Modify Your E4OD For Off-Road Fun

Posted by on Thursday, June 20th, 2013

The E4OD is a heavy duty four speed automatic transmission made by Ford. It is based off the equally heavy duty 3 speed C6 transmission. The E4OD was used in both light and heavy duty applications, including the Bronco, E-Series, Expedition and F-Series.  It was first put into production back in 1989 and was phased out at the end of the 1998 model year. The trucks that were originally equipped with this transmission are getting old, and with age they become more affordable. Owners are picking them up cheap and taking them off road. While this is a fairly heavy duty transmission, in its stock form, it is not well equipped for the stress of off road use. Let’s take a look at two items you can add to your E4OD transmission to make it more durable for off-road use.

breakdown of the Ford E4OD transmission


As I have addressed many times in the past, heat is an automatic transmission’s worst enemy. Under normal driving conditions, many transmissions struggle to stay cool. Racing only makes the problem a lot worse. Then add in the heavy weight of the type of vehicle mentioned about and you have the perfect conditions for overheating your transmission.

The easiest way to combat heat is to install an aftermarket transmission cooler. Since off-roading creates a lot of vibration, I highly suggest you look for a transmission cooler that uses a stack-plate design. Not only are stack-plate designed coolers more durable, they are also more efficient in removing extra heat. This is mainly due to the increase surface area of this premium design. I also highly recommend you get a cooler that has a least one built in fan, especially if you plan to go rock climbing.  You’ll want to mount your cooler in between the line exiting the factory radiator and the line returning fluid back into the transmissions.

E4OD equipped Ford trucks make great off road vehicles


Don’t forget to get a transmission temperature gauge, too. You’ll want to mount the temperature sending unit into the transmission pan for the most accurate readings.  Ideally, you want your transmission temperature to stay around 200 degrees or less.

Because off-roading involves hills with steep terrain, I also recommend you purchase a deep transmission pan.  A deep pan will add a few extra quarts of transmission fluid capacity to the transmission and will also help prevent the oil pickup tube from sucking the pan dry when the vehicle is on a steep incline.

Spend the extra money and buy a pan made of aluminum. Aluminum pans are much more ridged than stamped steel pans and will actually help strengthen the case. As a bonus, the properties of aluminum make the aluminum pans much better at dissipating heat when compared to those made of steel, allowing the aluminum pan to help remove additional heat from your transmission.

Buy an aluminum pan for your E4OD, not a steel pan


Racing a transmission can really shorten the life of your transmission. Not taking care of your transmission before there are problems, is like waiting until your wife leaves you before you decide to pay more attention to your marriage. If you are reading this article too late, and the choice must be made to replace your transmission, please consider replacing it with a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simply rebuilt.

Re-manufactured transmissions include modifications and upgrades designed to make them more durable and last longer. Rebuilt transmissions do not. Re-manufactured transmissions also come with much better warranties.  You’re looking at a three year warranty with a re-manufactured transmission compared to an average 90 day warranty for rebuilt transmissions. There is a reason for the big difference in warranties. The companies that re-manufacture transmissions are so confident in the quality of the parts they use and their workmanship that they believe you will never need to use the warranty.  Companies that rebuild transmissions obviously don’t feel the same way.

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