Product Installation and Review: Dura Trans Programmable Overdrive Controller (Part 1)

Copyright  2002 Kenneth Payne, All International Rights Reserved.

One of the common complaints heard about electronic overdrive in Ford trucks and SUVs is the fact that, by factory default, it operates as an additional gear rather than a true overdrive. Instead of shifting into overdrive at highway speeds the overdrive gear commonly engages and disenages at too low a speed. Many Ford drivers, myself included, find themselves turning off the overdrive manually until higher speeds are reached. This helps prevent the transmission from constantly shifting in and out of overdrive. Not only is this shifting annoying, it reduces performance and shortens transmission service life.

As a Ford performance computer chip dealer, I am often asked if a chip will remove this annoyance. Unfortunately I have to tell the customer that the extra power added by a chip will reduce this behavior but not eliminate it. InterMotive Products approached Ford Truck Enthusiasts with their product, claiming "the overdrive gear is automatically disengaged below a programmable city’ speed and is engaged at a programmable highway’ speed. This eliminates the annoying and costly shift-hunting that is present in today’s overdrive transmissions." If the product worked as claimed and did so transparently it would no doubt meet the needs and wants of many Ford owners.

The DuraTrans unit is a small electronic box, about the size of two decks of cards, that mounts under the dash area and connects to 5 wires behind the dash. The overdrive button functions normally, with an added enhancement: when the overdrive is turned on the DuraTrans intercepts the overdrive signal and by measuring the vehicle speed, turns it on and off at the preset speeds. The unit, by default, is set to engage over-drive at 55 mph and disengage it at 30 mph. You can also program the settings with two dial selectors to suit your individual needs.

We decided to install the DuraTrans in a 2000 F350 Powerstroke.  This particular truck, pictured above, is a work truck and the owner jumped at the chance to install the product, noting that with his work crew and equipment he frequently turns off the overdrive because it engages too soon.

We estimated it would take about an hour to install the product but it took longer. The instructions, while technically complete, did not provide step-by-step procedures or illustrations so we had a lot of guess work.

The first step involves removing the dash panel.  With the Super Duty trucks this is a simple matter of pulling the dash forward until the securing clips disengage.  After we moved it forward about 4 inches we disconnected all the electrical connectors on the dash which was fairly straight-forward. All the connectors are mated in such a way that you cannot connect them back together incorrectly. Every connector is unique so no labeling was needed.

Page Two

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