Prevent Common Problems With The Toyota A140E Automatic Transmission

Posted by on Monday, March 18th, 2013

The A140E is a four speed automatic trans-axle made by Toyota. It had a very long life cycle; being first built in 1983 and remaining in production all the way up through the 2001 model year. In today’s rapidly changing technology it is very rare to see an automotive component in production for such a long time. The A140E can be found in select Celica’s, Camary’s and Solara’s. It is not a very beef transmission and as such spent its entire life behind small, low powered 4 cylinder engines.  Because of the extensive use of this transmission over such a long time period, it is important for both the shop owners and individual owners alike to be aware of issues. Let’s take a closer look at the Toyota A140E automatic transmission.

A140E transmission


Overheating: This is not a problem specifically limited to the A140E transmission. This applies to all automatic transmissions in general. The number one cause of automatic transmission failure is due to overheating. Towing over recommended factory limits and just plain abusing the transmission will cause it to overheat. Ideally you want to keep the temperature under 200 degrees.  If your car is not equipped with a transmission temperature gauge I suggest you go out and get one. If you want to limit possible future overheating problems invest in an aftermarket transmission cooler as well. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to install.

Lack of schedule maintenance: Let’s be honest here. This is really not a transmission problem. It’s the owner’s problem. Why owners fail to keep up with scheduled maintenance is a mystery. The factory lays out a recommended service interval plan in the owners’ handbook. If you follow the schedule it’s fairly inexpensive to keep your transmission going for a long time. Skip the maintenance and expect a hefty bill as the result of a transmission failure. If transmission fluid is not changed regularly the fluid eventually turns to varnish. It loses is hydraulic properties and lubrication properties.  For an extra ounce of prevention use synthetic transmission fluid next time you change the fluid. Synthetic fluid will not break down as easily as organic fluid.

Internal components of the A140E transmission


No forward or reverse gears: This is usually associated with a pump failure. Use hydraulic test equipment (gauges) to make sure your pump is still working.  Once a pump fails it usually destroys the rest of the transmission, too. On occasion, this same problem can be caused by a filter that has either come lose or one that is clogged. Simply drop the pan to check for a loose or clogged filter.

Toytoa A140E front pump


The A140E is a decent transmission; that is as long as you don’t abuse it. Like I say, it’s been around a long time, but it’s a bit of history now and working on one is like stepping back into time.

Like all things mechanical, a transmission will not last forever, regardless of how well you take care of it. If a decision has to be made to replace the transmission, I highly recommend you consider a re-manufactured transmission as your first choice. They differ from a rebuilt transmission in the fact that they are as good as a new transmission at a greatly reduced price and often include modifications and upgrades that make them much more durable. A re-manufactured transmission also comes with a much better warranty: three years compared to 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.

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