Latest Reader Question (Oct. 23, 2017)

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Here’s the latest reader Question, along with my reply:

Mark asks: Do you know any of the details on the new Ford 10 speed auto? Does it have, say a number of deep overdrives to make the 10 speeds? Have you driven one? Methinks there would be a lot of gear hunting on the damn thing as to be annoying. But I get it if they wanted a number of deep overdrive gears to get better highway mpgs. Am considering F-150 w/5.0L, but the 10-speed, with its complexity, has me swearing off Fords. Details?

My reply: I have driven several vehicles with the ten speed automatic, which is being used in both Ford and GM vehicles (including the 2018 Camaro and the F-150 and the new Mustang).

The top several gears (as in the FiatChrysler nine speed) are indeed overdrive ratios, designed to cut engine revs at cruising speed. Which they do.

The reason for several OD ratios is that the final ratio (10th speed) is really deep and it is necessary to “step” from say 5th (and 1:1) up to the final OD ratio, otherwise, you’d have a bog as the tranny upshifted from 5th (1:1) and that really deep OD 10th.

The Ford/GM transmission shifts much more seamlessly than the FiatChrysler box, which tends to “jump” noticeably two or three gears (up) which imparts the feeling that the vehicle is surging forward (it is).

It’s a lot of trouble – for not much gain.

Check out the city/highway numbers; the gains are on the order of 3 or so MPG. It’s negligible in real-world driving but matters a great deal when factored on a corporate average (CAFE) level, for purposes of complying with federal fuel economy mandatory minimums. This is the only reason for these nine and ten-speed transmissions. There is no performance advantage and there are negatives as far as shift feel and general operating characteristics.

These transmissions are also extremely expensive to replace in the event of a failure. On the order of $4,000 for the transmission, not counting the labor to install. You can imagine what this will do to resale values. Also, if you are unlucky enough to own one of these vehicles when it it 10 or so years old and no longer worth more than $10k or so (probably less) you may be faced with the choice of spending more on the car than it’s worth to repair it – or just eat the loss and throw the vehicle away.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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