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EA-81 automatic to 5 speed manual (2wd)

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This is written by hatchsub please direct any and all comments to him if you have any questions!


Also thanks again to hatchsub for this great write-up:


This write-up is for the swap from 3 speed auto to 5 speed manual in a 2wd EA81. Im willing to assume that most aspects of it are the same for the 4wd EA81’s as well but not having done one I’m not entirely sure.

Parts list:

-Manual tranny (duh)

-manual pedal assemble

-clutch cable

-speedo cable (the manual ones is longer than the autos)

-radius rod plates (the missing link that kept me from finishing my swap for so long. These mount on either side of the tranny and allow the crossmember to bolt to the bottom of the car)


-8 bolts that hold the flywheel to the engine (they are longer than the ones used to hold the flexplate to the engine)

-clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing, pilot bearing

-manual tranny crossmember along with tranny mounts

-rubber mount that secures to the tranny tunnel behind the shifter.

-return spring or hill holder assy.


1) Removal of the Automatic Transmission

1. Disconnect the battery

2. Put the car in neutral and remove the shifter by removing the four screws that hold it to the floor and pull it up. Then disconnect it from the linkage by pulling out the pin.

3. Unbolt the torque converter from the flexplate by removing the four bolts through the timing hole at the back of the engine. You will have to have a friend hold the crank pulley bolt with a 22mm socket wrench.

4. Unbolt the starter by removing the one 14mm bolt on top and the one 17mm nut on the bottom and the 12mm nut holding the battery cable to the starter. After you’re through with this remove the other 14mm bolt holding the top of the transmission to the engine.

5. Remove the speedo cable from the car entirely as you will require a longer one. First remove it from the transmission then remove the rubber grommet from the firewall so that when you go inside the cabin you can see where it leads to. Reach up from the floor and unplug it from the back of gauge cluster and pull it through the firewall. You will also have to remove a ground from the lip of the spare tire holder. When you put your longer one in it will just be a reverse of this.

6. Put the front of the car up on jack stands now to access everything on the underside.

7. drop the exhaust by removing the rear from the rubber hangers and unbolting the Y pipe from the manifold being careful not to break a stud off in the head ( I did this during my tranny swap but got lucky and was able to get the rest of the stud out with PB blaster and vise grips). There is also a bolt that must be removed from a hanger that attaches to the rear of the transmission.

8. Remove the sway bar.

9. Remove the lower two 14mm nuts holding the transmission to the engine. At this point the only thing holding the transmission in is the crossmember.

10. Put a floor jack under the center of the transmission and unbolt the crossmember

11. Now that everything is unbolted you have to wiggle the tranny off the engine and lower it down on the jackstand. When it’s low enough you can remove the axles by pounding out the pins that hold them on and pull the axles off. Pull the transmission out from under the car

12. Remove the flexplate by unbolting the 8 bolts holding it to the back of the engine

13. Remove the radius rod plates by unbolting the radius rod first followed by the 3 17mm bolts holding them to the floor (one of these three bolts you already removed when you unbolted the tranny crossmember). You will also have to unbolt the parking brake cable mount from them.

14. Remove the pedal assembly by unbolting the two bolts securing the steering column so you can pull it down to get a bit of clearance. Then unbolt the six bolts holding the pedal assembly in. Unhook the brake by popping out the pin and unhook the accelerator cable. You will have to wiggle the accelerator pedal over the steering column. It’s hard but not impossible. If you would rather remove the column entirely that’s another option. Up to you.


2) Installation of the Manual Transmission.

If you are going to go to this much work you might as well do it right and not trust a junkyard clutch and pressure plate. Get a new clutch kit. I know it costs more but you will be thankful you did when your clutch doesn’t start to slip after a few thousand miles. You will also want to take the flywheel to a shop and have them balance and resurface it so that you won’t get any clutch chatter.

Turn the flywheel over and pound the old pilot bearing out of the center of it if it is not already out. When installing the new one just use the side of a 2x4 and make sure it is going in straight. Install it so that the pilot bearing is flush with the flywheel

Bolt the flywheel to the back of the engine using the 8 longer bolts

Place the clutch on the back of the flywheel followed by the pressure plate. Then thread the 6 bolts that hold the pressure plate on finger tight. If you have a clutch alignment tool, align the clutch and tighten down the bolts to spec. If you do not have an alignment tool, lie on your back under the car and sit up so that you are looking right down the center of the clutch where it meshes with the input shaft of the transmission. Move the clutch around until you are satisfied that it is aligned (centered with the pilot bearing in other words) and then tighten down the 6 bolts.

Bolt on the manual tranny radius rod plates by slipping them onto the radius rods first and bolting them on with the three 17mm bolts and one radius rod nut.

Now for the fun part…bolting in the tranny!!! (read as sarcasm) If you have a lift this will be a lot easier for you but most of us don’t (including me) so I made due with just two jackstands and a 3 ton jack. Place the transmission under the car and have a buddy help you lift it onto your floor jack. (Note..do not have the crossmember bolted to it at this point. It was way harder to line everything up with the crossmember on it. Just have the tranny mounts bolted on) When the transmission is still low enough, slide the axles onto the transmission and pound the pins back into place. Now begin jacking it up and lifting the rear of the tranny with a buddy every once in a while to place another 2x4 under it. Continue doing this until you can pull the tranny onto the lower studs of the engine by the bellhousing. Also keep in mind where the shifter is so that it doesn’t go into the bottom of the car when it is supposed to go through the hole. If this starts to happen have no fear. Just unbolt shifter linkage that is closest to chrome shifter and slide the shifter up into the car then bolt it together again. Once it is on the lower studs a good part of your work is done. Now you just have to wiggle the tranny from side to side and up and down until it slides all the way on. Once it’s on bolt the upper 14mm bolt on as well as the starter followed by the 2 lower 14mm nuts. Keep the floor jack under the tranny until the crossmember is bolted into place.

Bolt the manual crossmember in place by bolting it to the tranny mounts as well as the radius rod plates. Also bolt the rubber mount behind the shifter to the stud sticking out of the tranny tunnel.

Bolt the exhaust back on in the reverse order that you took it off. It helps greatly if you use a floor jack to position it where you want it when you’re bolting the Y pipe to the engine.

Drill two new holes to mount the black rubber shift boot in place

Mount the manual pedal assemble in the reverse order that the automatic one came out. There is a circular rubber plug that must be popped out so that you can slip your clutch cable through the firewall. Then secure the clutch cable to clutch fork and adjust it so that you can no longer move the clutch fork by hand. You want it snug..not tight. If the cable is too tight it will prematurely wear out the clutch.

Please note: I didnt realize it at the time but there needs to be a return spring on the clutch fork. It runs from a bracket on the bellhousing (there is a small hole in the bracket) to a small hole in the clutch fork. On cars that are using the hillholder (ie not mine) the hillholder does the job of the clutch fork return spring. Without this return spring the throwout bearing will constantly be riding on the clutch fingers.




You must run two wires from the reverse switch on the driver’s side of the transmission to the inhibitor switch that you unplugged to take the automatic shifter out. You may run these however you see fit. Since you needed to drill two new holes to mount the boot you can fill one of the old holes with a screw and the other with your reverse wires. Then simply tie them into the inhibitor switch. It will be obvious which two wires are for reverse as they are the two smaller wires on the switch. The two larger wires must be jumped together in order for your car to start.

Wire the ground from the top of the transmission to the lip of the spare tire holder

Lower your car off the jackstands

Fill the tranny with your chosen gear oil

Take your baby for a ride and hold on. I noticed a significant increase in performance when I did this. Also all the information is as accurate as I recall but there may be some differences between your car and mine or I may have inadvertently left something out. I wish you the best of luck, but I will not be held responsible if anything does happen to go wrong.

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