Extend The Life Of The 5R110W Transmission In Your 2004 – 2010 F350 Pickup

Posted by on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The 5R110W is a heavy duty five speed automatic transmission designed and produced by Ford Motor Corp.  It was used in most heavy duty 2004 – 2010 F-series pickup trucks, including the F250, the F350, F450 and the F550. It was used primarily behind the 6.0 diesel engine and the V10 gasoline engine.

Many F350 trucks are equipped with the 5R110W automatic transmission

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While this is considered one of the top heavy duty automatic transmissions available in any full size pickup truck, it is not bullet proof.  Most owners of heavy duty F350 trucks use them for industrial work or for towing heavy loads beyond what they were designed to do.

If you abuse your 5R110W it will have a relative short life span. There are things you can do to extend its life. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Because the Heavy Duty F350 Ford pickup truck is used primarily as a work truck, it is often subject to conditions that it was not originally designed to handle. One of the main abusive practices is towing a load rated above the factory limit. This creates tremendous heat in the transmission, and excessive heat is the quickest way to shorten the life of your transmission.

Many F350 trucks are equipped with the 5R110W automatic transmission


Ideally your 5R110W is designed to stay at or below 200 degrees. For every 20 degrees you go above this limit you risk cutting the life expectancy of your transmission by a factor of two. Even worse, once the temperature gets to 240 degrees, you risk having your transmission fluid turn to varnish. Once this occurs, the complete destruction of your 5R110W transmission is just around the corner.

The best way to keep excessive heat at bay is to install an aftermarket transmission cooler to supplement your factory cooler. It should be mounted in a location that gets good airflow when the vehicle is in motion. If that is not possible, consider buying a transmission cooler that has its own built in electric fan.

We mentioned above how heat can destroy your organic oil based transmission fluid. To avoid this from happening, consider upgrading to a synthetic type transmission fluid. The properties of synthetic fluid are such that it will not be effected by heat as easily as organic fluid.

Don’t forget to get your transmission serviced regularly. Regardless of what the factory recommends for a mileage interval, I recommend changing the fluid and filter every 25,000 miles. If you tow regularly, I would reduce that interval to every 20,000 miles. You will be rewarded with a transmission that lasts longer than average.

Installing synthetic fluid is highy recommended for the 5R110W automatic transmission in your F350


Sooner or later, due to high mileage or abuse, you will be faced with a decision to replace the 5R110W in your F350 pickup truck. I highly recommend doing so with a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simply rebuilt. A re-manufactured transmission comes with a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. In the rare event that you need to contact the company that re-manufactures transmissions, they are just a quick phone call or email away!

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