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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am reading many discussions regarding FCA issues, particularly Jeep, that are somewhat arm-waved off a "just a software issue" or "they'll get the calibration ironed out eventually". This seems to affect not only the 9-speed, but possibly the power locks and other systems. Other manufacturers have suffered bad press and woes due to bad coding, but most of that involved infotainment (e.g. Ford MySync).

Is there a greater acceptance in today's world to throw a product out there, let the buyers beta-test it, then patch as necessary? This has been going on in the IT world since the internet made it possible to quickly deploy patches and fixes. Should this be the practice for automobiles?

At what point are "more gears better" if calibrating the 9-speed is too complex?

I don't claim to know all I am writing about, that is why I started this thread for discussion. It seems to me that we are sacrificing hard reliability for unfulfilled promises of performance and efficiency based on poor tech.

Thoughts?
 

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Cars have become to over complicated for their own good. It has to do with government regulations and public want. You have vehicle that is more computer advanced than the first space capsule that took man into space in which this technology is placed in an environment that is hot/ cold, dirty, nasty, vibrating and neglected. All while the manufacture is doing everything it can to cut costs down and get it out as quick and soon as possible. In a first run vehicle you are going to have issues- I don't care who makes it. What to watch for is the ratio of good vs. bad, what the manufacture is doing to fix it and how fast and look at patterns and overall severity. So far, Fiat is doing a poor job. A lot of the issues I am seeing here are repeats of the 500 when it came out and to me it looks like FCA has learned nothing and that is disturbing to me.
 

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@Indiana
While I agree with 99% of what you said, I don't see how government regulation has anything to do with ZF Friedrichshafen AG creating a 9 speed automatic that has been problematic from the beginning along with FCA (or Land Rover) buggy software.

@ Reg
You bring up a good point about that is how it is with IT, I usually compare it to mobile phone makers. Spit out as many models and let the masses find the bugs and we will eventually send out an OTA to fix it.

Still, 1st generation models be it software, phones or cars tend to be more buggy than later generations. And while that may not deter some buyers, it will give the manufacturer a bad rap if they don't step up to the plate and make things right. But in regards to the first post, I don't feel that a 9 speed was all that necessary, especially if it exhibited problems in earlier vehicles (Cherokee, Acura TLX, Range Rover Evoque).

Now one has to take into account that Jeep has sold plenty of these Renegades and only a few have been reported to have issues officially through the proper channels as well as a few reported in the Renegade forums. Whether that means there are more Renegades without problems or that it is just the tip of the iceberg is yet to be seen.

TS
 

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@Indiana
While I agree with 99% of what you said, I don't see how government regulation has anything to do with ZF Friedrichshafen AG creating a 9 speed automatic that has been problematic from the beginning along with FCA (or Land Rover) buggy software.


TS
The government has everything to do with it. Government regulations dictate fuel and emission standards. This transmission was designed to meet those standards if not exceed them. Auto manufactures have tried CVT transmission with limited success and you definitely don't want one in an off road vehicle so the ZF is an alternative to achieve goals. Now is it the government at fault for the ZF being a POS in its self? No, but because of regulation it is one manufactures response.
 

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In the IT world one can generally perform fixes and patches themselves and you can check to see if new firmware or patches are available rather easily.

I don't want to have to take my Jeep in every time they "fix" something in software. I also don't want to be driving around in a vehicle that decides to "lag" when I need acceleration. Having to disconnect/reconnect battery terminals for my door locks to work is not acceptable either.
 

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The government has everything to do with it. Government regulations dictate fuel and emission standards. This transmission was designed to meet those standards if not exceed them. Auto manufactures have tried CVT transmission with limited success and you definitely don't want one in an off road vehicle so the ZF is an alternative to achieve goals. Now is it the government at fault for the ZF being a POS in its self? No, but because of regulation it is one manufactures response.
You can't blame regulations for the creation of a crappy transmission. This is nothing but poor engineering. That's like blaming the government for the rash of catalytic converter thefts.
 

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I have driven the 9 speed in the new Chrysler 200 as a rental for my Renegade. I've also driven my father's Evoque with the 9 speed. They all drive pretty differently. The Evoque was relatively smooth, but was eager to downshift which distorted the acceleration/deceleration. No matter how predictable and constant your braking pressure is, it still messed it up. To make it worse, it seemed like it was either going to neutral at some point or altering the throttle angle. So basically you felt it force you forward from the abrupt downshift, then just HANG the throttle so it feels like unintended acceleration. Not cool stuff.

The Chrysler 200 I have right now has the 9 speed as well. It is a lot more well behaved than both my Renegade and the Evoque I drove. It does seem laggy, but it doesn't put you in a particularly uncomfortable situation slowing down or crawling in traffic.

The Renegade will sometimes upshift while I'm doing about 10MPH in traffic and then speed up randomly. The Renegade feels a lot like the programming for the Evoque. It really feels like when you are heel and toeing, or double clutching and you get the RPMs too high up, then dump the clutch. It lunges forward, but is held back by the brakes...

Very awkward stuff. Either this transmission is to tough to develop programming for, or ZF made a transmission that is erratic mechanically. No idea
 

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@ Indy
I see what you mean about but my point was what you said at the end of your recent statement that the government is not at fault for ZF making a crappy transmission. (At least crappy in terms of software not controlling it). Then again all of this transmission talk could be moot, since it could be software that is the cause and not the transmission itself. At least that's what I think has happened in other models as well and explains why manufacturers continue to use the transmission in many models. If a transmission is really crappy then I would assume they would use something else. But they don't. So it leads me to believe its programming.

TS
 
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Yes, like a terrible heel and toe, most of the time. I was in the Sierras over the weekend and it was very annoying on the descents.
@gunclap, I'm happy you confirmed that exact feeling. It really hits the nail on the head. Interestingly enough, some transmission control modules seem to learn this.

When I went back to back from my Silverado to my new Tundra (unlearned), it was doing the same thing. It was causing a nasty buck on the trailer, especially under load. After about 50 miles of towing in the hills and hunting gears, it pretty much cleaned up. Its 4000 miles later and I've never had it EVER do it again. I'm extremely perceptive to this because I have the old 4L80E in my Silverado. That thing thing would downshift so hard it felt like a wound up spring recoiling out...and then it would upset the load pretty hard.

I am not sure about the Renegade computer, but to be honest, I noticed it a lot when it was less than 200 miles. I've got about 1,300 miles now and it very rarely does the fubarred heel-n-toe thing anymore. I think the only bad trait I've noticed is crawling in traffic, it will sometimes upshift just before I start to brake as I'm closing the gap on the car ahead. This causes is to be pretty jarring/abrupt. And of course, the transmission response is always quite "lazy".

I wish I knew more about the procedure for these things to "learn".
 

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You can't blame regulations for the creation of a crappy transmission. This is nothing but poor engineering. That's like blaming the government for the rash of catalytic converter thefts.
It is because of government regulation that manufactures are having to find new ways to make vehicles burn cleaner and get better fuel economy. One of this ways is gearing. You don't think for a minute if manufactures could keep using, for example, Turbo 350 transmission they wouldn't? They are cheap, simple and easy to build and reliable. But manufactures can't because you will never get the fuel mileage or emission standards out of the engine that is demanded today. So manufactures are forced to come up with more creative, complex, and expensive transmissions to help the engine squeeze out every drop off fuel and burn the cleanest they can...... Manufactures DON'T want to but HAVE to.

Go back and re-read the last part of my statement. The ZF is not the only auto style transmissions with issues. CVTs from several manufactures have has issues too. It all deals with trying to deal with government mandates. Again,Is the government reasonable for directly piss poor design no, but it is the industry trying to deal with those mandates by designing over complex, compacted transmissions that are way engineered for third own good.

Now trying to compare the theft of catalytic converters by thugs trying to make a quick buck vs. Having to to deal with the complexity of automatic transmissions to meet government fuel emission and fuel standards are apples and oranges and is bad analogy that doesn't even make sense.
 

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You can't blame regulations for the creation of a crappy transmission. This is nothing but poor engineering. That's like blaming the government for the rash of catalytic converter thefts.
It's a necessity for cafe and other regulations. Part of why the zf 9 speed is such a pita is because of the size. Most of the 8 speeds out there are huge.

The government wants mileage.
The customer wants horsepower.
Both want safety.

The only way to aim for all three is complexity.
 

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they should give us access to the software, so we can fix it ourselves. you don't get a willies and cry to the dealership every time you get a low tire. all i'm saying is, put out a guide like the old chilton manuals and we'll be fine. unless they already have such thing, in which case let me know :)
 

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It is because of government regulation that manufactures are having to find new ways to make vehicles burn cleaner and get better fuel economy. One of this ways is gearing. You don't think for a minute if manufactures could keep using, for example, Turbo 350 transmission they wouldn't? They are cheap, simple and easy to build and reliable. But manufactures can't because you will never get the fuel mileage or emission standards out of the engine that is demanded today. So manufactures are forced to come up with more creative, complex, and expensive transmissions to help the engine squeeze out every drop off fuel and burn the cleanest they can...... Manufactures DON'T want to but HAVE to.

Go back and re-read the last part of my statement. The ZF is not the only auto style transmissions with issues. CVTs from several manufactures have has issues too. It all deals with trying to deal with government mandates. Again,Is the government reasonable for directly piss poor design no, but it is the industry trying to deal with those mandates by designing over complex, compacted transmissions that are way engineered for third own good.

Now trying to compare the theft of catalytic converters by thugs trying to make a quick buck vs. Having to to deal with the complexity of automatic transmissions to meet government fuel emission and fuel standards are apples and oranges and is bad analogy that doesn't even make sense.
My point was that both are outcomes from regulation, but you're right, it's a stretch.

I guess my point is that whatever the impetus is for companies to develop more efficient engines and transmissions (and personally I think they should be, regulations or not), it shouldn't take them this long to straighten it out. My last car was a 2007 VW GTI with a first year DSG transmission - clearly no slouch in the complexity department (or performance dept either) - and in the course of the 8 years I had it I had zero problems and it operated awesomely.
 

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My point was that both are outcomes from regulation, but you're right, it's a stretch.

I guess my point is that whatever the impetus is for companies to develop more efficient engines and transmissions (and personally I think they should be, regulations or not), it shouldn't take them this long to straighten it out. My last car was a 2007 VW GTI with a first year DSG transmission - clearly no slouch in the complexity department (or performance dept either) - and in the course of the 8 years I had it I had zero problems and it operated awesomely.
Fca should have spent more dev time/qa time. However, to the best of my understanding, the dsg is a dual clutch sequential transmission, it's way less complicated than the zf 9 speed, much less the 4x4 simulating awd system being thrown into the mix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I realize government regulation is driving manufacturers to increase efficiency. Mazda has SkyActiv, which involves many things like weight reduction and some radical engine design. Ford went the turbo route with EcoBoost.
I would think if a small company like Mazda can pull it off without the black-eye that FCA is getting, the real problem lies with FCA's competence, not government regulation. The vehicles are being sent to market without proper refinement. This used to kill manufacturers.
 

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Mazda has SkyActiv, which involves many things like weight reduction and some radical engine design.
Not that radical really. SkyActiv engine tech are things that have been done in racing for decades—lightweight internal components, direct injection and high compression ratio.

The unknown is longevity. Race engines are torn down, inspected and rebuilt often. Impractical to do that with a street car engine that is used daily.

IMO, the best solution to ween ourselves off of foreign oil (most practical and readily available option) is to go to diesel and diesel electric hybrid. Diesel engines are durable and efficient. The particulate scrubbing systems and fluids can be cheaper than they are now through economy of scale. Diesel passenger cars available now are already yielding gas-electric hybrid level efficiency, without sacrificing performance and drivability. Diesel fuel itself is much less expensive to refine from crude oil. A diesel car can go much further on a single tank of fuel.

Even better, a diesel electric hybrid could give you best of both worlds. Full electric power for city driving (thus improving air quality in densely populated cities), diesel power for rural interstate travel.

But, as long as we have the oil giants writing our national energy policy through their lobbyists and election campaign contributions... the best/right choice will never be made.
 

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Even better, a diesel electric hybrid could give you best of both worlds. Full electric power for city driving (thus improving air quality in densely populated cities), diesel power for rural interstate travel.

But, as long as we have the oil giants writing our national energy policy through their lobbyists and election campaign contributions... the best/right choice will never be made.
IMO diesel electric series hybrids could be very cool. Just design the diesel to be very, very efficient in a narrow band for providing the juice to the system and build what is essentially an electric car.

IMO we won't see something interesting like that until CAFE kicks the snot out of the truck makers. They have space and the max torque at 0 rpm can be a real seller. You could even do a 2 speed in the wheel hubs like on monster trucks.
 

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At what point are "more gears better" if calibrating the 9-speed is too complex?

Thoughts?
This is the question that bugs me about the headache causing 9 speed automatic...why all the gears? From what I understand, gears 6, 7, 8, and 9 are all overdrive; no one would use gears 8 and 9 in normal driving. Wouldn't FCA be better off sticking the 6 speed Hyundai transmission (found in the Dart, Compass, and Patriot) in the Renegade? I bet you wouldn't give up 1 MPG for a much more reliable transmission.
 

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"From what I understand, gears 6, 7, 8, and 9 are all overdrive; no one would use gears 8 and 9 in normal driving."

My Trailhawk uses 8th gear when it gets over 50 mph. So a steady cruise at 55 mph (speed limit on some highways here), it stays in 8th unless climbing a hill. It goes into 9th gear once it gets over 63 mph (the main highway speed limit is 65 mph).

I think the 9 speed is a good transmission. It uses four planetary sets to shift to all 10 gears (don't forget reverse). I think the only issue with some is the computer programming may not ideal. Or maybe, the programming just feels "different" than your standard 4, 5, or 6 speed transmission.

And the Trailhawk starts in 2nd gear all the time in normal 4x2 mode. But, I found out at full throttle, it starts in 2nd and actually shifts into 1st, and then shifts through all the other gears as expected.

This transmission gets every last bit of acceleration out of this little 2.4L engine. For an automatic, I like this transmission a lot.
 
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