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ATS Transmission Rebuild In A 2003 Ford F350 Super Duty - Transmission Buffer

Posted in How To on December 1, 2010
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If there's one thing that I've always been able to smoke on any truck, it has to be the automatic transmission. In fact, I don't own a single vehicle that isn't already on its second, third, or seventh transmission. I believe that just makes every truck that I drive the ultimate test mule for true tranny testing. That being said, I was sort of amazed that the 5R110 transmission had not yet gone out on our F-350 Super Duty project, the Super Turd Diesel. Ours is a first-year 6.0L PowerStroke that has seen three times its fair share of trouble. The lemon of a truck, combined with the fact that it runs 40-inch tires with 4.56 gears, made me wonder when the transmission's luck was going to be up.

During a recent excursion to some dunes with a Polaris RZR in the bed, I noticed a considerable amount of slip on the highway as I stuck the throttle while the truck's speed held steady. The time was near.

Once certain that impending transmission doom was unavoidable, I decided to be proactive and made a call to ATS in Arvada, Colorado. Not only does it honor a five-year, 500,000-mile transmission warranty, ATS has been building heavy-duty truck transmissions in-house since the '90s, and the company's own transmission dynamometer guarantees that every transmission ATS ships out performs exactly as ordered.

While having a transmission shipped to my doorstep certainly would make life easy, I wanted a firsthand look at how our Super Duty's transmission was going together. And driving all the way out to ATS in Colorado (from California) with a transmission that was on its way out sounded risky enough to be exciting.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow

So How Is It Shifting?
Leave it to me to not look back and drive a truck with almost zero testing on it halfway across the country. As soon as I felt that transmission shift into "drive" at ATS, I was out the door and on my way towards California. After about 10 hours of flawless shifting on the highway and town roads, I decided to pull off and find a dirt road, miles away from anywhere and anyone, to do some bombing around. I tested "tow/haul mode," tested manually shifting through the gears, and even tried everything with the transfer case in low range.

The transmission felt fine the entire time I messed around with it and the truck exhibits absolutely no slip in the tranny with the bed loaded down. The shifts, even in tow mode, seem smoother with less slop in them since the build. In tow mode, it really used to bang through the gears if nothing was being towed or hauled, and now it feels much smoother (though still very firm) with and without the truck loaded down.


ATS Diesel
Arvada, CO 80002

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