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Performance Corner: ATS Torque Converters & Co-Pilot Controller

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

With today’s heavier loads, the torque converter and automatic transmission combination have become an Achilles’ Heel on many tow vehicles. To solve this problem, ATS has developed its Five Star Torque Converter, which combines all of the features of a traditional torque converter with the innovative ATS Viscous Clutch Drive. The Viscous Clutch Drive (VCD), along with the fluid-coupling portion of the torque converter, shares the transfer of power through the torque converter. The converter’s stall speed is carefully matched to the engine’s torque curve.

Unlike other torque converters that rely solely on fluid transfer from the impeller to the turbine via the stator, the Five Star utilizes the VCD to transfer torque from the engine to the transmission. ATS reports that when the torque-converter clutch is commanded to lock up, the clutch plates provide full engagement, ensuring no plate slippage when in lockup phase, even at power levels in excess of 2,000 lb-ft of torque, a system that should improve fuel economy and reduce fluid temperatures.

The Five Star has a five-year, 500,000-mile warranty. Features include billet-steel construction, five-disc friction surfaces with patented Square Flank Drive, a fully welded impeller and turbine-vane section, and oversized high-load thrust bearings in place of plastic washers.

ATS also offers the Co-Pilot Controller, which monitors the load being exerted on the transmission and electronically modifies the hydraulic strategy to prevent slippage. Often, due to heavy loads and/or increased power levels, the torque-holding capability of the clutch packs in the stock transmission is overcome by engine torque, which leads to slippage and component failure. The Co-Pilot is designed to provide smoother shifting, modified hydraulic clamping force at increased power levels, less-abrupt torque-converter–clutch engagement at lower boost levels, increased torque-holding capacity and cooler operating temperatures. It changes the pressure-curve strategy for clutch-pack clamping inside the transmission for improved torque holding. ATS has found that the Co-Pilot also solves durability issues associated with the low roller clutch section of the transmission and prevents sprag damage.

With the Co-Pilot, drivers have adjustable profiles, which allow them to adjust the shifting strategy, depending on conditions and vehicle usage. The Co-Pilot can be used with either a stock transmission or an aftermarket unit. Torque converters and Co-Pilots are available for many popular diesel and some gasoline light truck applications. ATS also offers many other performance products for these vehicles.

ATS Diesel, (866) 209-3695, www.atsdiesel.com. Circle 220 on Reader Service Card.

Chrysler 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 Recall

Chrysler is recalling 2012 model-year vehicles equipped with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. They include Dodge Durango, Charger, Grand Caravan and Journey, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Chrysler 200 and Town & Country, built between August 31 and September 13, 2011. Chrysler will replace the engines of affected vehicles that may potentially experience connecting-rod bearing failure due to debris left inside the engine during assembly. Connecting-rod failure could lead to a seized engine and loss of vehicle control. Owners will be notified. For more information, call Chrysler at (800) 853-1403 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline, at (888) 327-4236.

Exhaust System Heat Energy Recovered

German exhaust-system supplier Eberspaecher has a few ideas for recapturing engine exhaust heat and converting it to usable energy. One idea is a small steam powerplant that fits into the exhaust system. Exhaust heats water in the unit, which turns to steam and drives a turbine. The resulting power can be used to help propel the vehicle or charge the electrical system. The system may one day replace the alternator or reduce its load. Power generation is around 800 to 1,100 watts.

Another device is a thermo-electric generator that converts exhaust heat to electricity, which is then stored in the battery. It uses the temperature difference between hot exhaust gases and ambient air to generate electricity without moving parts. Developers expect an output between 350 and 400 watts. The company reports these technologies may be ready in several years.

Trucks for Towing

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