Modern Ford transmission calibration/configuration

March 1, 2020
Understanding these applications including installing correct valve body IDs to ensure correct transmission operation and calibration of the dual clutch DPS6 transmission used by Ford for close to a decade

The days of installing a remanufactured or used transmission in a vehicle and sending it down the road are now a thing of the past. This concept is not new. Since the 1990’s we have had to reset Clutch Volume Indexes (CVI) on Chrysler vehicles. Resetting Transmission Adaptive Pressures (TAP) has also been an integral part of transmission repairs on General motors vehicles. Modern transmissions may require more than just resetting learned values.

Many of today’s vehicles have Transmission Control Modules (TCMs) that are part of the valve body and require programming. Other vehicles need configuration procedures that require a capable scan tool. Some vehicles require registration of valve body and shift solenoid ID’s to ensure proper shifting operation.

Jatco CVT’s, for example, that are installed in some vehicles, may even require programming of the PCM and the TCM followed by a specific sequence of key cycles that allow the programming to complete and the chip in the CVT to “shake hands” with the other modules. Regardless of the situation, consulting service information before performing a repair is critical for a shop to determine if they have the correct tooling and knowledge to complete the job correctly. The key is to do the research, determine if the correct tooling is available, and then quote the customer.

The procedures required to perform a transmission replacement on newer vehicles differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, but for today we will pick on Ford. The first vehicle is a 2007 Ford Edge SEL that has had a used transmission installed by a General Motors dealership.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have no idea why the transmission was replaced. The dealership did not have access to Ford tooling or service information. The technician did a fine “nuts and bolts” job installing the transmission but found himself stuck when the transmission did not shift correctly on the post repair test drive.

I arrived at the shop and was asked to program the PCM with the latest calibration. Knowing that this may not resolve the issue, a scan of the vehicle was performed and service information was consulted before a PCM reprogramming was even attempted.

According to Ford service information:

“If a new solenoid body is installed, the solenoid body strategy and solenoid body ID will need to be updated. Refer to Solenoid Body Strategy.”

This procedure involves entering a series of numbers into the PCM that match a label that should be located on the transmission case. Since this transmission was a used unit the label was missing. No worries, there is more than one way to get this done.

Per Ford’s instructions, the technician had to remove the transmission pan from the front side of the unit in order to gain access to the solenoid body, and the numbers printed on the components. Once the cover was removed pictures of the numbers on the valve body were taken (Figures 1 and 2), the pan was reinstalled and the transmission was refilled with the appropriate fluid.

A Ford IDS, the OE scan tool for Ford, was used to check the current solenoid body ID to see if they matched and of course they did not (Figure 3).

The next step was to enter the new solenoid body strategy and solenoid body ID into the PCM.

After entering the correct data (Figure 4), and connecting a Midtronics battery maintainer to ensure the battery voltage did not get into the danger zone, the prompts on the IDS screens were followed and a programming event ensued. Upon completion, the accurate ID’s were now correctly programmed into the PCM. After the registration process, the vehicle was driven, and the shifting issues were resolved.

The most important aspect here is that the vehicle was fixed, but since I am a trainer I wanted to go further. I had a question:

“Could aftermarket tools perform this function?”

In order to answer my question, I found another 2007 Ford Edge and tried to access this function. My expectations were not high. I made an attempt with two common aftermarket tools. Both of these tools are popular choices among technicians and have a lot of functionality.

During my testing, the first tool would not allow me to pull the current solenoid IDs. In it’s defense, the tool is capable of doing a lot of things, but this task appears to be one that is not available. The second tool did a little better, as It allowed me to retrieve the current IDs (Figure 5), but I could not find an option to change them anywhere in the menus. To be fair, there may be aftermarket tools out there that could perform this task, but the ones I tried fell short.

This reinforces the point that factory tooling is going to be required in some cases. Also, the task that was just performed was a programming function. Programming usually requires either a factory scan tool, or a J-2534 device and an OE subscription.

How do you know if your tool is capable of preforming a task requested by service information? Plug in your scan tool before you sell the job and see if it allows you the option of performing the tasks required at the end of the installation process.

Time to shift gears (pun intended) and investigate the DPS-6. Ford has used the DPS-6 transmission for just over a decade. It has been used since 2008 and continues to be used in applications such as the Fiesta, C-MAX, Focus, Transit Connect, and other models outside of the North American market.

By definition, the DPS-6 is a 6-speed dual dry clutch automatic transmission with manual transmission gearing that is shifted by a computer. What this means is that the unit is two manual transmissions with a Transmission Control Module (TCM) that operates two clutch pedals, and the stick-shift for the operator of the vehicle. Basically, the DPS-6 is an automatic version of a manual transmission. That being said, there are a lot of factors that have to be taken into consideration when dealing with this transmission.

In the DPS-6 (Figure 6), in the clutches, there are two, actuated by twin clutch actuators and E-motors (three phase electric motors.) The clutches themselves are much like conventional clutches including clutch discs, friction material, throw out bearings and pressure plates.

The transmission has two input shafts:

  1. Hollow
  2. Passes through the hollow passage in its sibling.

Both input shafts spin independently of one another. In addition, there are two shift drums with E-motors that move the shift forks through the six gears available in this transmission, just as the operator of a manual transmission would with the stick shift and their right hand. All of these motors are controlled by the (TCM). There will obviously be some kind of calibration required to make this transmission work correctly.

The DPS-6 has had many issues over the past decade. Given the fact that the transmission internals are of the manual transmission nature, the hard parts of this particular transmission would be easy to diagnose and rarely fail. My experience suggests that the vast majority of the issues with this transmission are clutch or software related.

Recently, I was at a shop that replaced a DPS-6 for a fleet customer due to a shifting/chatter complaint. The repair was covered by a warranty company. This particular shop replaced the transmission with a used unit, right or wrong, that was supplied by said warranty company. The shop did perform the programming and TCM Adaptive Learning procedure required to make the transmission work.

However, they installed the used clutches when performing the repair and the transmission shifting/chatter issue still remained. My assumption is that the original transmission did not have a fault. I believe there was a fault with the clutches or clutch strategy in the TCM.

Before moving on with the diagnosis I have a question:

If you were to replace a conventional manual transmission, would you install a new clutch disc, pressure plate and throw out bearing at the same time?

Why should the DPS-6 be any different? In this particular shop’s defense, they were performing the repairs as directed by the warranty company and were not instructed to replace the clutch assemblies with new ones. I digress.

During diagnosis, there was a red flag. The Ford IDS scan tool allows the technician to view large amounts of data PID’s at their discretion. Usually all of the data PID’s are available on one screen, and it can be time consuming to choose the PID’s that are desired. In this case there was a completely separate data list for a clutch chatter issue.

A question again:

If a manufacturer offers a “special” data list in their scan tool for a specific issue, then that cannot be a good sign?

After some additional testing, it was determined that the clutches, not the transmission, were the issue.

As assumed, replacement of the clutch components resolved the customer complaint. The shop was able to perform the repair because they had access to the correct tooling and subscriptions to perform the PDS-6 Adaptive Relearning procedures.

What do these procedures involve you ask?

The first step is to update the software in the TCM. Care needs to be taken during this programming event because depending on the model year of the vehicle in question, there are multiple choices of clutch hardware. The correct software for the hardware that is installed in the vehicle have to be chosen to ensure the proper shifting strategy is installed in the EEPROM. There should be a label on the transmission case (Figure 7) that identifies the installed clutch hardware information.>

After the TCM programming is complete, the next step is to perform the transmission adaptive learning. There are three steps involved in this process (Figure 8):

  • Calibration of the Transmission Range (TR) sensor needs to be performed. This step requires the technician to cycle the shifter through all of the gear choices one at a time. When the shifter is in each gear, a button on the scan tool screen will need to be pressed, so the TCM can learn each position correctly.
  • The next step, Shift Drum, is used for the TCM to reference the positions of the shift drums. The drums will be moved by the E-motors to both end-stops to determine maximum travel. This is done with the key on and the engine off. The technician may hear the drums cycling during this procedure. The final step is to calibrate the clutches. This procedure will learn the clutch “touch points” in the TCM. It is much like operating a conventional manual transmission vehicle for the first time and getting used to the feel of the clutches with your left foot. This procedure (Figure 9) will be done with the engine running, the shifter in the park position, a foot planted firmly on the brake pedal and the throttle held wide open.
  • Once conditions have been met, and the check mark on the lower right of the scan tool screen is clicked, the PCM will limit engine RPM to a safe range and the TCM will begin cycling the clutch E-motors. The Clutch Adaptive Learning will take a full 120 seconds, or two minutes. During this time the technician will feel the clutches applying and releasing. I haven’t tried it myself, but I recommend not taking your foot off of the brake pedal during this procedure just to see what happens.
  • When all of the TCM Adaptive Learning steps have been completed, DTC’s should be cleared, and the vehicle should be driven to complete the learning process. Service information defines a specific drive cycle for the TCM to complete the process correctly.

    As mentioned earlier in this article, will an aftermarket scan tool be capable of performing these tasks? I, unlike the previous Edge, have not attempted this with another scan tool on a DPS-6. I do know that the first step, updating the software in the TCM’s EEPROM, cannot be accomplished without the appropriate module programming equipment and subscriptions.

    The remainder of the steps are scan tool functions:

    1. Again, before attempting a DPS-6 repair, plug in your scan tool and see if it offers you the option of TCM adaptive learning. If not, your approach to the repair may have to change.
    2. Borrowing a capable scan tool, sending it to a dealership, or calling in a mobile technician are some of your options. However, it is important to know what your plan is before quoting the job to the customer. Save yourself some headaches by doing the research first and moving forward from there.

    To summarize, when replacing a transmission on any vehicle, do the following before you sell the job to the customer:

    1. Research the service information and pay specific attention to the last few steps.
    2. I know most technicians do not read the nuts and bolts, but the last few lines are critical.

    3. Determine if you have the tooling required to complete the repair.
    4. You can only answer this question based on your shop’s equipment.

    5. Choose you path accordingly.
    6. Decide if you can accomplish the job or you need outside help.

    7. Quote the customer last.
    8. Take steps 1 through 3 into account and charge accordingly.

    About the Author

    Scott Shotton

    Scott has over 20 years of automotive technical experience. Scott has been a college instructor, in some capacity, for the past 14 years. As owner of The Driveability Guys, Scott performs mobile diagnostics and reprogramming as well as industry training North America. Scott has a degree in Automotive Service Technology as well as countless hours of additional training. He currently maintains 21 ASE certifications including: Master Automotive Technician, Master Truck Technician, A9, L1, L2, L3, Alternate Fuels and more. 

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