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suspension upgrade?

bobthekatt7

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August 4, 2007
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Location
Maryland
City, State
Maryland
Year, Model & Trim Level
1994 XLT
First off, wow, it's great to be back in America :usa: with my Explorer again. Just got back from a 3 year tour in Italy, leaving my baby at my dad's place in Oklahoma. Must say, my X handled the Washington to Oklahoma drive quite well. Immediately after getting back, it went from Oklahoma to here in Pensacola, Florida. Flawless.

I need to be investing in a nice flatbed trailer so I can pull around my small Fiat collection and 67 Mustang. The only thing capable of pulling is the X and with the suspension it has, I'm afraid I'd be squatting too much and mess something up somewhere underneath. I'm confident in my drivetrain, not the suspension. Is there a towing package/kit out there I could throw on to make my X close to a 1/2 ton? Maybe add a leaf or two? Thanks everybody!

~Rob
Pensacola, FL
'94 XLT "Ashley", slightly upgraded party wagon loved by all
 



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If you plan on towing with it and it's an auto, I'd highly suggest getting a larger tranny cooler with electric fan to help keep it cool. Also get a trnny temp gauge as the A4LD in these are prone to puke their fluid when they get too hot. I'm on #4 already and only just added the afore mentioned equipment. You'd be surprised how hot they run when under load.
 






Heat and lack of service is the A4LD enemy. heh

IMHO, two stock type tranny coolers (stacked) is great.. and not expensive. The electric is fan ~is~ a good idea, but I haven't found the need for it. Yet.

If you have the 3.73 gears, that helps alot, as well as light driving habits.

A good trick I've found is to very lightly feather the brake when starting up a hill. There's a switch on the pedal assy. that causes the tranny to drop out of OD to drive, which seems to reduce the load on the trans. Forced downshifts under load isn't like extremely bad for an A4LD, but it helps some to let it downshift easily.

On to your real question.... A good add-a-leaf for the rear should help, as well as a resse hitch. The bumper mount is ok, but a real hitch makes a big difference. If using the bumper to tow with, please inspect the bumper, bumper mounts, and frame where it attaches to the bumper. Our older trucks do rust in weird places, sadly.

Inspect the rear spring shackles too. I've seen them in terrible shape. (!)

Do your rear springs all lay flatly to each other, or can you see gaps between the leaves? if they are sagged or "flat" it may be time to replace them.

Trailer brakes are a blessing too..... :)
 






When I redid my suspension in late 2007, I replaced everything but the leaf springs. They are laying against each other but there is still a little daylight to be seen between them. My rear shackles were in bad shape, I remember most if it being in bad shape when I bought it in 2004. I'll look around for another leaf to add.

I never gave a thought about putting another cooler on the tranny. Sounds like a real good idea and I'll have to look into it. Overheating transmission sounds worse than an STD.

I almost got the recess hitch a few times, Pep Boys installs them and the whole thing costs about $250 if I remember right. Not too bad.
I gotta save my X and make her able to pull like a truck, or the wife will convince (any means necessary) me to get a truck and trade the X.
Quite the predicament, eh?
 






Hey Ned, you are unlocking your converter by tapping the brake, I would think that if anything that would increase the heat build-up in your transmission when towing up a hill.

Bob, it is strongly suggested that you do not tow with in overdrive. If you are towing very light loads on flat maybe let it shift into OD but otherwise, I wouldn't. Definitely add an extra trans cooler, use only high quality synthetic tranny fluid and if you think the beast is getting hot give it a break. The A4 is not known to last long if used for towing heavy loads. In Glacier's valve body rebuild thread he installs Sonnex parts and parts from two separate shift kits to increase the line pressure (holding capacity of the clutch packs) and makes many other improvements. Highly recommended. I rebuilt my VB with all his recommendations and it is still working at 230K kms, I also have a dual cooler set-up with an external filter added...mind you I refuse to tow anything... If I was going to tow all the time I would buy a junker with a good 5 speed and do the swap.

Good luck and welcome to the site!
 






leaving my baby at my dad's place in Oklahoma.
~Rob
Pensacola, FL
'94 XLT "Ashley", slightly upgraded party wagon loved by all

Rob, where at in Oklahoma? I was born in Tulsa and grew up around there, I have a house in Eufaula now.

. If I was going to tow all the time I would buy a junker with a good 5 speed and do the swap.

I'm so glad I bought my 5 speed so I don't have to deal with the automatic issues.
 






Yeah, the longer I own this thing the more I lean towards doing the swap. Pretty easy really. Might even go for the SOHC flywheel/clutch for the extra holding capacity. Pretty easy to do.
 






I love driving manuals, so the swap is very appealing.

Knowing what I now need for this operation, I'll have to start pricing it. Looks like I got some homework to do!

@mr_cribb - I grew up in Chandler, right off I-44 about an hour from Tulsa. You probably drove by it a few times :) Is your house on the awesome lake down there?
 






Hey Ned, you are unlocking your converter by tapping the brake, I would think that if anything that would increase the heat build-up in your transmission when towing up a hill.

I may need to look into this more.

Yes, certainly, TC lockup will disengage with a brake tap... with mine I use "the tap" on the same part of interstate I go thru a few times a year. Often, I have then shifted to [D], and not had any shifts or change in RPM. Perhaps it is the amount of load I'm under when I use "the tap" (?). That said, I almost never tow anything bigger than a motorcycle on a trailer, but been quite a few times I was hauling lots of weight in the truck! heh

Kentucky hills can be a real bugger, sometimes.
 






Apologies Ned, you obviously know what's going on there... what is that bike in your avatar?

If I was really going to commit to the A4 I would certainly rig up a trans temp gauge and monitor it while driving in different situations. I think it gets a bit of a bad rep at times. It isn't as bad as people say, mind you you need to do upkeep on it to keep it from blowing up on you.
 






Apologies Ned, you obviously know what's going on there... what is that bike in your avatar?

If I was really going to commit to the A4 I would certainly rig up a trans temp gauge and monitor it while driving in different situations. I think it gets a bit of a bad rep at times. It isn't as bad as people say, mind you you need to do upkeep on it to keep it from blowing up on you.

No apology required bro.. if it is then forgiven and forget it. :)

Your comment about TC unlocking is good info, people should consider it for the nuts and bolts of how A4LD works.

(That's a '01 1200 Sportster btw.. SC ignition and coil, cams, 2" open pipes with sneaky little anti-reversion mods, carb mods, etc... it can't run with the rockets, but it sure gives 'em something to think about!) (I sold it awhile back, my avatar is old lol)

anyway.. back to topic.. :salute:

.

I remember reading about the valve body rebuild mentioned.. and I think there's a servo cup or two that can be upgraded. Those would be real good ideas for a long-term keeper truck, as well as a tranny temp and external filter.

Is there any idiot light sensor that would work for tranny temp? hmm... something to think about.. could add a light in the dash in one of the unused places...
 






So far so good. I've dug up a few parts so far. The Auxiliary Trans Cooler was about $288, Hide-A-Hitch (or equivalent) is shy of $200, and the Add-A-Leaf kit varied from $35 to $160+ on Summit Racing.

This would more than likely require a redo of the back suspension, so I can have all brand new leafs, shackles, bolts, etc. I don't see that being too pricey. Shouldn't be over $500 for that. A tranny rebuild looks to be around $1000+ but I'm not sure I'll need it. I'll find a trans temp gauge to mount somewhere in there, shouldn't be much for that.

Outside of labor, I don't see this costing more than $2500. I wish I had more tools and a heckuva lot more time. My poor little Fiat is currently getting her engine rebuilt in my garage :) so if anybody has any classic Fiat questions, I'm here for ya
 






You can pick up really big trans cooler for much less than $288.

I'm running the biggest one I could even find (no way it would fit in the X) on the Van as the only cooler and I paid about $150 for it. That is a 40k gvwr cooler (45,000 btu).. On the X I have 2 stacked plate coolers and a condensor (a/c) fan from a geo prism to try to keep the trans cool.

The coolers I really like are the tru-cool ones. You can find them here, or many other places too.

http://www.bulkpart.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=2&Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=tru-cool-hd

~Mark
 






I changed the reverse servo o-rings, the "D" ring is the ticket. The other servos have kept working so I haven't done them yet.

All you need for an idiot light would be a temp switch that will ground out at the temp you want. Run it through a relay and a light a bingo. I have no idea what the normal operating temp is for the A4 mind you. A temp gauge would be sweet.
 






@mr_cribb - I grew up in Chandler, right off I-44 about an hour from Tulsa. You probably drove by it a few times :) Is your house on the awesome lake down there?

Oh only a few times :D, As for my house, yes it is nice to be a 1/4 mile from the boat ramp ;)

However playing Army I'm hardly there, maybe a few times a year. But hey it's paid for!
 












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