Drivetrain You Can Do It! DIYs

MFactory Helical- and Plate-Type Diff Break-In Procedures

MFactory differentials have proven to be a fantastic convergence of performance and value. As much a great value they are, they are certainly not disposable items. Add in the considerable labor required to install them, it is in the user’s best interest that they are installed and broken in properly to ensure longevity.

Helical Type Differentials

Great news! No special break in procedure is needed for these diffs. However it is recommended that the transmission fluid be changed after 500 miles of steady use. The best possible fluid to use is Synchrotech’s MTF formulation produced by Torco Oils.

Plate Type Differentials

For these sorts of diffs, a break-in procedure should be followed. The plates in Plate-Type differentials are basically clutch plates. When they lock up they lock up solid, but to get them to grip properly they have to be conditioned. We consulted Synchrotech (AKA MFactory USA) and they gave us this procedure.

The MFactory recommended break-in procedure is as follows:

  1. Fill the transmission with mineral oil 10w30 for break-in.
  2. Drive in a figure-8 for 10 mins (Clutch disengaged while turning, Don’t exceed 15mph)
  3. Drive in a figure-8 (Gently apply part-throttle while turning)
  4. Drive in full-lock circles for 10 mins (To the left, part throttle)
  5. Lean head out of door and vomit.
  6. Drive in full-lock circles for 10 mins (To the right, part throttle)
  7. Drain fluid, clean drain plug.
  8. Fill and add Torco Type-F friction modifier.

Thanks go out to David at Synchrotech for these procedure notes. Except for step 5. I added that one.

Be sure to look up Heeltoe for all your MFactory and Synchrotech needs!

Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains You Can Do It! DIYs

No Clutch Alignment Tool? No Problem!

NOTICE: This blog was written as I was installing a clutch and the alignment tool was mysteriously missing from the kit. I’ve gotten agitated calls about this relatively normal issue enough to have a lightbulb moment…this is not a huge deal, folks!

When installing a clutch it is necessary to align the disc with the flywheel before installing the cover (pressure plate). If you don’t, the input shaft from the transmission will not engage the disc properly and you will never get the transmission lined up and installed!

A clutch alignment tool is a specific tool with splines that match your transmission and a snout that fits in your flywheel. It holds the disc perfectly centered on the flywheel. Most clutch kits come with a clutch alignment tool matching your application.

But it happens rather often that you are not supplied the tool on accident, or you are doing a non-standard install, or are installing something used…no tool! Many customers get upset and concerned that they need the tool to complete the install. Getting the tool outside the kit is sometimes difficult and can take time…time you don’t have.

Instead of freaking out, grab a socket or tube of some sort which is a bit smaller size than the flywheel snout, and wrap some tape around it to fit into the flywheel and disc size. You might even have a different toll from a past job that is smaller and can be used. In my example, I am using a socket adapter that was rolling around in the toolbox. The splines are really less important…it is all about getting a snug fit.

Build the tape up a wrap or two at a time and test it a few times. Add tape as needed. You’ll find that you can get the disc pretty firmly in place by adding the right layers of tape.

There you have it! Installing a clutch with a clutch alignment tool is definitely preferred, and in some cases may be required. But for many installs, a little ingenuity is all you need to install your clutch without relying on tools you don’t need.

Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains

Acura TSX Clutch Kits for 2004-08 model years – What’s up with RSX-S parts?

The Acura TSX is a great car, and one of the best things about it is the availability of a 6-speed manual transmission. It’s a sophisticated gearbox featuring a light-weight Magnesium alloy case for lightweight construction. That makes the 6-Speed TSX unique, even among other Honda and Acura cars.

Interestingly, the stock clutch is also different than most other Honda/Acura transmissions in that is it produced by AP in Europe, a company renowned for their work in brake friction. It’s much more common to find Hondacars with clutches made by Daiken corporation.

This break in normal supply has transcended into the aftermarket as well. It is actually quite hard to get low-cost cores from which performance aftermarket clutches can be made (yeah, most performance clutches are rebuilt from completely stock cores!) The clutch is so different from other K-series clutches that it uses a completely different flywheel. The clutch from a 1g TSX is considerably larger, offering more leverage within the cover to hold the increased torque in the K24A2.

Question: Without any aftermarket options, what do you do if you’ve boosted your TSX with a CT Engineering supercharger or done other upgrades to the engine and more clutch holding-power is needed?

Answer: Buy RSX-S parts!

Yes the TSX engine and transmission, while joined with a unique clutch, are still very similar in design with conventional design as other popular K-series applications. Simply swapping the TSX flywheel for an RSX-S flywheel allows the use of a very wide array of clutches, as the RSX-S is one of the most commonly modified Acura models using a K-series engine.

This should explain the odd listings you will find showing no TSX clutch available, or a caveat that the flywheel must be changed to use it. So if you want an aftermarket clutch, know that ANY application from an RSX-S will work in a TSX as long as an RSX-S flywheel is installed.

Bonus Post-Script!

Did you know that Heeltoe commissioned the production of a 2004-08 TSX specific performance clutch and flywheel? Sourced from vendors AASCO Motorsports and Clutch Net, we had made a TSX billet aluminum flywheel and rebuild a used core TSX clutch cover (pressure plate). The disc is a rigid hub full-face design, providing fast acceleration and direct power transmission from the crank to the wheels. As of this writing, the clutch and flywheel combination is being used in the HTSpecTSX. The images of that combination were used for this entry.

Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains

Honda/Acura Axle Vibration Issue found and fixed, with video

You are reading one of the most popular articles published on to date.

Your support over the years has been much appreciated! Note the following section headings with dates of updates in descending date order.

Update: March 22, 2020:

This article continues to be a runaway success, but nothing stays the same over time. This block update is to supplement the information below with the latest we know today.

How to install a new inner joint kit:
The right-side debacle

The right side inner joints are an issue. As far as we are learning, most all aftermarket right-side axles and axle joints have some attribute that causes them to have a vibration. It is not the same vibration that comes from the wear-pattern outlined in this video.

What happens regularly, we have seen, is the following series of events:

  • Hondacar driver notices vibration on acceleration, somewhere between 40-60 mph, give or take.
  • Finds our article and buys an aftermarket axle for both sides of their car, because they are a lot cheaper than Genuine OEM axles, and in many cases are even cheaper than our Genuine OEM joint kits.
  • Installs aftermarket axle–regardless of or brand, cost, or supplier–and experiences a shaking at 20-30 mph.
  • Customer needs to circle back and buy a new Genuine OEM inner joint from Heeltoe to properly repair their old original axle, or if they tossed the original axle, they buy a complete new Genuine OEM axle.

We would LOVE to sell you an aftermarket axle or inner joint at a lower cost than the Genuine part, but as of this writing, we don’t have one to provide that we can promise will be perfectly vibration-free. This has been true for DSS, Insane Shafts, Raxles, AutoZone, so many other brands we can’t name them all. Even though we posted an update in 2015 (below) that we have one, it just doesn’t work on the right side.

The left side does not seem to have this issue. The right side is just a really particular area of the car for this concern. You won’t save time, money, or stress by getting an aftermarket axle.

Wait, right or left?

More on right versus left in our blog article, Car 101: Right Side Left Side, Driver Side Passenger Side

Update: August 31, 2015:

Since this writing on January 6th, 2012, we have had drivers of Accords, Civics, TLs, and TSXs of all generations contact us for our solutions for inner joint replacement. As of today, we have released our new, stronger solution to Honda/Acura vibration on acceleration. Read more about how we’ve solved the problem below, here: New Fastline Performance Inner Axle Joint Kits

Original Post: January 6th, 2012

There have been numerous instances of vibration in the Acura TSX front end when accelerating. Usually, at lower or more moderate speeds, the shimmy in the steering wheel can also be felt throughout the front end of the car. We’ve recently heard this issue is prevalent on S2000s as well.

The issue was attributed to an axle shaft problem very early on, but even replacements of axles have not proven to be a reliable solution to the problem. In fact, Heeltoe had sold for at least a year a new replacement aftermarket axle we believed to solve the problem. However, when the issue arose in our own HTSpecTSX, said axle failed to resolve the issue. In fact, the inexpensive aftermarket axle we (an most all others) were using proved to exhibit worse vibrations that the factory units!

On a hunch, we purchased some new inner joints to install on our TSX’s original axles. When we removed the old joint cup, we were impressed to see the problem so blatantly in front of us!

See the wear are there? We’ll zoom in for you…

The joint bearings ride on this surface and put a torsional load there to transmit power to the shaft then to the outer joint. When there is a load on the axle it forces the joints bearings against this pulverized area of the joint causing a really nasty vibration! There is wear on the other two loaded surfaces as well but we are showing the worst one here to save space.

So there you have it. Replace the inner joint and you will be set!

Right or Left Side?

We have not determined a great method for knowing what side, left or right, is the culprit side but it seems like more people have an issue with the right side (USDM passenger side) so we suggest starting there. The joint and boot kits are available through Heeltoe.

About lowering…

While we were in the joint we noticed something else that you might want to be aware of. You know how mechanics tell you the lowering your car is bad for the axles? They usually tell you this when you have an outer joint noise or problem. However, lowering the car has little or no effect on the outer joints. Rather, the inner joints can experience some abnormal wear.

The axle has a tripod on the inner end that mounts three bearings that ride in the cup of the inner joint. This is so the axle can vary in length as the suspension articulates. When you lower the car, you are actually making the axle compress all the way when you hit large bumps, and this can cause the bearings to bottom out in the base of the axle cup. See the image below. We’ve highlighted some witness marks on the inside of my inner joint cup.

We have not yet seen this result in an actual failure of the axles, but it is something to be aware of.

Drivetrain You Can Do It! DIYs

Installation Instructions: CT Short Shifter for TSX/TL/Accord

The CT Engineering (Comptech) short shifter adapters for 04-14 TSX, 04-14 TL, and 03-17 Accord are all the same, but they ship with different instructions. In the event you get a shifter with instructions for a different car, so use these links to download the correct PDF!

2004-08 Acura TSX

2009-14 Acura TSX

2004-08 Acura TL & TL-S

2009-14 Acura TL – Part fits, Instructions Unavailable

2003-07 Honda Accord

2008-12 Honda Accord – Part fits, Instructions Unavailable

2013-17 Honda Accord – Part fits, Instructions Unavailable

Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains You Can Do It! DIYs

Higher Mileage TSX 04-08 Drivetrain Woes…Engine Vibes and Clutch Creaks

I had two customers in recently with failures that surprised me. One, I should have not been too surprised about. But the other one…well, I guess I could have expected it as well! Worn engine mounts cause noise and vibration, and broken clutch pedal brackets will leave you stranded!

Issue 1: Broken Rear Engine Mount.

Tell me if you have a 1G TSX 5AT and these symptoms sound familiar:

  • Engine vibration while in gear at a light
  • Even more vibration with the AC on
  • Occasional clunks from the drivetrain

Guess what…check your rear engine mount. I wish I took a pic, but sure enough, I had a 60,000 mile TSX in a couple of weeks back with a broken engine mount, most particularly the rear one. I had fooled myself a bit by assuming that this part would not be so vulnerable as to break in under 100,000 miles, however, I was dutifully proven wrong.

The rear mount is easy to see, but not super easy to reach. And when inspecting you can only see half of the mount because a metal bracket covers the top (this limits engine movement, or the throw of the mount). You need a 17mm socket and a long, 24″ extension (1/2″ drive) to reach the bolts holding the cover on. Get the tools, pull the bracket, and do a full 360-degree inspection of your mount if you are getting weird vibrations.

In this image, you’d be removing #7 to inspect the rear mount, and the same tool setup to inspect under #10 for the front mount.

And for Pete’s Sake, don’t assume the problem is an Ingalls ETD or UR Pulley. These parts transfer vibration to the cabin but don’t cause excessive vibrations.

If you want to replace your mounts with new factory ones, here is a tip for you automatic folks: Tip: To get a cheapie upgrade on mounts, replace them with Manual ones! They are ever-so-slightly firmer, and may last longer for you next time!

Order a new Honda Engine mount HERE, or order uber polyurethane Innovative Mounts here! Note thay poly mounts will make considerable more noise and vibration into the cabin, but they will last for an extremely long time!

Issue 2: Creaking Clutch and Sticky Shifts

So, I get this email from a LONG time customer, one of the first TSX customers I’ve had, in fact. He has about 225,000 miles on his 2004 6MT. The report was, his car is practically impossible to get into gear. The pedal feels like it isn’t doing much besides making a funky sound.

We yanked the pedal out and found this:


And the other side was about to go as well!

Now, we have gotten a lot of squeaking from the clutch depressing but nothing like this. I don’t think this is a really common problem. But then I remembered that no fewer than 2 of my past CRXs had suffered from broken clutch pedals. This failure can and does happen. The metal is under stress and it flexes ever so slightly. After hundreds of thousands of clutch depressions, the metal can fatigue and break.

The replacement part is not too expensive we stock the replacement pedals at Heeltoe. And the replacement was not too tough either. Adjusting it was a bit fussy, but with the factory service manual we got the car buttoned up, good as new! I don’t expect we will see this failure occur often, but we are happy to get the parts for you if it does and supply the instructions for install and adjustment!

Note that this failure happens a lot on the 2003-07 Honda Accord as well, replacement part found here.

Drivetrain You Can Do It! DIYs

New Shifter Cable Bushings…Out With Solid Aluminum, In With Hybrid Racing!

The HT-Spec TSX has been running around with an HT-Spec Shifter package for about 4 months now, and initially, I was really happy with the shifting. The action was so solid and direct it felt as though I was reaching inside the transmission with my bare hand and moving the gears!

However more recently I have been driving around a lot more than I used to and had started noticing that I needed to force the shifter into gear quite a bit when shifting. When speed-shifting it was even worse and it started causing me to miss shifts. This shifter situation became a real problem for me. I knew it was not the knob of the short shifter causing the problem. However the solid aluminum shifter bushings we include in this HT-Spec kit seemed to be a suspect.

When you install these bushings, the tolerance between the actuating arm on the transmission, the bushing, and the collar on the end of the shifter cable all need to be quite tight. This makes installation a little tricky. Even worse is the fact that as the engine moves around between shifts the bushings bind up, causing the resistance to movement that I was feeling. It maybe doesn’t make sense reading it, but if you’ve ever installed them you’ll know what I am getting at. There just isn’t any wiggle room in the bushings and this makes the shifting pretty tough at times.

Hybrid Racing makes an excellent solution to the need for added shift feel and solidity WITHOUT increasing the effort. The following DIY Install Pictorial explains how!

Here they are. The big advantage of the Hybrid Racing bushings come in the form of a spherical bearing in the large bushing.

You can see the bearing a little better in this pic.

These bushings reside in the engine bay under the intake arm, as shown in this pic. First, remove the airbox lid and you’ll gain enough but limited access to work. Removing the lower box makes the job a lot easier.

Looking in from the side you can see the smaller bushing.

With the lower box in it is tough to see the larger bushing, but it is here in this pic. Come to think of it, removing the lower box really would have been a good idea for this DIY. Oh well, it’s a pita this way but you can do it.

Remove the cotter pin and washers off the shaft and put them aside. The cable bushing end will slide off the shifter arm.

To get the bushing out of the cable end simply stick in a screwdriver and tweak it. The rubber bushing will pop right out.

The little taper on the inside hole REALLY aids in installation. Again, the solid bushings don’t have this feature and it is a bit of a bitch to install without disconnecting the cables farther up the line.

Here I diverge from the HR install instructions a bit. They say to install the bushing flat side out. It made a bit more sense to me to put it flat side side in. It works either way, so it is up to you.

There is a special clip included with the bushings to hold them securely in the cables. These were a little tricky to install but it helps to see how they work, as in this pic. Start with one layer and work them on.

So far you’ve got this far. Lookin’ good!

I finished the install with another change to the HR instructions. I reinstalled the plastic and metal washers from the OEM assembly. This is completely not needed, but I felt the bearing in the other bushing would be more protected from debris, and there is slightly less play in the lateral direction this way. I don’t think it makes a difference on the feel at all, but I thought this method was best.

Here is the larger bushing. Installing flat-side down really did make it more sensible to re-install the washers. I never looked back!

My initial impression was, WOW AMAZING. Such a small change made such a big difference in feel. Without the bushings binding on the shift lever shaft I can flick through the gears with the twitch of a wrist. The same solid movement is there without an additional force. This bushing is now the more recommended one on our HT-Spec Shifter package. It does cost quite a bit more than the solid bushing option, but it is worth every penny!