The good old question comes up again and again: "Shift or automatic"? What are the strengths and what are the weaknesses? In addition, there are a few advantages such as “Only lame ducks drive automatically”, “Manual switch is something for speeders” etc. And then the slogans at the regulars' table about the high consumption and poor performance and countless other arguments. But for the most part, these statements are only partly correct today. A modern automatic converter or a dual clutch transmission is in no way inferior to a manual transmission, on the contrary, the automatic can do many things even better today. However, you may find that the choice you made was not the right one for you personally. Then you can consider a conversion.
the base vehicle is crucial
If you convert your car, which is equipped with an automatic transmission as standard, to manual transmission, the following questions may arise:
- Which model is it exactly?
- Does the manufacturer have vehicles with manual transmission in the same model series that could fit?
- Do holes have to be drilled in the bulkhead to install the clutch pedal that were not yet planned?
- Does your car already have a CAN-BUS system (approx. 2000, mandatory in Germany from 2001)
- Is the automatic transmission already electronic?
- If so, does the automatic transmission still have its own control unit or is it already fully integrated in the main ECU?
many components are required
As you can see, answering the question of whether a conversion is possible depends on many factors. Let's take the popular drift car Nissan 200 SX S13 as an example. There was either a 5-speed manual transmission or an electronic 4-speed automatic for an additional charge. If you want to convert your AT-S13 into an MT-S13, you need the following things:
- Gearbox from the switch
- Control unit from the switch
- Clutch pedal with clutch master cylinder including expansion tank
- Clutch slave cylinder
- Process the narrower brake pedal from the MT or the old pedal so that it fits
- Shift bag with cover for the hole through which the shift lever extends into the interior
- release bearing
- Matching screws for flywheel
- Sealing plates in two parts at the switch
- Pilot bearing or support bearing, bearing puller to remove the old bearing
- A good hydraulic line with a length of 1,50m for the connection from the master cylinder to the slave cylinder
- The front part of the cardan shaft (differs from the MT on the AT)
Our list contains the most essential things, although various small items may still be missing here. Still, it's an impressive list, and once you have the parts you need, the real work is still pending.
essentially the overview of installation
In short: Remove the old automatic transmission, drill the hole for the clutch pedal, mount the pedal, install the master cylinder, insert the manual transmission, replace the control unit, tighten everything and fill the fluids. Workload about 15 minutes ^^ (kidding). Of course, all of this sounds extremely easy, but that's definitely not the case. Such a conversion usually never works smoothly and without problems because the key data of the vehicle are often no longer identical to those of the series. For example, if you want to convert the drift vehicle mentioned above, you will most likely already have made a significant increase in performance, changes to the steering geometry and also to the chassis. These can all be properties that make the conversion to the manual transmission even more difficult.
Why the conversion from automatic to manual transmission?
There can be several reasons for this. Here also using the example of an S13:
- The manual transmission has one more gear and therefore shorter gear jumps
- With its electronics, the automatic transmission is more sensitive to damage and failures
- You can only switch the automatic transmission to a limited extent
- Acceleration with the manual transmission is noticeably better (7,5 to 9,3 seconds for the sprint from 0-100 km / h on the S13)
- The manual transmission is lighter
- Many drivers of a sports car still feel that switching by hand is more sporty
- There are tuning parts such as for the manual transmission shift reductions
- An AT gearbox is not completely unsuitable for drifting, but a manual gearbox works better, especially in older vehicles
You can only decide whether the conversion is worthwhile for yourself. It is of course best if you inform yourself sufficiently beforehand and maybe find someone who has already carried out the procedure for your model. Then he or she probably knows all the tricks and the possible problems.
retrofitting modern vehicles? Extremely complex
With the Nissan 200sx S13 mentioned above, the conversion may still be somehow possible. But if you have the BMW M5 Sedan (F90) with the GA8HP75Z eight-speed M Steptronic in front of you, for example, and would like to somehow convert to manual transmission, the undertaking is almost impossible. And that also applies to the reverse scenario, if you have one Convert hand switch to automatic would like to. Current vehicles have an extremely complex technology, there is sometimes no manual transmission from the factory that can be used, and then finding a workshop that still concerns it will be quite difficult. Furthermore, there is hardly a plausible reason to replace this phenomenal piece of high-tech. A well-functioning modern automatic transmission is a comfortable affair and a great piece of technology. We therefore advocate: Let the ATs live.
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