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Old 03-15-2012, 09:48 AM   #1
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Automatic transmission life expectency

Hi, I plan to be a jeep owner soon. I am looking at buying a 1999 Jeep Wrangler Sport TJ with 89.000 miles on it. I have two areas of concern.

It has an automatic transmission. If it is properly maintained, what is the life expectency and are there any known problems with this transmission?

Also, it has 35 in. tires with 4.88 gears. Charts indicate that it will turn about 3050 rpms at 65 mph. Does that pose any problems driving distances of 400 miles?

Any help or opinons will be appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 03-15-2012, 11:14 AM   #2
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My '97 3 speed has about 140,000 miles on it and is running great.
The last few years I have been changing the ATF every 12 months, which is probably more often than needed but the Jeep works pretty hard on the rocks or dunes whenever I can.

I too am interested in potential problems of long distance driving at speed with high revs.
In my case, 33's, 4.10 and about 2850 @ 65mph.
I'm going on a 3000+ mile round trip next month and don't want to push it too hard.

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Old 03-15-2012, 01:24 PM   #3
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I've heard the expected life span of an automatic transmission is 200k. My Grand Cherokee didn't start having major tranny issues till about 220,000 and even then the guy I sold it to drove it home at 240,000 miles.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngemm View Post
Hi, I plan to be a jeep owner soon. I am looking at buying a 1999 Jeep Wrangler Sport TJ with 89.000 miles on it. I have two areas of concern.

It has an automatic transmission. If it is properly maintained, what is the life expectency and are there any known problems with this transmission?

Also, it has 35 in. tires with 4.88 gears. Charts indicate that it will turn about 3050 rpms at 65 mph. Does that pose any problems driving distances of 400 miles?

Any help or opinons will be appreciated. Thanks.
That particular transmission is the 32RH which is one of the very best automatic transmissions to have ever come out of Detroit. So long as it doesn't ingest water or be allowed to severely overheat, it's a very good transmission that is often described as nearly "bulletproof".

In fact, I converted my previous '97 TJ from a 5-speed to run that same transmission and I loved it. That TJ is gone so I have a newer TJ with the newer generation 42RLE automatic which isn't nearly as good of a transmission. I miss my previous 32RH automatic transmission... a lot!
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #5
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Thanks for you quick replies. At least I feel comfortable buying an automatic. Should be a jeep owner soon.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:14 AM   #6
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I'm adding deeper pan and temp gauge to my 3 speed next week.
Deeper pan means you have more ATF in the system and with the temp gauge, you can keep an eye on it.

Still want to add an after-market cooler as well. There are several options out there.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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I'm adding deeper pan and temp gauge to my 3 speed next week.
Where do you plan to mount the temp sender?
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:26 AM   #8
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Where do you plan to mount the temp sender?
In the pan.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:41 AM   #9
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Be careful picking your location in the pan. IIRC, the only workable location is on the short 45 degree angle section of the pan. The driver's side places it too close to the driveshaft and the passenger side is too close to the exhaust. I first mounted mine on the driver's side and had to move it to the angled section which was a PITA since mounting the sensor involves welding a bung into the pan.
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:49 AM   #10
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I've had the bung welded on already - it's on the front facing section.

The drain plug for the (Rock Ready) pan is also on the front facing section (and is lower) so I thought I'd be fine with that location.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:01 AM   #11
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Just did a 2600 mile trip from SoCal to Colorado over the mountains and through the woods and had no issues with my 3speed. Went over Wolf Pass both ways, ran around 3200 RPM's at times, fought HEAVY snow around Flagstaff/Williams and my tranny or TJ for that matter never cried once. Well the check engine light(P03030) did come on in Colorado but disconnecting the battery and adding some ethanol conditioner and it never came back on again.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:39 PM   #12
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89,000 turning 35"s is different than 89,000 with 29"s. The bigger tires generate a greater load on the entire drivetrain.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:57 PM   #13
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As stated already, that's a very good tranny and it shouldn't be a problem providing it hasn't experienced undue stress, dirt ingestion or overheating.

ALL auto trannys will fail before their time if allowed to overheat the fluid and/or get even small amounts of dirt inside. Dirt can either clog the filer or abrade internals or both.

If you get lucky buying an undamaged tranny, and if you stay on top of it, then you will be good to go.

Consider adding external trans fluid cooler if wheeling in hot climes and keeping rad and cooler clean of mud....Beware 'Flushing' older tranny that hasn't had it done routinely....Just change fluid and filters regular
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Xjman1 View Post
Just did a 2600 mile trip from SoCal to Colorado over the mountains and through the woods and had no issues with my 3speed. Went over Wolf Pass both ways, ran around 3200 RPM's at times, fought HEAVY snow around Flagstaff/Williams and my tranny or TJ for that matter never cried once. Well the check engine light(P03030) did come on in Colorado but disconnecting the battery and adding some ethanol conditioner and it never came back on again.

Still running the 31's?
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:29 PM   #15
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Yep, 31's will be on for a while, they just fit right and the TJ has meet my build goal, a daily driver that can take on most trails and get me to Colorado comfortably and effectively.
After this trip I LOVE my Edlebrock shocks and H&R springs a little more. They worked well together on the various quality roads we traversed. Going up Wolf Pass was fun but she did it in style.

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