The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

How Do I Know Which RWD Automatic Transmission I Have?

2022-12-15 - Paul Bertucci

Transmission Types

Over the years, Volvo has used only a few different transmission manufacturers for their automatics: BorgWarner, Aisin-Warner (a joint venture between BorgWarner and Aisin Seiki), and ZF Friedrichsaven.

"Over the years" for these rear-wheel drive Volvos spans several decades, so there have been quite a few different transmission variants used over that time, starting with the 3-speed BW35, BW55, and AW55 of the '60s and '70s, through the 4-speed AW70/71/72 and ZF22 in the '80s and early '90s, and on through the AW30-40 in the last RWD S90s and V90s in the late 1990s.

When sourcing certain transmission parts, it's important to know which specific transmission you have, and sometimes you'll even need to know down to the transmission's part number. Depending on your transmission, parts like seals, kick-down cables, drain pans, and filters may be different.

Keywords: 140, 142, 144, 145, 240, 242, 244, 245, 740, 744, 745, 760, 764, 765, 940, 944, 945, S90, V90

Finding your transmission's ID plate

Cars this old don't have information like this stored in Volvo's dealer database, so the best way to find your transmission's part number is to get under the car and look for the transmission's ID plate (highlighted in red below).

The ID plate is located on the left (US driver) side of the transmission, just above the oil pan. For this exercise, we'll be looking at the transmission out of a 1987 740.

On the ID plate are a couple useful pieces of information: general model number, part number, and serial number. On this particular car's ID plate, the model number 03-71 tells us it's an AW71, and the specific part number is 1208532. Remember that for later!

Finding the right parts with your transmission part number

Parts catalogs (like Volvo's VIDA software) break down parts categories for different transmissions by their model and their part number. For our sample '87 740, the Transmission repair group shows parts listings for several specific variants of AW71, broken down by part number.

For many major parts, these transmissions are mechanically similar enough that knowing the transmission model (like an AW71 vs an AW70 or a ZF22) is sufficient. IPD's products for major parts like filters will usually leave fitment notes for these like "Fits all AW71s".

In some specific cases, particularly with frequently-revised parts like solenoids, gaskets, and control cables, you'll need to know your transmission's part number, not just its model.

For our sample 740, there are three different variants of the AW71 in 1987, with two different shift cables used:

  • Part number 1377680 for transmission 1208532
  • Part number 1239933 for transmission 1208248
  • Part number 1239932 for transmission 1208334

Thanks to the transmission's ID plate we looked at earlier, we can go to the parts list for transmission part number 1208532 and pick the correct shifter cable.

A note on mid-80s 740s

From 1985-1987, some 740s and 760s (especially diesels) came with the ZF 4HP22 transmission instead of Volvo's usual AW70, AW71, or AW72. There may be sub-versions of the ZF22 which still require you to grab the transmission's part number, but it's sufficient for many major parts just to know if you have a ZF or not; you can tell quickly by looking at your transmission shifter.

  • ZF pattern: PRND321, no overdrive button
  • AW pattern: PRND21, overdrive button on the shifter