The advantage of an Automatic Over Drive (AOD) transmission over the old C4/C6/FMX three-speeds are clear, you'll get lower engine rpms on the highway, therefore less engine wear, better fuel mileage, quieter cruising, higher top speed and a reasonable cruise RPM with 4.11 rear end.
Retrofitting the AOD is a relatively easy "Bolt On" swap to any 289,302,351 engine blocks, the Bellhousing will fit like the old transmission.
Choosing the Transmission
You will need of course an AOD transmission, you can use a used one from the late 85 and up to 93 cars that originally were equipped with an AOD, but this is always a risk when you don't know if that old AOD has 1 more mile to go before it dies or 50,000 more miles of good service, one major guideline was in my mind when I had to choose a used part over a new or remanufactured part, The new, high cost part will eventually will be worthwhile cause it will last longer, though the used part is cheaper, usually it is only on the short term.
If you decided to go and buy a used AOD make, at least make sure it is an 88 aod or later, the 1987 AOD had poor lubrication to the planetary gears, that problem fixed by the factory in the 1988 and later transmissions with a revised output shaft that provided extra lube to the gear- train, and it will be safer going with the 1989 because some early 1988 transmissions still have the older style output shaft.
As a daily driver I wanted a 200% transmission, adding the fact I leave out side of the USA and AOD's are a rear thing in Israel, and shipping a bad AOD back to an ebay seller can cost more than the new one, I decieded to buy the TCI's AOD.
The remanufactured AOD's from companies such as TCI, Performance Automatic, Lentech Automatic, B&M Automotive, Monster Transmission & Performance etc... were built to be durable enough for the every day driver and they can take street abuse from the guys that will drive their car to the strip every weekend... from the TCI StreetFighter transmission I bought (part no. 431000) you'll get a Fully remanufactured AOD using only updated 1988 - 1993 cores, firmer than stock shifting, better over drive band, manual/automatic valve body and more, you can read more about that TCI's AOD here:
TCI Auto: AOD StreetFighter® Transmission
When I got my AOD I was so happy I slept with it in the garage...
To complete the swap you will need the following parts:
1. Flex Plate - There must be no mistakes whene you choosing flexplate, it MUST BE the correct flexplate or you will damage your engine, usually erly engines like the 289/302/ have a 28-ounce balance weight, while later engines like the 5.0 require a 50-ounce weight, on my 68 I have the late modle 5.0 so I needed the 50 oz Flex Plate, you need to make sure you know what is your harmonic balacer balance weight and the Flex Plate must be same! Another thing need to be consider when you are choosing a flex plate, the late-model AOD transmission requires a larger-diameter flexplate than the early C4 so you nee to find the proper one that will fit your application, because I have the late modle 5.0 (50 oz Flex Plate and 164 tooth) and AOD, I bought this flex plate: B&M Flexplates: BMM-50238 - summitracing.com
Installed it on the engine:
2. Torque converter - You will have to use the AOD torque converter, it is always a good idea to use a new one, don't forget to fill the new torque converter with at least one, and preferably two, quarts of the correct-type Mercon fluid. If you forget to do this, you’ll have to take the whole job apart because the transmission won’t pump up. The TCI -432700 was my choice, it has a lockup to work with my TCI AOD, and it has a bit higher than stock stall speed for a little better lunches TCI Saturday Night Special Torque Converters: TCI-432700 - summitracing.com
you will have a better idea on how to select a the right stall speed for you after reading this article http://www.fordmuscle.com/archives/2000/09/converter/
3. Transmission Crossmember - you can not use your old transmission crossmember with the AOD, you'll have to buy it or fabricate it. I bought mine from Mustangs Plus for 139$ and it is comes with new mounting hardware, it is a nice piece made by Ron Morris ron morris performance
you can get it here: Mustangs Plus*::*Drivetrain*::*Transmission Mounts*::*1967-70 RMP AOD Crossmember
or any where you like.
4. Transmission Mount - You will have to use a C4 Mount, Don’t make the mistake of ordering an AOD mount because it won’t work! it is a good time to upgrade to a Polyurethane, it is Zinc plated and the Polyurethane is far more superior then rubber so it will do the job better and last much longer, I bought one from SummitRacing for 27$, definitely good investment - Prothane Transmission Mounts: PTP-6-1605 - summitracing.com
Here you can see how the new Crossmember is mounted with no problems at all, just a direct bolt on, with the C4 mount on top of it. You might need to modify your exhaust down pips because the AOD's are wider than the c4's but it is depending on your exhaust system, I was going to the exhaust shop to redone all the exhaust system front to back right after I installed the AOD so I wasnt to worried.
This is after the new, Wider Exhaust:
5. Transmission Cooler - most of us alredy know that heat can kill an automatic transmission, TCI wrote a very clear "life expectancy" you can read it here: TCI - TECHNICAL INFORMATION: Transmission Life Expectancy
In this case, Bigger is Better, so you need to choose the biggest Transmission Cooler you can install, I'm using the TCI-823800 (TCI Performance Transmission Coolers: TCI-823800 - summitracing.com
) in that chance I replaced the cooler lines to -6AN new lines, if you are not replacing the old lines, you should air blas tham to remove the old oil, you dont want the old dirty oil contaminating your new/used AOD and cooler.
The cooler should be mounted in a place that it will get a free flow of air and will not block the entire radiator.
If you want to be on the safe side, you should get a transmission Oil temp gauge like this one from auto meter Auto Meter Ultra-Lite Analog Gauges: ATM-4457 - summitracing.com
I notice a healthy oil temp, between 150F to 180F, after I installed the TCI deep pan, the temp went down about 20F so it is running now 130F-160F, though it is not cheap IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT! with the deep aluminum pan the transmission can bear more abuse and will last longer, so 150$ will be a good investment.
The TCI deep pan holds 2 more qt. and has cooling fins to dissipate heat faster, it includes the proper filter, new rail bolts and washers, drain plug and pan gasket, no modifications are necessary to the dipstick.
TCI highly recommends to change the oil and filter after the first 500 miles, so a good idea will be (if you have a new transmission) to install the transmission with the stock pan, drive the 500 miles and then change the pan the filter and the oil, I did my first oil & filter change after my first 500 miles and than another oil and filter change after another 1,000 miles (total 1,500 miles) when I replaced my pan, "better safe than sorry"....
TCI Aluminum Transmission Pans: TCI-438000 - summitracing.com
6. Drive Shaft - Most AOD transmission is 1 inch longer than the C4, driveshaft must be shortened by the same amount. This is a good opportunity to replace those worn U-joints and if you can, consider a new aluminum drive shaft, this is definitely on my list. you can use the "Inland" website to do the measurement
Inland Empire Driveline Service, Inc. - Driveshafts, Pinion and Transmission Yokes, Center Support Bearings
7. Dipstick - Maintain the proper fluid level is important and sometimes even critical, to do it you will need the correct Dipstick, Lokare makes a nice piece that will be easy installation and also looks good, they have a flexible and not flexible dipstick, choose what ever you like.
Lokar Hi-Tech Flexible Braided Stainless Transmission Dipsticks: LOK-TD-3AODFM - summitracing.com
8. Shifter - you can use the original c4 shifter, you will have to buy or fabricate a linkage that will alow the old shifter to work with the the AOD like this one - Mustangs Plus*::*Drivetrain*::*Automatic Shifter Parts*::*Performance Automatic AOD Shift Linkage
and you will have to make or buy the neutral safety/backup light harness, you can buy a complete one here:
Ron Morris Performance: AOD Neutral Safety Switch Harness
I think you'll better buy one of the after market shifters, you will have all the gears in the selector and you probably will not need the neutral safety/backup light harness because the after market shifters usually includs that, so it will be better, cheaper and easy to install.
I bought the TCI StreetFighter shifter
TCI StreetFighter Shifters: TCI-616443 - summitracing.com
It looks nice and not to flashy, it is reminding the classic one but more up-to-date.
As TCI say, "The shifter also feature a park/neutral safety switch along with a reverse light activation switch, 5 ft. of heavy-duty shift cables, and all of the hardware required for installation" are included so it is a complete package, it also has a "ratchet" mode to help you get a "no miss" shift, it is reminding the todays "tip-tronic" mode in the new cars.
Until now, I had the easy "dirty" job, now the part I think is more difficult is making the AOD shift and work properly.
Unlike the c4, that could work just fine without the kickdown cable, the AOD MUST HAVE A PROPERLY ADJUSTED KICKDOWN CABLE.
The AOD kickdown cable is better known as T.V cable (Throttle-Valve) it does the equivalent for an AOD that a vacuum modulator does with a C4, FMX, or C6 - this is what makes the transmission shift properly, without the AOD T.V cable or even with one installed but not adjusted correctly you will cause a premature clutch burn, severe transmission damage, and eventually you'll kill the AOD, it all can happen in only few miles of driving without the TV cable.
9. TV cable and Bracket - Lokar makes the AOD TV cable to work with carburetors, there are more brands that will make this T.V cable with carburetors but lokar was the easiest for me to get and they are all pretty much similar, you will also have to buy the Lokar Throttle Cable Bracket part No. LOK-SRK-4000.
From a first look the T.V cable and bracket looks like every thing else from lokar - nice and shiny, but I must say, I am VERY DISAPPOINTED FROM IT! Keep reading and you'll know why.
Installing the Cable:
The TV-Cable lever need to be installed onto threaded T.V. shaft in the
center of trans shift lever. (see the Green Circle in the following picture)
Than, take the T.V-Cable, and thread it through the hole in the lever. (See the Blue Arrow in the following picture)
Then through the cable housing and into the small trans bracket (see the Red Arrow)
Now bolt the small trans bracket to the transmission mounting boss (see Red Circle in the next picture) and route cable housing up to the engine bay.
10. Throttle Cable Bracket – The SKR-4000 bracket composed of tow pieces – the smaller one need to be installed at the back of the main bracket, lock it with the small screw supplied in the middle hole, if you are not going to use a throttle cable (gas pedal) it will be a good idea to lock the upper hole for extra strength.
Make sure all off your carburetor bolts/studs are tight, open the rear driver side bolt and install the Lokar SKR-4000 bracket on the stud, make sure the band (near the set screw) is parallel to carburetor base, and then tight the bolt so the bracket wont move, use the set screw to support the bracket, tighten the set screw until it touches the carburetor base and lock it with the lock nut.
On the carburetor throttle arm there is a hole (kickdown connector – see pic below), Install the T.V stud ("hex fitting") through that hole, slid the tier drop on the threaded side of the stud and lock it with nut supplied.
Install the throttle springs through the tear drop hole and the lowest hole (the one that is closer to the carburetor base) on the SKR-4000 bracket, I found the springs are little weak so I maid them shorter by 5mm.
11. Cable housing – Route the cable housing up to the kickdown adjuster, cut the cable housing about 1" further the kickdown adjuster for slack, cut the housing without the inner cable. Install the housing ferrule and slide it back up to the end of the cable housing and slip into kickdown adjuster.
Install inner cable, feed through trans arm, spring, and housing up towards the engine bay, and then slide it through Lokar Cable Slide Fitting, and into kickdown end-stop. With carb at idle, slide end-stop up to gray clip and lightly tighten setscrew (with Allen wrench supplied) so the cable will have no tension and no slack.
12. Tuning it up – as I wrote aforementioned, adjusting the TV cable is essential, not just to make the AOD to shift correctly, if you will drive without TV cable or even with one that is not properly adjusted you will cause severe internal damage to the AOD, a premature clutch burn and transmission failure.
The first thing to do is to install a pressure gauge with hose to the T.V. port
on the transmission, the port located at the passenger side and it will be the middle deeper port.
In the original manual of Lokar and TCI, they recommend using a 0-60 psi gauge, for a retro fitting application that didn’t equipped originally with AOD transmission, it is not necessary to have that high range, the importance figures are 0-5 psi, if your 0-60 psi gauge has the low pressure figures (1,2,3,4,5 etc….) so you can use it, if not, try a lower pressure gauge like 0-30 psi or 0 to 15 psi, I used both 0-60 psi that has the low figures indication and 0-15PSI just to verify the reading.
To attach the gauge you'll need one high-pressure hose, and 1/8 fitting to the T.V port in the transmission, and fitting from your hose to the gauge. I recommend you to use new hose, new fitting and new gauge, so you won't get a false reading due to dirt in the hose or gauge. It will be a good idea to use Teflon tap on all threads, a leak can affect your pressure reading.
Attach the gauge with the hose to the T.V port on the passenger side of the AOD even though it is a crowded area make sure to tighten the hose enough so it won't leak. Make sure the hose is not touching the exhaust, you can install a small bracket to hold the hose away from it, or you can use a 90 degree NPT elbow connector.
Start the car, and let it idle until reaching normal operating temperature. The transmission fluid temperature should be 38º-70º C (100º-150º F). Do not make pressure check if transmission fluid is cold.
First thing you HAVE to check is that the gauge will show you 0 PSI when the shifter is at parking position, if not, and the gauge will show you more then 0 check the T.V cable at the carburetor side and make sure it has no tension, if the cable is loose and you are still getting more then 0 psi reading in the gauge, you will need a "helper spring" on the lokar T.V lever (see picture below) that "helper spring" will help the lever to be in it's close position in idle.
In some AOD's the oil pressure will overcome the Lokar lever spring, in a result, the T.V lever will be open even without throttle pressure when it need to be closed, at first, I thought that my transmission is damaged, I called TCI tech department, I explained my problem mentioning I'm using the Lokar T.V cable to carburetor kit, and they suggested to check the T.V cable and if the cable installed correctly then I should shipped them the AOD for checking, I called several times and spoke at least with 3 different tech guys and got the same answer.
Called "Lokar" tech support, explain again and I got the same answer, "check your T.V cable, if it installed properly send your transmission to the builder…."
Because I live outside of the US shipping the transmission back to the USA is not an option, it will cost more than the transmission itself, so I started looking for a solution, I understood that the lever need to be in the close position so I installed a throttle spring on the Lokar T.V lever so it will hold it in the close position, attaching the spring to a simple bracket I fabricated and installed on one of the AOD oil pan bolts, then I started the car and the throttle valve staid in the close position, the gauge showed "0 psi" .
I was not calm with my improvise solution so I called some AOD workshops and I found out that this is a familiar problem and there is nothing wrong with my AOD, it seems that the spring on Lokar T.V cable can't hold some of the AOD's pressure, specially on AOD's with improved valve body and the solution is to do exactly what I did, use throttle spring to hold the T.V lever in the close position at idle.
This is the first reason (yes, there are more) I disappointed from the Lokar cable, this T.V cable kit is not doing its job very well, at least they could mention that possibility and add a throttle spring to the kit incase of this happening, good thing I didn’t shipped it back to TCI….
**Before I'll continue, remember we are dealing with a retrofit application, the adjustment of the TV cable is different from the cars originally had AOD.**
After verifying we have 0 psi when the car is at parking/neutral, we need to set the T.V cable preload so it will move as soon as we touch the throttle pedal.
I followed both the Lokar and TCI instructions, they instruct you to set the T.V cable with a "gauge tool" the "Lokar" kit will have that "tool" inside, do not look for a real tool, that thing is just a 0.3125 (5/16) shim with a notch , if you don't have it you can make it from wood or a 5/16 drill bit, the T.V tool (it's embarrassing to call it a tool…) that you will get in the Lokar kit will be a littler thinner – 0.269, using it will bump the pressure a bit and will allow more oil to the clutches and bands in the AOD.
I continue with the Lokar instructions, you will found out that you need to use the T.V tool/gauge between the kickdown end-stop on the end of the cable and hexcarb fitting and Lokar Cable Slide that attaches to the throttle lever. "Push the T.V. Gauge Tool, forcing the aluminum kickdown end-stop away from the hexcarb fitting. Make sure gauge block is pushed in as far as it will go."
The idea of the T.V tool is to simulate 2,000RPM throttle, in that case your AOD will need around 35psi.
They also tell you to do it in NEUTRAL, "Note: Do not check or set TV pressure in PARK" .
I followed carefully every step and got the 35psi like both TCI and Lokar instructed, I took the car for a short ride and felt early and soft 1-2 upshifts with slip-bump feel under light throttle, I thought to myself "that's can't be good"… I pulled over and checked my T.V pressure, it was right where I left it 0 psi in neutral without the T.V tool, and 35psi with the tool, I called TCI and explained the problem, the guy said " if you have 35psi with the tool, and 0-5psi without it, you have a bad AOD", and they told me to ship them back the AOD.
As I explained earlier, I live outside of the U.S and it will probably be cheaper buying a new one then shipping the AOD back and forth, so I thought that giving Lokar another call can't harm anything.
The guy I spoke with (Eric) wasn't surprised at all about my problem, he tolled me that the manual attached to the Lokar kickdown kit is only for cars that originally had AOD's, if I'm dealing with a retrofit, the manual is useless.
I was surprised and disappointed that a company like Lokar will sell a T.V cable kit for carburetor without telling you that the manual is for use with car's originally equipped with AOD and it will NOT work with a retrofit, they know that, and they know how to solve it, so why they don't add to the manual another method to the retro's? I continu to listen to Eric, For a retrofit application, he said, you need to check that you have no slack between the kickdown end-stop on the end of the cable and hexcarb fitting, and the ratio between the throttle and the kickdown lever is 1:1.
I went to my car, pop the hood and looked on the kickdown end stop, in first look I couldn't see any slack, when I holed the kickdown end-stop with tow fingers I felt I can pull it forward just a bit (towards the radiator) before I feel the resistance from the return spring, That means that when I drive with light throttle, the T.V cable won't pull the lever for the first few millimeters and I have no T.V pressure, that explains why I feel that early and soft 1-2 upshifts with slip-bump feel, I simply had no T.V pressure. I rise the tension of the T.V cable till I had absolutely no slack and drove a bit, the change was dramatic, no slip, no bump and the up shifting was much more firm, I felt that this is the right way.
I pulled over and checked the pressure with the T.V tool, I got 50 psi, because the TCI manual specifically tells you to have around 35 psi I thought 50 psi is to much, and again I called TCI explained my situation and what happened and the TCI guy tolled me that 50psi sound to much and it might cause some problems so I should back it off, I tried to explain that backing the T.V pressure off I'll get the soft up-shift and the slip bump but then the TCI representative tolled me to ship the AOD back to them… I called back to Lokar and spoke with Eric, he said that I need to ignore the standard manual because it wasn't meant for a retrofit application, when I said to him that TCI think 50psi is too much and can cause trouble, he said that I need to listen to the builder.
Well, started with my new improved AOD was shifting soft and eary and now the I have it shifting better but the builder tell's me that I'll damage it with that high pressure, I didn't know what to do, but I felt that I'm getting the wrong answers so I started to look for a good AOD shop that specialist in AOD and has a good rep reputation, quickly I found "LENTECH", I gave them a call when I was absolutely despair I explained the hole story and this time I got some answers(!) the guy I spoke with was very nice and was willing to help me even though I tolled him my AOD bought from another place, he explained me what Eric from Lokar tolled me, the AOD lever need to move in the same ratio that the throttle moves - 1:1 ratio, ignore the standard manual, he said, tense the T.V cable till you have no slack between the kickdown end-stop on the end of the cable and hexcarb fitting, infect you should have a small amount of pre-load when the car is at Park, 2-5 psi, then make sure that at full throttle the AOD lever is going all the way forward. When I asked about the high pressure with the T.V tool, he explain that the T.V tool is useless like the manual especially with improved valve body cause it will raise my T.V pressure. I thank him a lot and ran to my car to verify I have 2-5psi at park and the AOD lever is opening all the way (to radiator) when I step on the gas pedal and have full throttle ( you should do it with the car off so you will not rev the engine too high for nothing) this is all you have to do when you adjust your AOD T.V cable on a retrofit application, don't forget to do it when the AOD fluids are wormed up, it is on page 6 in the "LENTECH" manual.
I found out that 4psi at park work best for me, if you'll fell that your AOD will shift to late, loose the cable a little a bit but make sure it is not less then 2 psi, as a rull more pressure is better then no pressure.
Conclusions and thoughts:
I don't know why TCI don't know the right way to adjust AOD for car's that didn't have originally AOD, I took a pick on the TCI GM 700r4 manual (works similar to the AOD with a T.V cable) and they have a specific instructions for a retrofitting cars, so why no one of the 5 guy's I spoke with didn't know how to do it with the AOD???
After I got it tuned up right, the TCI AOD (part #431000) works great! Shifting strong and firm, spinning the wheels between shifts, I hope I didn't wear it to much when the T.V was adjusted wrong.
The Lokar cable look nice, but their manual was just like the TCI's manual, copied from the original Ford AOD manual so it is useless for a retrofit vintage Ford's, surprisingly, Lokar knows that and they know what is the right way to adjust the T.V cable but they don't tell you that in their manual, that is just wrong, you can burn your AOD just cause you followed their instructions, I hope they will fix it in the future.
Using the AOD daily is really great, now I can use lower gears in my deferential like 3.80 and still drive on the highway in reasonable RPM, I'm getting better MPG and my engine works cooler and will probably last longer, with the original 3.00 ring and pinion (and AOD) I was driving 60mph at 1,600RPM, it's nice and quiet highway ride, now I have 3.80 and it is 1,900 RPM@60mph, not bad!
Installing the AOD is defiantly worth the hassle, I hope that my story will help you to do it right the first time.