How To Choose The Best Performance Torque Converter For Your Vehicle

Posted by on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

To many automotive enthusiasts, the inner workings of a torque converter are a big mystery.  Since they don’t really understand how they work, they have an even more difficult time choosing the correct one for their applications. A torque converter is basically a fluid coupler. It allows the engine to idle without the vehicle moving forward. It consists of an impeller, stator and turbine.  We won’t go into all the details of what makes a torque converter work in this article. Instead, we will focus on what info you need to know when choosing a torque convert.

Here are the major components found in a torque converter


What are your motor specs? 

What are your cam specs?-  The cam is the “brain” of your motor. It is going to pretty much dictate the power band of your motor. If your motor makes its power in the lower rpm range you will want a converter that starts stalling at the beginning of that rpm range. Most motors used for towing will start making torque around 1800 rpms.  Race motors usually make their power in the higher rpms. It’s not uncommon for a race motor to start making its power at a fairly high rpm range – sometime as high as 4500 rpms.

What is the size of your motor? - Is it a small or big block motor? Small blocks tend to rev a lot higher than big blocks. Therefore a big block would usually use a lower rpm stall converter.

Does your vehicle have power adders? – Does your motor use nitrous, a turbo or a supercharger? That will affect your stall speed.  A turbo need rpms to make power and will require a higher stall speed. If it’s supercharged, is it a positive displacement blower (roots or screw type) or a centrifugal blower?  Positive displacement blowers make low end power and will require a lower stall speed while centrifugal superchargers are like a belt driven turbo.

Weight of vehicle – Is your vehicle light-weight (Under 2800 lbs) or heavy (over 4000 lbs)? The lighter your vehicle, the less your torque converter will stall.  Example: If you put the exact same motor and a 3000 rpm converter in a light-weight car it might only stall to 2500 rpms, although it’s advertised as a 3000 rpm converter. The same motor and converter in a heavy car might actually stall to 3500 rpms.

Car with slicks will stall the torque converter higher

Source: jalpoyjournal

What kind of tires are you going to run? – If you run a small width street tire, you will probably spin the tires before putting enough strain on the converter to get it to stall properly. In this case you might see lower than advertised stall speeds. A car with slicks will perform the exact opposite.

Is the vehicle going to be raced? – If the answer is yes, you will want to make sure your torque converter included an anti-balloon plate and furnace brazed or welded fins. You might also want to consider a billet stator.

Furnace brazed fins are a must for a race car


While there is more information available, you will need to take into account when ordering a performance torque converter , these are the major concerns.

When considering a transmission to go along with your torque converter I highly recommend you choose a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simple rebuilt.

A re-manufactured transmission will include modifications and upgrades to make it stronger and more durable. A rebuilt transmission will not. A re-manufactured transmission is basically like a brand new transmission. All internal hard parts are re-machined to better than new specs or completely replaced. That’s not the case with a rebuilt transmission. A re-manufactured transmission also comes with a much better warranty: three years compared to an average of 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.

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