Up to Standards
- Subject: Design and operation
- Unit: MT82
- Vehicle Application: 2011-12 Ford Mustang
- Essential Reading: Rebuilder, Diagnostician
- Author: Mike Weinberg, Rockland Standard Gear, Contributing Editor
Most of the manual-transmission business in the light-duty market is concentrated in the sports or muscle-car vehicles. Ford Motor Co. has had a highly successful run with the Mustang.
For many years Tremec, a world-class transmission manufacturer based in Mexico, supplied the transmission products for the Mustang. We have seen the T5, T45 and TR3650 five-speeds and the TR6060 six-speed. These are all quality transmissions that are still finding their way into our shops today.
In 2011 Ford switched suppliers and engaged Getrag to manufacture the six-speed transmission for the Mustang. How and why Ford switched manufacturers is unclear, but price, new engineering and/or production capacity probably had some part in the decision. We veterans of the transmission-repair wars probably would have disagreed with the choice after experiencing the Getrag-designed HM290, which was redesigned into two variations of 5LM60 and then underwent a complete redesign to become the 3500 and 3550 transmissions, developed with the GM and Chrysler partnership named New Venture Gear Co. We all know how well that went and about the demise of New Venture Gear some years back.
In any event, Ford jumped into the Getrag deep end of the pool, buying the MT82 six-speed. This unit is found in Mustangs with both 3.7-liter V-6 and 302 four-valve “Boss” V-8 engines. The MT82 has six forward speeds and one reverse speed, with all speed gears in constant mesh. The cases are aluminum, with the main case having an integral bellhousing. These units weigh 123.5 pounds dry and use 2.7 quarts of Motorcraft Dual Clutch Transmission fluid (XT-11-QDC) for lube fill. Figure 1 is an exploded view of the unit.
All gearing is constant-mesh helical-cut, with a reverse idler gear. First and second gears use triple-cone synchronizer technology, and third and fourth gears use double-cone synchronizer technology. These units have ball bearings supporting the input and output shafts and countershaft. A shift-interlock system prevents the selection of more than one gear at a time.
To please the EPA, the MT82 has an electronic “skip-shift” system that will activate a solenoid to force a shift from first to fourth gear if the driver does not meet the correct throttle opening to keep the emissions within regulations.
These units are available in two ratios, one for the V-6 model and the other for the V-8 version, but it is important to note that these units have only one overdrive instead of the double overdrives found in the Tremec TR6060, and fifth gear is 1-1 direct drive. The design of the transmission powertrain includes a two-piece drive shaft and a remote shifter. Gear ratios are:
You can identify the MT82 transmission by an ID tag on the driver side of the main case (Figure 2).
Unfortunately, this design has not been successful for Ford, and I would assume Getrag will suffer somewhere down the road. We have seen a number of these units come through our door for repairs at very low mileage, and the design will not live behind the Boss 302 four-valve engine.
Last July I drove a 2010 Boss 302 R Mustang in a NASCAR Grand AM road race at Watkins Glen. When I got into the car for the first time and went over all the controls and equipment with the crew chief, the first question I asked was what shift points (engine rpm) he wanted me to use.
His answer shocked me: “You can run it up to 8,000 all day and you won’t hurt it.”
This car was equipped with a Tranzilla Tremec Magnum six-speed close-ratio road-race transmission that they had bought from us along with a spare unit. After the first practice session I was truly impressed, as the car was well balanced and had great brakes, and the engine was awesome. We started 28th and finished 7th out of 66 entries, which is not bad for a guy who is more than 70 years old.
My point here is that with the power and torque generated by the four-valve 302 engine, the design of the engagement teeth for the synchronizers on the speed gears is way short of the mark in the Getrag MT82. The Tremec TR6060 has a torque-capacity rating of about 800 lb.-ft. with no problems. Ford does not publish a torque rating for the MT82 Getrag gearbox in the repair manual, but from the many failures we have seen it cannot be anywhere close to that of the TR6060.
The parts are extremely expensive and the design cannot be corrected in its present form, so how do you repair this without enjoying warranty claims? There is an answer ready to install. Tremec has released the Magnum XL six-speed (Figure 3), which is a direct bolt-in replacement for the MT82.
The Magnum XL has several advantages. It has a longer extension housing with an integral shifter, which gets rid of the sloppy remote MT82 shifter and also gets rid of the two-piece driveshaft, which you replace with a one-piece item. The bellhousing is removable on the Magnum XL, and the customer can have an SFI-rated steel blow-proof bellhousing to make it track legal on the weekends. We manufacture a Tranzilla six-speed replacement unit with close-ratio gears for better performance.
Ford has a big mountain to climb to get out from under this design, which is the weak point in a really fabulously performing Mustang. I am sure that these details will work out in the near future, but there are alternatives available now that can solve lemon-law problems.
Remember the old Connie Francis song “Who’s Sorry Now?”