Transmission auto

Ford F150 Automatic Transmission Identification

Do you know which transmission you have in your vehicle? If not, this article will delve into the types of transmissions and how to identify them. Let’s get started:

How do I identify a Ford automatic transmission?

Before getting into the identification process, let us look at some transmission types and the history around them:

2-speed

There were automatic transmissions with two-speed features made between 1959 and 1964. These were in use in six cylinders and were in use in specific cars. Note that they did not come with added performance advantages, and there is thus nothing that makes them stand out as much. They are available in Falcons, Comets, and other cars from this age, and you can identify them by looking for their single-piece aluminum case. 

3-speed

Now, this is where the fun begins, as this transmission worked with various applications. Also, it came in different types, as you will see below. It helps to note that the C3 and the Cruise-O-Matic are the lightest-duty of the series. Thus, for people looking for tons of power, these are not the go-to choices. The C4 and C6 are the ideal choices for anyone looking to enjoy an added performance. Here goes:

  • C4

This transmission came into play back in the 60s and was the first light-duty automatic transmission with three speeds. It worked for six cylinders, small V8s, and four-cylinder applications. As such, it catered to vehicles such as the Mercury and the Ford. It featured bolt-on bell housing, which allowed for its adaptation to different engine applications. Its versatility was thus a plus that many people loved. See? That’s one thing you can use in the identification process.

It would help if you also looked out for the dipstick location, as there was a variation in the two C4 types in the market. One had a dipstick in the case, and this worked best for passenger cars. Here, the bell housing accommodated an 11-inch torque converter. The other had the dipstick entering the trans-pan, and this worked best for trucks and vans. It was featured in some full-size cars in the market. In the case of this variation, the bell housing was quite large to make way for a 12-inch torque converter. Other than the size of the bell housing and the location of the dipstick, the C4 variations are quite similar. Internally, they house the same components. 

In the 80s, Ford made another change and introduced a lockup version of the C4, which went by the name C5. It was quite similar to the original version, only that it used a lockup converter and had a different valve body programming. This version remained in the market for about four years before its production came to an end.

Are there advantages to the C4? Why, yes! This variation is light and efficient. These are some of the reasons many people continue to choose it over and over again.

  • C6

This version came into the market in the 60s and remained in production till the late 80s. This transmission was heavy duty and was in use in engines such as the 7.3 diesel and the 351W. It was the go-to for cars used in racing applications, that was until race-prepping started in the C4s. Once this change took place, the C6 took a backseat.

The C6 came in three bell housing variations, unlike the C4, which had two. This variation was in a bid to house three different series of engines on offer in the market at the time. There was a small block, a 335 series, and an FE series big block. Also, there were three extension housings on offer. There was one measuring 17.4 inches in use in the Lincoln, another at seven inches for trucks and a fourteen-inch version for passenger cars.

This transmission can withstand tons of power in its stock form and is best for use for towing. On the downside, it is massive and will not fit many cars.

This guide has not covered the C3, which is also a part of the C series. However, under the identification process, we will point out some of the key features to look out for when identifying the transmission. It also helps to note that the C series is a line of transmissions that came out one after the other. As such, just like the C6 is an upgrade of the C4, the same holds for the C4 when it comes to the C3.

  • Cruise-O-Matic

This version dates back to the ’50s. It came in three series whose uses differed significantly. There were small and medium cases in use from the 50s to the 60s. Then there was the FMX, which was popular as from the 60s to the 70s. You can identify this variation as it has a cast-iron main case that you will not find in other 3-speed versions. Also, it features separate bell housings made of aluminum, with bolted extension housings. It is not ideal for performance cars as aftermarket parts on the same are limited.

Automatic Overdrive (AOD)

This transmission worked for rear-wheel drives, and it came about in the 80s. It featured mechanical lockup and was available in most engines back then. Later on, a computer-controlled version, known as the AODE, came into the market.

What transmission does my Ford truck have?

You can identify your transmission visually by following the steps outlined below:

Start by inspecting the pan below the transmission. For a C series transmission, the pan will be square. The C3 will recess towards the rear passenger side while the C4 will bulge towards the front passenger side. The C6 will recess on the rear passenger side facing the back of the car. As for the Ford-O-Matic, you should not come across a square pan, and there should be no recessing in play.

Next, count the bolts you see on the pan. A C3 will have 13; a C4 will have 11, while the C6 will feature 14. The Ford-O-Matic will have 15 bolts.

Does VIN tell your transmission?

The VIN is the vehicle identification number. You can use this to identify your transmission type as well as other factors, such as where your car was built. Also, you can use the owner’s manual as it will also have information as to this. 

Now you have what you need to identify your transmission type and prepare for replacements and repairs, where necessary. And if someone asks you ‘Can I find out what transmission is in my truck by the VIN?’, you know the answer. That said, good luck!

Editorial Staff

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