Opinions sought; ranger auto boxes

Submitted: Tuesday, Dec 13, 2016 at 23:45
ThreadID: 133934 Views:3057 Replies:7 FollowUps:21
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I've heard some good things about the current Dmax auto box,
but not much about the Ranger auto. Does it have as good a rep as the Isuzu for towing purposes?
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 11:06

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 11:06
Hi Paul E6

The current Ranger/BT50 box is the Ford 6R80. The six is for six speed, don't know what the R is for, the 80 means rated for engines up to 800Nm torque.

The Ranger and BT are 470nm in standard form, so on specs the box is not heavily stressed.

The transmission has an excellent reputation for towing and I can vouch for that from my own experience. No hunting, it will just find the right gear in both standard and sport modes. (Sport mode moves the shift points and generally calls for higher RPM before changing up.)

In cruise on a big hill it will do two downshifts before the cruise kicks out. Downhill on a trailing throttle, in or out of cruise, it will do two downshifts if necessary for engine braking.

It has some reported quirks, a common one being a thumpy shift if you're at low speed on light throttle and then accelerate mildly. Eg, approaching an intersection or roundabout, see your gap and then accelerate mildly. It's more pronounced when cold.

A more serious issue is the inadequate factory transmission cooler. The transmission is "sealed for life" according to the owners manual, requiring no service until 250,000km. Yet after 45,000 km, half of that touring at high Combined weight (but always within all the weight limits) the trans fluid was black and required changing. Part of the reason is high transmission temperatures. It normally operates around 97 degC, but on big hills, etc I've seen 135. That's too hot and I've had to stop and let it cool.

If towing at high weights the transmission fluid need regular inspection and replacement and for longevity an after market transmission cooler would be advisable.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:03

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:03
Frank, the Mercon LV fluid when new is very dark, if you had done an analysis on the fluid, you would probably have found it was quite ok. I changed mine at 50000K and it was all good. Agree if you are working the box the fluid has to be changed at regular intervals. The manual also states the transmission fluid has to be changed earlier if you are towing or working the box hard.

Mine has done just under 60000K of towing and so far has been faultless. I also have an aftermarket cooler which keeps the transmission temps in a good operating range.

The box is the same one that is used in the V8 Mustangs.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 13:52

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 13:52
Eagle, Yes, I read aboout servicing the transmission if worked hard, and hence the fluid change.

Here's a sample of what came out of it. A bit blurry, but it's the colour that matters, not the sharpness. It's photographed against a light background so one would expect a degree of transparency if it was ok. The Mazda service people said it was appropriate to change it, but I guess they would, wouldn't they. (Only being a little bit cynical there, because I do agree with them :-))

What do you think?

I intend to get an after-market cooler installed soon and then a full flush and filter change.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 14:54

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 14:54
Frank, here is a little reply off the net for the same thing you have experienced. I couldn't tell if the trans fluid was still good or not unless it was analysed, here is a little reassurance. Mine was a similar colour to yours.

Here is the quote and please don't blame me for the caps lock.


"21138 AUTO TRANS - MERCON LV FLUID COLOR
SOME 2008-2010 VEHICLES, EQUIPPED WITH AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FACTORY FILLED WITH MERCON LV FLUID (PART # XT-10-QLV), MAY EXHIBIT DARK COLORED TRANS FLUID THAT MAY LOOK BURNT IN APPEARANCE. THIS IS A NORMAL CHARACTERISTIC OF THIS FLUID AND WILL NOT AFFECT TRANSMISSION FUNCTION OR DURABILITY. THE MERCON LV FLUID IS A DEEP RED COLOR, COMPARED TO CONVENTIONAL MERCON V BRIGHT RED FLUID, AND THE COLOR NATURALLY DARKENS AT RELATIVELY LOW MILEAGE. IN SOME CASES, THE FLUID MAY APPEAR TO HAVE A GREEN TINT DUE TO DYE USED TO CHECK FOR LEAKS AT THE ASSEMBLY PLANT. TRANS FLUID COLOR SHOULD NOT BE USED AS SOLE INDICATOR FOR TRANSMISSION REPAIRS. REFER TO THE CORRECT VEHICLE AND MODEL YEAR WORKSHOP MANUAL AND/OR MAINTENANCE GUIDE FOR DIAGNOSTICS, REPAIRS, AND/OR SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE."


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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 15:16

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 15:16
Thanks Eagle! That eases my mind somewhat.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: GREG T11 - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:04

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:04
Ford and their autos, it appears not much has changed ever since the introduction of the 6 speed in BF Falcons. Whilst the 6 cylinder was able to be addressed without to much drama the v8 was another story. No idea whether the current offering is a ZF but 800 Nm and sealed for life certainly sound familiar. All down to oil cooling or lack of it, Nothing wrong with the box, just penny pinching by not FACTORY fitting a cooler designed fit for the purpose. at $ 8000- 10000 a pop they were a very expensive repair !

Many a blown ZF in Xr8s right thru to FG in 2014 ( when I lost interest in following it afters selling the ute ). The same issues are still on the radar as far as ford goes, suspect cooling and thin paint, in 10 years not much has changed.

Isuzu on the other hand a pretty low tech, using a auto used in Landcruisers in the recent past. So if your like me who doesn't need the added worry of how long until it sh..ts itself go with a Dmax.

I am not bagging the Ranger just putting it out there. Even a Carsguide review recently gave a glowing report on how nice they are however added that the long term reliability has not been proven yet. I have NEVER seen that kind of disclaimer put into an article before.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 04:03

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 04:03
I read somewhere that the 6R80 is made by Ford under licence from ZF.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 11:00

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 11:00
Yes it is but the castings and machinings are not as good - is more like a chinese copy of the ZF unit.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 13:15

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 13:15
garrycol, what is your source of your statement. Just asking
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Follow Up By: gbc - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 13:55

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 13:55
It's in every F150 built since 2009, territories, explorers (US), mustangs, and a few more. If there was a problem with the whole world would know.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 14:23

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 14:23
I don't think anyone said there was a problem - just not the quality of the ZF original. Noting some Ford products have the ZF original.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 14:39

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 14:39
Still waiting for your source information garrycol.

I might go over a see and acquaintance I haven't seen for a while and ask him seeing he owns and runs an automatic transmission business and has done for many years.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 17:10

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 17:10
A local Ford dealer and the nearby independent auto transmission establishment that does the overflow work for the Ford dealer and the Landrover Dealer - some Landies have the genuine ZF in it as well.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 15:48

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 15:48
Went and saw the auto transmission owner and Ivan stated.

There is nothing wrong with the quality of the castings or the machining.

I have never heard of any dealer, that will state there is a problem with the product they sell, unless it has been recalled by the manufacturer.

it was actually a good discussion as he gave me an insight into how manufacturers are monitoring the ecu modification of under warranty vehicles and have a record of the fact that they have been modified. They had to do this because of the amount of driveline and engine damage under warranty. Even if the ecu has the original program reinstalled, they know it had been modified.
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Reply By: Grizzle - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 11:55

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 11:55
My son has a Ranger with the 6 speed auto box. He tows a Ski/Wakeboard boat 2 Tons plus. Tows it easily. I follow him in my 4.2 TD Patrol towing nothing and can't keep up!!

Mind you that probably says more about my Patrol than the Ranger!!!

All joking aside it is great tow vehicle.

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Reply By: Grant L - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:16

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:16
Took a Ford ranger and Dmax top of the range, both autos for a est drive in Mackay QLD recently. The Dmax box stood out as much better than the Ford, but both had very few Kms on them and no load. The dmax changed much quicker and smoother than the ford, came up to a roundabout in the ford and punched it before the fellow on my right entered the roundabout and the ford left me hanging not so with the dmax
Didn't buy either too bloody expensive.

Grant
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Follow Up By: Paul E6 - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 20:48

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 20:48
if you took both for a test, did the differences in engine output stand out to you?
on paper the Ranger has a fair bit more output.
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Follow Up By: Grant L - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:21

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:21
From memory no, the auto box in the Dmax was the stand out but remember there was no load on either vehicle. Around inner city streets the Dmax seemed to be more responsive to accelerator imput
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Reply By: RMD - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 14:56

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 14:56
If changing/having the auto fluid changed, then make sure whoever is doing the work does a complete pan and torque converter flush so as much oil as is possible is replaced.
Most places don't bother repeatedly filling and flushing the exit line from the box to ensure TC is also done.
TC contains the majority of the system fluid and when doing the job at least 12 to 15 litres of new fluid will be required.

If the job takes less fluid there is no way it was all done and all flushed. Impossible.

You wouldn't just drain half of the engine oil and top it up would you?
Same for autoboxes. FULL or don't bother.
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:49

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:49
yes ... its not like changing oil in a motor/engine , only way to remove all the oil is total strip down of the box .

I have a mate in a large company that run rangers and they have there far share of problems with autos ... and i think SA government fwd Utes are manly manuals ??



Cheers Nick b
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Reply By: Supersi - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 20:56

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 20:56
I've got a 2015 BT 50 auto and prior to that a px ranger in auto. Both did/are doing a lot of towing and very happy with the transmission other than the inadequate transmission cooler.

As per other comments temps are to high when towing and even without can be at 98 degrees on a moderately warm day on highway 110 kmh driving.

I've just fitted a cooler - Wyong Automatics. $600.00 fitted. Made a huge difference. They commented to change oil at 40,000km intervals.

My gearbox temp monitoring is by a Scangauge.
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 16:37

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 16:37
Supersi,


You say it makes a huge difference. Can you expand - difference in how it feels? Or do you have an auto temp guage ?
CJ
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 17:21

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 17:21
I use a Scangauge too. I don't know where the reported fluid temp is measured. On the forums some who say they know say that it is not at the hottest point, but like so much on the internet, with what authority?

On the Scangauge mine sits generally at 97, more on hills and hot weather in traffic (100-105) and I've once seen 135 on a long high-first hill at close on GCM (5.5 tonne, actually). My knowledge is limited, but that's uncomfortably high for me and I stopped to let it cool.

Transmission cooler being fitted end of January before our next big trip.

Cheers

FrankP

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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 15:31

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 15:31
I can give the difference in temps although I have never had mine anywhere near 135C.

Without the cooler fitted and towing 2.5t and loaded at 3 tonne it would sit anywhere between 96C and 112C depending on ambient temp and terrain.

With the cooler fitted and towing 2.5t and loaded at 3 tonne it sits between 86C and the highest I have seen is 95C.

The thermostat in the transmission looks like it opens around 84 or 85C on mine.

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 16:57

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 16:57
My manual on a disk says the thermostat starts to open at 80 degC.

With an aftermarket cooler, the fluid outside the transmission is being effectively cooled, instead of minimum 85 deg C from the heat exchanger. (85 degC being the normal water temp on my Scangauge)

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 19:44

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 19:44
Frank thanks for that
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Reply By: Jackolux - Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:28

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016 at 22:28
I have the latest Dmax with 5 Speed auto , like all the others they have no dip stick supposedly sealed for normal use ,
I have a Scan Gauge to monitor the auto temps , it gets just as hot as any other auto , I often see temps of 100+ in ambient temps of low to mid twenties , when the speeds get drop to 40 - 70 kph on slower winding roads , even when not towing .
I have recently changed the oil at 50k and fitted a extra cooler the oil was very dark in colour.
I have driven both the latest Hilux and Ranger the 6 speed auto's in those do seem to be another step up from the 5 speed .
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Reply By: gbc - Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 06:44

Thursday, Dec 15, 2016 at 06:44
90 km on my ranger auto now. Tows all the time. Nil upgrades. Love it. We have just got two new sr hilux autos at work. I'd take my 3 yo ranger over them every time. The dmax is honest enough but a fair bit cheaper and smaller and that's how it feels to me when I drive one. It's not only the 6 speed box in the ranger that makes it tow well, it's the long wheelbase and short rear overhang as well. Plenty of dmax out there towing and doing fine, but hook some decent weight up to any of them and you'll see why the ranger wins the awards.
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