The Ford 5R110W transmission is a heavy-duty five-speed automatic transmission. It is primarily used in the Ford F-Series Heavy Duty pickup trucks and their Heavy Duty Chassis program. The 5R110W is loosely described as a redesign of Ford’s earlier 4R100 automatic transmission. The 5R110W “TorqShift” transmission was introduced alongside the 6.0L Power Stroke diesel for the 2003 model year as a diesel specific transmission which is closely integrated into the function of the engine. This transmission is good for towing, snow plowing, 4WD, or for any other similar high-performance needs. Many of these can be found in delivery trucks, food trucks, school buses, and motorhomes.
The transmission is advertised as a five-speed, although in actuality it features six forward speeds. Under normal operating conditions, the transmission shifts 1st-2nd-3rd-5th-6th. A secondary shift sequence is commanded when the ambient temperature drops below 5° F and shifts 1st-2nd-3rd-4th-6th. The transmissions marginally shorter 4th gear is used in cold weather to force higher engine speeds and therefore help the engine/transmission reach the normal operating temperature in less time.
Since they are often used in vehicles that are used and abused in harsh environments, the 5R110W transmission is often given a rough ride, with the number one killer of the 5R110W being excessive heat resulting from abuse. Towing over the factory payload limit and keeping your foot on the gas going up steep hills with a heavy load are two of the most common examples of this type of abuse. So here’s the bottom line: if you have a programmer, power adders or tow heavy loads, then you must have a High Performance or Heavy Duty transmission and torque converter so that your transmission will last.
The 5R110W is unique in that it lacks a typical valve body – instead, the 5R110W contains a “solenoid body”, which contains a series of 7 electronic shift solenoids. Problems with the 5R110W can be vaguely separated into two main categories. Mechanical problems may include a physically stuck solenoid, worn clutches, damaged gear set, while electrical problems may include a solenoid that is not functioning correctly, faulty or missing input from one of the various sensors, etc. Engine problems may be inappropriately diagnosed as a transmission issue and therefore should be repaired before attempting to troubleshoot a transmission.