E4OD / 4R100 Transmission Controllers and the Ford E4OD / 4R100 Transmission

Using the COMPUSHIFT 4R100 / E4OD Transmission Controller with the Ford 4R100 / E4OD Transmission.

Introduction

A Ford 4R100 / E4OD transmission controller can control this heavy duty automatic transmission made by the Ford Motor Company.  The transmission was designed and built by Ford to fit a variety of their heavy-duty diesel vehicles such as the popular F-series trucks.

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A 4R100 Transmission.

Both these transmissions are electronically controlled 4-speed automatic overdrive transmissions so are suitable for use with a 4R100 / E4OD transmission controller. They are both very similar in design with the 4R100 transmission being the newer and improved version of the E4OD transmission.

History of the Ford E4OD and 4R100

The E4OD transmission was introduced in 1989 and was based on the core components from the hugely popular Ford C6 transmission, which had started to feature an overdrive gearset and electronic shift controls.

The advantages to these updates were numerous. The extra overdrive gear allows the vehicle to achieve a higher cruising speed with a lower engine speed. This is because the transmission ratio makes the output shaft spin faster than the input shaft from the engine. It improves overall performance and leads to better fuel economy. A lower engine speed also results in less engine wear over time and a quieter drive on the highway.

The newly introduced electronic shift controls include the use of a standalone transmission control module. Shifts are done electronically with solenoids and fluid pressure control systems which engage the optimum gear based on the input from a transmission controller.

In 1999, the 4R100 transmission was introduced as the successor to the E4OD transmission. It was more durable, could handle a higher torque rating, and solved some of the electronic issues that affected the E4OD transmission.

Gear Ratios Table

The E4OD and 4R100 transmission have the exact same gear ratios, with the 4th gear being the overdrive gear.

E4OD and 4R100 gear ratios

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Reverse
2.71 : 1 1.54 : 1 1:00 : 1 0.71 : 1 2.18 : 1


The COMPUSHIFT 4R100 / E4OD transmission controller allows you to customize a shift strategy that works best to leverage the gear ratios of this transmission.

Strengths of the E4OD and 4R100 transmissions

The main strengths of the E4OD and the 4R100 transmission are their capacity to handle heavy duty applications and their long-lasting durability if maintained properly.

As the E4OD was the first electronically controlled transmission. It can be precisely configured and operated to shift at the right time with the use of a transmission controller like the COMPUSHIFT. The 4R100 transmission built upon the design of the E4OD transmission, and came with stronger and improved internal components, which allowed it to be mated to a 7.3L diesel engine which has a higher torque output.

Some models of the 4R100 transmission come with a PWM torque converter clutch solenoid. This addition of a solenoid which can be controlled by Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) allows the Torque Converter Clutch (TCC) to be turned on and off multiple times per second. This on and off engagement, helps regulates the pressure in the Torque Converter Clutch hydraulic circuit, allowing gradually application of the TCC. This more precise and controlled engagement of the TCC leads to better fuel economy and improved efficiency.

By using PWM, the clutch slip can also be controlled. A gradual application of the Torque Converter Clutch can slip it and smoothly control the vibrations from the engine.

Potential Problems with the E4OD and 4R100 transmissions

While the E4OD and 4R100 transmissions are strong and built to handle heavy loads, there are some common problems that could affect and interfere with its operation.

Erratic Shifting Behavior

With the E4OD transmission, electrical problems are often the main culprit behind erratic shifting behavior. It’s often due to faulty sensors readings. Wrong readings from a faulty tachometer (which measures RPM), throttle position sensor and vehicle speed sensor can cause the transmission control module to shift gears at the wrong time.

Some E4OD transmissions had issues with the analog range sensors, especially the ones built before 1995 as the poor weather-proofing allowed water to enter the connector and cause electrical problems.

Delayed or No Shifts

Poor cooling and vibration may damage the shift solenoids, and lead to their failure. If this happens, the automatic transmission fluid will not be routed through the valve body properly to engage the right gear.

No forward gears

A design flaw with the 4R100’s accumulator pistons and snap ring can cause the forward clutch drum to fail. This will not let the vehicle engage any forwards gears and you may be only able to engage the reverse gear.

Popular custom vehicles that use the E4OD and 4R100

Ford debuted the E4OD transmission for use in F-series pickup trucks like the F-150, F-250 and F-350. They also got fitted into the Ford Bronco SUV and E-series cargo and passenger vans.

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A 1994 Ford F-150 pickup truck

When the stronger 4R100 transmission  came out in 1998 as an upgrade to the E4OD transmission, it continued to be used for Ford’s F-series trucks and Ford’s E-series vans. Since it was able to handle more torque, it was used in the F-series and Ford’s Econoline full-size vans which featured Ford’s 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engines. You can also find the 4R100 in large SUV’s like the Ford Excursion and Ford Expedition.

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The Ford Excursion with a 7.3L engine

As the E4OD and 4R100 are very large transmissions, they’re not easily transferable to other makes and are almost only exclusively used in Ford’s heavy-duty vehicles. 

Controlling the E4OD and 4R100 transmissions

When building a custom vehicle, doing a manual to automatic transmission conversion, changing the engine or adjusting factory tuning, you may find that the vehicle’s existing transmission control system isn’t configured to work with electronically controlled transmissions like the E4OD and 4R100. They may have an engine management system that isn’t optimized to control the transmission or might lack one altogether in the case of older engines.

As the Ford Diesel engines from the nineties and early 2000’s were not that reliable, it’s common for them to be replaced by with a Cummins diesel engine.

There are subtle differences between the E4OD and 4R100 transmissions, and even within themselves there are a few distinctions that will determine the choice of harnesses and wiring looms you need to control the transmission.

8 vs 12 pin Range Sensor / Inhibitor Switch

From 1997 onwards, Ford introduced a digital transmission range control sensor to determine the position of the gear selector. The new digital transmission range sensor contains three additional wiring connections for the transmission control system, and can be identified by the 12-position connector at the sensor, instead of the 8-pin connector of the analog connector.

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The digital transmission range sensor provides binary input data to the transmission controller and has error checking capabilities. It’s therefore much less susceptible to electrical problems caused by moisture or a worn sensor.

Do note that not all transmissions built in 1997 and 1998 have the digital range sensors, so it’s important you check which connector your transmission uses.

Location of the Speed Sensor for Rear-Wheel Drive and 4-Wheel Drive Transmissions

The E4OD has the Transmission Output Speed Sensor (TOSS) located on the Extension housing the speedometer drive. Whilst for the 4R100 it is located on top of the extension housing.

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If you have a 4WD vehicle, you will need to connect the transfer case switch to the yellow transfer case calculation wire, and you must enter transfer case’s ratio into the COMPUSHIFT.

There are many more specific details you need to take into consideration when using a transmission controller like the COMPUSHIFT that are covered by our detailed instructions.

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