trans removal in progress 3-6-04 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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trans removal in progress 3-6-04


Active Member
November 18, 2002
Reaction score
City, State
Toledo, OH
Year, Model & Trim Level
1996 EB
Trans removal in progress 3-6-04; Done 3-11-04

I put the explorer up on stands and started taking eveything apart b/c of a little leak that I think is the seal in the bell housing. I consider myself a Avg-level mechanic working at a nice relaxed pace; but those darn RUSTED Ohio salt winter-ed header bolts.

I didn't really see on the board people posted times on how long it took them to do things, so i thought i might chime in here and let people know how/what whe bolts are all rusty. Mind you this project is working on a car that has been through 8years of Ohio salt and snow. I have a heated garage with jackstands and a stock explorer.

1. prep the explorer on stands and look over task at hand.
3. get all tools ready.
4. take a lunch break.
5. remove the drive axles front and rear(nuts were rusted).

1. disconected all wiring attached to tranny and T-case.
2. drained T-case fluid.
3. broke loose the T-case bolts.
4. tried to get header bolts loose for the Y-pipe

6Hrs approx
1.Removed Transfer Case(1hr..not too bad..rested it on my legs and then wiggled off..make sure to have drain pan for tranny fluid)
*make sure to cover all shafts and machined parts with paper towels, plastic bags, or don't want any foreign debris getting in there*
2.Removed Starter(1Hr..PITA with 4x4 real real tight space..must have patience..i have small hands too)
3.Removed T/C-flexplate bolts:)30mins..not too bad)
4.Removed Drain Pan from tranny:)45mins) and didn't find any metal shavings in bottom...just nice red fluid :). I put the pan back up and secured it down with 2 bolts so no dust or dirt would get up there.
5.Moved the car off ramps and put on jackstands and removed front tires:)30mins)
6.Tried those header bolts luck....:)45mins)
7.Thinking time, pondering time, or as some people call it hitting a wrench against something b.c it makes you feel better time(we needed a new light anyways :) )(1.5hrs)

4hrs the header flange cherry red and the 4 header bolts slid right amazing...i guess we learn by trial and error.
2.removed tranny crossmember and supported tranny with jack. removed tranny 2in thick rubber stopper.
3.removed heat shield from cat to clear tranny
4.removed y-pipe....YEAAAAAAA!
5.disconnected cooler lines
6.removed tranny to engine bolts(this one took some time)
7.i had tranny supported right behind the bellhousing and it balanced really well. i actually removed the tranny by myself b/c dad went to bed. be very careful on this step....tranny weighs in the approx of 200lbs.

That's i have to figure out what the real problem is! also make sure to be very clean and plug all holes in tranny b/c dirt doesn't mix well with fine machined parts.

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I just replaced my transmission a few weeks ago and ran into the same problem, I was able to leave the crossover conncted and lifted the transmission over it, getting it out was easy putting it back in took a little more time, but I have a 2" body lift.

Originally posted in Explorer 911! Forum Rules
This forum IS NOT for times when you are in the middle of a mod/repair and want some help with it.
Moving to proper forum.

I swapped my tranny just yesterday. I got to the header bolts using a 3ft extension (which was actually about 7 extensions put together) which made it really easy to reach from underneath.

I'm sure the fact that I soaked them with penetrating oil the night before helped quite a bit.

Originally posted by wilkin250r
I got to the header bolts using a 3ft extension (which was actually about 7 extensions put together) which made it really easy to reach from underneath.

I'm sure the fact that I soaked them with penetrating oil the night before helped quite a bit.

Ditto for me- a couple of 12 inch extensions and an universal joint.

Originally posted by SteveVB
Ditto for me- a couple of 12 inch extensions and an universal joint.

I've never had good luck trying to use a universal joint when applying a lot of torque, and the bolts on the Y-pipe are notorius for corrosion, so large amounts of torque are usually needed.

I use a wobble extension similar to

You don't get quite the range of motion as you do with a universal joint, but it's much easier to apply a lot of torque.

I have swapped my tranny countless times. Also have done tranny swaps on several other peoples explorers. I never remove the exhaust anymore. REaly easy wth a body lift but can squeeze by without one.

Its been my experience that an impact gun and long extension don't mix. The twist in the extension seems to soak up all the torque of the impact.

I just used an extension and a cheater.

I just had mine out this weekend for a new clutch. :cool:

If you have rusty header bolts....heat them up some how with a torch and you're life will be a lot easier and you will have saved yourself lots of time!

I dont have much trouble getting the tranny past the Y pipe. If you gotta disconnect the pipe leave the manifold on the head and seperate at the Y pipe to manifold flange. This will be fairly easy to heat up with the torch. Exactly as you said, make it glow cherry red. The bolt will back out

Thanks Rookie for your input, i'll be trying that out tomorrow after noon with the torch.

Originally posted by utmustang88

Also what's the best way to get to those top engine-tranny-bolts?

How are those rust free cars from down South

All of the manuals I read said to lower the transmission a bit to gain access to em'. Instead of doing that we just used a looonggg extension and ran that over the top of the tranny with a universal. You have to feel the socket onto the bolt, but it isn't difficult. We also wrenched a couple high ones off by hand. All the bolts were out before we removed the cross-member.

Almost gave up b/c of the rust on the header bolts.....but the torch pulled through!

SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!! this is the best feeling in the soon as i got it out of the car i Bi$%# slapped it and said who's your daddy now, huh? i heated up the header bolts and they came off in no time....then i removed the tranny from the car! i'm so excitied at the moment that after 15+ hrs i finally got it out of the car(yea i know it took a little longer than expected, but this was my first time).

But now what though? can anyone explain what i'm supposed to be looking for, cause I'm kind of lost at this moment? Before all this the car shifted great and had no loss of power.....just a leak between the engine and bellhouse. any suggestions? thank you

Well, you need to locate your leak. To inspect the rear main seal, the flywheel needs to come off.

sorry i wasn't specific, my bad. it was gushing red transmission fluid out of the bellhousing, not oil. i will also try to search on 4x4central for some help too.

I have a friend at a tranny shop.
often he will take the car to a muffler shop and pay $20
for them to put in new manifold bolts and where the pipes connect.

there is a seal on the input shaft of the trans. Some incorrectly call it a main seal. Actualy its a front pump seal on that tranny. Often the cause of fluid leaking from bellhousing. Also there is NO reason you shouldnt put a new torque converter in at this point. I lost one tranny due to a bad TC.

Your leak from the bellhousing is either a torque convertor leak (low probability) or a front pump seal leak (high probability). Start by carefully inspecting the weld aound the middle of the torque convertor, wipe it real clean and look for any possible areas of leakage. If you aren't sure most transmission shops have an air tester and will test it for you for minimum charge or for free. Let's assume it's fine. You have a front pump seal leak. I do not recommend removing the bellhousing and pump unless you have the alignment tools to put it back in and want to buy 8 new bolts from FORD at $3 ea. In a general sense, the pump is not the cause of the leak, except it pumps the fluid out. You didn't say the mileage on the trannie. If it's high mileage, this might be a good opportunity to do a rebuild. Assuming you do not want to do that, the seal you can replaced easily enough. If you look you will find 4 (or more) staked areas holding the seal in place. In this pic there are 10, but some are old ones so not all have metal that needs removal:


Use either a small chisel or a dremel tool and chip away or grind away the areas of staked metal protruding over the seal. Using an hook remover, remove the seal. IF (against my current modified recomendation) you remove the behhousing and pump, here's each method:




If you use a hammer, protect the bellhousing from damage by doing this on a piece or carpet or cardboard. My advice is to enlarge the drain back hole (an angled hole from the seal area back into the pump) to 5/16" at this time. (From the Superior Company suggestions, not MY idea, but good one).
Here's the drainback hole:



Carefully check your pump shaft and the bushing. Many rebuilt transmissions fail here because the bushing was replaced and not line bored.

Here' s a bushing that's not so good


and shaft scoring on one side of the pump shaft:


If you run into this let us know and we can make suggestions from there. Otherwise....

If the shaft and bushing look good, replace the seal, and using a blunt end of a tool, make 4 stakes around the seal. Be sure and also use locktite on the seal too!


Reassemble the pump to the bellhousing, leaving the bolts loose. Now, and this is CRITICAL! You need a tool to align the front pump, or take it to a trannie shop and have them do it. FAILURE TO ALIGN THE PUMP WILL RESULT IN FAILURE. Once aligned and torqued in, reattach the belhousing using NEW bolts and you are done!

There are or will be pics of all this in the "My A4LD Rebuild Diary" on the general explorations page.

[Edit note] Based on "The Rookie's" comments below and some afterthought,I have changed my ideas and no longer recommend disassembling the pump from the bellhousing.

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Nice post glacier. I have a couple questions though. Why must he remove the belhousing? They make seal pullers that will get the old out without any dremmeling or pulling the housing. I know cause I did this for a friend. Took no more than a couple mins to change. Xould also use a hose pick for the same effect on removal. Instalation can be done with a small hammer and a little caution