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Old August 26th, 2007, 09:30 PM   #15
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Some helpful info I've saved from way back when....can't remember where I got it from though - most the good stuff is at the end

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A4LD - Automatic Transmission

The A4LD four speed overdrive transmission was introduced in the 1985 Bronco II/Ranger and saw use behind many 4 and 6 cylinder engines until the 1995 model year when it was replaced by the 4R44E and 4R55E electronic transmissions.

The A4LD was the first Ford transmission to use an EEC-controlled torque converter lock-up clutch and later became the first to use electronic shift control (via a 3-4 shift solenoid). The French-built A4LD was created by adding overdrive to the front of the C-3 three-speed unit. The A4ld has a 2.47 first gear and a 0.75 overdrive.

For 1995, the 4R44E (4 cyl. - light-duty) and 4R55E (6 cyl. - heavy-duty; i.e. Explorer) electronically controlled transmission replaced the A4LD. It is mechanically identical to the A4LD.

These four and five-speed transmissions are used in four cylinder and V-6 applications (primarily the Ranger and Explorer). The A4LD was derived from the C-3 three-speed automatic transmission by placing a two-speed overdrive unit in front of the original three-speed workings. As the names imply, the "E" transmissions are electronically controlled (similar to the AOD-E/4R70W transmissions), while the 5R55E is a five speed version currently used only with the SOHC 4.0L engine. The 4R44E is a light duty version of the electronic unit, similar to the old non-4.0L A4LD transmission.

The A4LD 4-speed, overdrive transmission has been used in the Ranger/Bronco II/Explorer platform since 1986. As most of the early overdrive auto trannies, the A4LD was not real reliable in the early years. The first major change came with the introduction of the 4.0 in 1990. While still an A4LD, the 4.0 version was significantly stronger than the non 4.0 versions. It also had a computer controlled torque converter lock-up. In 93.5 another major upgrade of this transmission occurred. In addition to the computer controlled lock-up, the transmission also got a computer controlled overdrive engagement. Internally, most of the thrust washers were replaced with torrington bearings, which made the tranny much stronger.

While the A4LD has gotten a bad rap, it is actually a good strong transmission. The newest version is still an A4LD, it just goes by another name due to the fact that it is completely computer controlled, and has a 5th gear.

There are modifications and upgrades available to this tranny. Better grade clutches and bands, better converters with improved lock-up clutches and brazed fins (stock converters were known for clutch failures, which takes out the entire trans), welded planetary cages, shift kits, and the ability to upgrade a non 4.0 tranny to 4.0 specs makes this tranny very versatile. At its strongest (off-road race application), these transmissions are holding up to V6's making in excess of 300hp. Once the engines get much higher than that (depends on usage) the main shafts will start bending.

One of the most interesting upgrades available for this transmission is the off-road race package. This includes numerous valve body and internal modifications. These modifications can be made by Doug Hamby of Dougs Transmissions only, due to the fact that they were developed between him and FMC. What this modification does for you, is give you an automatic with all of the advantages of a manual....... and none of the downfalls. Run in drive, you can split the 3 gears with overdrive, and you can lock-up the converter in any of the gears. This gives a much greater availability of ratios, and makes it real easy to keep the engine in its power curve. Also, because you can lock-up the converter whenever you wish, it also helps to keep the transmission cool. This mod also allows the transmission to be used completely manually.

When having an A4LD rebuilt, there are a couple of things that you need to make sure of. First and foremost, do not let a shop do a soft parts fix only (clutches, servos, and bands). This will almost ensure that you will have another repair needed right after the 1-year warranty is out. Other things you want to have replaced are: forward one-way clutch (always), overdrive drum (stamped tin, replace if out of round or heat damaged), pump (Ford only, rebuilds are prone to failure), and the converter (get the better converter with the improved lock-up clutch and brazed fins). Also, get references from the shop and call the people. Just because they can rebuild TH350's and C4's does not mean they know what they are doing with overdrive trannies.

One of the best things you can do for your auto tranny is get the largest, aftermarket, stacked plate cooler you can fit behind your grille. The factory cooler is marginal at best, due to its being tied in with your radiator. Remember, with that set-up, if you overheat your engine, you will overheat your tranny. Heat is the biggest enemy of the automatic transmission. Change your fluid and filter every year, or every 12-15,000 miles if used hard. Use ONLY the fluid recommended by Ford. Only use synthetic fluid if it is required by Ford. With proper maint., these transmissions should last well over 100,000 miles. - Gloria Roozen

More Notes

Best I can tell from ATSG manual, the changeover date for single to dual solenoid versions occured in mid '88.
The single solenoid originally on the trans 85-87 controls only the TC lockup function.
Later models had the 3-4 shift inhibit solenoid added in 88.
And I have both a 90 2.9 A4LD and a 93 Explorer A4LD here, both have the dual solenoid setup.


A4LD - Problems

Premature wear or a repeat failure of the converter hub, bellhousing bushing, converter seal and/or pump assembly may be caused by a broken or worn crank shaft pilot sleeve. Located between the flywheel and the crank-shaft, the pilot on the front of the converter is centered on the hole in the sleeve.

To avoid these come backs remove the flywheel and visually inspect the spacer on every 2.8, 2.9, and 4.0 engine that may be suspected of having this problem.


If the original bellhousing bushing is not worn, reuse it. Converter hub to bellhousing bushing clearance should be .002"-.003" Converter depth from the front of the pad to front of the bellhousing should be 1 5/8" to 1 3/4"

Seal Blow Outs

If you have repeated front seal blowouts on A4LD's it may not be a problem with the seal or the quality of your work. Your could have a bad bellhousing. The bushing used in the A4LD is finished in place. Because of this the bore that the bushing fits into doesn't need to be in the center of the bellhousing, and in many cases it isn't. When you're working on an A4LD you need to check the bellhousing bushing to see if it's the original factory bushing. If it is, and it's not worn (no more than .003") converter hub to bushing clearance), Don't Replace It! If the bushing needs to be replaced, you need to make sure the replacement bushing will fit in the center of the bellhousing. To do this bolt the torque converter to the flex plate. Turn the engine over and check the runout of the converter hub. Now bolt the bellhousing to the engine. If the Torque converter is contacting one side of the bushing excessively, the bushing is off center and the bellhousing MUST be replaced. However, a slight amount of contact is acceptable. By checking the bellhousing first you can avoid repeated front seal blowout.
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