Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Kickdown Cable

Can someone please explain to me what a kickdown cable is and why cars need such a device? How is this cable linked to the transmission. Also is this found on all cars? I hear of some people having their kickdown cables “plugged” how is that possible? A google search led me to only very general non-descript answers. Thanks.

As I remember,the “kickdown cable” was used on cars with automatic transmissions and was connected between the accelerator and the transmission. When the accelerator was pushed to the floor, the transmission downshifted to a lower gear for more acceleration. I think that the 1952 Dodge that my parents owned when I was in high school had such a cable. This car had a semi-automatic transmission and would downshift when the accelerator was pressed to the floor. Modern cars do this electronically.

Many modern cars have a cable that connects the throttle to the transmission. Some cars use a “vacuum modulator” to perform the same function. The cable provides the transmission with information on throttle position and will cause it to downshift when the throttle is depressed, providing a “passing gear”…It will also delay an upshift if the driver is asking for maximum acceleration…This is the old “vacuum / mechanical technology”. Today’s electronically controlled transmissions no longer need these parts…

How modern are we talking about here? Is there an era when kickdown cables starting going away? Say 80s or 90s? I have a 1995 Toyota Camry. Does that have a kickdown cable?

My in-laws had a 1981 Ford Thunderbird with a cable between the carburetor and transmission. I had to replace a grommet because the end of the cable slipped off the accelerator linkage and it wouldn’t shift correctly. I haven’t seen a car since fuel injection took over in the late 1990’s with a kickdown cable, but it may have still been in use.

My 64 Buick doesn’t have one. There’s a button by the carburetor that the throttle linkage bumps into when you put 'er to the floor which is connected to a solenoid in the transmission.