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Old 03-27-2013
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Default 48RE Theory And Operation Part 1

The Basics
The 48RE is a four speed fully automatic transmissions with an electronic governor. The 48RE is equipped with a lock-up clutch in the torque converter. First through third gear ranges are provided by the clutches, bands, overrunning clutch, and planetary gear sets in the transmission. Fourth gear range is provided by the overdrive unit that contains an overdrive clutch, direct clutch, planetary gear set, and overrunning clutch.

The transmission contains a front, rear, and direct clutch which function as the input driving components. It also contains the kickdown (front) and the low/reverse (rear) bands which, along with the overrunning clutch and overdrive clutch, serve as the holding components. The driving and holding components combine to select the necessary planetary gear components, in the front, rear, or overdrive planetary gear set, transfer the engine power from the input shaft through to the output shaft.

The valve body is mounted to the lower side of the transmission and contains the valves to control pressure regulation, fluid flow control, and clutch/band application. The oil pump is mounted at the front of the transmission and is driven by the torque converter hub. The pump supplies the oil pressure necessary for clutch/band actuation and transmission lubrication.

Transmission identification numbers are stamped on the left side of the case just above the oil pan gasket surface. Refer to this information when ordering replacement parts.

The 48RE gear ratios are:
1st 2.45:1
2nd 1.45:1
3rd 1.00:1
4th 0.69:1
Rev 2.20:1

How does this thing work?
The application of each driving or holding component is controlled by the valve body based upon the manual lever position, throttle pressure, and governor pressure. The governor pressure is a variable pressure input to the valve body and is one of the signals that a shift is necessary. First through fourth gear are obtained by selectively applying and releasing the different clutches and bands. Engine power is thereby routed to the various planetary gear assemblies which combine with the overrunning clutch assemblies to generate the different gear ratios. The torque converter clutch is hydraulically applied and is released when fluid is vented from the hydraulic circuit by the torque converter control (TCC) solenoid on the valve body. The torque converter clutch is controlled by the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) . The torque converter clutch engages in fourth gear, and in third gear under various conditions, such as when the O/D switch is OFF, when the vehicle is cruising on a level surface after the vehicle has warmed up. The torque converter clutch can also be engaged in the MANUAL SECOND gear position if high transmission temperatures are sensed by the PCM. The torque converter clutch will disengage momentarily when an increase in engine load is sensed by the PCM, such as when the vehicle begins to go uphill or the throttle pressure is increased. The torque converter clutch feature increases fuel economy and reduces the transmission fluid temperature.

Since the overdrive clutch is applied in fourth gear only and the direct clutch is applied in all ranges except fourth gear, the transmission operation for park, neutral, and first through third gear will be described first. Once these powerflows are described, the third to fourth shift sequence will be described.

As the engine is running and the crankshaft is rotating, the flexplate and torque converter, which are also bolted to it, are all rotating in a clockwise direction as viewed from the front of the engine. The notched hub of the torque converter is connected to the oil pump's internal gear, supplying the transmission with oil pressure. As the converter turns, it turns the input shaft in a clockwise direction. As the input shaft is rotating, the front clutch hub-rear clutch retainer and all their associated parts are also rotating, all being directly connected to the input shaft. The power flow from the engine through the front clutch hub and rear clutch retainer stops at the rear clutch retainer. Therefore, no power flow to the output shaft occurs because no clutches are applied. The only mechanism in use at this time is the parking sprag ,which locks the parking gear on the output shaft to the transmission case.

With the gear selector in the NEUTRAL position, the power flow of the transmission is essentially the same as in the park position. The only operational difference is that the parking sprag has been disengaged, unlocking the output shaft from the transmission case and allowing it to move freely.

When the gear selector is moved into the REVERSE position, the front clutch and the rear band are applied. With the application of the front clutch, engine torque is applied to the sun gear, turning it in a clockwise direction. The clockwise rotation of the sun gear causes the rear planet pinions to rotate against engine rotation in a counterclockwise direction. The rear band is holding the low reverse drum, which is splined to the rear carrier. Since the rear carrier is being held, the torque from the planet pinions is transferred to the rear annulus gear, which is splined to the output shaft . The output shaft in turn rotates with the annulus gear in a counterclockwise direction giving a reverse gear output. The entire transmission of torque is applied to the rear planetary gearset only. Although there is torque input to the front gearset through the sun gear, no other member of the gearset is being held. During the entire reverse stage of operation, the front planetary gears are in an idling condition.

When the gearshift lever is moved into the DRIVE position the transmission goes into first gear. As soon as the transmission is shifted from PARK or NEUTRAL to DRIVE, the rear clutch applies ,applying the rear clutch pack to the front annulus gear. Engine torque is now applied to the front annulus gear turning it in a clockwise direction. With the front annulus gear turning in a clockwise direction, it causes the front planets to turn in a clockwise direction. The rotation of the front planets cause the sun to revolve in a counterclockwise direction. The sun gear now transfers its counterclockwise rotation to the rear planets which rotate back in a clockwise direction. With the rear annulus gear stationary, the rear planet rotation on the annulus gear causes the rear planet carrier to revolve in a counterclockwise direction. The rear planet carrier is splined into the low-reverse drum, and the low reverse drum is splined to the inner race of the over-running clutch. With the over-running clutch locked, the planet carrier is held, and the resulting torque provided by the planet pinions is transferred to the rear annulus gear. The rear annulus gear is splined to the output shaft and rotated along with it (clockwise) in an underdrive gear reduction mode.

In DRIVE-SECOND, the same elements are applied as in MANUAL-SECOND. Therefore, the power flow will be the same, and both gears will be discussed as one in the same. In DRIVE-SECOND, the transmission has proceeded from first gear to its shift point, and is shifting from first gear to second. The second gear shift is obtained by keeping the rear clutch applied and applying the front (kickdown) band. The front band holds the front clutch retainer that is locked to the sun gear driving shell. With the rear clutch still applied, the input is still on the front annulus gear turning it clockwise at engine speed. Now that the front band is holding the sun gear stationary, the annulus rotation causes the front planets to rotate in a clockwise direction. The front carrier is then also made to rotate in a clockwise direction but at a reduced speed. This will transmit the torque to the output shaft, which is directly connected to the front planet carrier. The rear planetary annulus gear will also be turning because it is directly splined to the output shaft. All power flow has occurred in the front planetary gear set during the drive-second stage of operation, and now the over-running clutch, in the rear of the transmission, is disengaged and freewheeling on its hub.

The vehicle has accelerated and reached the shift point for the 2-3 upshift into direct drive. When the shift takes place, the front band is released, and the front clutch is applied. The rear clutch stays applied as it has been in all the forward gears. With the front clutch now applied, engine torque is now on the front clutch retainer, which is locked to the sun gear driving shell. This means that the sun gear is now turning in engine rotation (clockwise) and at engine speed. The rear clutch is still applied so engine torque is also still on the front annulus gear. If two members of the same planetary set are driven, direct drive results. Therefore, when two members are rotating at the same speed and in the same direction, it is the same as being locked up. The rear planetary set is also locked up, given the sun gear is still the input, and the rear annulus gear must turn with the output shaft . Both gears are turning in the same direction and at the same speed. The front and rear planet pinions do not turn at all in direct drive. The only rotation is the input from the engine to the connected parts, which are acting as one common unit, to the output shaft.

Fourth gear overdrive range is electronically controlled and hydraulically activated. Various sensor inputs are supplied to the powertrain control module to operate the overdrive solenoid on the valve body. The solenoid contains a check ball that opens and closes a vent port in the 3-4 shift valve feed passage. The overdrive solenoid (and check ball) are not energized in first, second, third, or reverse gear. The vent port remains open, diverting line pressure from the 2-3 shift valve away from the 3-4 shift valve. The Tow/Haul control switch must be in the ON position to transmit overdrive status to the PCM. A 3-4 upshift occurs only when the overdrive solenoid is energized by the PCM. The PCM energizes the overdrive solenoid during the 3-4 upshift. This causes the solenoid check ball to close the vent port allowing line pressure from the 2-3 shift valve to act directly on the 3-4 upshift valve. Line pressure on the 3-4 shift valve overcomes valve spring pressure moving the valve to the upshift position. This action exposes the feed passages to the 3-4 timing valve, 3-4 quick fill valve, 3-4 accumulator, and ultimately to the overdrive piston. Line pressure through the timing valve moves the overdrive piston into contact with the overdrive clutch. The direct clutch is disengaged before the overdrive clutch is engaged. The boost valve provides increased fluid apply pressure to the overdrive clutch during 3-4 upshifts, and when accelerating in fourth gear. The 3-4 accumulator cushions overdrive clutch engagement to smooth 3-4 upshifts. The accumulator is charged at the same time as apply pressure acts against the overdrive piston.
What is an Accumulator and how it works
The accumulator is a hydraulic device that has the sole purpose of cushioning the application of a band or clutch. The accumulator consists of a dual-land piston and a spring located in a bore in the transmission case.

The 3-4 accumulator is located in a housing attached to the side of the valve body.


Both the accumulator and the 3-4 accumulator function the same. Line pressure is directed to the small end of the piston when the transmission is placed into a DRIVE position, bottoming it against the accumulator plate.
When the 1-2 upshift occurs, line pressure is directed to the large end of the piston and then to the kickdown servo. As the line pressure reaches the accumulator, the combination of spring pressure and line pressure forces the piston away from the accumulator plate. This causes a balanced pressure situation, which results in a cushioned band application. After the kickdown servo has become immovable, line pressure will finish pushing the accumulator up into its bore . When the large end of the accumulator piston is seated in its bore, the band or clutch is fully applied.
What to look for when having accumulator problems?
Inspect the accumulator piston and seal rings. Replace the seal rings if worn or cut. Replace the piston if chipped or cracked.

Check condition of the accumulator inner and outer springs. Replace the springs if the coils are cracked, distorted or collapsed

What are the bands everyone keeps talking about and what do they do?

The kickdown, or "front", band holds the common sun gear of the planetary gear sets. The front (kickdown) band is made of steel, and faced on its inner circumference with a friction-type lining. One end of the band is anchored to the transmission case, and the other is acted on with a pushing force by a servo piston. The front band is a single-wrap design (the band does not completely encompass/wrap the drum that it holds).


The low/reverse band, or "rear", band is similar in appearance and operation to the front band. The rear band is slightly different in that it does not use a link bar, but is acted directly on by the apply lever. This is referred to as a double-wrap band design (the drum is completely encompassed/wrapped by the band). The double-wrap band provides a greater holding power in comparison to the single-wrap design.


The kickdown band holds the common sun gear of the planetary gear sets by applying and holding the front clutch retainer, which is splined to the sun gear driving shell, and in turn splined directly to the sun gear. The application of the band by the servo is typically done by an apply lever and link bar.

The rear band holds the rear planet carrier stationary by being mounted around and applied to the low/reverse drum.

What is a governor and what does it do?
Governor pressure is controlled electronically. Components used for governor pressure control include:
Governor body
Valve body transfer plate
Governor pressure solenoid valve
Governor pressure sensor
Fluid temperature thermistor
Throttle position sensor (TPS)
Transmission speed sensor
Powertrain control module (PCM)

The solenoid valve is a duty-cycle solenoid which regulates the governor pressure needed for upshifts and downshifts. It is an electro-hydraulic device located in the governor body on the valve body transfer plate.

The governor pressure sensor measures output pressure of the governor pressure solenoid valve.

The transfer plate is designed to supply transmission line pressure to the governor pressure solenoid valve and to return governor pressure.

The governor pressure solenoid valve is mounted in the governor body . The body is bolted to the lower side of the transfer plate.

There are four governor pressure curves programmed into the transmission control module. The different curves allow the control module to adjust governor pressure for varying conditions. One curve is used for operation when fluid temperature is at, or below, -1C (30F) . A second curve is used when fluid temperature is at, or above, 10C (50F) during normal city or highway driving. A third curve is used during wide-open throttle operation. The fourth curve is used when driving with the transfer case in low range.

Compensation is required for performance variations of two of the input devices. Though the slope of the transfer functions is tightly controlled, offset may vary due to various environmental factors or manufacturing tolerances.

The pressure transducer is affected by barometric pressure as well as temperature. Calibration of the zero pressure offset is required to compensate for shifting output due to these factors.

Normal calibration will be performed when sump temperature is above 50 degrees F. or in the absence of sump temperature data, after the first 10 minutes of vehicle operation. Calibration of the pressure transducer offset occurs each time the output shaft speed falls below 200 RPM. Calibration shall be repeated each 3 seconds the output shaft speed is below 200 RPM. A 0.5 second pulse of 95% duty cycle is applied to the governor pressure solenoid valve and the transducer output is read during this pulse. Averaging of the transducer signal is necessary to reject electrical noise.

Under cold conditions (below 50 degrees F sump), the governor pressure solenoid valve response may be too slow to guarantee 0 psi during the 0.5 second calibration pulse. Calibration pulses are continued during this period, however the transducer output valves are discarded. Transducer offset must be read at key-on, under conditions which promote a stable reading. This value is retained and becomes the offset during the "cold" period of operation.

The inlet side of the solenoid valve is exposed to normal transmission line pressure. The outlet side of the valve leads to the valve body governor circuit.

The solenoid valve regulates line pressure to produce governor pressure. The average current supplied to the solenoid controls governor pressure. One amp current produces zero kPa/psi governor pressure. Zero amps sets the maximum governor pressure.

The powertrain control module (PCM) turns on the trans control relay which supplies electrical power to the solenoid valve. Operating voltage is 12 volts (DC). The PCM controls the ground side of the solenoid using the governor pressure solenoid control circuit.

The sensor output signal provides the necessary feedback to the PCM. This feedback is needed to adequately control governor pressure.

The transfer plate channels line pressure to the solenoid valve through the governor body. It also channels governor pressure from the solenoid valve to the governor circuit. It is the solenoid valve that develops the necessary governor pressure.


When the transmission fluid is cold the conventional governor can delay shifts, resulting in higher than normal shift speeds and harsh shifts. The electronically controlled low temperature governor pressure curve is higher than normal to make the transmission shift at normal speeds and sooner. The PCM uses a temperature sensor in the transmission oil sump to determine when low temperature governor pressure is needed.

Normal operation is refined through the increased computing power of the PCM and through access to data on engine operating conditions provided by the PCM that were not available with the previous stand-alone electronic module. This facilitated the development of a load adaptive shift strategy - the ability to alter the shift schedule in response to vehicle load condition. One manifestation of this capability is grade "hunting" prevention - the ability of the transmission logic to delay an upshift on a grade if the engine does not have sufficient power to maintain speed in the higher gear. The 3-2 downshift and the potential for hunting between gears occurs with a heavily loaded vehicle or on steep grades. When hunting occurs, it is very objectionable because shifts are frequent and accompanied by large changes in noise and acceleration.

In wide-open throttle (WOT) mode, adaptive memory in the PCM assures that up-shifts occur at the preprogrammed optimum speed. WOT operation is determined from the throttle position sensor, which is also a part of the emission control system. The initial setting for the WOT upshift is below the optimum engine speed. As WOT shifts are repeated, the PCM learns the time required to complete the shifts by comparing the engine speed when the shifts occur to the optimum speed. After each shift, the PCM adjusts the shift point until the optimum speed is reached. The PCM also considers vehicle loading, grade and engine performance changes due to high altitude in determining when to make WOT shifts. It does this by measuring vehicle and engine acceleration and then factoring in the shift time.

On four-wheel drive vehicles operating in low range, the engine can accelerate to its peak more rapidly than in Normal range, resulting in delayed shifts and undesirable engine "flare." The low range governor pressure curve is also higher than normal to initiate upshifts sooner. The PCM compares electronic vehicle speed signal used by the speedometer to the transmission output shaft speed signal to determine when the transfer case is in low range.

Front Clutch Pack Information
The front clutch assembly is composed of the front clutch retainer , pressure plate, clutch plates, driving discs , piston , piston return spring , return spring retainer, and snap-rings . The front clutch is the forward-most component in the transmission geartrain and is directly behind the oil pump and is considered a driving component.

To apply the clutch, pressure is applied between the clutch retainer and piston. The fluid pressure is provided by the oil pump, transferred through the control valves and passageways, and enters the clutch through the hub of the reaction shaft support. With pressure applied between the clutch retainer and piston, the piston moves away from the clutch retainer and compresses the clutch pack. This action applies the clutch pack, allowing torque to flow through the input shaft into the driving discs, and into the clutch plates and pressure plate that are lugged to the clutch retainer. The waved snap-ring is used to cushion the application of the clutch pack.

When pressure is released from the piston, the spring returns the piston to its fully released position and disengages the clutch. The release spring also helps to cushion the application of the clutch assembly. When the clutch is in the process of being released by the release spring, fluid flows through a vent and one-way ball-check-valve located in the clutch retainer. The check-valve is needed to eliminate the possibility of plate drag caused by centrifugal force acting on the residual fluid trapped in the clutch piston retainer.

Front Servo Information
The kickdown servo consists of a two-land piston with an inner piston , a piston rod and guide, and a return spring . The dual-land piston uses seal rings on its outer diameters and an O-ring for the inner piston.

The application of the piston is accomplished by applying pressure between the two lands of the piston. The pressure acts against the larger lower land to push the piston downward, allowing the piston rod to extend though its guide against the apply lever. Release of the servo at the 2-3 upshift is accomplished by a combination of spring and line pressure, acting on the bottom of the larger land of the piston. The small piston is used to cushion the application of the band by bleeding oil through a small orifice in the larger piston, diesel engine only. The release timing of the kickdown servo is very important to obtain a smooth but firm shift. The release has to be very quick, just as the front clutch application is taking place. Otherwise, engine runaway or a shift hesitation will occur. To accomplish this, the band retains its holding capacity until the front clutch is applied, giving a small amount of overlap between them.

Pump Information

As the torque converter rotates, the converter hub rotates the inner and outer gears. As the gears rotate, the clearance between the gear teeth increases in the crescent area, and creates a suction at the inlet side of the pump. This suction draws fluid through the pump inlet from the oil pan. As the clearance between the gear teeth in the crescent area decreases, it forces pressurized fluid into the pump outlet and to the valve body.

Overdrive Clutch
The overdrive clutch is composed of the pressure plate , clutch plates, holding discs, overdrive piston retainer, piston, piston spacer, and snap-rings. The overdrive clutch is the forwardmost component in the transmission overdrive unit and is considered a holding component. The overdrive piston retainer, piston, and piston spacer are located on the rear of the main transmission case.

To apply the clutch, pressure is applied between the piston retainer and piston. The fluid pressure is provided by the oil pump, transferred through the control valves and passageways, and enters the clutch through passages at the lower rear portion of the valve body area. With pressure applied between the piston retainer and piston, the piston moves away from the piston retainer and compresses the clutch pack. This action applies the clutch pack, allowing torque to flow through the intermediate shaft into the overdrive planetary gear set. The overdrive clutch discs are attached to the overdrive clutch hub while the overdrive clutch plates, reaction plate, and pressure plate are lugged to the overdrive housing. This allows the intermediate shaft to transfer the engine torque to the planetary gear and overrunning clutch. This drives the planetary gear inside the annulus, which is attached to the overdrive clutch drum and output shaft, creating the desired gear ratio. The waved snap-ring is used to cushion the application of the clutch pack for the 5 disc version of the overdrive clutch. The 6 disc overdrive clutch does not use a waved snap-ring.

The Thermistor
Transmission fluid temperature readings are supplied to the transmission control module by the thermistor. The temperature readings are used to control engagement of the fourth gear overdrive clutch, the converter clutch, and governor pressure. Normal resistance value for the thermistor at room temperature is approximately 2000 ohms.

The thermistor is part of the governor pressure sensor assembly and is immersed in transmission fluid at all times.

The PCM prevents engagement of the converter clutch and overdrive clutch, when fluid temperature is below approximately 10C (50F) .

If fluid temperature exceeds 126C (260F) , the PCM causes a 4-3 downshift and engage the converter clutch. Engagement is according to the third gear converter clutch engagement schedule.

The Tow/Haul lamp in the instrument panel illuminates when the shift back to third occurs. The transmission will not allow fourth gear operation until fluid temperature decreases to approximately 110C (230F) .

The valve body's method of operation
The valve body consists of a cast aluminum valve body, a separator plate, and transfer plate. The valve body contains valves and check ***** that control fluid delivery to the torque converter clutch, bands, and frictional clutches.
By adjusting the spring pressure acting on the regulator valve, transmission line pressure can be adjusted.Regulator Valve in Park Position
The pressure regulator valve is needed to control the hydraulic pressure within the system and reduce the amount of heat produced in the fluid. The pressure regulator valve is located in the valve body near the manual valve. The pressure regulator valve train controls the maximum pressure in the lines by metering the dumping of fluid back into the sump. Regulated pressure is referred to as "line pressure."

The regulator valve has a spring on one end that pushes the valve to the left. This closes a dump (vent) that is used to lower pressure. The closing of the dump will cause the oil pressure to increase. Oil pressure on the opposite end of the valve pushes the valve to the right, opening the dump and lowering oil pressure. The result is spring pressure working against oil pressure to maintain the oil at specific pressures. With the engine running, fluid flows from the pump to the pressure regulator valve, manual valve, and the interconnected circuits. As fluid is sent through passages to the regulator valve, the pressure pushes the valve to the right against the large spring. It is also sent to the reaction areas on the left side of the throttle pressure plug and the line pressure plug. With the gear selector in the PARK position, fluid recirculates through the regulator and manual valves back to the sump.

Regulator Valve in Neutral Position
Meanwhile, the torque converter is filled slowly. In all other gear positions, fluid flows between two right side lands to the switch valve and torque converter. At low pump speeds, the flow is controlled by the pressure valve groove to reduce pressure to the torque converter. After the torque converter and switch valve fill with fluid, the switch valve becomes the controlling metering device for torque converter pressure. The regulator valve then begins to control the line pressure for the other transmission circuits. The balance of the fluid pressure pushing the valve to the right and the spring pressure pushing to the left determines the size of the metering passage at land #2 (land #1 being at the far right of the valve in the diagram). As fluid leaks past the land, it moves into a groove connected to the filter or sump. As the land meters the fluid to the sump, it causes the pressure to reduce and the spring decreases the size of the metering passage. When the size of the metering passage is reduced, the pressure rises again and the size of the land is increased again. Pressure is regulated by this constant balance of hydraulic and spring pressure.

Regulator Valve in Drive Position
The metering at land #2 establishes the line pressure throughout the transmission. It is varied according to changes in throttle position and the transmission's internal condition within a range of 57-94 psi (except in REVERSE).

Regulator Valve in Reverse Position
The regulated line pressure in REVERSE is held at much higher pressures than in the other gear positions: 145-280 psi. The higher pressure for REVERSE is achieved by the manual valve blocking the supply of line pressure to the reaction area left of land #4. With this pressure blocked, there is less area for pressure to act on to balance the force of the spring on the right. This allows line pressure to push the valve train to the right, reducing the amount of fluid returned to the pump's inlet, increasing line pressure.

Kickdown Valve - Wide Open Throttle
When the throttle valve is as far over to the left as it can go, the maximum line pressure possible will enter the throttle pressure circuit. In this case, throttle pressure will equal line pressure. With the kickdown valve pushed into the bore as far as it will go, fluid initially flows through the annular groove of the 2-3 shift valve (which will be in the direct drive position to the right).

After passing the annular groove, the fluid is routed to the spring end of the 2-3 shift valve. Fluid pressure reacting on the area of land #1 overcomes governor pressure, downshifting the 2-3 shift valve into the kickdown, or second gear stage of operation. The valve is held in the kickdown position by throttle pressure routed from a seated check ball . Again, if vehicle speed is low enough, throttle pressure will also push the 1-2 shift valve left to seat its governor plug, and downshift to drive breakaway.

Kickdown Limit Valve - Low Speeds
The purpose of the limit valve is to prevent a 3-2 downshift at higher speeds when a part-throttle downshift is not desirable. At these higher speeds only a full throttle 3-2 downshift will occur. At low road speeds the limit valve does not come into play and does not affect the downshifts.

Kickdown Limit Valve - High Speeds
As the vehicle's speed increases, the governor pressure also increases. The increased governor pressure acts on the reaction area of the bottom land of the limit valve overcoming the spring force trying to push the valve toward the bottom of its bore. This pushes the valve upward against the spring and bottoms the valve against the top of the housing. With the valve bottomed against the housing, the throttle pressure supplied to the valve will be closed off by the bottom land of the limit valve. When the supply of throttle pressure has been shut off, the 3-2 part throttle downshift plug becomes inoperative, because no pressure is acting on its reaction area.

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