Kevin, I have often admired planetary gear arrangements. They look complex and are strangely beautiful compare to other mechanical systems. If I recall correctly, the Toyota Prius synergy drive system uses planetary gears systems. Is that correct?
Nope. That is one thing that is sort of on my bucket list of car repairs. I have done more car work than I would like to admit, but I have always stopped short of pulling an automatic. I have done manual's, way back, but never an automatic. Looks like a swiss watch. One of my co-workers fixed his Chrysler Caravan transmission, and he was quite pleased with his accomplishment. It had one planetary stage froze up, I think. It took some effort, but he got it going.
my experience is with older cars. We had a similar car (a Chrysler Town & Country) which had the transmission fail (after 12 years). We decided not to fix it (it was my wife's car and she needed something right away). It might have been interesting, though.
When I had the transmission rebuilt for my Dakota, the shop owner told me without Chrysler he would be out of business. If regular maintenance has not been performed, every minivan needs a new transission at 80,000 miles he tells me. So I asked him, why do carmakers design transmissions that cannot be drained and put filters where they are not readily changed?
I heard a lot of that. We had at least three and others we know had them and I never heard of one having the problem until ours. Now, we had lots of miles on that vehicle (well over 100K). I don't doubt that there were plenty that had problems, but they also sold a lot. At one point (and perhaps today) they had over 50% of the minivan market. Just about every family where I live had a minivan and a sedan, at least. It would be interesting to know what the relaibility numbers really were.
I have a 1920 Model T with the normal 2 speed trans with reverse. All planetary, plenty of parts and plenty of supporting documentation. Once I took one apart following the book, the design was very elegant, reassembly was simple and reliability has been excellent. My Dodge PU has needed 2 rebuilds in 5 years, I hired the first and did the 2nd myself. It is POSSIBLE to rebuild a modern automatic transmission yourself but it is not for the faint of heart, nor is it simple. A lot of reading and a little luck seem to be necessary. Some snap rings have a beveled and a flat side; it's important to keep little subtleties like this in mind because your transmission won't work properly if you have inserted one (of about 10) upside down.
ttemple. In my younger days when I felt invincible, I tried pulling the transmission from my third-hand 4 door Ford. I enlisted a buddy of mine one Saturday morning to help me with the task thinking it would be a one day job. We actually did have an IPB (illustrated parts breakdown) of the transmission with all of the internal working parts. I'm going to make this short--three weeks later, we finally got the transmission back together. To our credit, it actually worked--the first time. We would go to class, work on the transmission, go to class, work on the transmission. You get the picture. The bottom line, never again. Never again. Excellent post Kevin.
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