GM 10 Speed Transmission Issues: What You Need to Know

GM and Ford’s new 10-speed, automatic transmission sent waves of excitement throughout the automotive community. There is a fierce rivalry between two of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world, yet they put their countless differences aside to work on a 9-speed transverse/transaxle and 10-speed transmission.  The joint venture reflects both sides recognizing the importance of producing a high-quality transmission via collaboration rather than competition. General Motors and Ford designed the transmission, originally placing it inside the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro XL1, for a single purpose: to push performance and efficiency to a revolutionary level.

Dan Nicholson, GM Global Propulsion System’s vice president, stated: “With world-class shift times on par with the world’s best dual-clutch transmission and the refinement that comes only from the true automatic, the 10-speed delivers incomparable performance on and off the track… it also leverages the experience of our other multispeed transmissions to deliver that performance with greater efficiency as its use expands into other vehicles.”

The revolutionary 10-speed transmission sounds impressive in theory – but what exactly makes it stand out. In the content below, we explore what you need to know about the new 10-speed transmission.  Many of these characteristics will hold true for the 9-speed transaxle.

1. Ratio Distance

The span between the 1st and 10th gear is wide; however, GM and Ford’s 10-speed transmission is relatively tight. Limited span between higher gears increases sustainability during highway driving, especially when in the final gear. The 10-speed transmission offers a 20% decrease in RPM during shifting. While towing, decreased ratio distance ensures smoother shifts.

2. Close 8th, 9th, and 10th Gears

What is the purpose of 10 gears? The final three perform as overdrive tools. The 8th, 9th, and 10th gears enhance acceleration, fuel economy, and – as mentioned – towing performance. Due to the proximity of ratios, downshifting between top gears is nearly imperceptible.

3. Smooth Shifting

GM and Ford’s 10-speed transmission is guided by six clutches, installed in pairings. When shifting gears, the torque converter is not forced to unlock. Each clutch is regulated by solenoid valves. This evolution is consistent with the trend of increased electrification of the transmission.  Finally, hydraulic passage lengths are shortened. These unique factors increase efficiency, resulting in a smooth, seamless shift or downshift without jarring or shaking.

4. Reducing Mechanical Friction Spin Loss

Ultimately, the 10-speed transmission is designed to replace 6-speed and 8-speed transmissions. GM and Ford built the transmission to minimize spin losses. Reducing spin loss guarantees that the 10-speed transmission’s gears work more efficiently than its 6-speed and 8-speed counterpart.

5. Fuel Efficiency & Optimized Procedures

Trends in the automotive world continually point towards fuel efficiency, especially in the design of transmissions. Fuel-efficient technologies are developed and augmented regularly. Compared to a 6-speed transmission, the 10-speed adds only one-inch and four pounds to the transmission body. Without a single cast-iron component, the transmission is light while remaining powerful and efficient.

Alongside a focus on fuel efficiency, GM and Ford built their 10-speed transmission for optimal functioning, operated by two hydraulic pumps. Both pumps perform a different task, each balancing temperature and transmission fluid pressure. Optimal functioning depends on Mercon ULV or Dexron ULV, transmission fluid created specifically for Ford and GM’s innovative transmission, to reduce friction, regulate temperature, and prevent hydraulic pump surplus. Increased fluid complexity is a trend impacting transmission fluid and will continue into the future. The “ULV” stands for ultra-low viscosity and is increasingly important for clutch engagement and ease of travel through electronic components such as solenoids.

Among others in the GM line, the Camaro ZL1, Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, and Yukon Denali are built with the 10-speed transmission. On the Ford side, the 10-speed can be found in the F-150, Mustang, Expedition, Navigator and Ranger. Further integrations will increasingly become evident as 2019 closes and 2020 looms on the horizon.

Manufacturers across the globe are scrambling to achieve increased fuel economy and performance from vehicles. The transmission is at the center of that engineering effort. Many experts caution the pace of change because the durability of new designs is unknown. Normally it takes many years to test and realize design flaws. Even then, major transmission issues may not become apparent to customers until a vehicle achieves 100,000 miles. At this point a customer could be faced with a major transmission repair bill. This is where our shops can assist retail, wholesale and fleet customers across Colorado.

Advanced Transmission Center

At Advanced Transmission Center, we are transmission experts – skillfully addressing every issue with honesty, integrity, and a wealth of experience. Four decades to be specific! We take every project seriously, treating every customer with respect. Our brand is built on top-quality workmanship and customer satisfaction. Learn why we are Coloradans preferred local transmission shop.

Call our Westminster (Northwest Denver) location at (303) 421-4140, our Lakewood (Southwest Denver) location at (303) 922-4102 or contact us online to get started today! We look forward to working alongside you.

Written by Advanced Transmission Center