Automatic transmission on the trail -
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-28-2020, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
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2012 JK Wrangler 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: Santa Rosa
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Automatic transmission on the trail

When I decided to go hunting for a new Jeep I was quite surprised just how many automatic transmissions are out there on the newer models now (i've always had CJ's and a couple of my friends with TJ's & YJ's and they all had manuals)

I ended up getting a 2012 JK 2 door with an automatic, but I was just curious about what you all think of how well these trannies handle off road use? Are there any recommended upgrades before hitting the trail?

- Marco

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post #2 of 6 Old 05-28-2020, 12:53 PM
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Location: Wentworth
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Mine has been just fine. I'm at 102K miles, running 37's and wheel the crap out of it. I also tow a pop up to and from my wheeling trips. I love having the auto when crawling.

I changed the trans pan at about 70K as it rusted thru due to it being painted steel, did the oil and filters at the same time. The 2014 JK pan works fine on the 2012 and is galvanized so if it has a steel pan, buy the galvanized pan and gasket for it, drain it, replace the filter and reinstall. That will keep the trans ticking for a long time.

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post #3 of 6 Old 05-28-2020, 01:54 PM
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Yeah upgrade to a manual

The automatic tranny is an option lol people get it for the 8 speed vs the 6 speed manual for gas milage... the gears are short enough to be bareable while in low range while off roading the only thing is its gonna shift it self or u have to manually shift it

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post #4 of 6 Old 05-30-2020, 05:01 AM
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We do most of our wheeling on beach sand. After 5 years in a TJ 5 speed manual, this spring we went out on the beach in our JK auto for the first time. The big adjustment for me was trusting the auto not to lug the motor in heavy sand. It did fine aired down running in 4Lo with the shifter in Drive. I just let it do itís thing. Shifting the TJ in sand, the Jeep would instantly stop. The auto keeps the momentum up better. With the manual I had to be alert for lugging all the time in changing sand load but the auto instantly downshifts when the sand gets loose. I really like the feeling that the Jeep can deal with the shifting while Iím enjoying the ride.

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post #5 of 6 Old 05-30-2020, 08:53 AM
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My first car in 1967 was a stick. I'm very comfortable with a manual in a road car. However, when trying to maneuver over rocks when you're getting physically bounced around it my seat, I strongly prefer a torque converter over trying to coordinate throttle and clutch.

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post #6 of 6 Old 05-30-2020, 10:17 AM
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Auto in the 12 and up are mechanically better by far. better splits by far. the JL with an 8 speed more so. they can take more input torque then the stick by far. You could not say that when the 42L was the latest trans in a jeep.

I only have a W580 that came out in 2012 in a wrangler(these were used way before Jeep in Jaguars, AMG and many V8s. Tap shift/bump shift, sexy off road when you have 4:1. Compared to the rest of the jeep the trans might be the best part of it. It is old teck too even when they were new in a jeep.

We can all talk about how many gears we have rowed since Nixon. I learned to drive a jeep in 1975 on the Rubicon trail Cj2a, i did not even have a license yet and even had a few tickets for driving. Fact is off road the auto has an advantage, the better the trans the better that effect is too. These new trans have very low first gears(8speed). W580 for its generation did too. at 3.56? to 1? the 8 speed is like 4.3:1. today. They dont stall when you need to stop in places that are precarious or changing a gear is just a TAP. Unlike the older 4 speed autos. That were by definition slush boxs. first gears were in the 2.5:1 and the over drive has fall off the table .76.< that is why these years NEED a lot of gear to say roll 35s with engines they used, like 5.13-5.38s. The W580 can roll the same tire with 4.1.

My junk box 2 door rubicon auto rolls 37s on just 4.1 stock gears rather well. It does nothing but hard trails. If it was a street jeep i would gear it to 4.56. 4.88s would roll larger then 37s on a 2 door stripped. But the Rubicon d44s are maxed out on 37s<its a dead end road. why bother my jeep see mostly hard trails just about no street use. Most street it will see in a year is when it has to do the drive from Rubicon back to the trailer maybe 70 miles or on Dusy where it has 70 miles of road are part of the 33 miles of trail, so 100 miles all in. maybe 200 street in year. Off road it has many miles but i know that trans is not working all that hard. To make that work hard you would have to be towing at max pull up 12% grades. Off road i tend to be low range so 4:1 in a Rubicon and 4.1 gears crawls very well on 37s on 32s stock it did not need 1st in low really not even in hard stuff. Matter of fact on the rubicons they start out in 2nd in low range as default. You must use manual tap to get 1st. Now i use 1st and still roll most things in 2nd and third. I have had jeeps since Nixon. Stock to Stock the jeep have gotten better off road, by far over the years. Not a fan of the 3.6 had hopes, but no joy. Its a bit more then just quirky overly complex under engineered. In my life time Jeeps have all ways ran best when they did not use a Jeep engine. I was younger i would go V8 in Jk. nothing monster stock Ls. But this Jk has 38k on it<LOW miles , never off road...........Im about out of here too, Off to the Rubicon maybe roll the dice at Fordyce. It is hot here in AZ been 114 now this past week and its only going to get hotter......

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