Trans Swap for Dummies

TCI’s Self-Learning Transmission Controller


Trans Swap

The term “swap” has gained a lot of publicity these days; you hear about engine swaps all of the time. With the focus on engine swaps, most people do not think about swapping a transmission, maybe because there’s no glamour in a trans swap.


Trans SwapTrans SwapShipped direct to you is everything necessary to make an electronic GM transmission run in your truck.

Trans Swap

Also included in the kit is the lead harness that links the controller brain to the accessory units.

Trans Swap

First, we located an area under the dash that allowed access to mount the controller unit while maintaining room to plug in the lead wiring.


As everyone is aware, fuel costs are on the rise, so many big-block Chevy owners want to get better fuel mileage, and might consider an engine swap for this purpose. Really, an overdrive transmission is the right choice for better fuel mileage and without sacrificing your current power plant choice.


Trans Swap

Next, a bracket is fabricated to fit the TPS, or throttle position sensor, to the side of the transmission.

Trans Swap

With a little bit of planning we were able to mount the hand-held controller to the inside of the glove box were it can be accessed at any time.

Trans Swap

Before we started it up and drove it out for testing, we topped off the transmission using TCI-recommended MAX Shift fluid. Formulated to help combat heat, while extending fluid lifespan, MAX Shift is perfect for this application.


Some trans swap hurtles may include lack of education about computer controllers, or how electric transmissions work or are tuned. In other cases, the right model transmission might be overlooked because of fear of the unknown, or lack of knowledge about selecting the right converter to match an engine’s horsepower rating. Many people feel that four-speed automatics are used to save gas, and can’t handle big horsepower, or don’t work as well at the track.


Trans Swap

After the unit was attached to a power source, the first menu screen popped up with the set-up options.

Trans SwapTrans SwapTrans SwapTCI’s EZ-TCU is extremely user-friendly. The controller walks you through the steps to set up a profile”of your vehicle.

Trans Swap

The TPS, or throttle position sensor, needs to be calibrated first before any new input can be entered.

Trans Swap

Trans SwapFollow the prompts. The unit will ask for input like transmission model, number of cylinders, etc.


Not to worry, TCI transmissions has developed a product that allows you to pick and choose the right transmission for your truck. TCI’s EZ-TCU, or Transmission Control Unit, is compatible with most popular GM electronic transmissions, allowing maximum control over shift points, shift firmness and shift speed. Other features include multiple shift modes, as well as a full manual shift mode. It’s ready to run right out of the box with no tuning necessary, however for those who demand customization, the unit is also fully programmable based on load, speed and rpm. Its completely intuitive programming allows you to simply take it out of the box, mount it to your vehicle, plug it in and drive. It’s that simple because it learns as it drives!

Trans Swap

Trans SwapTrans SwapFollow the screen as asks for tire diameter, tire size and gear ratio.

Trans Swap

Now enter the Max shift RPM setting that is part of the set up and must be entered prior to road use.

Trans Swap

With the set-up profile entered into the unit, it’s time to fire it up and drive your vehicle to allow the controller to adaptively “learn” you and your vehicle’s driving habits. You can monitor readings in real-time through the “Live Data” information prompt.

Trans Swap

In just less than two hours we’re ready to roll. The unit is so easy and versatile, it’s smarter than most bench racers could ever dream.

Self-diagnostics allow truck owners of every skill level to use the EZ-TCU, which makes it capable of real-time switchable calibrations that allow for multiple setups. Run one calibration on the way to the track, and with the push of a button, have a more aggressive setup ready for the race. Sounds cool, right? Check out how easy it was to install one while swapping an LS into a square-body Chevy in just a few hours. No software, laptop or experience needed.



TCI Automotive-


Text by Marcel Venable

Photos Courtesy of Mike Cotten



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