Harness Your Power: 4 Amazing Manual Transmission Upgrades

Your multitudes of engine upgrades will not get you very far without a transmission ready and able to send the power to the wheels. Not only that, but properly prepared transmissions make it a real joy to drive a powerful car. For example, after upgrading your transmission, you will notice how well the shift points match the vehicle's improved power band. Furthermore, your car will feel like a racecar with a shorter throw and even quicker clutch engagement. Here are four upgrades that will take your vehicle from sidewalk star to racecar.  

Short Shifter

Specially designed short throw shift levers reduce movement from gear to gear by as much as 50%. Racecar drivers use these shift levers to improve their response times while approaching redline in each gear.

In addition, it reduces the amount of effort needed to drive the car at its limits. As racecar drivers maneuver through corners and blast down straights, they must deftly move back and forth through the gears to keep the car firmly in its power band. The short shifter install does not take a lot of time and it is easily reversible if you ever want to return your car to stock.

Clutch Kit

A high performance clutch kit improves the transmission's ability to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. The clutch mates with the flywheel to gather power produced at the crank and transfers it to the transmission. From there, the power moves through the gears to the axles, which spin the tires at the specified rate. With a high performance kit, the set of heavy-duty fingers on the pressure plate and advanced friction materials on the clutch discs reduce horsepower loss during this transfer process.  

When you buy a clutch kit, you usually receive:

  • Friction disc
  • Pressure plate
  • Throwout bearing
  • Bearing grease
  • Adjustment tool

During the install, gently test the push rod placement against the throwout bearing before normally activating the clutch. If the clutch is out of alignment, you may bend the push rod and replacements are often hard to find.

Lightened Flywheel

With a stock flywheel, a portion of the power is usually used up trying to gain momentum at the crank. Reducing the weight of the flywheel takes a lot of pressure off the crank as the engine revs up. As a result, you'll enjoy higher revs and more of the power will transfer straight to the transmission. The average flywheel may weigh up to a whopping 25 pounds. Lightened units may run between seven to 14 pounds, depending on your vehicle type.

Gear Conversion Set

If your vehicle sits at 4,000 RPMs while buzzing down the freeway, you may crave a sixth gear conversion kit. Adding an extra gear also changes the way your transmission utilizes power gathered from the engine.

The sixth gear conversion process does involve opening up the transmission case to install a new set of gears, so it's not easily reversible. The good news is this conversion benefits both performance and casual drivers by making the car more responsive, yet incredibly civilized.  

Making The Final Adjustments

If you want to get the most out of your engine and transmission upgrades, make sure to perform the proper adjustments using a specially designed alignment tool. You will need to make sure the shift linkage accurately activates each gear in your transmission. Otherwise, the cogs in your transmission may grind together or fail to engage despite your best efforts to place it in the proper gear.

To perform the final adjustments, you may need to have someone sit inside the vehicle to hold the shift rod in place with the adjustment tool while you fine-tune the linkage inside the engine bay. Take a test drive on low speed roads to make sure your vehicle accurate moves through the gears before taking it on the highway. 

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