron drums made for the E4OD transmission, stemming from the legendary C-6 transmission. Considering the entire overdrive section was redesigned using the new methods of manufacture, the O.D parts were then not interchangeable with an E4OD now.
The basic problem with stamped steel components come from running a transmission to hot, which was common for F-450 truck owners, especially the commercial trucks. When one of these units had an overheating related failure, the heat literally warps, distorts and can remove the temper from the metal, making them usless or risky to reuse. Obviously making the cost of a rebuilt transmission more.
Good comes out of bad. Research and development company’s developed reliable, strength building update kits, which solved the early burn-up problems, which caused overheating of the transmission and therefore clutch drum replacement issues. The actual parts were not upgraded. However, by eliminating the inherent soft, sloppy shifts, the slippage and heat buildup were reduced, which in turn lowered the amount of failed transmissions.
During my 25 years as a transmission shop owner, one of the most effective tools or upgrades for the E4OD and 4R100 transmissions was to install an auxiliary transmission cooler. The cooler, along with the proper updates produced on heck of a durable, reliable transmission. Obviously using the premium grade clutch plates and internal rubber seals is an unspoken truth for any transmission remanufacturing or quality transmission supply company.
Perhaps the most important touch, which comes last, is to use a fully synthetic transmission fluid, designated, Mercon V. It is specifically made to take the heat, along with the proper additives increase the life span to it’s maximum, which can be 200,000 miles or more. Assuming you follow correct maintenance, on time using the fluid described above.
Should you be on the look-out for a rebuilt transmission like a 4R100, make sure you understand what you need to buy. Educated consumers make better decisions and rarely get ripped off..