When testing this 90w-250-weight oil on the dyno, we found it can absorb up to 6 whp. This probably makes it not the lube of choice for mildly built streetcars, but for a turbo motor, who cares as long as it helps the tranny hang together longer? On NASA SE-R Cup road racecars, this lube makes the transmission more reliable.
Do stuff to avoid wheel hopWheelhop pounds the crap out of a car's drivetrain. Use Energy urethane suspension bushings and pillow-ball-type upper strut mounts to help reduce transmission-pounding wheel hop. On the dragstrip, stay away from wheel-tire combos that cause hop or run real drag slicks. Drag slicks don't hop easily and the soft sidewalls cushion the transmission.
Don't speedshift into third
This is self-explanatory. Lift the throttle and ease it into third. Make sure the transmission is fully into third gear before hitting it. One bad 2-3 shift in a high-powered SE-R can spell doom.
Other stuff we did while we were in there
Phantom Grip LSD
The stock Nissan VLSD tends to wear quickly and become marginally effective at preventing wheel-spinning launches and inside wheel spinning under cornering. While the exotic Quaife and Nismo differentials address this issue, they're also expensive.
Phantom Grip has a unit designed to work with the factory Nissan VLSD to make it a much harder-locking piece and to greatly improve the performance of a typical worn-out VLSD unit for a much lower price. We used the Phantom Grip with the competition green spring tuning pack for even harder lock up. Phantom Grips are smooth in operation and you can't feel them work. You just notice the extra traction out of the hold and off the turns.
Courtesy Nissan fifth-gear pop-out elimination kit
Many 1991 to '93 SE-Rs suffer from fifth-gear pop-out. This usually occurs at 50,000 to 100,000 miles, although one blown 4-5 shift can also cause pop-out. After 1993, Nissan improved many of the components, from the 4-5 balk rings to the shift inserts, to eliminate this problem. All of the cars built after mid-1993 have these improved parts in them.
Courtesy Nissan, a leading mail-order Nissan parts house and performance-friendly Nissan dealer, has assembled all of the improved parts into an easy-to-purchase, no-research-required kit. If you have an older SE-R and are rebuilding the transmission, or if your SE-R suffers from fifth-gear pop-out (they all do sooner or later), this kit is a lifesaver. Courtesy Nissan is also a performance-friendly dealer that both stocks many high-performance parts and actively supports the Nissan performance community as well.
While we had the tranny apart, we replaced all the bearings and seals. We inspected the synchros and balk rings and found them all to be in excellent shape, so we reused them.
An SE-R transmission prepared in this manner will have at least twice the service life of a stock transmission. Transmission life is very dependent on operator skill and driving style. What this means is that some people will never break the tranny again. Others will experience significantly better service life, like one transmission every five road racing events instead of every weekend.
One low-10-second, 550-hp SE-R had a transmission prepared like this last more than 100 passes and an entire season before breaking. Shift briskly yet smoothly for best transmission life and don't speedshift into third. Lift that throttle.
The entire cost of all this work is less than $500, including the Phantom Grip LSD. That's money well spent if you have an SE-R pushing more than 200 whp. In the next edition of Project Phoenix, we'll step into the exotic world of building a bomb-proof, cost-is-no-object tranny that will hopefully hold everything we have planned for our car! Stay tuned.