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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I searched and found some posts close but this is weirdly different....

04 TJ X, 4.0L, auto 4 speed transmission(42RLE?) 95,000miles+/-

Here's what my Jeep is doing, driving along it will just seem to slip and rev up about 2-3K rpms and then drop back down and catch and be fine. This could happen in 3rd or 4th and has slipped in 1st when starting but usually while it's cruising at 45-55 mph.
(I haven't had this Jeep long and it didn't start this until after 2,000 miles.)
The first thing I did when it did it was change the filter and fluid, put in 5 qts of Castrol ATF+4. Seemed to do the job but after another 300-400 miles it started again. I checked the fluid level and it was maybe 1/2 qt low so I put that in. Seemed to do the job again. Now after about 200 miles it's slipping again, not as bad, yet, but as it's our only vehicle, my wife is freakin!
There is absolutly no leakage of any fluids and it's not low now, it's right on the upper punch dot of the dipstick when hot and in Park.
ANY thoughts on this would be appreciated,
Mike
 

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Check the fluid level with it warm and in Neutral. Mine slipped after I changed the fluid/filter but I had only added 4 qts. like the book said. I ended up adding just over 6 qts. total and have had no problems since.
 

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95k is twice a 42RLE's normal lifespan...lol. Mine died at 50k.

but thats worst case scenario.

drop the pan, check the fluid. Look for gold shiny floating particles in the fluid, and ferrous material stuck to the magnet in the bottom of the pan. If you see shiny gold, thats brass. If you see stuff stuck to the magnet, thats steel. That means the tranny needs rebuilt.

Make sure to use ONLY Mopar filters and Mopar approved ATF+4. the 42RLE doesn't like aftermarket filters at all. I prefer Valvoline ATF+4, but i think Castrol is on their list too. Service fill (pan drop) for the 42RLE is ~4L (4.7 qrts). Full overhaul is 8.3L (8.8 qrt).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies
Got some advise to drain off a qt and refill with 'Lucus Trans-Fix'. If it is dry seals or sticking valves, L T-F will solve that. If not, it won't hurt.
Any other wisdom?
 

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when i bought my jeep the transmission cooler had cracked and radiator fluid had leaked into the transmission causing the valve seals to swell and not open all the way/at all. i replaced everything but the trans in hopes that overtime the seals would work itself out. they have not and have bunrt up second gear. now my tranny does what you described and the seals pop loudly. im only telling you this as a possible reason why your tranny is messed up. is the radiator newish looking cause that might have been the cause of this.

i have to replace my tranny, you might also have to if the gears are slipping.
 

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Start saving $$$ for a tranny rebuild, by the time an automatic starts to slip it's already too late and it's just a matter of time until she detonates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, I'm saving my bucks for a rebuild. At this point it only slips now and then, not able to make it slip, just happens.
When I bought this jeep my son who drives a '99 Cherokee, told me Jeeps have personalities all thier own. Boy was he right! Love this thing, it's a study.... It's great to get back under the hood after years of being dependent on shops/dealers to run down automobile computer problems with so little being able to be serviced by the owner.
I'll sure listen to any other comments on this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
On another note, it seems that the general concensus is that the 42RLE basiclly sucks. What would, or is there even, a better replacement that doesn't require major modifications?
Someone chime in here as this is my last vehicle, I don't want to spend limited money on a bad product if a little more $ would be a yeild better long term solution.
 

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I am also curious, as I'm looking to rid myself of my NV3550 headache...so if the 42RLE sucks, whats better?
 

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On another note, it seems that the general concensus is that the 42RLE basiclly sucks. What would, or is there even, a better replacement that doesn't require major modifications?
Someone chime in here as this is my last vehicle, I don't want to spend limited money on a bad product if a little more $ would be a yeild better long term solution.
The problem is the computer. The tranny is HEAVILY integrated into the PCM (Powertrain Control Module-engine computer). Look under the hood, theres a 60-some pin TCM wiring harness running from the PCM wiring harness to the TCM mounted by the washer bottle. The PCM and TCM are always talking to each other.

Replacing the 42RLE is akin to an engine/tranny/t-case swap. I've looked into it extensively, since I hate my 42RLE. It has been done, its just a crap load of work. Going manual would be easiest. Going to another auto would basically be the same as going to a manual, with some extra work.
1. The 42RLE requires a 1-3/8" input shaft for the t-case, so you may need to change that depending what the new tranny requires. This specific input shaft length is necessary to seal the backside of the tranny.
2. The wiring is a nightmare. To go from a 42RLE to an AW4 would almost involve a complete PCM and wiring harness swap. You would convert to a manual PCM, to eliminate the 42RLE's TCM-PCM communication, then wire the AW4 to receive the torque converter lockup signal as described in Stu-Offroad's AW4 write up. you'd also yank the 42RLE's OD dash switch wiring harness.
3. With the AW4 you also need to redrill all the t-case holes since the clocking is different between the XJ and the TJ. No big deal tho, mrblaine made a jig and will loan it out as long as you return it.
4. If you go AW4, the shifter is different. with AW4's you can shift into 1st or 2nd independently...you only get 1-2, 3rd or 4th. Unless you follow the write up to create a custom control circuitboard to control each solenoid individually. That is a nice thing about the AW4-there is one solenoid for each gear.
5. If you go manual, you need to swap out the brake pedal and install a clutch pedal. the manual would also need the slave and master cylinders.
6. If you go manual, you need to install the PROPER pilot bearing on the crackshaft. Because automatics never have direct contact between the engine and the tranny, they don't have pilot bearings installed on the crackshaft at the factory. I say PROPER because picking the correct pilot bearing based on part number can be a challenge.
7. The starter and crankshaft position sensor are different between the 42RLE and the NV3550. You would need to swap those as well.

As you can see, its a whole lot easier to regear, rebuild the 42RLE & install a Transgo shift kit before swapping trannies.

I am also curious, as I'm looking to rid myself of my NV3550 headache...so if the 42RLE sucks, whats better?
The NV3550 is one of the best trannies to be installed into a Jeep. If you're having problems, rebuild it. If you want an auto go AW4 or 32RH.
 

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The NV3550 is one of the best trannies to be installed into a Jeep. If you're having problems, rebuild it. If you want an auto go AW4 or 32RH.
That's terrifying. I've known multiple people who's NV3550's self destructed in less than 6 months of ownership. One of the guys had a Dodge p/u with it in it, bought it new, in less than a few months the transmission shifted like it had 100k on it. and he had issue after issue with it. First thought is "oh, he couldn't drive a stick". well He sold the truck, bought a Mazda Miata w/ its 5spd (one of the best transmissions ever built and placed into an affordable vehicle). he's had it for 10 yrs. not so much as a clutch needing to be replaced.

IF the NV3550 is one of the best transmissions installed in a Jeep....Jeep needs to look for a new transmission manufacturer. I considered a rebuild, but I've read countless reports of people getting it rebuilt, and nothing improving. (still shifts like it has never met a syncro) If that were to occur to me I'd likely set fire to the Jeep.

Thus far I have replaced the fluid with Pennzoil syncromesh (improved for 200 miles, then went to shit) then replaced that with MOPAR fluid (improved for ~500 miles, and now shifts worse than any transmission ever since the invention of the syncro).

New clutch, no change (replaced it after the TO bearing grenaded).

I guess if the autos are just as bad I may just get out of Jeep ownership. I was under the impression Jeep was the only chrysler brand to avoid being a POS. it appears I may have been misinformed.
 

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That's terrifying. I've known multiple people who's NV3550's self destructed in less than 6 months of ownership. One of the guys had a Dodge p/u with it in it, bought it new, in less than a few months the transmission shifted like it had 100k on it. and he had issue after issue with it. First thought is "oh, he couldn't drive a stick". well He sold the truck, bought a Mazda Miata w/ its 5spd (one of the best transmissions ever built and placed into an affordable vehicle). he's had it for 10 yrs. not so much as a clutch needing to be replaced.

IF the NV3550 is one of the best transmissions installed in a Jeep....Jeep needs to look for a new transmission manufacturer. I considered a rebuild, but I've read countless reports of people getting it rebuilt, and nothing improving. (still shifts like it has never met a syncro) If that were to occur to me I'd likely set fire to the Jeep.
the NV3550 is a damn good transmission. So was the AX15. most people want NV3550's...not just in the Jeep world. they're common swaps into Bronco's and such. They run well behind a V8 and probably one of the most overbuilt trannies to come in a TJ. Chrysler and Chevy have been using NV products for a decades...NP231/NP241 t-cases, NV4500, NV3550, NV5600, NV1500, they're damn good stuff...if you take care of them. like anything else in mass manufacturing there will be a few failures.

you're reading far into the negatives and assuming thats a large population...its not...at all. if you're going to make claims like you have, you need to base it on something. link these countless reports. talking to a buddy, who's sister's BF's cousin's uncle's wife's brother who had a Dodge Dakota once doesn't count.
 

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The dodge 1500 is a very good friend of mine. so there's the claim.

I don't know tons of jeepers, but if you read on this and several other forums you'll see people complaining about the NV3550. It may be the best of jeep...but that's apparently not saying much.

It may be strong, but its not friendly.

I'm basing my complaints on my issues (granted at over 100k, but I don't think that's too much to expect out of a manual). and the issues of two friends (who happen to be brothers) who had Dodge trucks with the same transmission, and had awful experiences with the transmissions when they bought the trucks new. They both sold the trucks in less than 6 months after having transmission problems that kept happening.
 

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the NV3550 is a damn good transmission. So was the AX15. most people want NV3550's...not just in the Jeep world. they're common swaps into Bronco's and such. They run well behind a V8 and probably one of the most overbuilt trannies to come in a TJ. Chrysler and Chevy have been using NV products for a decades...NP231/NP241 t-cases, NV4500, NV3550, NV5600, NV1500, they're damn good stuff...if you take care of them. like anything else in mass manufacturing there will be a few failures.

you're reading far into the negatives and assuming thats a large population...its not...at all. if you're going to make claims like you have, you need to base it on something. link these countless reports. talking to a buddy, who's sister's BF's cousin's uncle's wife's brother who had a Dodge Dakota once doesn't count.
What he said...
 

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If I had a guarantee that rebuilding it would fix the shifting issues, then I'd be inclined to do so, but after reading two threads of people that did that and still had issues I"m a bit disinclined to do so.

Maybe you are right, maybe the two guys I know that had them new, and had nothing but issues with them just got unlucky...and maybe mine was mistreated by PO's. but when its my cash, it makes me a bit nervous to drop it into what appears to be a money pit.

Its easy to sit back at a computer and tell someone "trust me, its a great transmission, just get it rebuilt". but when its your cash, and you have zero evidence to support the "good transmission" claim its not so easy.
 

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I don't know tons of jeepers, but if you read on this and several other forums you'll see people complaining about the NV3550.
i am on several other forums. most people love the 3550, and actually swap their AX15 out for it. even seen a report of someone going from the NSG370 to a NV3550. everybody says its a good tranny. except you.

I'm basing my complaints on my issues (granted at over 100k, but I don't think that's too much to expect out of a manual).
100k is good for a tranny.

my 42RLE was been rebuilt one and half times within 52k miles. shifted like crap since the day i bought it, but still shifted ok. no warning, no failure, nothing. caught fire @ ~10k miles. one clutch plate was installed backwards from the factory. @ 50k miles it had enough ferrous material stuck to the magnet you could fill a baseball, and the fluid had lots of brass in it. a snap ring disintegrated, only left small pieces about the size of an eraser head.

but my issues aside, the 42RLE is really crap because of the gearing. It doesn't match well to the 4.0L at all. It causes a resonance with the firing order of the 4.0L, which leads to a dull drone below about 2000rpms, once the 42RLE locks up into OD at 45mph with 3.73s/30s. Interesting enough, a TJ w/ NV3550 turns the same RPM's with 3.73s and 35s that a 42RLE does bone stock with 3.73s and 30s. It's undergeared from the factory. With 29/30s, it should have come with 4.10s. The Rubicon 42RLE should have come with 4.56s with 31s. With 33s, you need at least 4.88s, preferably 5.13s. So as you can see, you run out of gear really quick with stock axles.

The two main issues with the 42RLE are gearing and shift points. I've already described the gearing, which can be fixed. And the 42RLE does behave a whole lot better with deeper gears. I've seen about a signifcant temperature drop in tranny temp with deep gears as well. Gas mileage also increased because the 4.0L isn't bogging down to maintain highway speed. The shift points is another problem entirely, but we can't fix that. Basically it locks up too fast. It's programmed to do that because when the torque converter is NOT locked up, the fluid friction generates a lot of heat. So Jeep engineering's compromise to passing CAFE mpg requirements, yet keep the tranny from overheating, and not having to change manufacturing procedures & design docs to install a big arse cooler...was to force the tranny to lock up quickly, and run numerically low gears to drop the RPMs on the highway.

Problem is the tranny is always in a nasty cycle of hunting for Overdrive, and kicking down into 3rd. The 4.0L doesn't have enough torque to push the 0.69 overdrive at @70mph at 1800-2000rpms, so it kicks into 3rd...which puts you up to 30000rpms, which can put the engine into open loop. Now you're turning 3k rpms, in open loop, dumping 10 or 11:1 fuel ratio into the combustion chamber, getting 3-5mpg trying to maintain speed at 70mph. Then you go down a hill, it shifts back into OD and the RPMs drop to 2000rpms...bogging the engine slightly. You then hit 12-13 MAP, dumping air & fuel into the motor in closed loop trying to maintain speed. That heats up the cats, which in turn heats up the tunnel. The floor gets really hot, enough to melt a frozen water bottle in the cup holder to luke warm in about 15 minutes. Then the next headwind or hill you come to, it kicks into 3rd again, and the whole process starts over.

btw, its worse under 70mph. And the tranny shifts into OD at ~38mph, with lock up at 45mph. If you set the cruise at 45mph, it will cycle between 3rd and OD every 15 secs to 1 minute, depending on flatness of the land & wind. If you drive in the mountains, you get the pleasure of 4500 rpm's in 2nd gear, attempting to maintain 50mph. In Colorado, that means 20 miles up a 6-8% grade, with 4500rpms, open loop, 11:1 air/fuel ratio, in 2nd gear. The engine doesn't like that at all, and can blow various parts in the valvetrain.

Thats bone stock with 30s & 3.73s.
 

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I seriously appreciate that post. I found it helpful.

My question now is regarding the 32RH (I think that's correct) on the older TJ's. is it better?worse?

In a perfect world I wanted a LJ, rubi, automatic. BUT it appears that the transmission in the Rubi isn't what I hoped it was...so I am not sure what my plan is now.

I can't justify dropping over 1k in rebuilding my transmission, so thus far my options are live with it, or sell it. Most people blame the shifting issues on the brand of fluid used. so I tried the liquid gold from the dealer, and found that it after an initial fantastic change went to pot just as the others had.

I've had manuals with over 200k on them behave like they were new...this is why I'm disappointed with my Jeeps transmission. It may not be fair, but its the way it is. (I know that how a transmission is treated will have significant impact on the outcome....and I do not know how the PO's treated my TJ)

and fwiw, I am not alone in my complaints about the NV3550. We may be a minority, but I am not "one single nutjob". I don't care enough to go find the threads again just to prove my point, but care just enough to write this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I can't believe the info on this forum. There's a lot to digest here.
I'm not passing judgement on the 42RLE, I've also heard it's a good tranny. The way it is described as shifting in and out of OD I have noticed also, so that reply seems right on. I'm going to baby it for a while and study my options. I'm not opposed to a manual but economics trump so it may just be a rebuild. (Needs shocks and tires soon, too) I've gotten quotes of 1400.00 up to 1900.00 for a rebuild and 2800.00 for a remanufactured.
Thanks to all who shared their grey matter.
 
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