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Dealing With Two Transmission “Problems”

by David Zatz on

ZF recently had an event covering its nine-speed automatics, presumably to deflect criticism from the supplier to automakers (FCA, Land Rover, and Acura).

The company made two suggestions to owners, other than pointing out that some shifting behavior, such as downshifting on the highway, can be due to the programming, not the automatic.

These actually apply to any Chrysler automatic since the four-speed was launched:

  1. When you’re breaking in a car, mix driving styles — gentle, aggressive — so the transmission computer adapts better.
  2. When you drive gently after aggressive driving, or change from a driver who is more or less aggressive, you may have strange shifting while the transmission re-adapts.

Going from sporty to economy driving causes some lurching and harsh shifting, but it’s been normal since the 1990s. It may be noticed more in the nine-speed but it’s also there in the eight-speed.

In our reviews of four-speed cars, Allpar recommended that Chrysler allow owners to have two settings so the styles of different drivers could be kept separate in the transmission programming. This long overdue change is still awaiting Chrysler’s, and now FCA’s, action.

ZF noted that it had been made more aware of differences in regional expectations — that is, Americans drive differently and expect different behavior from automatic transmissions than Europeans do.  (ZF is centered in Germany.)

The nine speed is currently used in the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Renegade, and Chrysler 200, and will next be used in the minivans, Chrysler 100, and Dart.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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