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I have an automatic 1965 and wanted to fully understand the meaning of the last 3 sections on the gear shifter.

On the shifter is says P-R-N-LittleDot-BigDot-L.

-Little Dot from what I’ve read, is mostly for starting in areas where there’s snow. So living in LA I’m assuming its safe to say I should never use this. (Funny because I was driving solely in this gear the week I got the car)

-Big Dot is Low- 2nd -3rd shift. Generally I should be only driving in this correct?

-L I’m a little confused on. It’s lower gear? I’ve been using it when I go down hills to give the breaks a rest. Does that sound right?

Thanks for your help!
 

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In theory that's correct. But for some reason my big dot doesn't shift into 3rd. So I just use little dot. (Ford actually called them drive 1, drive 2 and low - in order from Neutral down).

I also don't know if saving your brakes is worth sitting in the low gear. I only really use the low gear setting in my other car when I don't want the car to shift up (ie maintain steady speed going up hill, towing something heavy) - but if it isn't adversely affecting your engine, then makes sense.

1966 289 Auto Coupe
 

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If you're ascending / descending steep hills and want to keep the engine revs up without as much gas or need to slow the car or a large load, sure, but I wouldn't do it a lot. Without knowing the condition of the trans, if and when the last build was and what level of components were used it's safe to assume it is bone stock and has some wear. The condition of your fluid and filter and any material found in the pan will tell you a lot. An additional external trans cooler is not a bad idea in any case but remember that will require a little more fluid for the system to be full on the dipstick. Best place to simply find how to use the C4 auto is an original or reproduction owner manual.
 

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You are correct, the small dot eliminates 1st gear to reduce wheelspin in mud, snow, and rain. Yes, with the original tires, you could spin the wheels in the rain even with a six-cylinder engine.

P
R
N

O
L

Low shifts the trans down to whatever is the next gear down. I can tell you this system actually works very well, but has always led to confusion, which is why they simplified it in 67. The P-R-N-D-2-1 shifter will do the same thing, actually, if you manually shift it constantly, but few drivers choose to do so.
 

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Confusing???!?? You're not the only one. The majority of the public was confused too back in the 1960's when the "Green-Dot" Transmission was introduced. Ford could have made a commercial on the sole use of the "Green-Dot" Transmission alone which is what they should have done, but never did. If you look closely at the 2nd (Big Dot), There is a little "Green-Dot" inside a Big White Circle right above the "L" (Low Gear). That's the one that you need to DRIVE on.

The confusion was so much so, that people kept driving on the "White" Dot (2nd and 3rd) because it was right next to Neutral (Like in most cars) and people kept blowing C4 Trannies...including my own father (twice). If they had ever read the Owners manual (which barely noone ever does), They would have clearly seen that they have to correctly drive on the "Green-Dot" which is right above the "L" (Low Gear).

Ford got tired of fixing C4 Trannies and tired of trying to explain themselves, so beginning in the 1967 Model year, The C4 Gearing and Valve Body was actually changed and the Shifter Bezel updated. See pics of '64-'66 (Above) and '67-'68 (Below). Also, The "Cruise-O-Matic" embossed writing was also removed from the shifter bezel front as the Tranny was really a C4 and not a "Cruise-O-Matic" transmission either like Pre '64 Ford Cast Iron Auto Transmissions.

Just "Remember", Always DRIVE on the "Green-Dot" !!! Otherwise, You'll blow your C4 Tranny driving on the "White Dot" (2nd and 3rd) all the time. If you look at the pics below, You can see that they actually "swapped the "D" and "2" (2nd, 3rd Gear) for '67-'68 from the previous '64-'66 C4 Gearing.

See Side by Side Pics Below:
 

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Confusing???!?? You're not the only one. The majority of the public was confused too back in the 1960's when the "Green-Dot" Transmission was introduced. Ford could have made a commercial on the sole use of the "Green-Dot" Transmission alone which is what they should have done, but never did. If you look closely at the 2nd (Big Dot), There is a little "Green-Dot" inside a Big White Circle right above the "L" (Low Gear). That's the one that you need to DRIVE on.

The confusion was so much so, that people kept driving on the "White" Dot (2nd and 3rd) because it was right next to Neutral (Like in most cars) and people kept blowing C4 Trannies...including my own father (twice). If they had ever read the Owners manual (which barely noone ever does), They would have clearly seen that they have to correctly drive on the "Green-Dot" which is right above the "L" (Low Gear).

Ford got tired of fixing C4 Trannies and tired of trying to explain themselves, so beginning in the 1967 Model year, The C4 Gearing and Valve Body was actually changed and the Shifter Bezel updated. See pics of '64-'66 (Above) and '67-'68 (Below). Also, The "Cruise-O-Matic" embossed writing was also removed from the shifter bezel front as the Tranny was really a C4 and not a "Cruise-O-Matic" transmission either like Pre '64 Ford Cast Iron Auto Transmissions.

Just "Remember", Always DRIVE on the "Green-Dot" !!! Otherwise, You'll blow your C4 Tranny driving on the "White Dot" (2nd and 3rd) all the time. If you look at the pics below, You can see that they actually "swapped the "D" and "2" (2nd, 3rd Gear) for '67-'68 from the previous '64-'66 C4 Gearing.

See Side by Side Pics Below:
How do I tell if the PO swapped my transmission from a pre-67 to a post-67 but kept the same shifter bezel?

1966 289 Auto Coupe
 

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It's also possible they may have just swapped the valve body for one from a '67, which I did on my '66 years ago. I also put in a B&M shifter which matched the new shift pattern.
 

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This is a very good question. How can you tell if you have a "GREEN DOT" tranny?
Count the shifts? If you put it where we're all used to "D", and it only shifts once, try out "2" location and see if it shifts twice or just keeps you in 2nd gear.



I drove my 65 "wrong" for the first couple weeks I drove it, it shifted so smooth I didn't notice it was only shifting once :lol:
 

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I had a '65 I6 Green dot that I must assume had been rebuilt and either modded or messed up depending on your view because no one could explain to me at the time why it did what it did.

Small dot it would start in 1 shift to 2 then 3 at lowish but normal speeds, rather lazily with a bit of flair to the shift. If I floored it from a stop it was the same.
Green Dot I started calling sport mode:) Start in low and if I floored it would stay in low a long while then shift into 2nd very crisply, same if I held it to the floor and then eased up it would then shift in to 2nd rather crisply. Same with 2-3rd shift it was crisp. Normal driving it would shift at what I'd call a normal RPM but still crisply.

L- I think was normal. No matter dogging it or not when I moved it to the green dot it would go into 2nd very crisply like while in the green dot.
If i wanted to down shift from either dot into L it would go into 2nd and stay there until it slowed to about ~10mph then downshift to 1. Sooner than if I was slowing in green dot mode. In the small dot it wouldn't go into first without a near total stop.

Was that something that could be accomplished with valve or spring etc changes or was something messed up? I was a teen and tried my best to break it but never did.
 

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There are basically two valvebodies that are commonplace on the C4. One is the 'early' version used till '66, with the little and big dots, and 'drive ranges'. Little dot = Starts in 2nd, shifts to 3rd. Big dot drives normally, using 1, 2, 3. And then "L" gives you first gear and keeps it there unless you mess with the shift lever.


Later in '67, Ford realized that this design was really pretty dumb for most circumstances, and went to a Select-Shift design, where you had D (which shifted 1-2-3 automatically), 2 (for 2nd gear) and 1 (for 1st gear). This had the advantage of allowing proper engine braking on mountain roads, and holding your car in whatever gear you wanted, instead of what the transmission thought was best.


Generally, any performance oriented C4 will use the later Select-Shift valvebody, which can be retrofitted into the earlier cases without trouble.
 

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It’s not only the valve body. The shifter housing is different to lock the shifter into the correct gear. It’s pretty common to find a 65/66 with a later valve body, but still using the original shifter housing. This was te case with my 66. I thought something was wrong with my tranny because it dint shift. Into 3rd until I realized it had a 67 style valve body. So I replaced the shifter housing and bezel to match.
 

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It’s not only the valve body. The shifter housing is different to lock the shifter into the correct gear. It’s pretty common to find a 65/66 with a later valve body, but still using the original shifter housing. This was te case with my 66. I thought something was wrong with my tranny because it dint shift. Into 3rd until I realized it had a 67 style valve body. So I replaced the shifter housing and bezel to match.
What do I look for to work out which valve body I have?

1966 289 Auto Coupe
 

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There’s a really simple operational way to deal with the “what do I have” question and just driving in general.

It’s designed to default to the normal “drive” position. When you press the button and pull it past reverse heading towards neutral, let go of the button and pull straight back. It will stop at (1-2-3) Drive.
 

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What do I look for to work out which valve body I have?

1966 289 Auto Coupe
The only difference is the notches on the side of the housing that locks the shifter in gear.

Look at this picture of a 65/66 shifter.


You can see the rail that the shifter locks into to set a gear. From the front (right side) it is locked in park. Pressing the button allows it to lift up and move back into reverse. You can see if the shifter is moved back it will slide into the next gear without the button being pressed. This long slot is actually for both Dotted gears. The front half is the small dot for ice driving. The rear half is the green dot for normal driving. You can move between these two gears any time by sliding the shifter forward or back. Pressing the button again allows you to move the shifter all the way back to the low gear. You can see that pushing the shifter forward from this gear will allow the shifter to move back into the area with the dots.

Now look at this 67 style shifter



It is similar, but instead of the large area for the two dotted gears, it has a smaller area for the standard ‘Drive’ gear, and two raised gears at the back for Low and 2. The only other difference is the two welded brackets. They are for 67/68 cars with consoles. Non console cars don’t have them. If you find or buy one of theses, simply cut off the brackets and you are all set..

Looking at these you can see why there is a problem with using a late valve body with the early shifter. The shifter will not hold the transmission in the drive position. Instead it will allow it to slip back into 2nd gear.
 

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If you are holding down the shifter button, you can feel each detent inside the transmission, without feeling the shifter contacting any of the notches in the shift plate below. Ordinarily, without bonking the shifter or pushing on it, it will not slip between gears even if you have the early style shifter plate that is 'flat' between little dot and big dot.

The shifter detent plate just adds a bit of safety. You can push forward from D (or little dot) and get into Neutral, but you can't accidentally get into Reverse. You have to press the button to get to Reverse, and again to get it to Park. The same holds true as you are trying to shift to lower gears. The early style notches allow you to shift between D and 2 (or little dot-big dot) without ever pressing the shift button, but the '67+ style has a detent between each lower gear, so you couldn't accidentally grab 2nd (or 1st). You can, however, slip from 1st to 2nd to D, to N, without pressing the button down. You'll still feel the transmission as its little internal 'rooster comb' clicks through the gears, whether you are holding the button down or not.
 

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OK, now I have to take a good look at my console tonight and see what I have. I've always driven it at the spot just after N, and it shifts twice (starting in 1 then 2 then 3). I've also found that if I shift to L it will shift thru to 3. It's been rebuilt twice over the years that I know of, so maybe the rebuild made it that way.
 
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