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Allison 1000 Transmission - Inside The Allison 1000

A Look At The History, Strengths, And Weaknesses Of GM's Iconic Transmission

Text By , Photography by Courtesy of General Motors Corp.

In the last two decades, the diesel powerplants offered in diesel pickups have come with ever-increasing horsepower and torque numbers. But, in order for manufacturers to meet durability standards, stronger powertrain components were needed. As the parent company of Allison (from 1928 to 2007), General Motors engineers knew which automatic transmission would be capable of handling its Duramax engine's 300 hp and 520 lb-ft at the turn of the century.

Beginning with the '01 Chevy and GMC 2500 HD and 3500 trucks, customers purchasing a Duramax-powered Silverado or Sierra had the option of backing it up with the legendary Allison transmission. No doubt, the Duramax and Allison combination provided one of the most bulletproof packages on the market, and many people bought GM trucks based on Allison's reputation.

Breaking Into The Light-Truck Market
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Allison conducted extensive studies of the North American light-truck market before the Allison 1000 was on the drawing board. Noticing a torque growth in diesel engines' torque rating of approximately 15 lb-ft per year (from 1990 to 1994), Allison's engineers believed diesels would be making 470 to 510 lb-ft by 2000. And with the Duramax's debut torque rating coming in at 520 lb-ft, we'd say they were spot-on in their power prediction.

Allison LCT 1000
Spawning from the success Allison had with its AT542 automatic transmissions in the medium-duty segment, the Allison LCT 1000 was a much-improved version to say the least. The Allison 1000 came with some key features that the AT542 lacked, such as a parking pawl, Overdrive gear, and a torque converter clutch. Production of the Allison LCT 1000 began in 1999.

Adaptive Learning and the Aftermarket
One of the most advanced features found in the Allison 1000 is its use of adaptive learning technology. The adaptive learning process refers to the transmission's constant comparison of key shift parameters to pre-programmed (ideal) shift conditions. The electronic transmission controls then make hydraulic adjustments to assure the key shift parameters match the engine's torque to create the ideal shift strategy for the next shift. This is done to keep the driving experience comfortable and avoids any rough shifting instances. This adaptive shifting process continues for the life of the vehicle to provide consistent, optimized shifts.

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