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All You Need To Know About Ford AOD Transmissions

By December 4, 2023Blog Posts

The automotive industry has witnessed significant advancements over the years, with automatic transmissions playing a pivotal role in enhancing the driving experience. One notable innovation in this domain was the introduction of the Ford AOD (Automatic Overdrive) transmission in the early 1960s. While groundbreaking, the AOD transmission had its fair share of initial flaws and limitations.

In this blog, we will delve into the features of the Ford AOD transmission, its evolution, and how Gearstar has transformed it into a high-performance powerhouse.

AOD Transmission: Pioneering Overdrive Technology

The Ford AOD transmission was a trailblazing invention, one of the first four-drive automatic transmissions to incorporate an overdrive unit. This innovation aimed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce wear and tear on the transmission components. Introduced in the early 1960s, it marked a significant step in simplifying drivability and enhancing the overall driving experience.

However, like most pioneering designs, the AOD had its early challenges. Some issues included parts requiring replacement, snapped input shafts, and burnt-out clutch packs. These initial setbacks prompted Ford to refine and improve the AOD transmission over time.

AOD Transmission Production and Successors

The production of the Ford AOD transmission spanned over a decade, from its inception in the 1960s until 1993. In 1994, it was succeeded by the electronic AODE transmission. Despite its replacement, the AOD’s legacy continues to influence modern-day transmissions, often incorporating overdrive technology for enhanced efficiency.

Heavy-Duty, High-Performance Components of Ford AOD Transmissions

The Ford AOD transmission initially entered the market as the premier domestic automatic overdrive transmission, offering four speeds. This design allowed the engine to operate at lower RPMs, boosting fuel efficiency and minimizing component wear. However, the early years of the AOD were marked by challenges, including the overdrive Band susceptibility to failure, making it clunky for some enthusiasts.

Over time, aftermarket modifications and input from racing enthusiasts spurred improvements in the AOD transmission. These enhancements included strengthening the overdrive unit, redesigning key components such as the reverse drum and overdrive band to increase friction and holding power, and eventually developing successors like the 4R7XX and AODE transmissions.

Gearstar’s Custom Performance AOD Transmissions

Despite its initial shortcomings, the AOD transmission can be a robust and reliable choice for those seeking efficiency and performance. Gearstar takes the AOD to new heights by retrofitting it with aftermarket components to meet the needs of performance enthusiasts.

Our line of performance AOD transmissions, built by master technicians passionate about power, offers a range of options tailored to high-performance driving. Each transmission has a high-capacity 4-plate intermediate clutch, updated 3rd accumulator piston, extra capacity servo, and more. Rigorous testing ensures that every Gearstar transmission is operating perfectly before leaving our facility.

Specifications of AOD – Level 2 Transmission

Transmission specifications can make all the difference in how your vehicle performs on the road or track. In this section, we will take an in-depth look at the specifications of the AOD – Level 2 Transmission offered by Gearstar and explore why it is a standout choice for enthusiasts.

  • Compatibility with Small Block Engines

The AOD – Level 2 Transmission is engineered to be compatible with small block engines. This compatibility is a crucial factor for those looking to enhance the performance of their vehicles with smaller yet powerful, engine configurations. Small block engines are known for their agility and power-to-weight ratio, making them popular among performance enthusiasts. The AOD – Level 2 Transmission is tailored to work seamlessly with these engines, ensuring optimal power delivery and performance.

  • Impressive Horsepower Rating

One of the standout features of the AOD – Level 2 Transmission is its impressive horsepower rating. With a horsepower capacity 400, this transmission is designed to handle the demands of high-performance applications. Whether you have a modified small block engine or other power-enhancing modifications, the AOD – Level 2 Transmission is up to the task. It provides the necessary strength and durability to transmit power efficiently, enhancing acceleration and overall performance.

  • Torque Handling Capability

Torque is the force that propels your vehicle forward, and having a transmission that can handle high torque levels is essential for performance-oriented driving. The AOD – Level 2 Transmission excels, with a torque handling capability of up to 375 ft-lbs. This means it can effectively transfer the engine’s torque to the wheels, allowing for improved traction and acceleration.

  • High-Performance Converter

The converter plays a critical role in an automatic transmission, facilitating power transfer from the engine to the transmission. In the case of the AOD – Level 2 Transmission, it comes equipped with an HD (High-Performance) converter. This high-performance converter is designed to efficiently transmit power, reduce power loss, and enhance overall drivability.

  • Stall Speed Range

Stall speed refers to the engine speed at which the torque converter locks up and transfers power to the transmission. The AOD – Level 2 Transmission offers a stall speed range of 1600-2200 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). This range is carefully selected to complement the transmission, engine, and vehicle performance characteristics.

Key Components Of The AOD- Level 2 Transmission

Behind every high-performance transmission lies a meticulous selection of key components that are engineered to work in harmony, ensuring optimal power delivery and durability. Before getting a Ford AOD transmission, you should focus on diverse options before you explore multiple options:

In this section, we will focus on the essential key components of the AOD – Level 2 Transmission offered by Gearstar, highlighting their significance and contribution to its exceptional performance.

  • Master Overhaul Kit with New Steel Plates

The foundation of any reliable transmission is a master overhaul kit with new steel plates. This kit includes essential components such as gaskets, seals, and friction plates designed to replace worn-out or damaged parts. Including new steel plates enhances the transmission’s durability, ensuring it can withstand the demands of high-performance driving. This overhaul kit forms the backbone of the AOD – Level 2 Transmission’s longevity and reliability.

  • Transgo Reprogramming Shift Kit

Precise shifting is a hallmark of a well-tuned transmission. The Transgo Reprogramming Shift Kit is a critical component that fine-tunes the transmission’s shift points and characteristics. It optimizes shift timing and firmness, resulting in smoother gear transitions and improved overall drivability. Whether accelerating aggressively or cruising constantly, this shift kit ensures that the transmission responds precisely to your driving demands.

  • Raybestos Frictions

Friction plays a crucial role in a transmission’s ability to transfer power efficiently. The Raybestos frictions used in the AOD – Level 2 Transmission are designed for high-performance applications. These frictions offer exceptional heat resistance and durability, making them well-suited for the increased demands on the transmission during spirited driving. With Raybestos frictions, you can trust that your transmission will maintain consistent performance even under intense conditions.

  • Filter, New Bearing Kit, and New Bushing Kit

Proper filtration and bearing support are essential for the longevity of a transmission. Including a high-quality filter ensures that contaminants are removed from the transmission fluid, preventing damage to critical components. Additionally, new bearing and bushing kits provide essential support and reduce friction within the transmission, enhancing its overall efficiency and lifespan. These components work in tandem to maintain the transmission’s integrity and performance.

  • High Capacity 4 Plate Intermediate Clutch and High Capacity Direct Clutch

Clutches are central to the transmission’s ability to engage and disengage gears effectively. The AOD – Level 2 Transmission has a high-capacity 4-plate intermediate clutch and a high-capacity direct clutch. These components are engineered to handle high-performance applications’ increased power and torque levels. They deliver robust engagement and precise control, transferring power seamlessly.

  • Updated 3rd Accumulator Piston and Extra Capacity Servo

The 3rd accumulator piston and servo are pivotal in controlling the transmission’s shifting behavior. An updated 3rd accumulator piston ensures smoother transitions between gears, reducing harsh shifts and enhancing overall drivability. The extra capacity servo enhances the transmission’s ability to apply pressure, improving clutch engagement and ensuring that shifts are crisp and reliable.

  • Heavy Duty Remanufactured Pump and Aluminum Pan

Efficient fluid circulation maintains the Ford AOD transmission’s temperature and performance. The heavy-duty remanufactured pump included in the AOD – Level 2 Transmission ensures consistent fluid flow, preventing overheating and ensuring all components receive the necessary lubrication. Additionally, the aluminum pan provides added durability and easy access to fluid changes, contributing to the transmission’s overall longevity.

  • Transmission Mount and Custom 360-degree Adjustable Shift Linkage Arm

The transmission mount and shift linkage arm are critical for ensuring the transmission’s stability and precise shifting. The transmission mount securely holds the transmission in place, reducing vibrations and ensuring proper alignment with the drivetrain. The custom 360-degree adjustable shift linkage arm allows for precise adjustments, enabling fine-tuning of shift points and linkage geometry to match the specific requirements of your vehicle and driving style.

Gearstar: Your Partner in High-Performance Transmissions

In conclusion, the Ford AOD transmission, despite its initial flaws, remains a versatile and valuable component in the automotive world. Gearstar’s commitment to excellence has transformed this transmission into a high-performance workhorse, offering enthusiasts a reliable and customized solution for their power-hungry needs.


Whether you’re seeking improved efficiency or unleashing the full potential of your vehicle, Gearstar’s custom AOD transmissions are engineered to exceed your expectations.

Ready to experience top-notch transmission solutions and expert support?

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