What Are the Best Ford AOD Performance Transmissions
Several companies make performance transmissions for vehicles requiring an AOD transmission (or a variant). While the original AOD is unpopular among many classic car restorers, some can be used with more reliable aftermarket parts. The best versions eliminate the dual input shafts (they tended to be weak and would break) and the split torque for the third gear.
Most transmission suppliers will recommend purchasing a 1988 or later version of the AOD, as Ford made some updates to strengthen the transmission. While the bell housing is 7/8th of an inch longer (pre-1988), they should still fit into most older AOD applications. Some improvements included a thicker valve body, a more stout input shaft, a wider 2-inch overdrive unit band, and a lockup clutch for the converter.
LenTech Street Bruiser AOD-E/4R70W
This Lentech Street Bruiser AODE/4R70 is rated for up to 500 HP and has modified clutch cylinders for additional clutches. The transmission offers new clutches for all gears (including 6 - 7 for the 3rd-4th shift range). An improved 2” overdrive band ensures better shift control and reliability than stock replacement transmissions.
The transmission kit comes complete with all-new seals, gaskets, and filters. A recalibrated valve body and new oil pan and bolts are provided. New thrust washers and bushings are replaced as needed.
The LenTech is priced at $2595, with limited lifetime warranty offered. LenTech has over 20 years' of experience in the aftermarket rebuild business. The company has a good reputation for customer service. LenTech is a Canadian company based out of Ontario. (Note that you will need a customs form to have the item shipped to you. The company does not recommend residential shipping (it costs about $100 more).
- Improved AOD-E/4R70W unit
- Kit includes all seals and gaskets
- Reasonably priced
- Lifetime guarantee
- Charges extra for residential delivery
Monster 4R70W SS Mega Monster High Performance Race 2WD
This Ford SS Mega Monster transmission is ideal for engines producing up to 600 HP and 550 lb/ft torque. The 4R70W is custom-built by Monster with high-grade heavy-duty parts and will fit into most 4R70W applications. The expansive lower gear ratios provide better acceleration, and the non-synchronous shifts improve shift quality between the first and second gears and second to third shifts.
The transmission is equipped with a Manual/Automatic valve body. The upgraded unit enables the driver to shift manually between the gears or, by placing the car in the overdrive position, keep the car in automatic mode. The transmission includes everything a restorer might need. (Parts include but are not limited to the overhaul kit, intermediate clutch pack, reverse input drum, updated servos, and new accumulators for 2-3 and 3-4).
(Note: this kit does not come with the new speedometer gear. The company recommends that builders reuse the existing tail housing and speedometer gear from their existing car).
The Mega Monster comes with free 12 quarts of synthetic transmission fluid. It has a 90-day warranty on parts and labor, activated with the payment of a core fee. (There is an option to opt out of the warranty should customers wish). The 4T70W is priced less than the MSRP at $2199 and usually ships within 2-5 business days.
Monster Transmission is based out of Brooksville, Fla (which means that the transmissions are American made) and specializes in high-performance remanufactured transmissions and torque converters.
- Reasonably priced
- Good shipping
- Limited customer service
- 90 Day warranty
GearStar Ford AOD Performance Transmission Level 3
The GearStar AOD Level 3 is rated for 500 Hp and 500 lb/ft of torque. The transmission includes a 10” non-damper torque converter. The unit is fully equipped with a new OD band, high capacity 4-plate clutch, 300M hardened input shaft, new pump assembly, wide capacity overdrive servo and pin, and many other items too numerous to mention. The kit has all seals, gaskets, and filters included.
The transmission is available in 4x4 applications. The GearStar is expensive ($5995) and has a core charge of $500. (They charge for ATF). The company offers a 3-year/36k mile warranty on parts.
GearStar is based out of Akron, Ohio. They have over 25 years of experience in performance AOD transmissions for all domestic makes and models. The company is known for excellent customer service and has excellent reviews on their website.
- American made
- Good reviews
- Complete kit with throttle linkage - torque converter
- Expensive as heck
Jegs 4R70W Performance (1998-2004) Ford 4WD Truck
Because the Ford AOD transmission 4R70W was used in Ford F150s for many years, we wanted to include a 4WD transmission for consideration. Jegs is a prime contender in the performance transmission market, offering many transmissions from different purveyors. Each one is rebuilt with quality parts and is tested before shipping.
This Jegs Performance transmission is fitted for ‘98 - ‘04 Ford 4.6L or 5.4L modular V8s and is rated for 400 lbs. (Special Note: This transmission will not fit any 4R70E units). The aluminum case helps keep the weight to 151 lbs, and the 4R70W bolts directly on as a stock replacement. The Jegs transmission has all-new clutch plates, automatic overdrive bands, gaskets, and seals. The front pump is rebuilt, and the improved automatic/manual valve body aids in optimal performance and longevity.
Jegs performance transmissions are warrantied for one year. The company has excellent customer service and several 5-star reviews on its website. They offer same-day shipping.
The company is located in Deleware, Ohio, and employs about 350 workers.
- American made
- Budget friendly price
- Same day shipping
Performance Automatic Street/Strip AOD-E Transmission (‘96 - ‘97 Mustang GT)
Performance Automatic is a Mustangs lover’s dream store with its selection of AOD-E transmissions. This PA transmission fits the Mustang GT from 1996 to 1997, but the company has remanufactured transmissions from every other year of Mustang. The website makes finding the suitable transmission easy, just click a few tabs, and it will recommend the best fit. (Note that Ford changed the AODE mid-year in 1997, so owners should ensure they do not have the 4R70W. There is a “W” marking on the bell housing).
This heavy-duty transmission is rated for 500 hp and Mustangs with the AODE drivetrains. The transmission comes with heavy-duty clutches, a new steel pan, and an improved valve body. The wider overdrive bands will provide strong shift points and quicker thrust capacities. The rebuilt Ford AOD transmission is rated for longer endurance and efficiency at higher speeds than standard stock transmissions. The kit includes all seals, gaskets, and filters.
American Muscle has been in existence since 2003, and the company has a love for Mustang owners. They have excellent customer service, and installation guides can be downloaded from the website for free. There is a 30-day warranty and offers free shipping anywhere in the US. The company is based in Pennsylvania.
- American made
- Free shipping
- Excellent reputation
- 30-day warranty
A Look Back At The A0D Transmissions
Over the years, several different variants of the AOD transmission have been developed. Ford continued to tweak the AOD transmissions over the years to make later versions more reliable than the first few years. Here is a summary of the various AOD transmissions and the variants that resulted from their development.
The idea for overdrive resulted in a desire to have the engine operate at lower revs while cruising on the highway. (Lower revs means less fuel consumption). As much as Americans loved the open road, a cruising overdrive would help save them money at the pump.
Released in 1980, the transmission operated off of a Ravigneaux planetary gearset (which Ford had used in X-style transmissions before). The AOD transmission used a two-shaft system, where the inner input shaft is connected to the torque converter, enabling the lower gears and reverse. The overdrive was connected by a shaft directly to the engine, and the third gear was split between the two. (About 60% was driven from the engine and the remainder from the torque converter).
In addition, the transmission was controlled mechanically through a hydraulic throttle valve cable/rod. Rather than a vacuum modulator and push rod on other transmissions, the engineers connected the throttle directly to the transmission. The throttle cable The design enabled the transmission to respond more quickly to the driver’s commands so that when the gas pedal was pushed, the transmission would kick down into a lower gear (passing gear) and provide more power. It also had to be adjusted carefully for optimal performance, and early models often suffered from improper throttle adjustments, leading to erratic behavior.
The AOD transmissions proved so popular that they made their way into almost every model that Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury made. The automatic overdrive first appeared in the Lincoln Continental Mark VI (Lincoln printed in their sales ads that the new innovation would save 41% in fuel savings).
In 1984, Ford offered the AOD transmission with fourth gear overdrive in Ford Mustang, but most owners preferred the 5-speed manual. Ford would continue to tweak the motor for the next decade until moving on to the AOD-E in 1993.
While similar to the first AOD-E transmission in many ways (oil pan, bell housing, and casing), the AOD-E used electric solenoids and a performance control module to control shift points. The inefficient hydraulic throttle body control was replaced with the newer electronic control system. The dual input shafts were replaced by a single shaft eliminating the need for manual adjustment.
The transmission was designed for the new modular V8 (4.6L V8). However, it did find use in some existing V8 pushrod engines due to the ability to bolt the integral bellhousing directly to small block engines.
The transmission was first used in a Lincoln Town Car for the ‘92 model. Eventually, it would find its way into other vehicles like the ‘94 - ‘95 Mustang, but primarily it was utilized in the 1993 F150 for most of its duration.
The AOD-E was revised to introduce the Lincoln Continental Mark VIII in 1993. By significantly raising the gear ratios (particularly in the lower gears), the transmission had better acceleration, stronger internals, longer, and was mechanically more reliable. The 4R70W used a vehicle speed sensor on the output shaft to help regulate the turbine in the torque converter.
The transmission found its way into various FML vehicles, most notably the ‘96 - 01 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, the ‘93 - ‘01 Town Car, and the ‘96 - ‘04 Mustang.