Northwest Metro Denver

3686 W. 72nd Ave
Westminster, CO 80030
8AM – 5:30PM Mon-Fri

(303) 421-4140

(303) 421-4140

Southwest Metro Denver

SE Corner Mississippi & Pierce
1194 S. Pierce
Lakewood CO 80232
8AM – 5:30PM Mon-Fri

(303) 922-4102

(303) 922-4102

Lakewood 303-922-4102

Westminster 303-422-4140

Common Problems with 8-Speed, 9-Speed, and 10-Speed Transmissions

Due to changes in federal law and increased consumer demand, automotive manufacturers have been working hard to find ways to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and increase performance. One of the most visible changes of this push has been the introduction of automatic transmissions with an ever-increasing number of gears. When introduced, automatic transmissions had 2 and possibly 3 gears. By the 80’s, four speeds were becoming common and the early 2000’s saw the introduction of the 6-speed automatic transmission. Within the last several years, we now have seen 8, 9, and even 10-speed transmissions become standard in common cars and trucks from both foreign and domestic manufacturers.

On paper, the larger number of gear selections is a good thing. It allows the vehicle to stay in the “sweet spot” of engine RPM range throughout a greater number of driving situations, which equates to far better fuel efficiency. Having a larger number of gear ratio selections means that fuel economy can be optimized whether driving in stop-and-go traffic, on the highway, when towing or while driving in the mountains. However, while the theoretical advantage of a greater number of gears has made these transmissions very popular with automotive manufacturers, there have been a large number of problems associated with these transmissions that potential buyers and vehicle owners need to be aware of. A great example of this is the design and sale of the continuous variable transmission (CVT), especially for manufacturers like Nissan that have had endless issues with the technology and performance issues of the units.

Because of the push to increase fuel economy and the competitive nature of automotive sales, most manufacturers put new technology into vehicles without significant long-term testing before release. This means that the drivers themselves are doing the beta-testing, and design problems are discovered years after a vehicle has been put on the road. That can be irritating enough by itself, but it is compounded by the fact that repair options are limited and the costs of repair for these multi-speed transmissions can be truly eye-watering. We will look at some of the issues currently facing 8, 9, and 10-speed transmissions from General Motors, Ford, Dodge / Chrysler, and Toyota, common complaints, and challenges involved in repair.

GM 8 and 9-speed Transmissions

GM introduced the 8-speed 8L90 and 8L45 transmissions in 2015 for use in rear-wheel drive vehicles. Since introduction, there have been a number of complaints relating to torque converter shudder, harsh shifting, bucking and jerking, sudden acceleration, and delayed shifting or acceleration. There are a number of current class action lawsuits that have been brought against General Motors regarding problems with these transmissions. In 2021, GM tried to have one of these lawsuits thrown out by claiming that the problems are due to a design flaw, rather than a manufacturing flaw, and therefore would not be covered under GM’s warranty.

GM 8 and 9-speed Transmissions

Ford and GM partnered to develop a 9-speed transmission for use in front-wheel drive or front-biased all-wheel drive applications and a 10-speed transmission for use in rear-wheel drive applications. GM led the design of the 9-speed, while Ford spearheaded the 10-speed (discussed in next section). This 9T65 was introduced at the end of 2016 and there have been numerous complaints about this transmission. Drivers have complained of slipping, a flare on the 1st – 2nd gear upshift, torque converter slippage, transmission fluid leaks, 5th through 9th gear occasionally getting locked out, a loud whining in the unit during deceleration, and a flashing “D” on the PRNDL display. GM initiated a pilot program that ended in 2021 to replace these 9T65 units rather than repair them. Other legal actions are being pursued by drivers seeking remedy for their problems.

9-speed transmission problems

Ford 8 and 10-speed Transmissions

The Ford 8-speed transmission, known as the 8F35, was a result of the partnership with GM on the 9-speed transmission. Ford did not like the end result and reworked the GM 9-speed to create an 8-speed transverse mounted transmission intended for front-wheel drive and front-biased all-wheel drive applications. Common complaints with this transmission include harsh shifting, erratic or delayed shifting, skipping gears during upshift, and fluid leaks. While these complaints are common, there are no current actions from Ford to address them.

The Ford 10-speed transmission, known as the 10R80 in Ford vehicles and the 10L80 in GM vehicles, was again a collaboration between the two manufacturers. Used in a number of rear-wheel drive applications, it was first introduced in 2017 models. Since introduction, there have been a number of complaints from drivers. These have included slipping between gears, harsh shifting, jerking and shuddering, sudden acceleration, delayed shifting or acceleration, and general loss of power. Several class action suits are currently active regarding vehicle problems with this 10-speed automatic transmission.

Ford 8 and 10-speed Transmissions

Dodge (and others) 9-speed Transmissions

This unit, known as the ZF9HP, was designed by the ZF Group in Germany and has been used in a large number of automobiles. It has been used in Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat, Acura, Honda, Jeep, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover front-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. Common complaints have included harsh shifting, sudden or delayed shifts, grinding during shifts, sudden acceleration or deceleration, and premature failure of the unit. There have been a number of class action lawsuits brought over these issues, and each manufacturer has addressed them differently. Chrysler has issued technical service bulletins to address some of the issues, and Acura has had some recalls.

Dodge (and others) 9-speed Transmissions

Toyota 8-speed Transmissions

The Toyota 8-speed transmission, known as the Direct Shift-8AT, was first introduced in 2017 vehicles. Toyota has not been exempt from problems with these multi-gear units and there have been large numbers of customer complaints. These have included harsh or erratic shifting, delayed shifting when slowing down or coming to a stop, delayed or erratic shifting under partial acceleration, unintended acceleration, and premature unit failure. To date Toyota has not issued any recalls, and there are class action lawsuits that have been filed in regard to these claims.

Toyota 8-speed Transmissions

What Does It Mean To You?

Change is inevitable in the automotive world, and the push to have more gears available in an automatic transmission will not go away. The advantages of having more gear ratios available in order to increase fuel economy and better drivability mean that automobile manufacturers will not be going back to 4 or 6-speed automatic transmissions. However, there are very real problems right now with these units that have not been fully tested and design flaws are only now coming to light. In most of the cases outlined above, there are few parts available to allow units to be rebuilt and few, if any, remanufactured units are being produced due to this lack of parts availability. In many cases, the only option available is to purchase an OEM unit from the manufacturer, and in many of these cases there are nationwide backorders resulting in months of waiting for replacements. A smart driver will weight all of this information when considering the purchase of a new or used vehicle with an 8, 9, or 10-speed automatic transmission.

Additional Considerations

What steps can consumers take to check for potential transmission problems before purchasing a used vehicle with one of these transmissions?
Consumers should consider having the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic who can check for known issues with these transmissions. Test driving and monitoring for unusual transmission behaviors can also be insightful.

How have manufacturers addressed these transmission issues in newer models?
Manufacturers typically respond to widespread issues with updates to the transmission software, and in some cases, mechanical redesigns in newer models to improve reliability and performance.

What are the long-term implications for the resale value of vehicles equipped with these transmissions?
The recognition of these issues and the response from manufacturers can affect resale values. Vehicles with well-documented fixes or models that have received updates might fare better in the resale market.


Transmission Experts You Can Trust

If you own a vehicle with an 8, 9, or 10-speed transmission and are having issues or simply want to make sure you’re doing routine transmission inspections. Contact Advanced Transmission Center at either of our locations and we’d be happy to help! Unlike dealerships or many independent repair shops, we are transmission specialists trained to fix issues related to a vehicle’s drivetrain. You can reach out to either location that is most convenient for you.

Owner at Advanced Transmission Center | Website | + posts

Advanced Transmission Center is a Colorado-owned and operated auto repair shop with locations in Denver / Lakewood and Westminster. ATC specializes in driveline issues such as automatic transmission repair, four wheel drive repair, clutch replacement, differentials, manual transmissions and CVT. As Colorado's first AAA approved shop our goal is to provide accurate, timely service with exceptional customer satisfaction. All of our technicians are certified in the latest makes and models and we are one of the few transmission repair shops with a nationwide warranty.

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