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shift kit for Skyline/Stagea - MV Automatics stage 2 DIY INSTALL

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A common and effective way to spice up the driving life of your boring slush box equipped import is to add a shift kit. There are a few different companies that offer upgrade kits and almost any transmission workshop can fit it for you. This article is aimed to assist those proud DIY'ers, who have some spare time and prefer to have a crack themselves at a job which isn't really too hard.


Without a hoist it takes about 2 - 4 hours depending on skill level and distractions and overall I would rate this at a 6/10 in difficulty, with 1 being a boost tee install and 10 being an engine rebuild. It is important to have half a clue when it comes to mechanical things but you don't need to be a pro.


The job can be done with only basic tools, things you will need include the following:


- 1/2" socket set with metric size sockets;

- small-medium size hammer;

- jack;

- jack stands x 4;

- rags - lots of them;

- funnel;

- an oil drain pan; and

- an empty 20L container preferably clear or white in colour.


I went with the tried and tested stage 2 kit from MV Automatics. MV Automatics is a SA based company that has been around for years and you will struggle to find any negative reports about their service or parts quality. This kit includes the following:


- shift kitted valve body,

- transmission filter,

- 2 x 50mm welsh plugs, and

- sump pan gasket.




In addition to this, you will need to purchase 4 x 4L bottles of Castrol Tansmax z fluid, which will set you back a pretty penny (~$85 for 4L) but your transmission will think it's better than sex. It is important not to skimp on the oil, this is the stuff you should be using!




Step 1: Jack the car up high enough that you can comfortably lie underneath it and work on the transmission. It is important that all wheels are off the ground as the car will need to be run in gear whilst it is sitting on the jack stands. An even height front - rear also makes it easier to get an accurate fluid level when filling it up.




Step 2: Position the drain pan beneath the transmission and remove the drain plug. Approximately 3 - 4L will drain at this stage. Whilst this is happening, you will need to undo all the 10mm bolts holding the black pan onto the bottom of the transmission.


Note: depending on your exhaust's position, it may be necessary to remove the front pipe to allow sufficient clearance to access the bolts on that side. In my case I found it easier to remove the transmission cross member whilst using a jack stand to support the weight of the transmission.




Be sure not to remove all bolts at once. Leaving 2 or 3 bolts opposite the drain plug half-loosened will encourage most of the oil in the pan to drain out of the drain hole. Once the majority of oil has drained, remove the pan completely and this is what you will see.




Step 3: From here you will need to undo the 2 wiring plugs. As a result of living their life covered in hot oil, these will almost certainly break so be gentle! After this, remove the oil filter.


Step 4: From here you need to remove the valve body. To do this you need to undo a lot of bolts which will need to go back in the correct holes when you refit the new valve body. To assist with this, I used a sheet of foam and on it I traced around the new valve body then after each bolt was removed I stuck it into the foam in the corresponding place.




Note: Be aware that when you lower the old valve body, 3 springs will fall out and either land on your head or in the oil pan. No big deal but just be ready for it. Once the old valve body is removed, this is how the transmission will look.






Step 5: Next you will need to remove the shift solenoids from the old valve body and then refit them to the new valve body. Re-position one of the springs on the seat that it is meant to sit on, the other two are no longer needed and can be binned.




Step 6: Next up you need to fit the 2x 50mm welsh plugs inside the transmission. The best way to fit these is to use a socket the same size as the outer diameter of the welsh plug and then gently tap it in with a hammer. You must not use a socket which sits inside the plug as this will distort the plug's shape and will prevent it making a perfect seal. If like me you don't have a big enough socket, you can fit them by gently tapping the sides with the hammer until it goes in but it's not easy and you have to be patient with it. Should look like this when in.




Step 7: Raise the new valve body into place, taking care to insert the spring into it's hole. Refit all new bolts that were previously removed and also fit the new filter. At this stage you also need to re-connect the wiring plugs. As my plugs broke during removal (your's probably will too) I used locwire to secure them in place to ensure they don't work themselves loose.




Step 8: Thoroughly clean out the sump pan making sure any gunk and the old gasket is removed. Refit the sump pan with the new gasket. No sealant is required but make sure all the bolts are tightened evenly. Once this is done, refit the cross member and exhaust if they were removed.




Step 9: Refill the transmission with fluid. Now this part I don't have pics of and I'm not certain if the way I did it is the most efficient DIY way (someone feel free to provide a better technique) I used a funnel and hose attached to the dipstick tube to fill the transmission with oil. Once it took a few litres, I removed the pressure line from the transmission cooler and pointed it into a clear plastic 20L drum. I then started the car up so the auto pumped out the old fluid and circulated the new fluid. I could only run the car for a few seconds before having to stop and refill it. This process was completed several times until roughly 15 litres of new fluid was poured in and 15 litres (total including what was drained previously) of waste oil was pumped out. using a clear container made it easy to tell when the old oil stopped coming and the new oil started coming out as there is a distinct colour difference.


Once I felt it was pretty much done, I connected the trans cooler hose back up and let the car run for a few minutes while I cycled through all gears to ensure everything worked properly and nothing leaked. Once happy with that, I checked the oil level and topped it up as necessary.


Step 10: From here lower the car off the jack stands and take it for a test drive. Start off slow to allow enough time to bring the system to operating temperature and to ensure everything worked properly and doesn't leak. Once confident with it, try some full throttle shifts and some down shifts. If you have done everything correct, up and down shifts should now be significantly crisper than before and no ill sounding noises will be heard. Content with its operation, return to the garage and again inspected for leaks and check the oil level and top up as required.


Edited by boost_bus180

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Great write up mate. Glad you got a shot of me in the pics. After being in the passenger seat of this car the shift kit has totally transformed the way this car drives. It makes use of the power from the engine and doesn't lag or flare between shifts. What did the valve body cost from MV Automatics btw?

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I bought mine back in 2010 for i think $380 but they would refund $100 if you returned your old valve body to them. Prices may have varied since so best to contact mvautomatics yourself.


Trans fluid was the expensive part, around the $350 mark but you might be able to find it cheaper

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