Install and road test
Richards supply comprehensive installation instructions with the kit. I followed these instructions in the video above and found them to be accurate, so I'll only add a few tips below and also document the wiring of the ON-OFF-ON switch, which allows me to choose between On, Off or speed-sensitive automatic operation of the lockup.
Step numbers correspond to the supplied instruction steps.
- Tape the kit wires to a piece of rigid wire, then pass it through one of the two nipples in the Toyota grommet, after cutting the end of it off. I already had some wires in these nipples from previous installations, but they still passed through reasonably easily.
- It's not mentioned in the supplied instructions, but I advise connecting the orange battery wire via a fuse for additional safety. I just connected mine to one of the spare terminals on my accessory fusebox.
See below for the changes required to enable On/Off/Auto operation. Note that this change is not required for current kits, as they now include the 3-way switching.
Adding a switch to enable ON / OFF / AUTO operation
While I generally wanted set-and-forget speed sensitive operation of the lockup kit, there are times when it would be handy to override the speed setting and lock the TC manually, such as long downhill runs for engine braking, or long low speed climbs to keep the ATF temperature under control. This can be achieved by installing an ON-OFF-ON switch, where one of the ON positions gives automatic control and the other gives manual override.
There are plenty of such switches available, typically with I O II markings, but I wanted an illuminated switch design that was neat and clearly showed which mode was active. I thought I'd found the perfect one, being a Cole Hersee 58312-AG, available on special order through Repco and Bursons for about $20 plus any order fee. Unfortunately, after testing it I discovered that the illumination is wired ridiculously, so that the opposite light illuminates from the depressed side of the switch. For example, if the green side is down, then the amber light is on. But because I hadn't found any suitable alternatives, I persisted with the switch, disassembling it and rewiring the lighting so that it operates logically. I then printed some labels to apply to the switch, giving the result you can see in the photo.
Note that I removed the "Idle Up" switch to install the lockup switch. It serves little purpose in a warm country like Australia.
Installing the switch into the lockup kit circuit:
- Instead of connecting the green kit wire direct to the back of the dash power outlet (Step 6), run a new wire from the power outlet up to the POWER IN terminal of your switch.
- Run the green kit wire to one of the POWER OUT terminals of the switch. This gives automatic operation.
- Run another wire from the switch's 2nd POWER OUT terminal back to the lockup kit. Then splice it into the green wire that runs between the relay block and the control box of the kit. This connection overrides the speed controller, giving you manual operation.
You now have three modes:
- ON - This will lock the TC at any speed in any gear except 1st and reverse. You'll find that the vehicle will seem a little rough and jerky at low speeds, and it will lug at low revs when you're under about 60km/h. It can be very useful for engine braking or low speed hillclimbs, but is best used in combination with S mode on the gearbox so you can select a suitable gear.
- OFF- In the centre position, the transmission reverts to factory operation. Handy when you take it to Toyota for a service.
- AUTO - The torque converter will lock and unlock automatically at the pre-selected speeds.
Adjusting the lock and unlock speeds
The lockup kit comes preset to lock at 78-80km/h and unlock at 74-75km/h, assuming you have standard tyres (larger tyres will affect the settings).
As I have larger tyres and I also wanted to reduce the lock speed slightly, I had to change the preset values in the controller. It's a reasonably simple process:
- After completing the installation, remove the 4 screws retaining the top of the controller box, and slide out the controller. You'll see a display plus a series of 4 black buttons below the display (labelled U, D, S, R) and dip switches above the display. Be careful not to damage the electronics via a static discharge.
- To find the setting you want, you need to drive at the speed you want, then push the 'R' (read) button at the bottom right of the display. The display will show a number, which you need to take note of. For safety, have an assistant push the button, instead of trying to do it while you're driving.
- To change the LOCK speed, push up the 1st DIP switch in the bank of 8, then push the 'U' (up) or 'D' (down) buttons to change the value, followed by the 'S' (set) button.
- To change the UNLOCK speed, push up the 1st and 3rd DIP switches in the bank of 8, then push the 'U' (up) or 'D' (down) buttons to change the value, followed by the 'S' (set) button.
- Return the DIP switches to the down positions. Never change the position of the DIP switches in the bank of 3.
- There must be a minimum difference of 5% between the LOCK and UNLOCK values. In my case, I chose LOCK at 49 (~77km/h) and UNLOCK at 44 (~69km/h).
It's up to you which speed to set the lock/unlock at. I initially wanted a lower speed, but found that the vehicle lugs in Drive when below about 65km/h with the lockup engaged. You can overcome this by selecting a lower gear (eg S3, S4), but that would almost defeat the purpose of automating the system, and I think the fuel economy benefits would be negligible. Note that according to Richards, if you want to set an automated speed below 35km/h, you need a different controller box.
Update for Unichip installation:
Although I have neither experienced nor heard of any failures in the lockup clutch following the installation of a lockup kit, I decided to err on the side of caution after the installation of a Unichip and exhaust delivered a 50% power and torque increase. I have now disabled the TC lockup when at high throttle positions. This was accomplished by having the Unichip installer program an earth output wire from the Unichip, which switches off at above 50% throttle. I then used this output to switch the TC lockup kit on and off via a standard relay.