Ford Focus manual transmission swap

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General tool requirements
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Socket set & common tools
  • Clutch Alignment Tool
  • Pry Bars
  • Breaker Bar
  • Torque Wrench
  • Electrical tools/materials (soldering, insulation, strippers, etc)
Required manual parts
  • MTX-75 transmission. These have to be from a DOHC Focus, the SOHC uses a whole different trans!
  • Shift selector.
  • Reverse sensor & connector.
  • Speed sensor & connector.
  • Mount tripod (top of trans).
  • Bottom mount bracket (not the dogbone).
  • Crank position sensor housing (sensor itself is the same).
  • Axle mount (on back of the block near oil filter).
  • Focus shift tower (inside cabin).
  • MTX75 Fluid.
  • Shifter (good opportunity to get a short shifter.
  • Shift Cables (with year appropriate connections).
  • Shifter Boot.
  • Clutch Pedal Assembly (why not upgrade to SVT pedals ).
  • Flywheel & flywheel bolts
  • Clutch & pressure plate.
  • Throw out bearing & slave cylinder.
  • Manual focus axles.
  • Clutch/brake fluid reservoir and lines.
  • C-cliips for clutch lines.
  • Starter.

The Zetec Focus uses the MTX-75 transaxle. The MTX75 is a great little transmission that was used on many different Ford models including the Contour. This is good news for us, because there are a lot of parts available through the Ford dealerships. In some cases, it is even possible to gather all the best parts from the various years of this transmission and built the ultimate MTX-75. Although, ONLY attempt this swap using MTX-75 from the Focus.

While performing the manual transmission swap, it is a good opportunity to upgrade the flywheel and clutch, although the stock parts should be sufficient in most applications. Make sure all the parts are for the correct year transmission. For example: If you buy a 2001 focus MTX-75, make sure the shift cables, shifter, etc. you get/buy are for the 2000-2002.5 focus. Another item to note is that some MTX-75's use mechanical speed sensors and some use magnetic. One more thing, a clutch safety switch was not installed and hence not mentioned in this guide.

General preparation

  1. Jack up the vehicle and place it on proper supports, such as jack stands. Try to avoid placing the jack stands beneath the subframe, in case you have to slightly drop it for any reason.
  2. Disconnect & remove the battery.
  3. Support the engine with either a jack, or a jack stand, or anything that will have sufficient surface area to avoid denting the oil pan. Or the engine can also be supported from above with either a cherry picker, a 2x4, or other creations. During this whole time the engine will only hang on one engine mount, and in the worst case scenario if support fails, damage to the pulleys and accessories may occur from the impact.
  4. Remove the wheels from the vehicle.
  5. Remove the axles from the vehicle. This procedure is nearly identical to Ford Escort cv axle removal with the only difference being how the struts mount to the hub.
    1. Remove the one bolt that secures the hub to the strut.
    2. If the strut has trouble coming out of the hub, gently tap down on the hub to loosen it. It's pretty hard to create any damage to the hub because it's quite stoic and has plenty of metal, so excessive force is generally safe to apply.
  6. Disconnect and remove the starter. It should be the same for the automatic and manual transmissions, hence buying a new one is not required.
  7. Remove the auto transmission cooler lines and cooler. If it is built into the radiator then be sure to loop the lines around or plug them. If the internals ever rust and leak, then coolant will come out of those passages as they often do in some vehicles, destroying the automatic transmissions by mixing coolant with the fluid. But in this case all they would do is cause a loss of coolant and make the engine overheat.

Interior

  1. Remove the center console.
  2. Remove the blower box shield and the air directing box (below the stereo bezel, right above floor).
  3. Remove the automatic shifter assembly.
  4. Under the carpet where blower box was there is a two metal plates keeping the the lines from moving, remove this.
  5. From underneath the car remove the shifter cables, the grommet is under the heat shield which is above the flex pipe bend. Pull the heat shield down a little to gain access. If it give you resistance check to make sure nothing else is holding the cables inside the car. If necessary dispose of the heat shield to make work easier, in most cases they are dead weight and do not cause any heat issues inside the vehicle after being eliminated.
  6. Back inside the cabin, remove the Brake pedal assembly. You'll notice there is a hole with a grommet where the clutch pedal will bolt to.
  7. Install the manual focus brake/clutch pedal assembly. Remember to attach the brake connector.
  8. Send the shifter cables through, this may be easier going from underneath the car. Tie up cables out of the way.
  9. Install the shift tower and shifter.

Beneath the hood

  1. In the engine bay, remove the automatic brake reservoir. Brake fluid will leak out, which will severally damage any paint it will get on. Having a rag beneath it helps to catch it and prevent any other parts from getting exposed to it. Keep in mind that the brakes will have to be bled later for safety.
  2. Install the clutch/brake reservoir.
  3. Remove the axle mount (behind engine, below oil filter).
    • The axles are generally the same in both versions of the vehicle. However the mount which holds the intermediate shaft to the block sits at a different height, because the manual transmission output has a slightly different geometry.
  4. Install the manual axle mount.
  5. The easiest way to remove the automatic transmission is to gain access through the oil pan opening by removing the shield. Then rotating the engine until spotting the nuts that hold the torque convert to the flex plate. Loosening all of them will allow the automatic transmission to clear the bellhousing and part after creating a 10 mm gap or so between it and the engine. Otherwise the entire input shaft has to clear the torque converter, making the entire procedure far more complicated than it should be.
  6. Remove both of the mounts that hold up the transmission, one which is below the battery and the other one in the back of the trans.
  7. Remove all of the bolts that secure the bellhousing to the engine block. Gently pry the transmission away from the block. It will drop fairly easy so either have an extra set of hands to help you lower it, or use a jack/cherry picker. It is far heavier than it's manual counterpart.
  8. The crank position sensor is the same on both types of vehicles, however the crank position sensor housing for a manual moves it closer to the flywheel so that it can obtain a reading. Therefore replacement of the sensor is not necessary, but only the round housing that holds it. This part is relatively inexpensive even from the Ford Dealer and can be ordered without the sensor. If a manual crank position sensor housing is not put in the car will not fire, and the transmission will have to be dropped again!
  9. Install the flywheel.
    • If you're used to putting in pilot bearings, do not worry. The MTX-75 doesn't use any, and the Focus Zetec crank will not have a slot for it.
  10. Install the clutch, aligning it properly with the alignment tool. If the alignment tool is missing, sometimes the proper width deep socket can be used for the same purpose but may make reinstallation more difficult. If enough room is available, move your head to face the flywheel directly, and see if the splines on the clutch disc appear to be evenly lined up and spaced around the center of the crank.
  11. Tighten down the pressure plate completely.
  12. Install the slave cylinder and throwout bearing on the manual transmission.
  13. Reinstall the manual transmission and all the mounts.
  14. Hookup the clutch lines. There should be one from the reservoir to the pedal, and another from the pedal to the slave cylinder. There will also be a hose from the reservoir to the brakes.
  15. Install Clutch Line c-clips, otherwise the lines will not be able to contain pressure and will blow out every time the pedal is used.
  16. Fill the brake fluid reservoir with DOT 3 brake fluid and bleed the brakes along with the clutch cylinder.
  17. Install Shift Cables to transmission.
  18. Install re-wired harness.
  19. Drain and replace the old trans fluid.
  20. In the cabin row through the gears and adjust the cables on the transmission as nessesary. (Depress the clutch while doing this of course)
  21. When satisfied, reinstall the center console, driver seat, and other ineterior pieces.
  22. Reinstall battery and crank it up. Make sure it is nuetral and foot on clutch. Before driving verify proper brake function and no leaks. You may also have to bleed the clutch a few more times.


Until adjustments to the computer are made, the vehicle will have a CEL (Check Engine Light) and the "!" on. Eliminating these requires disabling the automatic functions in the computer and may be possible with the right equipment at a Ford service center.

Originally based on the how to by Gigaherz on FocalJet.