Heat Is The Enemy: Strictly Diesel’s Trans Cooler Has Great Results

Regardless of what it is in, a transmission is an expensive part to have problems with. When it comes to trucks, this threat is even scarier because they are bigger, heavier, and usually more expensive. Strictly Diesel, after much research and development, has manufactured a transmission cooler kit for the 17+ Ford trucks that will extend the life of their transmissions.

We spoke with Strictly Diesel’s Co-Owner, Dennis Schroeder, to figure out why exactly this is necessary on these trucks. “2017-plus trucks, in particular, have a transmission cooling issue, and owners frequently see them running high temperatures, especially when towing,” he said. “This is due to the fact that the transmission cooling was moved from the secondary cooling system (11-16 trucks) to the primary cooling system (17-plus trucks), so the coolant that is being used to manage the temperature is also dealing with the heat from the engine, oil cooler, and EGR system.”

In a matter of a few hours in the garage, you too can have your late model Ford truck feeling better about towing with this Strictly Diesel transmission cooler.

The primary cooling system can only do so much and the small factory liquid to liquid transmission cooler is limited by both size and the fact that it’s using ultra-hot coolant temperatures from the engine. You probably saw our last article where we unboxed this transmission cooler kit to get a better understanding of what we were getting involved with.

Luckily for us, both the parts and the instructions looked easy to work with. We’ve got a truck here that we’ve recently already put some work into and sure enough, it’s a 2017 model. With this 2017 primarily being used for towing heavy trailer loads, this transmission cooler kit can’t be passed on. “During our own testing, we’ve seen great results. In fact, we’ve seen up to a 40-degree drop in fluid temperatures on a hot Arizona day,” Schroeder said.

With that being said, we were eager to get this on and see the results for ourselves. Before we dive into the install, I wanted to document our transmission temperatures prior to the install just to show the differences. A few months ago on a warmer day (not Arizona hot), the transmission temperature was at 197.3-degrees. That is a pretty good baseline number prior to the installation.

The Install

To begin, Strictly suggests you install the shroud brackets to the actual cooler body itself prior to mounting. With the supplied hardware, this should only take a few minutes to set up and have ready. Once you have the cooler set up and ready, you can begin pulling the front of the truck apart. Locate all 14-panel clips and remove them. Do not lose them as you will need them once you’re done.

Once the radiator cover is off and set aside, you can then remove the eight 10 mm grille and grille support bolts. With the hardware removed, you can then grab the largest bars of the grille and give it a quick tug away from the truck. Strictly has stated that it will take some force sometimes. If yours is like this one, a Platinum, you won’t have the bars so you will grab between the upper and lower section and do the same thing.

Once the grille is loose on the truck, this will expose the area in which the cooler will ride. There could be a few things you need to do next depending on which model you have. This includes the unplugging of the camera, windshield washer squirter, and the removal of the horns. Some models may not have these options. If you do, unplug each of them, and you’re ready to move on.

Now, you have the grille, the harness, and the horns removed. Up next is the cutting of the center support. This will more than likely be the most intimidating part of the installation. Using the supplied cable saw, you can carefully make the four needed cuts to remove the center support. Once you have this part removed, take some rough sandpaper on these edges to clean the area up to prevent sharp edges.

Next, using the cable ties, hang the cooler in the appropriate area and adjust its height using the ties. This will allow you flexibility in supporting the cooler while mounting each side of the cooler. The cooler should be a quarter-inch from the top cut you made previously with the cable saw. Once your mounts are in a good position, Strictly suggests you make pilot holes for your bit and finish drilling out your mounting holes.

In each of these figures, you will see where the initial cut was made, when the compression fittings were installed, and final connections prior to hose routing.

Once the cooler is mounted and secure, it is now time to plumb the factory transmission lines to the new cooler but before you do that, you have to crimp the factory lines off. What this is going to do is cut the flow of fluid so when we make a few cuts in the system, it won’t continuously leak. On your instructions, you’ll see that you need to make two cuts on the existing lines and it even shows you the distance away from the frame rail you need to make it.

Once you’ve made your cuts, you can then install the compression fittings unioning them together again except this time with the provided hoses. Your connections are made and all that remains is the hose routing on both the driver and passenger side to plumb back to the new cooler. You will then reach your destination and mate the hoses with the cooler and you’re done. The only part that you will need to besides putting the front of the truck back together, on some models, is relocating the horn to the cross member above the new cooler aiming downward.

Final Thoughts

So after taking our time and being really thorough through the whole process, the Strictly Diesel Transmission Cooler Kit is complete. Our thoughts immediately after are that the installation isn’t near as intimidating as it may seem. In a matter of two hours, we had this kit completely installed clean and secure. After a quick leak check, everything seemed perfect. All that was left was to top the system off with fluid because we did lose some during our line cuts and the system itself did grow in capacity.

After that, we hit the road. After all, this is a transmission cooler so obviously, we’re expecting lower temperatures right off the bat. Sure enough, after getting to operating temperature and trying to recreate the previous conditions, the temperature of the fluid was much lower than before. Before, as stated above, we were seeing 197.3-degrees.

Now, we’re seeing a huge drop in temperatures. We’ve seen a max temperature of 160-degrees Fahrenheit. Now, this is a different time of the year but the ambient temperature isn’t going to have a 30-40 degree change on the temperature of the fluid. This is proof that this cooler is putting in work. We’re ready to hook a trailer to this thing and see what temperature it maintains. I’m betting we’ll be very happy with the end temperature.

We can’t thank Strictly Diesel enough for getting on board with this project and fixing this tow rig up with their cooler. Now, traveling throughout the year with Jeeps, Side-By-Sides, trucks, and equipment, this 2017 Platinum will never get a hot transmission. To get your transmission cooler kit headed your way, head on over to the Strictly Diesel website now. Stay tuned to Diesel Army as we strive to bring you the latest parts to hit our industry.

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About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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