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Old 08-22-2017, 10:39 AM   #1
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TV Transmission life expectancy

I am looking to purchase a new TV after this weekend's maiden voyage with my new TT. The 4Runner pulls and drives as expected but just can't over come the sail effect of the TT even though it has an aerodynamically shaped front. I had to carefully monitor the transmission temps and slow down accordingly to compensate. That and semi wakes caused a little bit of walking. Thus the DW and I decided it was time for a full sized pickup.

I have read the many debates of gassers versus diesels, 1/2 versus 3/4 to full ton trucks and here is what I have settled on.
Used 1/2 ton, V8, gasser capped at $18K. Why? Daily driver, GCVR of TT is 6050#, and most of my trips are within a half day's drive once a month.
GM's are out because all I find are 5.3L, 4 speed transmissions in this price range.
Dodge Rams I have spotted a couple of Hemi's but almost none of them come with a tow package.
Tundras? Not in my price range unless it has seriously high mileage
Plenty of Ford F150's with the 5.4L or 5.0L. Spotted 2 with built in brake controllers and one 2012 with the tow package even though it doesn't include the brake controller (I have a Prodigy P2 so no problems there).

My question though is about transmission life expectancy. Should I be expecting a 100K+ truck to soon need a transmission rebuild/replacement? I read the forums of truck owners and this seems almost common. I don't want to invest in a new(er) TV only to have to turn around and fix the transmission. I have driven plenty but never owned a truck so my personal experience is some what limited. Any advice besides get a prepurchase inspection done (already going to happen no matter what)?
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Old 08-22-2017, 02:01 PM   #2
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If you're looking at high mileage pick ups, I'd think about getting oil and transmission fluid analysis done. It gives you a bit more info than just sniffing the fluids.
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Old 08-22-2017, 03:34 PM   #3
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Like anything else, I guess it depends on the prior owner's maintenance, but no, I wouldn't categorically say a higher mileage truck transmission is doomed to failure.

But of course you "made me look..."
2010 Dodge Ram 1500 2WD Crew Cab 140.5" SLT - Morning Star Motor Company | Auto dealership in Albuquerque, New Mexico | Inventory

This truck is just a year too old to get the reprint window sticker, but I did find the build sheet:
https://www.ramtrucks.com/webselfser...RB1CT0AS157438
Of interest to you, 1500 Crew, 4x2, 3.92 anti-spin, factory tow package w/class IV receiver hitch, (no brake controller, but wiring in place to support your P2), Lone Star, luxury package, rambox (these are surprisingly handy), power/heated trailer tow mirrors, HD engine and trans cooling, adjustable pedals, power seat, 32 gallon tank, etc.

http://www.rambodybuilder.com/2010/d...ammlup1500.pdf
As you already know, discount the max trailer weight, Identify payload and GVWR for your combination. Hmmm 15,500 GCWR on this example, not too shabby...
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Old 08-22-2017, 03:35 PM   #4
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Should I be expecting a 100K+ truck to soon need a transmission rebuild/replacement?
Yes. With a 2011-up F-150, and assuming the previous owner was adamant about completely changing the ATF every 50,000 miles or so and using only Mercon LV ATF, and never allowing the ATF to overheat, then the tranny and torque converter are expected to last between 100,000 and 150,000 miles between tranny overhauls or replacement.

The torque convertor will probably be the first to go belly up, so if you begin to notice more than normal slippage, have a good tranny tech check if the torque convertor might be needing replacement. If the torque convertor goes, it will take the tranny to the graveyard with it.

The 2011-up F-150 Owner's Guide says the ATF does not need to be changed until 150,000 miles, but that's only if the ATF was never allowed to overheat and remains the nice pink color of new ATF.

Basically the same rules apply to the 2010 and older 5.4L V8 and matching tranny, except for the spec of the ATF required. Use the ATF required by your Owner's Guide, and do a complete ATF replacement every 30,000 miles or so when towing heavy and often.

The tranny pan holds only about 1/3rd of the total ATF in the system. So draining the pan and refilling with new ATF will not get the job done. You need a "power flush" but using nothing but new ATF as the flushing agent. Don't allow those idiots to use any chemicals of any kind when flushing your tranny. Use nothing but new ATF.
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:13 PM   #5
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I'm a bit lost to the comments here...I would expect the transmission on a modern 1/2 ton to last 200k+ miles. We're not talking old school th350s or C6s here. Transmission tech has come a long way. Buy a good looking well cared for used truck. Change the fluid and filter before you work it. Possibly put in a extra transmission cooler depending on the truck. Drive it and don't worry about it.....
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:23 PM   #6
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I am with mrgrayaz. The design standard in the 80's was 100,000 miles. I am sure the design standard is north of 400,000 by now. Unless you cook the atf (which is pretty hard) you would be advised to leave it alone.
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:33 PM   #7
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The killer of transmissions is heat. Wipe the fluid on a white cloth. If you see metal flakes or brown chunks, pass on it unless you're game for a rebuild. Other than finding a bullet proof Allison a complete check over by a professional is the only way to get any assurance and that's ify at best. If you tow be sure the cooling is adequate and have a transmission temperature gauge installed. If its over 195 you ain't got enough cooling.
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:35 PM   #8
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Remember the average half ton is used for........nothing but commuting or grocery getting. I suspect you'll find many of them with pristine tow hitches.....
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Old 08-22-2017, 06:11 PM   #9
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There's nothing wrong with a GM truck with the 4L65E, nor the 5.3L. Both pull fine, the only thing you need to do is put a decent transmission cooler on it, and you can tow all day. I towed with my '09 5.3/4spd with an 8K trailer, probably did about 5000 miles towing without issue, the truck had over 130K on it when I switched to a diesel. I wouldn't think twice to get one if it was my only decent option.

As for a Ford, if you can get the 5.0, you'd be doing a lot better than the older 5.4. Not that it was terrible, but the 5.0 is quite an upgrade.

One thing I've noticed is that Ford has their transmission temp sensor located differently than what is the norm in their newer trucks. So seeing a 205 degree transmission temp is normal, where most other trucks you want to keep it under 200 at all costs.

I'm sure a 5.7 tundra or Titan could do it, but don't plan on passing a gas station.
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:29 AM   #10
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I am with mrgrayaz. The design standard in the 80's was 100,000 miles. I am sure the design standard is north of 400,000 by now. Unless you cook the atf (which is pretty hard) you would be advised to leave it alone.
I also think most tranny's are a LOT better for the last 15-20 years than they were way back when.

However, if the original owner did a lot of HEAVY towing they may have significantly overheated tranny fluid to where it would significantly diminish the tranny life to only get 50-100k miles.

It is my understanding that if the tranny fluid was cooked on a repeated basis changing/flushing fluid can put your vehicle on the path to a long tranny life again.
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:44 AM   #11
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Two of my last two tow vehicles had 165k ('99 Yukon) and 130k ('05 Super Duty v10) when I bought them. The SD had pulled a fifth wheel for the first 100k of its life. Both drove and shifted well, and each took us on cross country trips with trailers behind them. I asked transmission shops about doing a preemptive rebuild and was told I was crazy.

Each required a little maintenance for normal wear and tear, but they did their jobs well. Before you buy anything, have an inspection done to catch as much as possible and ask that any major issues be addressed or discounted.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:22 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone. I was feeling concerned because it seems everyone is selling their trucks around the 100K+ mark. I am used to Toyotas where they just keep on running as long as you keep up with the maintenance. I always plan on full fluid changes when I purchase a used vehicle but I just wanted to make sure that I don't need to readily factor in a new transmission rebuild as part of the immediate cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MagnaPilot View Post
There's nothing wrong with a GM truck with the 4L65E, nor the 5.3L. Both pull fine, the only thing you need to do is put a decent transmission cooler on it, and you can tow all day. I towed with my '09 5.3/4spd with an 8K trailer, probably did about 5000 miles towing without issue, the truck had over 130K on it when I switched to a diesel. I wouldn't think twice to get one if it was my only decent option.

As for a Ford, if you can get the 5.0, you'd be doing a lot better than the older 5.4. Not that it was terrible, but the 5.0 is quite an upgrade.

One thing I've noticed is that Ford has their transmission temp sensor located differently than what is the norm in their newer trucks. So seeing a 205 degree transmission temp is normal, where most other trucks you want to keep it under 200 at all costs.

I'm sure a 5.7 tundra or Titan could do it, but don't plan on passing a gas station.
Thanks for this information. The reason I shy away from 4 speed transmissions is because I feel I am always over revving in tow mode. I have spotted a couple of 5.3L with the 6 speeds. My other concern is the fact that when I try to look up to the Chevy/GM tow ratings they come up pretty low compared Ford and Dodges. Is there a good link to the GM tow ratings?

I am leaning toward the Fords just because they seem the most readily available with the tow package and the large fuel tanks.

I am keeping my eye out for the Dodge 1500 5.7L with the tow package but those seem pretty scarce.

Nissan Titan would be a backwards step for me and Tundras are pricey and have a small payload rating. Sure the Tundra would last forever and pull strong but I would be borderline on overloading each time I pulled the TT.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:43 AM   #13
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Thanks everyone. I was feeling concerned because it seems everyone is selling their trucks around the 100K+ mark. I am used to Toyotas where they just keep on running as long as you keep up with the maintenance. I always plan on full fluid changes when I purchase a used vehicle but I just wanted to make sure that I don't need to readily factor in a new transmission rebuild as part of the immediate cost.
As a Nissan guy, take it from me...the higher mileage domestics do indeed require far more maintenance then the Japanese...but that's just part of the game. They are cheaper to fix, and break more often. I've found my Nissan's rarely had issues, but when they did, parts were more expensive.

There seem to be far more "oh yeah they all do that" issues that cost money to fix....I've spent more on "minor fix its" on this Ford in the last year then I did on my last 8 years driving Nissan trucks... The Domestic drive-trains are solid, but lots of stupid issues with the rest of the truck...

Just don't do what I did.... and buy a higher mileage domestic and assume it will be as trouble free as your Toyota...cause it wont be. I had no idea! and its cost me hehe.

I would assume a more modern vehicle closer to 100k miles would be better then my 2005 in this regard.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:50 AM   #14
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The reason vehicles get unloaded at 100,000 miles has more to do with financing and resale value than its useful life. Go to any dealer and ask about the value of your vehicle with 80,000 miles or 105,000 miles on it. Many dealers don't want to give much for a vehicle over 5 years old or more than 6 digits on the odometer.
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