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November 2017

AOD Transmission Buyers’ Reference Guide

AOD Transmission Buyers' Reference Guide - Gearstar Performance

There was perhaps nothing more exciting out of the 80’s than the inception and incorporation of overdrive into automatic and manual transmissions. How can anyone forget?

History & Evolution of AOD Transmissions

The 80’s were notorious for implementing overdrive-equipped automatic transmissions as original equipment for new automobiles those years.

Aside from being one of America’s favorite vehicle innovations of its time, overdrive manufacturers involved automatic overdrive (AOD) transmissions as an industry standard to lower emissions and improve fuel economy.

Overdrive as a concept is pretty awesome – typically displayed as a switch or a button, a quick flick or press can reveal what seems like a hidden source of power. By definition, overdrive can be explained as the utilization of a faster transmission shaft speed output than the rotation speeds of the engine’ input shaft. Meaning, the torque is being multiplied or “overdriven”, which creates a smooth and effortless driving experience.

As the 80’s came and went, transmission manufacturers and aftermarket companies heard the cries of overdrive enthusiasts who dreamt of incorporating this same efficiency into their classic vehicles. In the years following, conversion kits and overdrive automatics arrived on the market.

Thanks to these manufacturers and aftermarket companies, converting your classic car or truck to an AOD transmission has been made simple. Conversion kits and packages are now readily available depending on the type of vehicle you are building. You won’t have any problems finding the right parts or conversion packages for your mainstream vehicle. If you’re looking at something a little lower in popularity by numbers, you may have to turn to the skills of a professional fabricator in order to achieve the job.

Whether you consider yourself capable of DIY, or decide to take advantage of the vastness of the Internet in search of an AOD transmission, aftermarket companies offer something for everyone when it comes to converting your automatic transmission to overdrive.

From fully equipped AODs that are engineered for your particular application to stall speeds, torque converters and shift programs, industry providers have all the automotive aftermarket parts and components needed to help make your classic vehicle AOD transmission conversion a transformational success.

If you’re gearing up to make the switch, here’s what’s available aftermarket as well as some helpful, tried and true tips for an effective transition.

What to Look for in an AOD Transmission

When you’re out shopping for your rebuild kit or AOD, you’re going to want to pay special attention to the parts that it contains – even if you are on a tight budget you want to avoid budget parts. You don’t want to run the risk or endure the costs of having to do your project over again when something fails. Your focus should be on high-end steel plates and clutches. Your internal and external seals will depend on the type of driving you intend to do, as well as the anticipated amount of power.

Keep in mind that any automatics that are electronically controlled deserve a fresh set of electrical components from the inside out. Harnesses, switches, and solenoids should all be new. If you choose to go with a reputable transmission builder, ensure that they employ all new electrical components in their build.

When comes to AOD transmissions, you have a limited options. You can find a local shop with a reputable core to accomplish the rebuild, or you can turn to the mass of aftermarket trans rebuilders who can set you up with a warranty, bullet-proof components, solid high-performance automatic overdrive, and more.

If you’re the DIY type of person, tons of shops have a complete line of parts and transmission overhaul kits, which includes everything you need for your AOD rebuild. Your kit will include: seals, bushings, bands, plates, and clutches. While you are at it, it is recommended that you order parts for your front pump (rotors or gears) including the torque converter.

AOD Transmission Installation

As you prepare for your AOD transmission swap, don’t forget about the peripherals. You’re going to need a variety of other items, such as backup light switches and neutral safety, along with sensors. These types of items are not normally included in overdrive transmission packages.

Ensuring your transmission’s functionality and longevity begins with, and lies at, the root of proper installation. The installation of your transmission should involve as much care as the transmission build itself. For example, a poorly built or installed transmission might have issues with the bell housing seating against the engine squarely, or the torque converter seating on the front pump. Thus, to avoid potential pitfalls, both economically and mechanically, be sure to research with due diligence before committing to a transmission installer, builder, and/or rebuilder.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to do your research in purchasing quality parts from reputable manufacturers – so that you get the safe, efficient, and long-lasting classic overdrive conversion you’ve always wanted.

Top 5 Performance Transmission Pitfalls to Avoid

Top 5 Performance Transmission Pitfalls to Avoid - Gearstar Performance

When it comes to looking after the transmission in your car, you really can’t afford to make any mistakes. You might think that it would be hard to make any errors, but there are a handful of performance transmission mistakes that people make frequently. Today, we are going to be discussing five of the most common mistakes that people make, and how you can make sure to avoid them.

Poor Cooling System Maintenance

We are all guilty of having allowed our vehicles to overheat at one point or another. Usually this comes from something as simple as forgetting to check the cooling system or not regularly maintaining the radiator. These little things are the things that will eventually lead to your car overheating.

This is a problem because your transmission will actually have been designed with a maximum operating temperature. Anything above that temperature will directly reduce the overall lifespan of your transmission. You can avoid this entirely by making sure that your cooling system is properly checked on a regular basis because your car will then be unlikely to overheat.

DIY Transmission Work and Repairs

If you have a transmission that does not seem to be performing well and/or one that seems to leak regularly, then you may have noticed all of the OTC additives that are readily available. These claim to improve the overall performance of your transmission and stop any unpleasant leaks. What they fail to mention is the fact that they can also shorten the lifespan of your transmission.

This is because the chemicals that are present in the majority of the products that can be found on the market have the ability to make older rubber seals warp. This can then lead to severe damage inside of your transmission. You can avoid this problem by checking your owner’s manual. Inside of it, you should be able to find a specific list of additives and transmission fluids that are recommended by the manufacturer. Do not use anything that is not on the list.

Neglected Transmission Service

One of the most important things that you have to remember is the fact that your transmission needs to be tuned on a periodic basis. If your transmission is not tuned, then a mixture of dirt and different contaminants will begin to build up inside of the transmission, causing it to run rather sluggishly and develop a multitude of other problems.

Unfortunately, that would just be the start of a very slippery slope. Your transmission would eventually fail completely. It is also worth noting that when you can see signs of transmission problems, it usually means that it is probably already too late to prevent any lasting damage. Make sure that you get your transmission serviced every few years to avoid these problems. You should also make sure that you know how to inspect your own transmission – since it’s a monthly best practice.

Use of Wrong ATF Type

It is really important to make sure that you are choosing the right automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to use – because specific transmissions actually require specific types of fluid. Using the correct ATF ensures that a transmission is capable of operating at a healthy, optimal performance level. As a high-performance automatic transmission owner, your number one priority is to ALWAYS make sure that the correct ATF is being used on your vehicle.

Different types of fluid are known to have different levels of viscosity and a number of unique additives that are only present in certain types. Using the wrong ATF can actually cause erratic hydraulic pressure that will reduce the lifespan of your performance transmission; in fact, there’s a seemingly endless list of potential damages that can arise from using the wrong ATF.

Irregular Fluid Level Checks

You might be imagining that your fluid levels are incapable of ever really affecting your transmission. Unfortunately, that is simply not true. When fluid levels are low it can cause your transmission to deteriorate quite rapidly because the fluid is directly responsible for protecting the inner workings of the transmission. It keeps everything cool and lubricated.

To avoid this situation, you have to make sure that your transmission fluid levels are at exactly the right point at all times. You should also make sure that you replace any dirty fluid as soon as you notice it. Your transmission should never have to work harder to compensate for a lack of fluid.

You also have to remember that many transmission problems cannot be dealt with professionally because they are ignored. If you do notice anything unusual about your own, then you should go straight for professional help to make sure that any advanced issues are addressed before they become a problem. Making sure that you get your transmission repaired quickly will prevent any unnecessary damage from occurring.

2017 SEMA Show Was ‘Auto’ This World

2017 SEMA Show Was 'Auto' This World - Gearstar Performance

This year’s annual SEMA Show recently wrapped up in Las Vegas, drawing industry veterans and car fanatics alike to see all the latest and hottest auto products in one place. It’s the place to be if you’re a gearhead, and this year was no exception.

About SEMA Shows

The SEMA Show is a convention where top names in the industry come to show off their latest products. As well as this, there’s plenty to see and do. There are workshops, educational seminars, product demonstrations and networking opportunities.

If you work in the auto industry, it’s an opportunity to meet others in your field and get to know others. You can also take part in the workshops and seminars and come away with some new knowledge that you can take back home.

As you can see, this is why the show is just so popular and comes back year after year. There’s always something new and exciting to see. Attendees are guaranteed to come away with lots of new ideas themselves, and people at home are always anxiously awaiting news from the show itself.

2017 SEMA Show Highlights

This year’s SEMA Show was a success yet again – revealing a hefty load of exciting automotive industry news and events to look forward to in 2018. Here are our top favorite highlights from the 2017 SEMA Show.

1967 Chevrolet C10 Centennial Truck

Launched in 1960, the Chevy truck changed the way we see pickups forever. In 1967, the design was improved on by giving revised suspension to the now classic style. Of course, the 100th anniversary of Chevrolet’s celebratory truck was honored at this year’s SEMA Show – and rightfully so!

“One hundred years and 85 million trucks later, Chevrolet trucks continue to inspire, support and reward through hard work and recreation,” said Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet Trucks marketing director. “We are celebrating this historic milestone with the customers who have trusted Chevy Trucks for generations.”

BMW M3 30 Years American Edition

In another celebration, BMW celebrated 30 years of the M3 being sold in the United States. Take THAT, Europe! To better show off the hard work of the BMW Designworks team, the BMW M3 30 Years American Edition shined and sparkled on displayed for SEMA Show-goers all weekend long. This model will be restricted to a single production unit.

Maxlider Four Horseman Ford Bronco

At the show this year, Ford confirmed that they’re bringing back the infamous Ford Bronco. One customizer though has beaten them to the punch, using a first generation Bronco to create a four door model, which has now been dubbed the Four Horseman Ford Bronco.

Gunther Werks 400R

Another custom job, this time Gunther Werks decided to turn their hand to the Porsche 911. Their model uses hardcore water cooled technology, much like the later Porsche 996 model did. The result was the very impressive Gunther Werks 400R.

Honda Civic Type R Crate Engine

There are many people who want to take advantage of the Honda Civic Type R engine, without having to drive the Honda Civic Type R. Well, their prayers have been answered, thanks to the reveal of the new Honda Civic Type R crate engine.

Mopar Hellcat V8 Crate Engine

For those who have been looking for Mopar engines in their cars, they now have a crate engine to call their own. This means no more chasing wreckers looking for engines, and no more scouring wrecking yards. The Hellcat V8 crate engine has everything you need, in one package. This was one of the most exciting pieces of news to come out of this year’s SEMA Show.

Plymouth Air Radial Truck by Colorado Auto & Parts

The Plymouth Air Radial Truck was one of the most curious exhibitions to take place at the 2017 SEMA Show. Created by Gary Corns of Colorado Auto & Parts, this model features a 1939 Plymouth pickup truck, combined with a seven cylinder Jacobs radial engine from a Cessna 195 plane. There’s been no word yet if this car can actually fly.

1972 AMC Javelin AMX by Ringbrothers

For the 90’s anniversary of Prestone this year, the Ringbrothers customized a 1972 AMC Javelin AMX. It was one of the most fascinating builds at the 2017 SEMA Show, especially as builds based on Javelins are so rare.

Toyota PriuSRT8

The second generation Prius was given a makeover that makes it look and feel almost recognizable. Given its supercharged Hellcat V8 engine, the Toyota PriuSRT8 is a concept that totally goes against the forces of Prius nature, as well as our idea of what a traditional Prius is, or should be!

1963 Wide-Body AMC Rambler Wagon by Suzy Bauter: “Flare Witch Project”

Known as the “Flare Witch Project“, this beauty was certainly our favorite custom build at this year’s SEMA Show. The name comes from the steel wide-body fender flares that were added, as a key visual enhancement.

There you have it! That’s just a small taste of what the 2017 SEMA Show debuted and highlighted. The event just wrapped up, and already, gearheads and auto fanatics are anticipating the 2018 SEMA Show – which promises to be even more exciting, with even more custom builds and new releases to debut. Until then, fellow car enthusiasts!

Automatic Transmission Fluid Is Vital to Car Performance & Longevity; Choose Wisely

Automatic Transmission Fluid Is Vital to Car Performance & Longevity; Choose Wisely - Gearstar Performance

Regardless of the car you drive, it’s important to use the proper transmission fluid. And, if your car has a high performance automatic transmission, it’s imperative! The wrong fluid won’t just give your vehicle less performance; it could potentially cause serious damage to the transmission as well. Protect yourself and your car with these tips that will better help you understand and identify the proper automatic transmission fluid to utilize.

How to Check Transmission Fluid

Firstly, you’re going to need to know when to change the fluid in your car. Many regular drivers won’t even think about it, until their car seems as though it’s lagging when changing gears. They’ll pull the dipstick out of the auto transmission, and find that the fluid has gone down, smells bad, and looks dirty. If that’s happened, the damage may have already been done.

If you’re keeping up with regular auto maintenance, you’ll know that for every 30,000 miles you should be changing your car’s automatic transmission fluid. If your car sees a lot of time on the track, you can even step that up to an annual fluid change. This ensures that your car’s fluid is always fresh and optimal.

Choose Automatic Transmission Fluid Wisely

Back in the day, you only had two choices when it came to automatic transmission fluid: Type F, or Dexron. Now though, there’s a plethora of choices out there. This is because car companies are looking to increase the fuel mileage in their cars, and creating lubricants for meeting different sets of requirements. That’s why you have to be careful about the fluid you use, as the wrong one could spell all sorts of disaster for your engine.

Here’s what you have to keep in mind when you’re picking out a fluid for your performance car:

Car Age

If you have a classic car, then the fluid you pick needs to be compatible with it. Newer fluids won’t have been made with your vehicle in mind, and so you need to be very careful. For example, the GM 4L60E is said to work well with Dexron VI. However, that fluid wasn’t even created until 2005, so you’d actually be better off with Dexron III.

Fluid Types, Brands

If you’re driving a Ford car, you may think that you can only use Ford fluids in it. In fact, that isn’t true. In some cases, you may be better off with a different brand of fluid altogether. Don’t be blinded to the right choices, because the brand isn’t ‘right’.

Avoid Universal Fluids

To reduce confusion, some companies are creating universal automatic transmission fluids that are designed to work in all cars. If you’re driving a performance car though, they’re to be avoided. Stick with a single purpose fluid that you know will work in your car.

Synthetic Fluid vs. Conventional Fluid

You have a choice of synthetic or conventional fluids to use in your transmission. The best type in performance cars is synthetic fluids, as they offer higher performance.

How to Change Transmission Fluid

Once you’ve got the right transmission fluid for your car, you’ll need to get it changed. Here’s how you should change your fluid to get the maximum performance. You’ll need to take the transmission pan off to do this, so ensure that you’re blocking the back wheels of your car. Put the car on sturdy jack stands or ramps so you can get good access to the transmission pan itself.

Once you’ve opened the pan, you can either let it drain out this way, or pump it out to ensure that you get as much out as possible. You’ll then need to remove the pan completely, so you can get any sediment or debris out.

Now this has been done, you’ll need to replace the filter and seal. Once this is done, you can them replace the fluid with the new fluid you’ve obtained.

Of course, you can go to an auto mechanic and have this done for you. Many have the equipment needed to get the job done quickly and cleanly. However, you do need to be careful which mechanic you choose to go to. Be sure to do through research on various local mechanics who are familiar with working on high-performance automatic transmissions – ask around and read reviews before you trust just anyone with your car.

As you can see, there are a few things you need to think about before changing your car’s automatic transmission fluid. Do research beforehand, to ensure that you use the proper fluid for your performance car.