Drag Testing TCI’s 6L80 Bolt-Together Torque Converter

There’s something about installing a new product on your car that is rewarding. The feeling gets even better when it does precisely what a manufacturer claims it will dom including adding power and lowering your elapsed time, all while maintaining drivability.

TCI Automotive has recently released its latest torque converter for the 6L80, and it incorporates a lot of technology from the racing world. This billet converter is offered in three different configurations of stall speeds from 2600-2700, 2800-2900, and 3100-3200 RPM. Thanks to the bolt-together billet design, if you want to change the stall speed, you no longer have to send the converter back to the manufacturer. This will save you money for shipping and not to mention precious time. With this new design for the 6L80, you can unbolt the unit and change the stall speed in the convenience of your own home or shop.

TCI’s 6L80 Bolt-Together converter is also designed for big horsepower applications. The converter features a triple-disc lock-up clutch intended for the rigors of street driving as well as racing that utilizes woven carbon frictions. To further improve the strength of the converter, TCI included a billet impeller hub and billet front cover, which are CNC-machined to reduce ballooning. The billet turbine wheel, billet lock-up piston, and billet clutch hub are utilized in the unit, and all of these components are pre-hardened. This converter is also fully furnace-brazed, computer balanced, and hand-assembled to precise tolerances.

According to TCI, the lock-up clutch connects to an industry-exclusive self-regulating clutch hub which hydraulically modulates the apply pressure offering the smoothest engagement of any 6L80 converter on the market. TCI also claims that this unit can decrease 1/8-mile times up to 0.7-seconds on a stock 2010 Camaro SS with a set of drag radials. Another added perk of this design is that the ECU will not need any tuning with the installation of the new part — just bolt it in and you’re ready to go. It almost sounds too easy, which is precisely why we had to give it a shot in our Camaro.

The installation was straightforward with zero issues — it’s as simple as removing the transmission and swapping out the factory converter with the new unit from TCI. It does help to use the proper tools and a lift when performing this upgrade. After we had everything buttoned up and checked the fluid levels, it was off to the dragstrip to put TCI’s new converter through the paces.

We asked Anthony Smith, an NMCA Outlaw 8.5 champion to pilot the Camaro SS in stock form and then again with the new converter for consistency. Anthony drove the car an hour and a half to the track for our second round of testing. A lot of other 6L80 torque converters on the market will hunt for RPM and drive poorly without proper tuning, but this is not the case with the TCI unit.

Anthony said, “The Camaro drove like it was completely stock, like it just rolled off the showroom floor.” Anthony did seem a little skeptical when we told him that TCI said the converter would be good up to a 0.7-second decrease in the 1/8-mile time. Anthony said, “Those are big shoes to fill … seven tenths is a lot for just one simple change. All we can do is put it in the beams and see what it does.” So, that’s what we did.

With the OEM torque converter, our Camaro ran a best 1/8-mile baseline of 9.16 at 78.22 mph with a 2.07 60-foot time on a set of Mickey Thompson ET Street SS tires. After several passes, while adjusting launch RPM and tire pressure, Anthony was able to get the Camaro to run a best of 8.56 at 82.19 mph with a 1.86 60-foot time again on theMickey Thompson tires. This means the Camaro picked up a solid 0.6-seconds in the 1/8-mile with just the addition of the TCI converter. While it’s not the maximum gain that TCI said it’s capable of, it’s still an impressive increase for a bolt-on part.

The TCI 6L80 Bolt-Together Torque Converter is available for the 2010 and newer Chevrolet Camaro SS, 2012 and newer Camaro Zl1, 2009 and newer Cadillac CTS-V, 2008-’09 Pontiac G8 GT and GXP, 2009 and newer Chevrolet trucks and SUVs, and the 2007 and newer Denali and Escalade equipped with the 6L80 transmission.

For more information on this product and others be sure and check out www.tciauto.com.

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About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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