Shifting and transmission troubles
The Boss 302 Mustang comes equipped with a German-designed, Chinese-manufactured Getrag MT82 transmission. There have been numerous problems with this transmission documented over the years (including an NHTSA investigation) and those problems continued with its use in the Boss Mustang. A 19-page thread on this subject can be found here (some of this post was previously published in that thread). I believe this is the single weakest point of an otherwise stellar car.
As I mentioned in my 20,000 mile report, my transmission had developed a noise. So, I reported it during my 20,000 mile service. During previous services, I had registered some complaints about a high-rpm lockout (another known problem), but they couldn’t find anything wrong and nothing was done. That problem had only happened a couple of times. I bigger problem for me was missed shifts at the track. There is so much drivetrain movement on the track that I could not always make accurate gear changes. Most often, I would try for 4th-to-3rd and get 4th-to-5th, which would kill my drive in the middle of a corner. On the street, the car was a treat to shift.
This time, I pointed-out that my transmission had been getting really loud, making a high-pitched whine even at low RPM. After some investigation, they decided to replace my transmission. I asked for details but the service advisor was vague. He just said that there were several issues and the costs had started to add-up quickly, so a new transmission got approved. He mumbled, “…the case…some seals…maybe a gear.” They bought it, so I guess they didn’t have to tell me anything.
The new (rebuilt, actually) transmission was back-ordered, so they glued the old one all back together and I drove my car around until the new transmission was delivered. There was no ETA, but the service advisor was hopeful that it would be within a week or two (it was over six weeks).
So, what was wrong with my transmission? Well, I got the cashier to give me a peek at the service notes, where I found a printout from the Cost Cap Tool they used to make the Repair vs. Replace decision regarding my transmission. Then I asked her to photocopy the whole thing. Here is an excerpt:
That’s all that’s wrong with my 20K-mile transmission? Apparently, making this thing out of the melted-down pots and pans of Chinese dissidents didn’t work out as well as they had hoped.
I do have to give credit to Ford for doing the right thing without me having to say anything about it. Now I just hope they either find a fix before it goes out again, or they will be doing the same thing in another 20,000 miles.
Strategy for improved shifting performance
The new transmission fixed the noise, but there is no reason to believe that it addressed the other known problems. There are some common strategies to improve shifting performance in the Boss. The most radical (and expensive) are a complete transmission swap to a Tremec and complete clutch replacement. I employed fixes that were more affordable:
- Ford Racing (Barton) Shifter with two-post lower bracket (see below)
- Removal of clutch helper spring
- Uprated motor mounts (I purchased these, but I have decided not to install them until the Boss is no longer my daily driver.)
Ford Racing Shifter
The Ford Racing Shifter is made by Barton Industries and includes the shifter itself and the two-post bracket that replaces the flimsy factory lower shift mount.
Stock shifter vs. Ford Racing shifter
The real secret to the shifting improvement comes from the new lower bracket. The Ford Racing bracket eliminates the flimsy rubber bushing and vastly improves the precision and feel of the shifting.
Even though this isn’t a DIY post, I did install this by myself and I will give you this Pro Tip for those that don’t have a helper. A flexible tool hanger (see link at bottom of page) eliminates the need for three hands when you are underneath the car. Otherwise, the shifter installation is easy for any mechanically capable person.
The project is finished-off with the Alcantera shift boot from the Shelby GT500 and a Ford Racing shift ball in white, which pops nicely in the drab grey-on-grey interior and looks particularly good in my car with her other white highlights.
Shifting in the Boss has been vastly improved. I love the short throws and the new mechanical feel of the shifter. It’s not as precise as a rifle bolt, but on track, I don’t miss nearly as many shifts as I did with the stock shifter. There is still a 2nd gear nibble when it’s cold and I don’t like the added effort, but at least it fits the character of a muscle car better.
J I M M Y
Appendix A â€“ Parts List
Ford Racing 6-Speed Shifter (M-7210-MGTB)