Mitsubishi FTO - Transmission

Mitsubishi FTO - Transmission

The front wheel drive Mitsubishi FTO range has two transmission options - 5 speed manual or automatic which is more often referred to as tiptronic.

Manual transmission
The 5 speed manual transmission found on the FTO is quite conventional. The gearchange is cable operated and has the typical Japanese dog leg fifth gear. There is a hydraulically operated diaphragm clutch operated by a separate front bulkhead mounted master cylinder and a bell housing mounted slave cylinder. Manual transmission fluid should be SAE75w-85w GL4 or higher.

The 5 speed manual gearbox is pretty reliable with no obvious weaknesses. Second gear synchro can become troublesome on high mileage units, as can wear in the first motion shaft bearings. We have come across the odd problem with selecting or jumping out of reverse - both problems will entail gearbox removal and strip down. 

The external cable operated gearchange and mounting bracket can occasionally cause problems, leading to gear selection problems, but the fix is normally quite easy, even if the dealer parts are a bit pricey. 

Tiptronic transmission
As a result of the preference of the Japanese public for automatic transmission, even on sports coupes such as the FTO, we estimate that only 10% of FTO production was the 5 speed manual version.

With a cable operated gearchange, the electronically controlled INVECS 11 tiptronic transmission option up until 1997 has 4 speeds, but later models have 5 speeds. Electronic control is, in most cases, via a separate transmission ECU mounted on the 'transmission tunnel' directly beneath heater assembly, although some later models do have a combined engine and transmission ECU. The tiptronic gearbox operates as a conventional automatic but with the addition of a driver selectable manual change option. On all automatic models the transmission fluid is cooled via a small heat exchanger incorporated into the base of the front mounted water radiator.

Considering its complexity and age, the Mitsubishi tiptronic transmission is fairly reliable. The main problem for owners is that if the gearbox does develop a fault, there are precious few specialists in the UK to carry out a proper diagnosis and if required, tackle the repairs. In addition to the labour aspect, the costs of OE parts are very high and replacement with a known good used unit is normally the most cost effective route.   

The correct grade of transmission fluid for the tiptronic gearbox is dexron 3 and we recommend a fluid change, along with the external filter, every 3 years or 36,000 miles. 

Limited Slip Differentials
Limited slip differential (LSD) were fitted as original equipment tothe Car of the Year (COTY) limited edition GPX circa 1995, and the later GPvR.

From our experience a very small number of other FTOs are equipped with an LSD, we assume either as an OE option when new or from subsequently fitted aftermarket components.

5 speed manual gearboxes with a fitted limited slip differential require a special gear oil for correct operation. Using the incorrect oil can result in increase snatch and transmission noise, and may lead to premature diff failure. Most oil companies offer a lubricant suitable for LSD applications. Please see our product page for more information.

 FTO GPX COTY limited edition