Can you convert a manual to an automatic transmission?


If you are wondering if it is possible to convert a manual transmission to automatic transmission car, this article will open your eyes on everything you need to know about the conversion.

As a car enthusiast, you might have wondered at one point if it is possible to convert a manual transmission vehicle into an automatic equivalent.

Well, in very clear terms, it is actually possible to effect any sort of mechanical change to any vehicle at all. So, the question of converting a manual car to an automatic car is not a question of possibility but one of feasibility. We will get to look at the feasibility aspect much further into the article, brought to you by Naijacarnews!

For you to successfully convert a manual transmission car to its automatic transmission equivalent, you will need a matching donor car with all parts except for the automatic transmission marching those of your vehicle. This is very important especially if the car is computerized (such as an OBD or OBDII system) but otherwise, an exact same match is not compulsory.

1. Is such conversion actually possible?

At this point, we already cleared the air on possibility. So, we will just look at how feasible it is to convert a manual transmission car to an automatic transmission car. If your car type and model is one later than 1990, it will require way more than a change of transmission to become an automatic vehicle. You will need a new engine control unit (ECU), wiring harness, engine mount and of course the transmissions mount for you to be able to rebuild the firewall.

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Before the conversion, you will need a matching donor car of your vehicle

2. What to do to convert manual into automatic?

To successfully convert a manual car into automatic, you will need to perform the following operations:

  • Reconfigure the drivetrain

Given that a manual car is overtly different from an automatic transmission car, it is only necessary to reconfigure the entire drivetrain to match the functions of an automatic gearbox.

  • Replace the gearbox

In addition to reconfiguring the entire drivetrain which comprises the transmission, the driveshaft, the axles, and the wheels, you will also need to dismantle the manual transmission already present in order to install the automatic one.

Now, this is not as easy as it sounds as you would need to perform some technical adjustments and repairs before you can successfully mount the new automatic gear box. Meanwhile, you should also have in mind that the automatic gearbox must match with your engine configuration before you proceed with this step.


The entire drivetrain must be reconfigured to match with an automatic gearbox

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  • Other changes

Aside drivetrain reconfiguration and gearbox replacement, there are a number of other things you need to modify before you can achieve your goal of converting a manual transmission to automatic transmission. For instance, you might need to replace the body and wire harness to a more compatible one if it is not transmitting signal to the new transmission.

Also, before you can install a floor-mounted shift mechanism, you might need to cut a hole on the floor of the car or do something similar for a column-mounted one.

Components such as pump and torque converter might also need to be replaced on grounds of compatibility before your newly installed automatic transmission will begin to function adequately.

3. Are there underlying issues in line with this conversion?

Yes there are quite a number of problems to contend with before you can perform a successful manual to automatic transmission conversion.

  • Finding the right mechanic for the job

Actually performing a manual transmission to automatic transmission may not be an issue of possibility but the problem of finding an efficient mechanic not one yoursel, who is both skilled and experienced on the job.

On the other hand, even if you succeed in finding one who can do the job, the high cost of the conversion process may leave you with no cheaper option than to sell off the car and go for an automatic car.


You might face challenges finding an experienced mechanic for the conversion

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However if you choose to carry out the reconfiguration experiment with an unauthorized mechanic, it is usually performed as “at owner's risk”.

Some other problems that you could  face are:

  • Some car components are irreplaceable

Besides finding the right mechanic for the job, there are some irreplaceable components of your car that you might not find readily in the market if they should be mistakenly tampered with. A typical example of such component is the anti-lock braking system (ABS) in case they are wrongly tampered with.

  • Modern cars have smaller spaces

Most modern cars in the market have smaller space compared to their older models. The engine and transmission components are even housed in small space, thereby making it practically impossible to effect some major changes as you might require. 

We hope this article has answered your questions about manual to auto transmission.

>>> A lot more car care tips and interesting auto fun stories are available on Naijacarnews!

Juliet Onyeachonam