Automatic to Manual Transmission
Posted in: Transmission

Is an Automatic to Manual Transmission Swap Worth?

It seems that now the era of a standard manual transmission with a gearbox (aka stick shift) in automobiles is gradually fading, and is being replaced with automatic transmissions. Alas! This is a sad thing, especially for those that had blissful experience shifting gears with this transmission type for several long years now. However, many still have a strong liking for the standard manual transmission system in vehicles. The main reason for having such preference is probably because of the control a driver gets when shifting gears. Due to which some drivers go through with automatic to manual transmission swap.

automatic to manual transmission swap
source: topspeed.com

For instance, one of the best scenarios that we can think of having manual transmission in cars is in motorsports. Those sports cars you see racing in the circuit tracks mainly come with a manual transmission, as it gives drivers better control to fulfill their driving needs (and in winning races, of course). On the other hand, most consumer and commercial vehicles today, come with automatic transmission, which kind of has a “love and hate” relation with such car owners. Quite possibly, this is also why you may want to swap your car’s automatic transmission to a manual gearbox. Also, is this effort going to be fruitful, or all of it may go in vain? Let’s find out.

In this blog, we shall take a good look at transmission swapping and see if doing so is going to make any difference, or it simply is just a waste of money and effort.

How Automatic-to-Manual Transmission Swapping Affects Driving Experience?

Most of you reading this will ask, “Why not just buy a car with a manual transmission, instead of having the gearbox replaced entirely?” I agree with this question as well. However, there are certain things that we still need to know.

Although your car’s built-in automatic transmission system could be replaced with a manual transmission, it may also affect your car’s performance, either in a good or bad way. An automatic transmission in general may have a lot of differences over a stick shift or manual transmission than you might expect. Many would also assume that the base components of an automatic transmission are the same. But, only that it has certain additional mechanics required to change the gears when needed and without a clutch pedal. Surprisingly, this is not what appears to be.

how driving eperience is affected
source: sundevilauto.com

Both automatic and manual transmission mechanics require a coupling device. A coupling device is an integrated component that is used to connect and disconnect the transmission and the engine when needed. In a manual transmission, this component is called a clutch, whereas it’s called a torque converter in an automatic transmission. Thus, to swap an automatic transmission with a manual transmission (or vice versa), you’ll need to disconnect the current coupling device and install the new one in its place. This will also require an entirely new pedal assembly, the shifter, and connecting components in the package.

However, the route that could guarantee the most in terms of its reliability is quite expensive. Purchasing new parts for your car usually confers some type of warranty or guarantee of quality as well. Typically, most of these brands would greatly believe in their products and will strive to make sure that their customers are satisfied with the overall results. So, there’s no apparent reason in staying on to just one route or the other. But, as long as the parts you purchase are compatible with other components, it would matter not if one component is new, while the other one is old.

As for its compatibility, there is one simple thing you can do that will help make your transmission swapping successful. That would be to simply purchase a manual transmission. You will also need to make sure that the manual transmission you purchase is designed for your car’s model. This obviously may not be the best option, but for most cars, you may be able to find a manual transmission that fits in the body of your car. A good thing about this is that a few integrated hoses and connections will be quite the same length. Thus, this may result in fewer new parts and little inconvenience for your efforts trying to work on them.

What Parts are Needed When Replacing Automatic with Manual Transmission?

Unfortunately, there is no way to be entirely confident concerning every part that you’ll be needing to swap from automatic to a manual transmission or vice versa. This is also because every transmission swap is somewhat distinct in its ways. Therefore, to achieve this task, it would depend upon what types of bolts you’re going to need, and how many of these you’ll need, which will certainly vary.

Nonetheless, we have included a list below that will give you a basic idea about what parts you’ll need for this task. Though a lot of people may still need a manual transmission in their cars, it’s vital to think about all the parts you’d need before getting to work.

Here’s a list of a few components (though there may be more parts required) that you will need to replace an automatic transmission with a manual transmission with a gearbox (stick shift).

  1. Flywheel: A flywheel is a component of a manual transmission that is required to connect the gearbox to the engine of your car.
  2. Clutch Disc: A clutch disc is a part of a manual transmission that is needed to be connected to your car’s transmission system.
  3. Pressure Plate: The pressure plate component is needed to apply pressure to the clutch disc to engage and disengage the clutch.
  4. Pedal Assembly: The pedal assembly component refers to the pedals inside the car. It allows you to communicate with the clutch and the engine.
  5. Clutch Fork: The clutch fork is a component that is needed to apply pressure to the throw-out bearing.
  6. Throw-out Bearing/Slave Cylinder: The throw-out bearing is a component that presses against the center of the diaphragm spring, causing the pressure plate to push against the clutch disc.
  7. Clutch Alignment Tool: Although this component is optional, there’s also a reason the clutch alignment tool comes with clutch kits. As the name suggests, using this tool will ensure that other parts, such as the flywheel, clutch disc, and pressure plate are aligned correctly.
  8. Pilot Bushing: The pilot bushing component is needed to support the input shaft and clutch disc while allowing the flywheel to maintain the engine’s RPM even as the input shaft is slowing.
  9. Bolts: The bolts (of varied size and shape) are those components that are needed to properly secure all other parts in your vehicle. Therefore, you will need lots of bolts, and in a variety of shapes depending on your choices and requirements.
  10. Clutch Cable and Quadrant: A clutch cable is an essential component which you’ll need to communicate with the clutch. The other component, i.e., the quadrant, is needed to make the clutch cable easily adjustable.
  11. Crossmember: A cross member is a component that is needed to hold the transmission system to your car.
  12. Driveshaft: Finally, you’ll also need the driveshaft, a component that can carry power from the transmission to your car’s differential. The lengths vary considerably, and the driveshafts come in a variety of materials. So, you’re going to need to make some choices.

Is it Really Worth Going with a Transmission Swap?

Taking into consideration all the things said above, a question remains to be answered, “Is it worth swapping automatic transmission with a standard manual transmission?”

Having your car more or less converted with an automatic-to-manual transmission is usually not very cost-effective, in particular, nor is it an easy thing to do. Also, consider the number of parts (as listed above) which you might need to accomplish this desire. Sometimes, however, it may simply be the only way as a workaround. Seeing this, it appears that you’re left with just two options. If there’s a car you have your eyes on and which is also quite a rare model, perhaps, you may only get a chance to buy the variant with an automatic transmission. Or, if it’s a car that only comes with an automatic transmission, and you want to replace its gears with a stick shift, you may need to perform a transmission swap.

If you’re just thinking about purchasing a sedan variant with an automatic transmission that’s fairly run-of-the-mill and converting it to a manual gears system, that probably may not be a great idea. You would be better served in terms of time and money to wait a little longer and buy a manual when it’s launched in the market.

What problems do cars cause?

We need to understand this. Carmakers manufacture vehicles in ways where you simply can’t have every component replaced to your desired taste. Doing so could also result in a lot of problems occurring in your favorite car, even if it was gifted to you by your loved ones.

Generally speaking, not all car variants will support or be compatible with any part(s) used on them. The transmissions are developed to include distinct mechanisms in their respective gears’ structure and functions. So, it’s quite possible that putting in an unsupported transmission in your car could have negative effects – to the car and your driving experience, as well.

How much would an automatic to manual transmission swap cost?

The one thing that car owners would want to avoid is the cost of the repair and replacement of the car’s components.

Though it may not be very difficult for you to quickly anticipate certain things that you’ll need, other parts may surprise you. Thus, to deal with such parts, most people often purchase what’s called a donor car, and they simply strip it down just to get the components that they need. They also check to ensure that those parts stripped off the donor car are year-specific (i.e., should not be very old though).

However, the problem with this idea is that you are essentially doing twice the work, and you’re doing it at the same time. There may be very few people that have a garage that is large enough to carry out such a hectic process. In the end, it may also turn out to be one of the less expensive options. Again, it would also mean that the parts which you are getting out of the donor car may be of questionable quality. A few benefits of using a donor car, however, maybe that it is typically for very little money, and depending on the parts you strip off, you may be able to sell some to recoup some of the cost incurred in the replacement of such parts.

Closing Words

It may be quite challenging to look for cars that still come with a standard manual transmission system in the present times. Moreover, most automobile manufacturers are looking forward to introducing EV (electric vehicle) variants that would no doubt, offer types, such as automatic transmission, CVT (continuously variable transmission), etc.

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