The Truth About Cars » 6-speed The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:01:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 6-speed Piston Slap: Son, You’re Gonna Drive Me to Drinkin’ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 11:10:27 +0000

Justin writes:


Last October I was able to purchase a car I had been swooning over for about 15 years: A ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. It has about 108000 miles and is my daily driver. During the summer months I generally prefer to ride a motorcycle, so I need to do something with this car. Selling it is out of the question, as it only has a few cosmetic blemishes (that will soon be tended to), so it will require some…more.

My question is, what do I go with first; Supercharger or 5-6 speed?

A good friend of mine can help me with either. As it sits, the car is completely stock. Money isn’t much of an issue, but I would like to keep total upgrades just under 10K. I am aware that sounds a bit ridiculous, but I have wanted this car since I was 12. I prefer to keep the motor I have; I want it’s heart to stay the same, but I am open to almost anything else mechanical.


Sajeev answers:

This Lincoln-Mercury fanboi’s heart just melts to hear this. It’s nice to see someone join the madness, as sanity is overrated. The sad reality is that the Mark VIII’s release in 1993 was the last time I was excited about a new product hitting the showroom…and remained excited after the initial buzz wore off.

 Sure, plenty of great iron came afterwards, but nothing that’d personally spin my personal-luxury crank.

Since I am in your shoes (sort of) with my Hot Rod Mark VIII, I can rattle off what you need to do.  With that, your $10,000 budget for powertrain upgrades is unrealistic.  I doubt you can DIY the whole thing, you’re gonna need to buy custom bits unique to Ford’s MN-12/FN-10 chassis and labor to make things that never existed for the Last of The Great Lincoln Continentals.

This isn’t a Mustang, making it all look/work like the factory intended will be…challenging.

The 6-speed swap: Temple High Performance supposedly has you covered (i.e. not an endorsement, I don’t know them) with a 6-speed swap for the low-low price of $7500 including installation.  The 6-speed is better as it seems to fit in the factory location in the transmission tunnel: not so with the T-45 5-speed stick from a normal Mustang GT. While you can source most of the parts yourself, their electronic E-brake release sounds pretty trick. The only way to know how much effort is needed is to dig into the swap yourself…or write ‘em a check and watch them do the install to your satisfaction.

The Supercharger Exhaust:  Your first problem is the horrible log manifolds and crush bend tubing on the exhaust. The mid-length Kooks headers are your first purchase. Then a custom, mandrel bent exhaust with fancy mufflers and hi-flow catalytic convertors from a local shop known for high quality work. When you drop the subframe (yes really) to install the headers, this is a good time to spend the cash on new engine mounts, and any worn rubber suspension bit you might find along the way. I’d also install Addco swaybars, personally.

Congrats! You’ve probably burned through your budget! I’d recommend doing the transmission/exhaust and the misc. bits that are easily replaced when tearing into these components.  I’d rather address the transmission before the engine, because there’s a good chance that a worn out transmission behind a supercharged DOHC 4.6L** won’t last very long.

And once you’ve finished here, save your money for a Mustang Cobra whipplecharger kit, a computer re-flash and dyno tune!!!


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 **Yes, the right answer is LSX-FTW, because it always is.  But the DOHC Modular Ford V8 was a pretty interesting bit of kit with a better exhaust note, a similar powerband and the 32-valves respond very well to supercharging (pretty easily to boot). So let Justin have his fun!

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Piston Slap: The Fuel Hating Tranny Wed, 20 Feb 2013 12:56:48 +0000 Eric writes:

My question is for Sanjeev Mehta. I purchased a 2010 4 cylinder automatic Toyota Camry LE new and have been using it as my daily driver since. My commute is almost all city driving, so I noticed a quirk about the car right away.

During deceleration, the transmission seems to starve the engine almost to stalling, followed by a downshift and repeated until a stop is reached. This makes for a very jerky process for people like me that like to lightly brake for longer distances before stopping. I asked the dealership about it, they told me it was normal and it will go away after ”learning” my driving habits. Two years later, it still is around. From cruising the web and Edmunds, it seems all of the Camrys with the 6 speed auto suffer from this problem. My question is, why does this happen, why on earth would Toyota put this in their cars, and why has every professional review I’ve read of the car not highlight this problem? Is there anything I can do to alleviate this persistent problem? I had the dealership apply a TSB Toyota released for this issue a year ago, but it has not helped at all.

Sanjeev answers:

Do other TTAC writers have the same common/uncommon name mix up problem too?  What say you, Jake Baruth, Stephan Lang and Derrick Kriendler? But, I know, I know…not everything is about me. So let’s do this thang.

After a bit of Googling, perhaps your dealer applied T-SB-0287-10:

“To improve the shifting performance and smoothness during acceleration, the Engine Control Module (ECM, SAE term: Powertrain Control Module/PCM) and Transaxle Control Module (TCM) calibration has been revised.”

But this link points to something more relevant, and interesting. Many (all?) electronically fuel injected vehicles cut fuel to the engine when “extended braking” in this manner.  They’ve done it since the dawn of EEC-IV fuel injection on my super-precious Ford Fox bodies, that’s for sure.  But ye olde Foxes (5.0V8, 4-speed auto) don’t bog very much at all as they slow down to idle. So what’s the problem?

When you slow down through 6 forward gears, the motor bogs down far more often than older vehicles with only 3 or 4 cogs to swap.  When you combine this EFI program with the lack of low-end torque in modern engines (relative to the low revving engines from yesteryear) and the torque converter’s stall speed (and the computer programming added to it) you have a recipe for a boggy, clumsy downshift. In these “extended braking” situations, that is.

Simply(?) put, there are computer programs designed for maximum fuel efficiency, too many downshifting gears, computer controlled spinning fans (torque converter) and a relative lack of balls in rev-happy modern engines to ensure smooth downshifting. You’re gonna have to live with it.

Or change the way you brake.  Or get a Lincoln Town Car stick shift.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: LeMons racer seeks Minivan Normalcy Fri, 09 Mar 2012 12:04:57 +0000


Brian writes:


Heeding the call for silly, not-really-that-good letters…plus I wrote you a while back about my Freestyle.  Since then, my wife actually sat in a minivan, and that’s the direction we are heading.  We are looking at replacing it quickly so that she can take the three kiddos to Grandma’s house while I enter Lemons South this March. 

Her peace of mind at Grandma’s house is well worth my ‘not-having-the-phone-ring-contantly’ while at the race, so I agree with her timeline (she doesn’t trust the Freestyle enough to make the trip – she had good ears and hears something bad in the transmission already at 10k on the latest reman unit).  So here is the thing: in 2011, Dodge went to the Pentastar in the minivan.  I am of two minds regarding my decision of a 2008, 2010 or a 2011 (Karesh will love the fact that Truedelta eliminated 2009′s for me – gotta love actual data!).

Pentastar: New, efficient, clean, powerful, 6 speed auto

3.8/3.3: Well known, service proven, 4 speed auto

At first I was reluctant to get a Pentastar, but since it’s going to be the only V6 Chrysler makes, chances are the flaws will be fairly well worked out, and since they started putting it in cars in 2007, it has been along for a while.  The older engine has been around FOREVER, which is pretty nice, although the fuel economy and performance will suffer.  Sounds like the 6 speed transmission is mostly based on the four speed, so I guess I should not be worried about that, but feel free to chime in here as well.

What say you?

Sajeev answers:

Wait, you are a LeMons racer? No wonder you actually considered the CVT to 6-speed swap on your old Freestyle! You are nuts!!!

Wait, that’s being real mean: I meant to say that people like you aren’t normal.  I should know, as I listen to your collective bullshit on a regular basis as a LeMons judge in Texas. That said, it’s nice to see that you and your wife have agreed on something far better for your situation.  Minivans rock.

Except they are all under-transmissioned for the loads carried in them. And while Chrysler’s transaxles are legendary for their LeMons-like durability in pure street circumstances, we might not have enough data to verify the new 6-speed’s worthiness in modern Mopar Minivans.  Cue Michael Karesh!

I would buy the new model simply on performance alone.  Modern close ratio 6-speed gearboxes are absolutely wonderful for launching oversized beasts while retaining decent highway cruising. If anything, the new technology will be more durable simply because they move a van more effortlessly, less stressfully.

My advice is always the same for all Minivans, as they all have the same Achilles’ heel: flush the transmission fluid every 1-3 years (depending on mileage and the weight of your cargo) and install the biggest damn transmission cooler you can find.  Run it in series with the factory radiator/coolant system, if applicable.

Do it and you’ll never feel like you’re Freestylin’ ever again.


Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

]]> 9 Piston Slap: Justy-fied Freestylin’ over CVTs, Part II Wed, 19 Oct 2011 19:06:23 +0000  


Brian writes:

Not sure if this would be appropriate “piston slap” fodder or not, but here goes:
Our blossoming family recently expanded to five. My wife and I, and a three year old, a 20 month old and now a 2 month old fill up the house. We occasionally travel with our 75 lb dog. Knowing the Volvo Turbobrick would not handle the cargo/dog/people, and the PT Cruiser remains the most reliable vehicle ever built (even if the timing belt changes are a big pain) we decided to sell the Volvo for something more appropriate, if a lot slower and FWD.

Enter the Freestyle. We routinely get 28 mpg on trips, parts are cheap, we have lots of cubbies for kid’s junk and the car seats fit easily. I purchased a high mileage (150k) example that was a one owner (ish) with all receipts. It was a fleet car for some guy who then bought it when his company was done with it. It had the CVT replaced at 118k miles with a remanufactured transmission from Ford, installed at a dealer.

A few weeks ago the CVT died on us. At 153k miles. There was just over 1,000 miles left on the warranty. We all got home safe and sound, and the transmission was replaced. Again. With a remanufactured unit. Again. It’s apparently the only thing available. No new ones exist and nobody rebuilds them. I have a connection with the transmission rebuild world. I’ve called transmission parts suppliers and they don’t even sell a manual for it.

I’m not what you’d call ‘shy’. I do all my own work on my cars with the exception of this, flashing the ECU for a TSB on the aforementioned PT Cruiser, putting tires on wheels and replacing windshields. I’ve done a fair amount, but I’ve never owned anything this expensive. I fully expect this remanufactured transmission to die in roughly the same amount of time. My theory is that while the original certainly seemed to fare decently (118K on a conventional transmission is not terrible for a heavier people mover), the reman probably was rebuilt by the same folks who do the $34.99 starters for small block chevies that seem to last just a day over the one year warranty that you find in the local pep-advanced-zone’s. The choices are basically as follows:

Take a big depreciation hit and attempt to sell it (we bought it in March) and buy a Taurus X with the conventional automatic and the better 3.5L engine. We cannot afford this now, but I have a few years to see that mileage on the reman CVT.

Replace the CVT in the Freestyle with the 6F in the Taurus X. I know this isn’t easy. The engine should bolt right up, and the mounts should be pretty close (I have a welder and a hammer) but the ECU is the tricky part. This is not a slam dunk.

Replace the CVT in the Freestyle with the Aisian in the 500. This is only slightly more of a slam dunk, because it’s probably the same ECU. I just need to find out how to flash it.

Learn to rebuild the CVT myself and build a great one and keep it onhand as a spare. My neighbor has a lathe and Bridgeport in his basement. I am a degreed engineer. It would take a while, but it could work.

Sajeev answers:

Oh yeah, this is totally a Piston Slap worthy article. Not like we haven’t done this before, ya know. And while I am (a little) surprised that a Ford Reman transmission does this poorly, who knows who actually did the rebuild! It’s an orphan design, which is never good. The ideal transmission for the long haul of ownership is something with tons of support, and GM transmissions have usually done the best for decades, for this reason. And if you can’t procure a 100% new, never rebuilt CVT assembly, I agree with you.

Having done transmission swaps before (and truly hating myself during that time) and knowing a bit about Ford electronics, here’s my recommendation: do that 6-speed swap. Get a Hollander Interchange manual to find out which Fords used the same vintage 6-speed as the same year of your Freestyle. If you can easily snag that gearbox from the same vintage Five Hundred, you are set. But who knows, maybe there’s a cheap wrecked Fusion nearby that has the same part for much less! It all depends on the market and availability.

From there you will need to see what’s different in the mounting and wiring of the transaxle on the subframe. Maybe you need a different mount, maybe not. Perhaps there’s an extra wiring harness, or a completely different one! Maybe a new shifter in the console too. Hopefully not, and a factory shop manual with wiring diagrams will help.

Once you clear that hurdle, the final part is easy. The ECU’s are pretty simple, as Ford hasn’t made a significant change in them during this era. Odds are you can take any one of them and re-flash the correct transmission logic with a brilliant person and an SCT tuner in his pocket. Which will set you back up to $500, I suspect. That’s your fallback, because I suspect getting a matching computer from a donor Ford Five Hundred will make it all work great…but if not, the SCT-tune is the way to go.

It will be a ton of work, both in research and sweat equity. But I suspect a smart dude like yourself can get this done for under $1500, if you get lucky with the cost and quantity of parts needed for the swap.

Best of luck.

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: There’s a Rattle on the Frontier! Wed, 12 Oct 2011 14:55:57 +0000  


TTAC Commentator Benderofbows writes:


I always enjoy reading Piston Slap and want to ask about my truck, a 2007 Nissan Frontier with the VQ40DE (4.0L V6), 6-speed manual, and 42k miles. Sometimes the truck will rattle while accelerating at around 2200 RPMS. This only happens after completing a long freeway run (an hour or more) and occurs in every gear regardless of throttle position. The noise goes away after a few shifts or always after the truck has been shut off and restarted. It has been going on for 6 months or more (it took me that long to figure out how to duplicate it) and doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, plus it doesn’t trip any check engine lights. I can’t imagine how to replicate the noise for the dealership service department. Any ideas? Computer issue with the air/fuel mix maybe?

Sajeev answers:

I hate being the armchair quarterback at times. That said, I’m putting all my chips on a transmission problem, not an engine issue. That rattle sounds like a bad throwout bearing, pressure plate or clutch. Or maybe it all needs to be replaced when going in there for a look-see.

Keep in mind the number of moving parts inside a manual transmission required to connect/disconnect with the engine. If one of them is a bit out of spec, something could throw a little rattle at a certain frequency: like maybe 2200rpm?

And this is where I stop patting my smart ass on the back and do some actual research. Lo and behold, a full 60 seconds of Googling netted a thread that completely addresses your issue. The solution? You need a new clutch and new flywheel and someone who can install them to the correct torque specs.

Good luck.

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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