Automatic to Manual Transmission Swap (1994 Toyota Camry V6 LE)

(Note: This article was originally written back in 2002 when the swap was performed. It was published on a domain which is no longer active, and due to demand from the Camry community, I’ve republished it here. Since finishing the swap, I understand that many have followed in my footsteps. I’m sure that there are now probably many improvements to the process, or other insights which I might have neglected to include in my write-up. If you have any suggestions or comments, please leave a comment and I’ll make sure to update. -Ratko)

PARTS USED:

Most parts were found using www.car-part.com and picked up from various yards across my province.

  • 5-Speed Transmission (E153) from 92-93 V6 Camry/ES300 [USED] ($220 CAN)
  • Flywheel from 92-93 V6 Camry [USED] ($50 CAN + $50 CAN for resurfacing)
  • Mevotech OEM Clutch Kit for 92-93 V6 5-speed Camry [NEW] ($320 CAN)
  • Shifter assembly from 94-96 4-cyl Camry [USED] ($20)
  • Shifter cables from 94-96 4-cyl Camry [USED] ($20)
  • Interior Shifter Trim piece from any 92-96 Camry [USED] (free)
  • Intermediate Right Axle (jack shaft) from 92-93 V6 Camry (Toyota mfr.) [USED] ($100 CAN)
  • Clutch and Brake pedals from 92-96 I4 Camry [USED] ($50 CAN)
  • Clutch Master Cylinder from 92-96 I4 Camry [NEW] ($75 CAN)
  • Center Console and E-brake handle from 92-96 Camry w/ Hand Brake [USED] ($20)
  • E-brake cable from 92-96 Camry w/ Handbrake [NEW] ($30 CAN)
  • OEM Flywheel, clutch, and transmission bolts [NEW] ($25 CAN)

Total: $980 CAN


REVELATIONS:

  • The V6 camry flywheels are all the same from 92-00+
  • The V6 manual transmissions from 92-00+ are the same (except for stronger synchros and maybe gear ratios)
  • The E153 transmission on the V6 Camrys is the same as the E153 transmission on the MR2 Turbos except for the shift linkage orientation (FWD vs. RWD)
  • Because of this.. all Limited Slip Differentials (LSD’s) for the MR2 Turbo and 97+ Camry will work on the 92+ V6 trannys. There may be a difference in the axles, not sure.
  • Also, any clutch and pressure plate for the MR2 Turbo will work in the 92+ V6 trannys
  • All flywheels (currently the Fidanza and Aasco) for the 97+ Camrys will work on 92+ V6 trannys
  • The bolt pattern for the automatic flexplate on the automatic V6 is the same bolt pattern as the flywheel. Except the flywheel needs its own flywheel bolts, but they fit perfectly.

OBSTACLES:

  • Foot Pedal E-Brake: this would interfere with the clutch so it was relocated to a hand brake. Problem solved.
  • Y-Pipe: The flange from where the rear bank exhaust manifold connects to the y-pipe, touches the tranny a bit.
    So we unscrewed the flange bolt closest to the tranny just a little, then we used a disc grinder to grind down part of the y-pipe flange.
    Problem solved.

  • Y-Pipe Gaskets: completely shot… ordered new ones from Canadian Tire for $8 CAN total. Problem solved.
  • Intermediate Right Axle (jack shaft): the 1MZ jack shaft is different than the 3VZ jack shaft so it needed to be ordered.
    The outer right axle is still the original 1MZ axle, same with the axle bearing mount. Problem solved.

  • Clutch master cylinder hydraulic line was meant for I4 so the chassis mounting bracket doesnt fit, so small custom bracket must be made (easy). Planning on replacing the rubber line with a teflon-coated stainless steel braided line for better fitment and for improved clutch feel. Problem solved. This can be avoided by just getting the V6 manual tranny hydraulic lines.
  • “Check Engine” light lights up now with the trouble code “Shift Solenoid Malfunction”, which is true because there is no solenoid anymore. ECU is as a result in “limp mode”, meaning for conservative purposes, the ECU has retarded the timing, which inherently is causing the engine to run richer than normal. Not good for performance. UPDATE: There has been a new development.
    The ECU codes that I was getting were NOT putting the car into limp-mode. There are certain codes that do trip it into safe-mode such as blown knock sensors or 02 sensors, but not the “Shift Solenoid Malfuction” ones that I was getting. This has been verified with the Factory manual. It turns out my lack of performance was from a broken EGR Vacuum Modulator which was pulling my timing from “Insufficient EGR Flow” and also due to my knock sensors from being oversensitive and pulling timing constantly.
    The CEL codes that it gives are negligible. I am still working on a way to fool the ECU into getting rid of those codes for aesthetic reasons, but that’s all. The car pulls hard now, even harder than before the problem was solved when I had a y-pipe and full exhaust. Problem Solved.

GENERAL PROCEDURE:

  1. Disconnect PCV hose, MAF harness, and remove airbox
  2. Disconnect all harness from the automatic transmission including throttle valve cable.
  3. Drain auto tranny (make it lighter – its heavy!) saving the oil is optional.
  4. Disconnect the coolant lines to the auto tranny.
  5. This would be a good time to put the car on a lift.
  6. Remove the wheels, including the cotter pins so you can detach the axles from the hubs.
  7. For the driver side, the axle should slide out. For the passenger side, you will have to do the same except you will have to remove the carrier bearing that holds the intermediate shaft.
  8. Remove interior shifter trim and remove the shifter assembly from the shifter cable.
  9. Remove the shifter cable grommet from the firewall and disconnect the shifter cable from the auto tranny.
  10. Remove remove the long bolts that hold the auto tranny to the block.
  11. At this point the engine should be supported by a separate hoist or engine stand.
  12. Unbolt the auto tranny mount from the subframe.
  13. This would also be a good time to get a similar support or stand for the auto tranny, right under its oil pan.
  14. Unbolt the subframe and lower it to the floor, while keeping the engine and tranny supported.
  15. Remove the auto tranny but keep in mind for the torque convertor, it is still full of oil and very heavy!
  16. One the tranny is out, remove the 8 bolts holding in the flex plate and spacers.
  17. Remove the Y-pipe coming from the exhaust manifolds as it will get in the way of things later on.
  18. Before you start to install the flywheel, now would be the best time to get it resurfaced if it is used.
  19. Install the flywheel with the new flywheel bolts (recommended).
  20. Install the pressure plate and clutch using an alignment tool if possible.
  21. Lube up the new Throw Out Bearing (preferably an OEM Toyota one, they are the best) with some grease and install it on the shift fork.
  22. Put the new tranny on a stand for support and bolt it up to the block using as many bolts that line up as possible.
  23. Re-installed the subframe and bolt up the new tranny mount to the subframe.
  24. Now is a good time to replace the axle oil seals on the transmission.
  25. Install the new intermediate shaft from the 3VZ to the outer 1MZ axle and install it on the car.
  26. Re-install the Y-pipe.
  27. Re-install the driver side axle, and install the wheels.
  28. Attach the two manual shifter cables to the tranny and feed them through the hole in the firewall and bolt up the new grommet.
  29. Install the shifter assembly inside the car and attach the shifter cable ends to the shifter assembly.
  30. Install the new shifter trim and shift knob.
  31. Remove the cotter pins from the brake pedal and unbolt it from its mounting place.
  32. Install the new brake pedal assembly into the old brake pedals location and re-attach the actuator and cotter pin.
  33. Put the clutch master cylinder up to the car and drill two holes for mounting. Then bolt it up.
  34. Attach the clutch hydraulic line from the clutch master cylinder to the tranny’s hard line.
  35. Bolt the clutch line bracket to the firewall.
  36. From the inside of the car, drill and bolt up new holes for the clutch pedal assembly.
  37. Attach the clutch master cylinder actuator rod to the pedal.
  38. Fill up the clutch fluid reservoir and bleed the clutch until it feels good.
  39. Fill up the new tranny with your favorite tranny fluid (4.4 quarts)
  40. ** splice wiring – see below **
  41. Re-attach Airbox, PCV hoses, and MAF sensor.
  42. Push down the clutch and crank it up.

WIRING:

  • Park/Neutral Switch – This is the most important wiring you need to do because the car wont start without it. Basically the car will only start if the shifter is in “P” Park or “N” Neutral, and without the auto tranny and shifter there, we need to fool the ECU and make it permanently in Park/Neutral =) Find the large harness that went to the gear selector switch on the front of the old auto tranny. Remove the loom that hides all the wires and find the Black wire and the Black w/ White Stripe wire. These need to have continuity with each other so wire them up.
  • Reverse Light Sensor – This is also needed if you want your reverse lights to light up when you throw the car into reverse (good idea..) There are two wires that you need to connect for this: Red w/ Blue Stripe and Orange w/ Blue Stripe. These colors are the same as the wires coming from the reverse sensor harness (which in my case came with the tranny, chopped off) so they just need to be matched up and connected.
  • Vehicle Speed Sensor – This sensor was a direct plug-in from the old automatic tranny to the new manual tranny. No modification necessary.
  • NEW! Custom Shift Solenoid Resistor Box – Without this resistor box, the ECU would sense a transmission malfunction, throw a CEL, and put the car into fail-safe mode (5 deg timing BTDC). I used three (12 ohm, 22 watt) resistors wired in parallel. Using 10 ohm, 20 watt resistors got extremely hot, so I recommend going with any resistance between 12-15 ohms and between 22-25 watts. Of course, it all depends on what sizes your local electronics store carries. If you try this, remember: heat shrink tubing and black wire loom are your friend =)



IMPRESSIONS:

Well it’s been officially one year since I did the tranny swap on my car, and I can now give my wholehearted and honest review of its effect. Things have been getting better and better ever since the swap was completed.

The transmission was from a junkyard so at first it wasn’t the smoothest tranny Ive ever driven and it took a lot of effort to put the car into 5th and high RPM shifts would feel harsh. After first switching to Redline MT-90 fluid in the summer, it slowly helped the car shift smoother and made the tranny a bit quieter and engagement in reverse usually went on the first try. But after my first winter with the car, cold morning grinding was very common and it took very delicate and well-timed shifts from 1-2 gear to prevent any crunching/grinding.

After some research on various boards (boardreader.com) I decided to give GM Synchromesh a shot after all of its praise in the import community (odd isn’t it?). Well after 5km of driving with 4 quarts of it in my car, it felt as if something had magically freed up a lot of friction in the transmission, and shifts became quicker, free-moving, and “toit”.

The dreaded 1-2 shift is now like moving a hot knife through butter, and after a week of driving with it, it has kept its effectiveness in cold weather and from what ive read, hopefully it will live up to its reputation in the summer weather aswell.

In addition to the new transmission fluid over the past year, the Speed Source shifter cable bushings. Sparco racing pedals, and TWM short shifter have added a very sports car feel to the shifter that have changed the driving experience from fun, to just plain addictive.

With the low engagement of the clutch, “reflex” launching is very easy and smooth. However, it was a brand new clutch and I did properly break it in for 1000km before any hard launching or abuse to it (which still to this day doesn’t happen often) so the clutch is very well treated.

The car has no problem chirping the tires in 2nd gear and on occasional times, even 3rd. When people comment that this swap will not be the same as having a model that comes with a 5-spd manual stock, they are right, this swap is even better!

The beautiful thing about the automatic V6 Camry, is that it has a bigger brake booster than the manuals. This is probably due to the fact that the automatics lack the same engine-braking abilities that is present with the manual, so in addition to the new engine-braking power with the manual, you also get a bigger brake booster than the factory manual guys.

Other advantages Ive experienced are the great weight savings that come with the new lighter tranny. The manual is easily 50-75 lbs lighter than the automatic. In handling, you can definitely feel the car is less “pigish” in turns, which in my opinion is not only the weight savings at the nose of the car, but also the lower driveline loss in the power from the engine, so throttle response and power are improved greatly along with the overall handling of the car.

I still have a “crunching” problem coming from the clutch pedal at high-rpm shifts but it comes from when i press my clutch pedal down, not when i actually shift the shifter, so my suspicion lies with the throw-out bearing and not the synchros. It was also my fault for using an aftermarket throw-out bearing and not an OEM Toytoa unit which I should have had. The aftermarket one also has a chronic “chirping” problem which can really drive you mad if you hate annoying noises coming from your engine compartment.

I’ve said it to people many times: this is the best mod that I’ve done to my car in the past 2 years that I’ve owned it and it has been the main thing that has kept my interest in this car, which is one of a kind. With a SPEC clutch and Fidanza flywheel coming up in the future, I’m sure I will fall in love with this car all over again.

PICTURES:

Flywheel right after resurfacing Shifter cables
Shifer assembly and interior pieces Clutch and brakes pedals
Clutch master cylinder and hydraulic line Rear shot of the manual tranny
Front shot of the manual tranny Hand brake and center console
Clutch kit in box New clutch disc
New pressure plate New release bearing and throw out bearing (not used)
Shot of all the parts Flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate installed
Shot of both trannys out of the car Front shot of the engine w/ clutch installed
Crossmember removed Nice shot of the clutch installed
Misc. parts in my trunk during swap Interior during swap
Clutch master cylinder installed Exterior pic during swap
Auto tranny and right axle sitting around Old e-brake cable
Shifter assembly Top view of tranny
Comparison of 3VZ and 1MZ jack shafts (respectivly) Comparison of input shafts from both jack shafts
Comparison of 3VZ and 1MZ right axle bearing mounts Good picuture of all the spliced wiring
Clutch master clynder hooked up and working fine Dangling hydraulic line mount (before bracket was made)
Close up of where the tranny and the block mate Final shot of engine bay !!!

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