Skip to main content
Monthly Archives

December 2022

Performance Evolution of Ford Automatic Transmissions

Performance Evolution of Ford Automatic Transmissions - Gearstar

The era between 1964 and the 1980s was remarkable in the automobile industry. During this period, millions of Ford vehicles – i.e., cars and trucks – were equipped with C4 and C5 automatic transmissions. These were purely ford automatic transmissions – i.e., zero electronic controls – that were very popular with hot rodders, racers, as well as restorers due to their low cost and simplicity.

However, despite the possibility of purchasing cores and rebuilding in order to suit the requirements of a particular vehicle for a far less rebuilt modern overdrive automatic transmission with electronic controls, they lacked the lockup torque converters and overdriven gears newer transmissions rely heavily upon in order to boost fuel economy. Ford faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge in the late 1950s: shedding the old-fashioned technology and dated image. However, the carmaker faced the challenge head-on, beginning in 1958 with the new generation of the FE-series V-8 engines. 

Before 1960, Ford vehicles were burdened with heavily obsolete BorgWarner-designed cast-iron FX and MX automatic transmissions famously called Ford-O-Matics, Cruise-O-Matics, and Merc-O-Matics. The FX was small, while the MX was a popular large-case automatic. These were rugged, dependable, and heavy transmissions, so complex that adapting them to performance applications was next to impossible.

Falcon and Comet

Ford introduced its Falcon and Comet sixes in 1960. Just before then, Ford engineers had painstakingly developed lightweight aluminum-case automatic transmissions for the exciting lineup of vehicles that arrived in the ’60s. Soon enough, the 90-degree Fairlane small-block V8s followed the lightweight-iron Falcon and Comet sixes in 1962. The Mercury Comet and Ford Falcon, introduced in the ’60s, came with the new lightweight Ford-O-Matic two-speed transmission. BorgWarner manufactured this 2-speed transmission for new-generation small V-8s and straight-6.

The hard steel parts inside and out and its aluminum case made the Ford-O-Matic different from its predecessor. In its early application, the Ford-O-Matic transferred heat to the atmosphere through the cooling vents in the bell housing and torque converter. There was no transmission cooler in the radiator, and no fluid was used as a coolant. However, later versions of this Ford transmission came with a transmission fluid cooler in the radiator. In addition, the Merc-O-Matic/Ford-O-Matic came with a case-fill dipstick tube, with the main case and bell housing cast as one, in order to reduce the likelihood of leakage and excess weight.

The Ford C4 Transmission

After learning a lot from the BorgWarner 2-speed automatic transmission, Ford took its knowledge and used it to build the C4 3-speed automatic transmission known as the Cruise-O-Matic for the 1964 model year.

  • The C4 automatic transmission was manufactured at Ford’s transmission plant in Sharonville, Ohio, from 1964 to 1981. It was the first automatic transmission Ford solely designed and constructed. It utilized a new, cutting-edge Simpson compound planetary gear set that became the industry standard for decades.
  • The C4 automatic transmission earned its name from the model year it was manufactured, i.e., ‘C’ denotes the ’60s decade while ‘4’ was for the year 1964. However, this naming practice lasted less time than expected, as the transmissions that followed were C3 in the ’70s and C5 in the ’80s.
  • The C4 was known as the ‘Dual-Range Cruise-O-Matic’ from ’64 to ’66, otherwise known as the Green Dot transmission. This transmission was equipped with a unique valve body that enables you to start driving in second gear on snow and ice with a 2-3 upshift. This is the small dot on the indicator.

The larger green dot near ‘L’ at the detent allows a driver to start in first gear and go through the typical 1-2-3 upshift program.


Ford called its new automatic transmission the Cruise-O-Matic, but Mercury called its own the Merc-O-Matic. Bear in mind that ‘Cruise-O-Matic’ was the broad marketing name for the Ford automatic transmissions created in the mid-’60s era. But by 1967, the name ‘Cruise-O-Matic’ was dropped in favor of the name ‘Select-Shift’ and was picked up and used for all automatic transmissions from Ford. The C4 automatic transmission only had the 5-bolt bell housing for V-8s for only the 1964 model year. However, by August 1964, the V-8s and C4 it was mated to were ingeniously fitted into the larger 6-bolt bell housing in order to reduce vibration, noise, and harshness.

The following are the C4 gear ratios:

  • First gear – 2.46:1
  • Second gear – 1.46:1
  • Third gear – 1.00:1
  • Reverse gear – 2.20:1

The C4 transmission evolved, resulting in the introduction of other design changes. The most notable was the ’67 and ’69 valve body that offers a traditional P-R-N-D-2-1 shift pattern.

The Ford C5 Transmission

Ford introduced the popular C5 Select-Shift transmission in 1982. Its only difference from its predecessor was that it came with a locking torque converter in order to boost fuel economy significantly. The C5 automatic transmission remained in production from 1982 to 1986 at Ford’s transmission and axle plant in Livonia, Michigan. But it wasn’t recommended as one of the high-performance transmissions. Nevertheless, the C5 transmission shares most of its internal components with its predecessor, including the cases. The C5 transmission was manufactured as pan-fill and case-fill with 157- or 167-tooth flexplates.

The Ford C6 Transmission 

Ford introduced its heavy-duty C6 –speed transmission for high-torque applications. This automatic transmission was behind the large-displacement big-block V-8s. Its internal components and case were entirely different from the C4 transmission, but internally, they were the same, though scaled largely for heavy-duty use.

The rugged C6 transmission had four basic bell housing bolt patterns throughout its long production life as it was designed solely for high-power applications. There’s also the small-block C6 automatic transmission intended only for 351W as well as 351C engines and fits any 6-bolt 289/302/351W/51C small-block bell housing bolt pattern.

The C6 transmission for diesel engines was produced in the ’80s before the introduction of the 4R100 (E4OD) in 1989. Despite the arrival of the 4R100, Ford continued producing the C6 automatic transmission for industrial applications until 1996.

The arrival of the ’70s met Ford with a respectable lineup of great and modern lightweight automatic transmissions. Here are the C6 gear ratios:

  • First Gear – 2.46:1
  • Second Gear – 1.46:1
  • Third Gear – 1.00:1
  • Reverse – 2.00:1


Ford has undergone decades of performance evolution from it’s first automatic transmission to the current one in the market. The current transmission may not be perfect in every sense. But it is sure the car maker will improve its transmissions to deliver worthy experiences for their esteemed customers.

‘Tis the Season for Vehicle Winterization

vehicle winterization

Winter is here, and this is not about the popular Game of Thrones series but about your vehicle. Your vehicle needs proper maintenance during the colder months as much as it does during warmer weather. This is why you need to take vehicle winterization more seriously than you used to. 

Vehicle winterization depends on several factors, including the kind of automobile you have, where you live, as well as the age of the vehicle. However, you can do a few things to winterize your automobile, as a one-size-fits-all method does not exist. This article covers what you need to do since the season for vehicle winterization has arrived.

How to Winterize Your Vehicle

Here are some suggestions you should consider for vehicle winterization:

Wash and Wax the Vehicle

Before the weather becomes frigid and inhospitable, consider washing and waxing your vehicle. Washing your automobile exposes any trouble spots or scratches you should fix before winter arrives. Most northern states in the United States make use of road salt during winter to prevent the roads from freezing over. Although road salts ensure the roads remain free of black ice, they can wreak havoc on car pain, causing unwanted scratches, open gashes, and dents. In addition, these trouble spots will become susceptible to rust, eventually weakening your vehicle.

Therefore, ensure you wash and wax your vehicle. Waxing your vehicle before plowing through snow adds a layer of protection to your car paint. This helps the paint against the elements, including harmful chemicals.

So, feel free to invest more time waxing your automobile before the winter season arrives. Waxing guarantees 100 percent protection all through winter, and you don’t have to break the bank in order to get your hands on the best waxes available.

Switch to Snow Tires

If you own a sports utility vehicle, it is time to switch its regular tires with a fresh set of robust snow tires. The soft rubber compound of snow tires maintains its flexibility in frigid weather while firmly gripping the road as you drive. These tires also have unique tread patterns involving wider grooves that quickly expel snow and water in order to boost traction in slippery conditions. It is not really essential to use snow chains, especially since they are not legal in every part of the country. So focus on a dedicated set of snow tires that guarantee better traction in winter.

Check Tire Pressure

Cold weather affects car tires long before you hit the road. Every 10-degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature ensures your tire pressure goes down by up to 1 psi (pound per square inch). This is why you should always ensure your tire gauge is close by. This is essential, especially if your vehicle lacks a tire pressure monitoring system that reveals each tire’s psi. But you should consider getting a portable compressor you can plug into your vehicle’s 12V outlets. You may need to pump up one of your tires to its appropriate pressure. Some cutting-edge compressors allow users to set a psi level and shut off as soon as the tire hits the pre-set mark.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Something always goes wrong regardless of how much you prepare against unpleasant occurrences. These are usually far beyond anyone’s control and, in many cases, may leave you stranded. However, the situation will not be so dismal and can be bearable if you strategically pack an emergency kit. Therefore, before setting out for a church picnic or family get-together, ensure you have the following gear on board your vehicle:

  • Jumper cables
  • Tire inflator
  • Gloves
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Ice brush and scraper
  • Tire patch kit
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights
  • Snacks (non-perishable) and drinking water

That is not all. It wouldn’t hurt to also have the following on board:

  • Triangle reflector kit
  • First aid kit
  • Road flares
  • Tool kit
  • Batteries 
  • Paper towels
  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone fast charger
  • A change of clothing, which could be an extra shirt or blouse, and a pair of pants

Consider getting traction pads in order to give your car tires extra grip over wet or slick terrain. This is crucial if part of your plans for the day includes driving off-road in a 4-wheel-drive automobile.

  • Replace the Wiper Blades with Winter Wipers

Keeping your windshield clean is crucial, and you should be able to see at least 10 feet down the road. But unfortunately, your regular wipers won’t be of much help during winter. Therefore, toss the old regular windshield wipers in your garage and get hold of a fresh pair of winter wipers that don’t leave streaks on your immaculate windshield or make unpleasant noises while in operation.

Some winter wipers are equipped with their own heating elements. They are excellent additions to your vehicle, especially if it has heated mirrors and windshields. You may also consider wipers expertly treated with a hydrophobic agent. As these wipers operate, cleaning your windshield several times, they leave a coating that beads up water on contact. This makes your new wipers more than twice as effective against severe downpours.

  • Keep Your Car Battery in Excellent Condition

Frigid weather significantly reduces the cranking power of car batteries. By zero degrees Fahrenheit, your battery no longer has its full cranking power but only half of what it had at 80 degrees. Moreover, the oil in a cold engine is already thickened due to the frigid weather, making it more challenging to turn over. Therefore, check under the hood of your vehicle. If the connectors look misshapen and corroded or have electrical issues, replace the battery immediately.

  • Use Antifreeze the Correct Way

The job of antifreeze is not to prevent the water in your vehicle engine from freezing. Instead, its job is to lower the temperature at which the water in your engine can freeze. The fluids work as equal partners in order to ensure your engine functions exceptionally well despite the frigid conditions. When topping off antifreeze for cold weather, an excellent ratio is one-part undiluted antifreeze and one part water.


Winter can be tough on cars, SUVs, and trucks, and its toll can severely damage your automobile. However, vehicle winterization protects it from harsh weather. Follow the suggestions in this article, and your vehicle will definitely make it unscathed to another winter.

Here’s How the Chevy 4L60E Transmission Shifted V8 Engines for Decades

Chevy 4L60E Transmission

The 4L60E refers to a series of General Motors transmissions manufactured and introduced for sports utility vehicles, cars, and trucks. It significantly improved its predecessor, the 4L60 transmissions, which included upgrading hydraulics to electronically controlled transmissions. Despite its flaws, the Chevy 4L60E Transmission delivers exceptional performance, which is why many Chevy owners love it. This article highlights the evolution of the 4L60E transmission, how it shifted V8 engines in Chevys, and more.

What You Should Know About The Chevy 4L60E Transmission 

The 4L60E transmission is a 4-speed gear system – i.e., it utilizes four forward gears and one reverse gear – ideal for street performance and retrofitting because they can be modified easily. Its major characteristics include:

  • 8.4 quarts (9.64-inch torque converter), 11.4 quartz (11.81-inch torque converter), or 14 quartz fluid capacity. The 4L60E transmission versions with a deep pan or sizeable cooling circuit required 14 quartz.
  • Longitudinal mount
  • Four forward gears
  • 60 relative torque rating of 360 lb-ft.
  • Compatible with V6 and V8 engines
  • Electronic valve body with varied ratios for optimal performance

The 4L60E transmission’s additional features and notable improvements over the years include the following:

  • Increased torque capacity in 2001
  • Modified downshift solenoid and 6-bolt tail shaft in 1996
  • A pulse width modulated torque converter was added in 1995.

The 4L60E transmission is the gear system to turn to when upgrading a modern vehicle or restoring a vintage automobile. It is the preferred trans for vehicles used for long road trips or on rough terrains. It weighs 146 lbs., but adding the recommended transmission fluid for the 4L60E takes it all up to 162 lbs.

Although a manual gearbox may be a race driver’s choice, the 4L60E transmission’s exceptional capabilities are the best option. The 4L60E doesn’t utilize hydraulic pressure but uses actuators and electronic solenoids for controlling the clutch, valves, and bands, giving more than enough room for gear shifting. This significantly boosts the transmission’s performance and fuel economy.

Gear Ratios

The 4L60E transmission offers a wide range of gear ratios, with the first gear ratio perfect for pulling off very quickly under acceleration. It is also the gear ratio of choice for pulling/carrying a heavy load or off-road driving.

The fourth gear, which is the overdrive gear, permits the achievement of lower revolutions per minute at cruising speeds and a potentially higher overall top speed.

Here are the gear ratios of the 4L60E transmission:

  • First gear – 3.06:1
  • Second gear – 1.62:1
  • Third gear – 1.00:1
  • Fourth gear – 0.70:1
  • Reverse – 2.29:1

Strengths of the 4L60E Transmission 

The 4L60E transmission is known for its remarkable strength and capability of transmitting lots of torque and power from truck applications and performance automobiles. It is used in vehicles weighing as much as 8,600 lbs. gross vehicle weight, making it the go-to transmission for the ever-dynamic transmission building aftermarket. General Motors manufactured the high-performance versions of the 4L60E, and it is used extensively in several vehicle models such as:

  • The Chevrolet Corvette
  • The Chevrolet Impala SS
  • The Australian-built Pontiac GTO
  • The Chevy Camaro
  • The Pontiac Firebird 

Chevy has the highest number of models – i.e., up to 16 Chevy models – that utilized the 4L60E transmission that shifted V8 engines for decades. But the company eventually stopped using this transmission in 2014 when it appeared for the last time on the Chevrolet Express.

As mentioned earlier, the 4L60E utilizes two-shift solenoids for actuating gear changes. These solenoids were known as Shift Solenoid A and Shift Solenoid B in the early versions of this transmission. At the time, the PCM could easily achieve four distinct gear ratios by turning them on and off in pre-set patterns.

However, the names were changed to 1-2 Shift Solenoid and 2-3 Shift Solenoid, respectively, in compliance with OBDII regulations.

Since the goal of General Motors was to eliminate the reliance on hydraulic pressure when making gear changes, the company improved fuel efficiency and performance using a computer that could swiftly interpret data derived from speed sensors. This made it possible to decide the ideal period to shift gears using solenoids.

The Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)

The Pulse Width Modulation torque converter clutch solenoid present on all late models of the 4L60E transmission allows a seamless application – and release – of the torque converter clutch. In addition, the adapted or modified valve body controlled by a solenoid and electronic actuators make the 4L60E transmission readily controllable with a unique modern electronic transmission controller called the COMPUSHIFT.

The 4L60E Transmission Control with the COMPUSHIFT

The 4L60E transmission has a 13-pin or 15-pin case plug. Currently, only a handful of transmissions still use the 13-pin case plug. Experts highly recommend upgrading to the 4L60E, which utilizes the 15-pin case plug. A 17-pin case plug also exists but is only employed with the 4L70E equipped with the internal mode switch.

Benefits and Drawbacks of the 4L60E Transmission

Before overriding your existing gear with a solid 4L60E transmission, knowing the benefits and drawbacks of the latter is essential.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of the 4L60E transmission:


  • Firm and complete control of every aspect of the shift
  • Shift firmness or adjustment is controlled easily
  • Controllers of the 4L60E transmission make everything easy as they help establish exact shift points.
  • Enhanced torque capacity
  • Solid fuel economy performance
  • Super easy calibration of the speedometer
  • Super-fast transmission
  • Changes can be made easily to the shift points and line pressure
  • Adjusting the shift points from the interior is possible, making it less stressful.


The 4L60E transmission may be one of the most efficient gear systems on the market, but it has several drawbacks you should be aware of. Here they are, arranged in no particular order:

  • Users need to add a TPS input alongside a carburetor
  • Setting it up is pretty expensive due to the need for an external controller
  • Push-in clips leak frequently and may require constant replacement
  • Shifts are sometimes delayed and harsh, while a few even stop working altogether. It is common for some shifts to get worn out.


The chevy 4L60E transmission belongs to the series of electronically operated automatic transmissions – and the most versatile – built by General Motors. It is the electronic version of its predecessor, the 4L60 transmission. It remains the perfect choice for upgrading your vehicle or restoring a vintage one.

The ABCs of a 4 Speed Automatic Transmission

The ABCs of a 4-Speed Automatic Transmission - Gearstar Performance Transmissions

Automatic transmissions are mechanisms designed to shift the gears of vehicles with the increase or sudden decrease of speed. Since the mechanism is automatic, the driver’s input to change the gears manually – as it is done with manual transmission – is not required. An automatic transmission readily adjusts the rotational speed of the internal combustion engine. This occurs so that the gears can handle different speed ranges and torque outputs. This article covers a particular type of transmission, the 4-speed automatic transmission, and everything you need to know about it. But before then, let’s highlight why vehicles use transmissions.

Why Do Vehicles Need a Transmission?

The engine of a vehicle is designed to generate torque. Therefore, in order to move the vehicle from its parking spot and into motion, there must be a transfer of the engine’s rotational power to the wheels. This is what the drivetrain, i.e., the wheelwork consisting of an intricately connected set of rotating gears via which force is transmitted of which the transmission is part of, accomplishes. Transferring power from the crankshaft to the wheels is impossible without the drivetrain. The crankshaft only spins at 800 revolutions per minute. Connecting a driveshaft directly to the crankshaft will snap it into pieces within seconds. This is how vital the drivetrain system is. However, a vehicle engine can only spin at a specific number of speeds in order to perform optimally.

If the engine’s spin is too low, the vehicle won’t budge an inch from its parking spot. If the spin is too fast, the engine automatically self-destructs. What is required is a way to automatically multiply the power the engine produces when required – i.e., traveling up a hill, starting from a parked position, etc. – while decreasing the amount of power transmitted from the engine when it is not required, i.e., traveling very fast, going downhill, etc. This is where the transmission comes in.

Transmission’s Primary Goal

The primary goal is to ensure that the engine spins at an optimal rate, i.e., not too fast or too slow, while providing the wheels with an appropriate amount of power required to move or stop the vehicle simultaneously, irrespective of the situation you find yourself in. The transmission can be locked between the engine and the rest of the drivetrain. It acts like a power switchboard of sorts for your vehicle. The drivetrain is an entire assembly that covers the transmission, engine, differential, driveshaft, and axles. This system drives your vehicle forward or sets it in motion.

Two major types of transmissions exist:

  1. Manual transmission 
  2. Automatic transmission

Manual transmissions require the driver’s input, i.e., you control the gears to be engaged by pressing a clutch pedal and shifting the necessary gear into place. On the other hand, an automatic transmission is a brilliant piece of engineering that determines the particular gear to be engaged without human input. All you need to do is step on the brake or gas pedals as desired. This is nothing short of automotive magic.

Another but less common transmission type is the electronically controlled transmission, which you will find on a few newer vehicles. These transmissions use hydraulics to actuate the bands and clutches. But an electric solenoid controls each hydraulic circuit. Different versions of automatic transmissions exist, but today, the 4-speed automatic transmission will be discussed.

What is a 4 Speed Automatic Transmission?

A 4-speed automatic transmission is the gear system that allows your vehicle to run at specific revolutions per minute (RPM) – usually 1,000 RPM – at four different speeds. For instance, a 4-speed automatic transmission at 1,000 RPM will allow your vehicle to run at 10, 20, 45, and 60 kilometers per hour. A vehicle with 5-speed automatic transmission can be driven at 5 different speeds at 1,000 revolutions per minute.

Bear in mind that the acceleration of a vehicle with a 4-speed automatic transmission will be slower than a vehicle with a 5-speed automatic transmission. This is because it will need to cover more speed – in kilometers per hour or miles per hour – before shifting to the next gear. Most vehicles with 4-speed automatic transmissions were manufactured during the 1990s. But most new model automobiles today come with 5-speed or even 6-speed automatic transmissions. Some excellent examples of vehicles with a 4-speed automatic transmission include:

  • Mazda Demio
  • Dodge Avenger SE
  • Subaru Forester
  • Scion xB, etc.

The popular Toyota models with 4-speed automatic transmissions are Tacoma, Corolla, and Yaris.

Which is Better – a 4-Speed Automatic Transmission or a 5-Speed Automatic Transmission?

No one can accurately say one is much better than the other, though the vehicle’s model, brand, and year of production can play critical roles in this determination. Besides these factors, it doesn’t make much of a difference, except that the 5-speed automatic transmission has several benefits you should be aware of, such as:

  • It offers better fuel economy due to its narrower speed range
  • It will give you more shifting clutches and actuation overhead energy than its counterpart. But this can eventually impact fuel economy negatively in the long run.
  • Enhanced drivability
  • You will experience less speed change than a 4-speed automatic transmission. This makes the shift feel much better to handle while in motion.

Regarding fuel efficiency and performance, the two versions of the automatic transmission are similar. This is why many auto experts recommend opting for a 4-speed automatic transmission, especially if the automobile is available at a pocket-friendly price.

More gears will only do a little good, except helping your automobile run its engine at the maximum revolutions per minute range for extended periods. Undoubtedly, every vehicle powered by a 4-speed automatic transmission will be a bit behind one with a 5-speed automatic. However, vehicles with 5-speed automatic transmissions will call for maintenance sessions – to allow the driver to shift more – which will set you back a few bucks from time to time.


The transmission is a vital part of any vehicle and must never be taken for granted. Without it, your vehicle will not budge from the garage or wherever you park it. Different versions of automatic transmissions exist, and one of the early versions is the 4-speed automatic transmission. The 4-speed transmission was manufactured and used in vehicles produced in the ’90s. As a result, they’re the preferred choice over their more modern counterparts for those with tight budgets and fewer maintenance requirements.