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CD4E improvements?

November 9 2011 at 12:24 AM
Michael  (Login zinc01)
from IP address

I have had a bit of experience working with/maintaining automatic transmissions. One of the painful realizations about my GF's cougar is that I can not change out the filter without taking the whole transmission out and apart. I also read a lot that these transmissions don't last much longer than 120K.

I know on other vehicles that I have worked on (Escorts, Sebrings, Caravans, Mazdas, Hyundais, etc) they were running with the original transmissions well past 250K. The thing that I noticed in common were that the filters were changed at regular intervals (between 40-75K) and the fluid never was allowed to burn up.

Since we can't take the filters out of these transmissions very easily, I was wondering if it would be beneficial to run an external filter in-line before the cooler. I am already running an aftermarket in-line cooler at the recommendation of my transmission mechanic. Has anyone had any thought of this? Good idea? Bad idea? Thoughts?

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(Login galaxiex)

Re: CD4E improvements?

November 9 2011, 7:44 AM 

Good idea to run an external filter..... but....

One of the common failures we often see on the CD4E is poor cooler flow and subsequent internal hard part damage due to lack of lube flow.

The cooler return feeds the lube circuit so it MUST have good flow.

Here in Canada... the early CD4E trannys would fail from the fluid gelling in the cooler during cold weather. Fluid gels... no flow... tranny fails...

Ford "fixed" this by putting a thermal cooler bypass valve on the cooler lines near the trans. In cold weather the valve opens and allows unrestricted flow by bypassing the cooler until the trans warms up a bit.

The bypass valve is also pressure sensitive, so if the cooler plugs for whatever reason... the valve opens to allow flow.

We install an external cooler bypass valve on all CD4E vehicles that do not have them, to avoid repeat failure.

If your addition of an external filter causes restricted flow and you have a bypass valve...fluid will bypass the cooler = no or poor cooler flow = trans overheat in warm weather.

If there is no bypass valve and the external filter causes a restriction and poor cooler flow.... bye bye trans... the failure won't happen right away.... but some months later... We have often seen CD4E vehicles in the summer....that did not have a cooler bypass valve.... with hard part failure due to restricted cooler flow from the previous winter.

There is also an internal cooler/lube circuit control in the valve body, and we install one of these Sonnax kits in every CD4E we build.

Click on the part summary or instructions under resources to see what this kit is all about.

Be aware... to install this kit you also need to have the special reamers that are extra, and not included with the kit.

Does the Cougar have an external bypass valve fitted? Do you drive it in winter/cold weather?

If it will see cold weather operation, and doesn't already have one, a cooler bypass valve is strongly recommended!

This message has been edited by galaxiex from IP address on Nov 9, 2011 8:14 AM

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(Login zinc01)

valve location?

November 9 2011, 10:29 AM 

I'm not sure if this transmission has the external valve or not. Would this item definitely be on the outside of the transmission or on the inside? If it's internal then I would doubt it's presence as this was an older transmission installed into this vehicle.

Would you happen to have a part number for an aftermarket valve? I am located just outside of Atlanta, GA. We don't see freezing weather for much of the year, 3 months at the max on a cold year. Would this be necessary this far south? Still, I think that it is a good idea.

I was going to reposition the cooler to a better location to receive proper airflow anyways, I am not satisfied with how this one is mounted. I was also pondering the use of both the cooler in the radiator in line with the aftermarket but probably won't waste the effort there.

For the oil filter that I was thinking of, I was planning on changing the filter out every other oil change, to keep the clogging at a minimum. This would happen every 6000-7500 miles. Filters are relatively cheap insurance at this point.

I would also flush out the cooler at this point, running compressed air into the line and pulling mineral spirits through using a vacuum pump. Don't worry, I'd drain it back out before putting fresh fluid back in. (The old fluid and mineral sprirts wouldn't go to waste either, I collect used oil and filter it for my diesel truck.) That sound good to you?

For the kit that you recommended, is this something that I can do with the trans in the car? What is the running cost for the kit and the reamer that you mention? My experience involves removing transmissions from both RWD and FWD in a shop environment, and changing filters (really good at the 604 filters, that's a 10 minute job there.)

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(Login zinc01)

good kit?

November 9 2011, 10:36 AM 

this is what I was thinking of kit wise. Do you think that something like this a good setup with the proper vavle and maintinence? What do you believe service intervals for the filter would be (playing on the safe side, not the cheap side)

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(Login galaxiex)

Re: good kit?

November 9 2011, 8:26 PM 

The Ford factory bypass valve is definitely on the outside of the trans... actually mounted very close to... if not on, the trans itself. Hard to miss if it's there... just follow the cooler lines.

It looks similar to this one... (it's what we install if the car doesn't already have one)...>>>

...but without the fancy blue anodizing. The factory one is plain aluminum.

If you are religious about maintaining the filter then I'd say go ahead and put the filter on. Your filter change interval of 6000 7500 miles sounds good.

The Sonnax kit can be installed without removing the trans. The kit installs in the valve body. Even so... it can be a bear to get the VB off in the car... not impossible but can be done.

You seem to have good knowledge and mechanical skills so I would say... get the Sonnax kit and install it. Carefully read the instructions before attempting this.... it is not particularily hard to install... but the instructions can be a bit convoluted... I have installed several of these kits... and even I have to carefully read over the instructions every time....

Don't forget you will also have to purchase the special tools/reamers (expensive) to install the kit. I don't know the prices offhand... our shop bought the reamers some time ago and when we order the valve kit I never see the price.... the boss pays the bills.... and I don't worry about it. wink.gif

Sonnax does not sell to the public... so you would have to find a supplier that will sell the stuff to you.... or find a shop that will install the kit if you bring in the valve body. If you do that... make sure you have them do the "optional" lube modification. (read the instructions to understand what I mean here)

Normally I would not recommend an amateur to attempt this kit.... esp someone with little or no experience working on trannys.

Plan on a full days work if you put the kit in yourself...


This message has been edited by galaxiex from IP address on Nov 9, 2011 8:29 PM

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(Login zinc01)

this make sense?

November 10 2011, 3:53 PM 

I've been asking different sources this same question, and this response came up and was interesting to me.

"I've rebuilt many CD4E's. I have yet to see one "burned up". Many assume the old "heat is the #1 killer of automatics" and they may be right but not with the CD4E. There is a flaw in the valve body that allow line pressure to surge and the forward drum usually blows the snap ring land off the drum. No forward gears and a mandatory rebuild. The band can also break. The range sensor can "half fail" and cause erratic gear selection and HARD shifts. The problem is the car still drives half okay so many do. It burns up clutches from driving it too long with the range sensor messed up. I cant remember which set goes but id imagine it would depend on the way the range sensor fails. Even then, just one set of clutches was wasted, the others pristine. I've cut open used filters to look for metal and whatnot and even on a failed trans the filter is surprisingly clean...

If you really think about it, the trans is (in theory) sealed, unlike an engine. The filter really shouldn't plug up unless the fluid burns/varnishes. I honestly wouldn't worry as much about the filter and see about installing the trans-go kit into the valve body. I've never tried but I see no reason why you couldn't install the kit without removing the trans. The kit ads a safety release to dump pressure spikes and and a different TCC valve if I remember correctly that completely eliminates the exploded drum issue. If you are looking to extend life Id go there first. I do not think the aftermarket cooler or filter would be very good when the line pressure spikes... A filter cant hurt though really... I know I like to install them when I do a rebuild to prevent the possibility of anything left in the cooler flowing back to the new trans. "

What do you think of this response? Is this along the same lines as the kit that you mentioned or is there another kit? Are there any symptoms that a driver would feel during one of these surges?

I'm thinking about getting the transmission shop that I used to work at to order and install one of these kits. I am going to install the inline filter and relocate the cooler before I do such. I haven't looked for that valve yet, but I don't recall seeing one when I was under the vehicle either. I shall come back with the answer about the valve as well.

What do you knwo about the range selector switch as well? Are there any decent bench tests for this?

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(Login galaxiex)

Re: this make sense?

November 10 2011, 9:05 PM 

Yes... the pressure "surge" is well known. You will NOT necessarily feel the high line pressure while driving. sad.gif

The cause is a worn VB in the pressure regualtor bore and/or the EPC (pressure) solenoid sticking/worn out.

The Sonnax kit addresses the worn bore problem.

Other causes of high line pressure are "partial" failsafe operation where the computor sees a fault and jacks the line pressure up to "save" the trans.

Don't drive too much with tranny codes in the computor... It might seem to work fine... but the comp has jacked line pressure and that is hard on stuff.

Yes.. the range sensor (MLPS Manual Lever Position Sensor) can be a problem too... the older ones failed quite often... Ford released an "updated" MLPS to address issues..... I know of no bench tests to determine if the MLPS is good/partially good/ or failing.

For peace of mind just change it... all MLPS sold now should be the updated type.

The Transgo kit is good.. but the Sonnax kit really "fixes" the worn valve body issue... and believe me.... it IS an issue.

The Transgo kit does NOT "repair" the worn PR valve bore... it just adds a sleeve and a pressure relief valve. The Sonnax kit REALLY fixes it.

I'm NOT dissing Transgo here... I like their products and use them all the time... it's just that in this case.... I would go with the Sonnax fix.

This message has been edited by galaxiex from IP address on Nov 10, 2011 9:09 PM

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(Login zinc01)

repair cost

December 19 2011, 12:07 AM 

I was wondering how much transmission shops charge to do the valve body repair on average. I haven't been able to find a price on the Sonnax kits. The Transgo and the S96167 SUPERIOR SHIFT CORRECTION KIT CD4E KCD4E are around $40-$50. i just need a ballpark estimate for the cost of repair in shop, in addition to the Merc V t-juice.

I will be doing the valve and the filter myself. In addition I will be purging the coolers out with compressed air and mineral spirits. The shifting has gotten much harder in the colder weather, I have a feeling that this jelling effect is going on. I will be flushing the cooler as well and reconnecting the line to the cooler in the radiator. New MLPS is in place, adjusted properly as well.

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Stuart Anderson
(Login stuart40a)
Forum Moderator

Re: repair cost

December 19 2011, 6:58 AM 

Different areas have different prices. Call around and ask.

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(Login galaxiex)

Re: repair cost

December 19 2011, 8:38 AM 

Just to add...

Sonnax does not sell to the public.

If you want one of their kits you have to buy thru a distributor. (Tranny shop or trans parts supplier)

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(no login)


January 18 2015, 10:42 AM 

Hi, do you ever find out how to fix this issue? I have a 2001 Ford Escape 3.0 v6 4wd with the CD4E tranmission. I have religiously changed transmission fluid every 12k miles and currently the car has 115,000 miles and drives fine. I am starting to worry that I am on borrowed time with the CD4E but when I read online so many people have driven this car 150k+ without trouble while others have has trannny failures. Is there a way to fix this issue? and how much does it cost? If prices are different in different areas, how much does the kit cost and how many hours of labor will a shop charge me? Please help me!

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(no login)

Re: CD4E

January 18 2015, 11:46 AM 

To answer your questions, I just looked up labor to Remove, replace and overhaul a CD4E Valvebody, book time is 5 hours, plus the kit and plus to install the kit. I have a transmission shop in new york every CD4E that i build gets a transgo shift kit, These valvebodies have bore wear at the pressure regulator valve causing pressure spikes. Gary Hope that helps

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