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Shift Pointers

Failure of C1/K1 clutch


A Balancing
Balancing Act

Aisin Warner AWF21

(TF-81SC), TF60-SN

Vehicle Applications:
Ford 500, Audi/VW

Essential Reading:
Shop Owner
Center Manager

Wayne Colonna, ATSG
Transmission Digest
Technical Editor

f you just read the Technically

Speaking article in this edition of
Transmission Digest you might recall that we spoke a little about how
balance pistons are being used in rotational clutch drums, and their purposes. This article covers one of the
problems we have seen with the
C1/K1 clutch (Figure 1) as it relates to
the AWF21 (Aisin TF-81SC, used in
the Ford 500) and the TF60-SN
(09G/K/M, used in Mini Cooper,
Audi/VW) transmissions.

Figure 2 shows the balance piston

sitting on top of the clutch-apply piston. You will notice that this style of
balance piston has a molded seal on
only the outside diameter. There is
not one on the inner diameter. This

may remind you of a similar piston in

the 41TE transmission. The idea with
the 41TE is to keep the double-action
overdrive/reverse-clutch piston centered when not in use. Residual oil
behind the apply piston is neutralized by the oil supplied to the balance
piston, known as the dribbler circuit.
So this type of technology has been
with us since as early as 1989.
Getting back to the problem we
have seen with the six-speed TF60-SN
unit, the original-design drum in a
transmission known as the AF40-6
(similar to the one in the Ford 500)
had center slots in the drum (Figure
3) and the apply piston was solid
metal (Figure 4). When this drum
was fully assembled and placed into
the transmission, a needle-bearing
race was placed on the drum, covering the center slots in the drum.
Sitting in front of this clutch-drum assembly is the front planetary assemblys internal ring gear, which has the
needle bearing that rides on this race.
When the vehicle is being driven, the
C1/K1-clutch drum rotates with the
front planetary assemblys internal
ring gear 1-1 in first through fourth.
But when the clutch is released in
fifth and sixth the clutch drum and
ring gear rotate at different speeds.
Now here is where the problem begins: With the slots being covered by
the needle-bearing race on the C1/K1
drum, the oil behind the balance piston cannot exhaust sufficiently past
the slots in the drum with the bearing
race over the top. When the apply
piston comes on during a 6-4 or 5-4
downshift, the oil between the apply
piston and balance piston causes the
balance piston to flex forward, pushing it into the backside of the internal
ring. Since these two parts are tem-

Transmission Digest

porarily turning at different speeds

they rub together, and the metalto-metal contact causes damage
(figures 5 and 6).
Through the years the drum,
apply piston and counterbalance
piston have had moderate changes
made to them in an attempt to cor-

rect this condition. Despite these

changes the problem persists.

What we are doing now, which

seems to be working well, is to use

November 2008

a Dremel tool and make little

notches around the inner diameter
of the balance piston (Figure 7). Do
not overdo it, as too much will
cause a new problem for you. If
you look at the area where the
notches are placed you will see one

Shift Pointers




of the modifications made by the

manufacturer. They made recesses
in the piston so that this oil could
have an exhaust. They also eliminated the slots from the drum
(Figure 8). However, with the snap
ring sitting over the top of these recessed slots in the balance piston,
the exhaust made by these slots
must not be sufficient to alleviate
the problem, as the failure continues. So by adding just a little help
with a Dremel, the problem is
There is yet one more item to
cover, and that is to reset shift
adapts after any type of repair.
This is a must-do procedure; otherwise, you will experience harsh
and/or flared shifts after overhaul
and you may think you have a
problem when you really do not.
The problem in setting the shift
adapts is in having a tool that will

accomplish the
task. The VAGCOM does, and
it does it easily.
To do the reset
you must go
into the ECM,
not the TCM (Figure 9). There you
will find the adaptation menu
(Figure 10). When you are there select the Read button (Figure 11)
and a 000 will show up in the
Test value window; then, select
Save (Figure 12). The next screen
will ask you whether you are sure,
and you select Yes and you are finished (Figure 13). Now drive the
vehicle, and in a few drive cycles
the transmission should shift well
if there are no real problems. No
doubt, its all a balancing act. TD

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