Prime Gen4 w/ S54 Transmission Grinds / Fluid Advice - MR2 Owners Club Message Board
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old November 1st, 2016, 10:49 Thread Starter
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Prime Gen4 w/ S54 Transmission Grinds / Fluid Advice

Gentlemen,

I just bought a Gen4 swapped SW21 (swap done ~3k miles ago). This morning was my maiden voyage in the car, and I experienced a lot of grinding, both shifting into 2nd and 3rd at speed; 3rd gear was worse. It was cold (45 F) so I expect some notchiness, but want to pick your minds about fluid choices.

Again, this is a modified Gen4 swap, but uses the S54 transmission. Prime used Pennzoil Synchromesh after the swap, but I'm seeing lots of people recommending Redline Light or Superlight Shockproof.

I noticed that Lightweight is recommended for the E153, and Superlight for the S54. Is this because people generally expect the S54 to only be used in NA (low power) applications, or is their a more calculated reason. Would running Superlight in a high power S54 equipped car be a problem?


Long Story short: Please recommend me a transmission fluid for my Gen4 / S54 car, because I have some serious 3rd gear grinding when driving fast.

Thanks

Last edited by TheBigChill; November 1st, 2016 at 10:54.
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old November 1st, 2016, 17:08
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I had a grinding 2nd gear, trans had mt-90 in it, then changed it to synchromesh and got worse and added a 3rd gear grind. Ended up buying a lsd trans and putting LWSP in, so far its butter.
On some other auto forums people were mixing 50/50 this with a dab of that to get rid of grinding. In the end your probably looking at a rebuild or new trans, if your budget is tight then try some different fluids or combos.
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2016, 07:41 Thread Starter
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What's also odd is that it's sometimes difficult to get into 3rd gear, even just sitting still. It will resist going into 3rd, but then if I cycle through the gears a few times (still sitting still) it will finally go into 3rd smoothly. Honestly, the noise I hear on 3rd gear upshift (whether still or moving) seems to be coming from the shifter mechanism rather than the actual transmission. I have Prime's solid shifter bushings, but maybe something is messed-up @ the actual shifter base.

I'm not totally convinced this is a sychro issue yet, and will pull the console to look around.
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2016, 10:10
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After you check the shifter lever in the cabin and shift cables, make sure to also check the shift levers and square bushing located on the trans, if it seems dry lube it up.
If all seems well then switching fluids will not fix the grinding, it's the synchros that need replacing
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2016, 17:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigChill View Post
I have Prime's solid shifter bushings, but maybe something is messed-up @ the actual shifter base.
I'm not totally convinced this is a sychro issue yet, and will pull the console to look around.
Also i put solid brass bushings on mine and couldn't even hardly shift into first and second and caused grinds in other gears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abesdub
After you check the shifter lever in the cabin and shift cables, make sure to also check the shift levers and square bushing located on the trans, if it seems dry lube it up.
If all seems well then switching fluids will not fix the grinding, it's the synchros that need replacing
Second this.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2016, 17:49
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This may not be any help but I run an S54 with my 3SGE and it had quite bad crunching into 2nd at speed. After I went through and checked and replaced any worn shift lever, cable and bush parts the shifting was so much nicer.

Things I have done or replaced.
Square bush on gearbox, checked, no wear so not replaced or rotated.
Cable gearbox end bushes, replaced which spherical bearings. Solid bushes didn't work and are a silly idea.
Shifter plate rubber bushes, not worn out but I installed custom aluminium ones anyway.
Shift lever, from a GEN1 JDM to GEN3 JDM. Same lever in GEN2-5 cars anyway.

I run Castrol VMX 80w in my box.
http://www.castrol.com/en_au/austral...l-vmx-80w.html
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2016, 20:44 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ironmind View Post
Also i put solid brass bushings on mine and couldn't even hardly shift into first and second and caused grinds in other gears.
Care to explain how you remedied this? Removed brass bushing? 1st and 3rd are the gears which resist the most in my car.


Anyhow, today with the engine off, I cycled through the gears and everything was smooth as butter. Then I started the car and just sat idling, and ran through all the gears again: Now, the shifter was very difficult to get into 1st and 3rd gear. Does this indicate anything specific? Clutch need bleeding?

Last edited by TheBigChill; November 2nd, 2016 at 20:58.
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old November 2nd, 2016, 23:33
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I run a cocktail of heavyshockproof and mt90 in my s54. No more 3rd gear grind for me.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 12:34 Thread Starter
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What doesn't make sense is that with the engine off it shifts great, but with engine running and idling, it resists 1st and 3rd (all gears to some extent).

This leads me to believe that there may be air in the clutch line somewhere.

Last edited by TheBigChill; November 3rd, 2016 at 13:10.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 15:48
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 16:19
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I hate to break it to you, but your transmission is probably in need of internal repairs and no fluid replacement is magically going to fix anything. Incorrect or worn out fluid will cause shift issues with all gears... and also reveal worn synchro rings for specific gears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigChill View Post
What doesn't make sense is that with the engine off it shifts great, but with engine running and idling, it resists 1st and 3rd (all gears to some extent).

This leads me to believe that there may be air in the clutch line somewhere.
With the engine off, the input & output shafts inside the transmission are not rotating... So when you push the shift lever into 3rd gear, the rings line up easily (as there is no rotational force to stop them from doing so) and stay that way. It actually makes perfect sense.

1st gear tends to get worn faster because many/most drivers shift into 1st before coming to a complete stop. My best guess for 3rd gear is user error again; Shifting from 2nd to 3rd requires an up/to the right motion and since many of us are zoomy at lower speeds, we're going to shift harder/faster and with higher engine RPM from 2nd to 3rd more frequently than we would, say.. from 4th to 5th (the other up/right gear shift in an MR2).
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 17:14 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Conor View Post
I hate to break it to you, but your transmission is probably in need of internal repairs and no fluid replacement is magically going to fix anything. Incorrect or worn out fluid will cause shift issues with all gears... and also reveal worn synchro rings for specific gears.


With the engine off, the input & output shafts inside the transmission are not rotating... So when you push the shift lever into 3rd gear, the rings line up easily (as there is no rotational force to stop them from doing so) and stay that way. It actually makes perfect sense.

1st gear tends to get worn faster because many/most drivers shift into 1st before coming to a complete stop. My best guess for 3rd gear is user error again; Shifting from 2nd to 3rd requires an up/to the right motion and since many of us are zoomy at lower speeds, we're going to shift harder/faster and with higher engine RPM from 2nd to 3rd more frequently than we would, say.. from 4th to 5th (the other up/right gear shift in an MR2).
Shouldn't matter. When you depress the clutch, the input shaft stops spinning (as if the motor weren't running at all). The input shaft only begins to spin again once the clutch is released.
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 19:15
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Then maybe your clutch is slipping/pressure plate is worn out? Also, Toyota used an E-series transmission with the 3SGTE for a reason, I think.

And regardless of any of that, your symptoms still indicate worn-out synchroniser rings (which are super common on 1991 and 1992 S54 transaxles), which a fluid change won't cure. LW Shockproof is probably your best bet for a band-aid solution.
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 20:04 Thread Starter
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Clutch disc, pressure plate, bearings, and flywheel are all new and installed by Prime. I think this is something simple. I experienced this issue during 45 degree weather, so I'll see how the new Lightweight fluid performs in warmer weather, and will bleed the system.
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old November 3rd, 2016, 22:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBigChill View Post
What doesn't make sense is that with the engine off it shifts great, but with engine running and idling, it resists 1st and 3rd (all gears to some extent).
This leads me to believe that there may be air in the clutch line somewhere.
Quote:
Care to explain how you remedied this? Removed brass bushing? 1st and 3rd are the gears which resist the most in my car.
Anyhow, today with the engine off, I cycled through the gears and everything was smooth as butter. Then I started the car and just sat idling, and ran through all the gears again: Now, the shifter was very difficult to get into 1st and 3rd gear. Does this indicate anything specific? Clutch need bleeding?
Just went back to rubber bushings and everything is good now. Remove the solid bushings, bleed the clutch line and changed the fluid, those are easy enough tasks that'll be better than a new trans. After bleeding the clutch have someone pump it and watch it move the clutch fork to see if its actually working.

Last edited by ironmind; November 3rd, 2016 at 22:32.
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post #16 of 39 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2016, 08:41 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ironmind View Post
Just went back to rubber bushings and everything is good now. Remove the solid bushings, bleed the clutch line and changed the fluid, those are easy enough tasks that'll be better than a new trans. After bleeding the clutch have someone pump it and watch it move the clutch fork to see if its actually working.

I was mistaken- I actually have CRW spherical bushings on the cable ends. They should be fine.

I've also read that with heavy clutch plates (I have a South Bend Stage 2), sometimes an extended slave piston is needed in order to full actuate the clutch fork.

I'm going to swap trans fluid, bleed the clutch with my MityVac, and adjust the clutch pedal. After all of that, I'll temporarily extend the slave rod by 1/4" and see if that has an impact, if things don't improve by that point.
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post #17 of 39 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2016, 14:34
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Definitely switch the fluid to the Redline shockproof and see what difference it makes. Inexpensive, easy job to do (invite a buddy to help), and I think there is a good chance the grinding will seemingly disappear after a change to shockproof. Whether you should use the light or super light is a good question though.

Several years ago when my car was NA, the S54 had a bad crunch going into second gear both ways, even after having the transmission fluid changed to new fluid. It was so annoying having to shift at early RPM's to avoid the grind and never being able to downshift. Switched to the super light shockproof and immediately no longer felt the second gear grind, shifting was smooth. I would say shockproof is the most impressive product I have used for an automobile, just being able to take away the grinding and all. Not bad for just changing fluid.
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post #18 of 39 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2016, 14:55 Thread Starter
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Definitely switch the fluid to the Redline shockproof and see what difference it makes. Inexpensive, easy job to do (invite a buddy to help), and I think there is a good chance the grinding will seemingly disappear after a change to shockproof. Whether you should use the light or super light is a good question though.

Several years ago when my car was NA, the S54 had a bad crunch going into second gear both ways, even after having the transmission fluid changed to new fluid. It was so annoying having to shift at early RPM's to avoid the grind and never being able to downshift. Switched to the super light shockproof and immediately no longer felt the second gear grind, shifting was smooth. I would say shockproof is the most impressive product I have used for an automobile, just being able to take away the grinding and all. Not bad for just changing fluid.
Yup. CRW said to use the Superlight in the S54, but my Lightweight arrived today, so I'll try that first. Prime said Lightweight is their go-to for finicky shifts in both E153 and S54 boxes, so....who knows? Haha.
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post #19 of 39 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2016, 17:06
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Is that trans new with the gen4. (New to you?). My thoughts are that it's the synchro's in the trans, not the trans fluid.

I ran Castrol hyploy C when I used to have a S54 in the car.
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post #20 of 39 (permalink) Old November 4th, 2016, 18:02
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Sounds to me like your clutch may not be fully disengaging. I would troubleshoot that as a possible cause before jumping to any other conclusions.

Where is the clutch engagement point? Near the floor, or in the middle of the stroke? Does it tend to grind going into reverse? Reverse is un-synchronized, so if the clutch is dragging at all (not letting the input shaft completely stop) it will show up there first.

To the original question, I am a fan of the shockproof family of fluids personally. Have been running the lightweight in my e153 for ~6 years now and haven't noticed any downsides.


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