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Ray’s Garage: ZF HP9 vs Mopar 948TE

by David Zatz on

How are the Chrysler-built and ZF-build nine-speed automatics different? This is a question that was answered in general at Allpar some time ago, but Raybestos has taken apart both transmissions and analyzed visible differences in a video.

Raybestos’ Irvin Gers and Dan Truncone presented a Chrysler 948TE and a ZF HP9 (from a Range Rover, which may present some differences that have nothing to do with who made the transmission). They did not point out the rationale for the changes, but some are likely simply packaging — to help the transmission fit the engines and the cars they will be mated with. These may have no impact on reliability or performance.

From the outside, Chrysler has an almost completely rounded top on the bellhousing, while ZF version has a flat spot and an opening.  The identification tags are in different places; Chrysler’s says “948TE.”

The ZF has a small protrusion with holes going through the side and into the input shaft at the end of the lockup clutch seal. Chrysler’s controller is on the side, ZF’s on the top. The case connectors are different, with Chrysler’s in the pan and ZF‘s on top.

The ZF unit has a cooler mounted on the side; Chrysler uses an external cooler connected by lines. Exterior axle splines are on the outside for Chrysler, on the inside for Range Rover.

The 948TE snap rings have a cutout and beveled corner, while Ranger Rover’s is beveled on the back corner of both sides.  The harnesses are similar but not the same. Some gaskets are different, too. Chrysler bolts a plate to the bell body.

According to Raybestos, common parts include the filter, and friction plates, steel reaction plates, and clutch hubs for the B, C, D, and E clutch drums.

As can be expected from a completely new transmission with a new-ish technology (dog clutches to conserve internal spaces), there have been teething problems — problems largely avoided by FCA with the eight-speed, since BMW and luxury automakers had been using it for years. Range Rover has had similar issues, and FCA appears to believe that the 2016 model year has brought enough changes for the nine-speed to be consistently reliable. In the meantime, the company has been standing behind its transmissions.

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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