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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 6:51 pm 
Retired Gearhead
Retired Gearhead
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 12:35 pm
Posts: 3989
Location: Ames, Iowa
Year and Trim: 98 Caravan is the daily driver 215K
Transaxle removal and installation 95 Bonneville SLE

I used the following procedure alone, on a level, paved driveway. An engine hanger was used to hold the engine and transmission from above to allow the driver's side rail and front crossmember of the engine cradle to be disassembled and removed from the car. It took me two days to build the hanger, one day to remove the old trans, one day to prepare the new trans, and one day to install. The procedure is outlined in Chilton's #28200.

Please work safely. Make sure the car is supported solidly before you get under it. Please read all of this file including the notes BEFORE you start. This will give you an idea of the tools, blocks, supplies, and parts you will need, and the order of business. It is very important that you position the jack at the balance point under the transaxle. If you have any doubt that you can do this properly, rent or buy a transmission jack, or pay to have the work done. It is best to have a helper. If you work alone, do so within earshot of someone who cares.

Remove the transaxle:

(Sizes listed for the bolts are for the heads or nuts, NOT bolt diameter.)

Remove engine cover and relay center cover (speed nut)
Remove 8 10mm bolts from radiator cover and top fan supports
Mark position, then remove 2 10mm hood latch bolts; relocate latch to clear hanger; leave cable attached
Remove strut brace from inner studs (4 x 13mm)
Install engine hanger
Lift engine and trans with hanger fixtures about 1/2" to take load off mounts
Disconnect negative battery terminal (5/16")
Unplug air temp sensor, remove airbox and flex pipe (2 x 1/4")
Remove 13mm nuts from cruise control servo and wire up to side
Pry nylon ball joint up off of shift lever ball with needlenose pliers
Remove 13mm studs from shift lever bracket; wire to side
Remove top 3 18mm trans to engine bolts
Unplug 3 trans electrical connectors: 2 by ABS controller, 1 by modulator
Remove vacuum lines from canister to vacuum modulator , throttle body and fuel pressure regulator; cap tube ends
Raise car, set jackstands with 2 x 4's under front floor beams; height at support point 14"
Remove wheels (3/4"), and 3 splash shields from wheel wells (plastic bolts)
Remove 10mm bolt attaching brake line to inner fender (pass. side only)
Removed big plastic splash shield under radiator (10mm, 5/16")
Remove axle nuts (34mm) big screwdriver in rotor slot holds hub assembly
Remove sway bar end links both sides. (chisel, metal cutter, 13 or 14mm)
Separate ball joints from steering knuckle both sides (18mm, pickle fork or lever tool)
Loosen pan bolts to drain trans fluid (10mm): tighten pan bolts
Remove both drive shafts (pry L, wood drift and 4-lb hammer R)
Remove 4 13mm bolts connecting L cradle rail to Rear crossmember
Remove 3 15mm nuts holding F trans mount to F crossmember
Disconnect any wiring ties or clips on F crossmember
Remove 3 13mm bolts and one 15mm nut holding F crossmember to Right cradle rail
Undo 18mm bolt holding LF corner of cradle member; remove cradle half from car
Disconnect vehicle speed sensor (vss)
Disconnect and remove oil pressure sending unit (special 10-side deep socket)
Disconnect wire from trans to solenoid at starter (5/16")
Center jack with 3/4" plywood board under the center of mass of the transaxle
Lift the transaxle slightly to remove any remaining pressure on the mounts.
Undo 4 13mm bolts and remove torque strut mount from trans and rear crossmember
Undo 4 13mm bolts and remove trans to engine bracket (passenger side)
Remove 3 13mm bolts holding rear mount to trans; (mount stays on rear crossmember)
Remove 3 15mm nuts from rear mount through bottom of rear crossmember

Remove flywheel covers (10mm)
Undo 10mm bolt clamping cooling lines to front trans mount
Undo 3 13mm bolts attaching F mount to trans, one 18mm bolt into engine
Disconnect cooling lines from trans (5/8" flare), plug and cap ends, wire pipes out of way
Remove 3 18mm flexplate to TC bolts (hold flexplate w/ big screwdriver in gear tooth against trans case)
Remove 1 backwards 18mm bolt between engine and trans (11/16" 1/2"- drive 36" ext)
Wiggle trans apart from engine; lower and move out until filler tube passes exhaust
Remove filler tube (10mm); plug hole; lower trans all the way down on jack
Tilt and slide trans down off jack to ground; rotate to F; pull trans out under L wheelwell

Change rear crankshaft seal (Ignore this section if recently done or if you feel lucky - I was not lucky!)

Drain oil from engine
Drain coolant from engine (fully drain block by removing knock sensors)
Matchmark flexplate, spacer and crank; undo 8) 9/16" bolts, and remove flexplate
Disconnect plug from oil level sensor on side of pan
Remove oil pan bolts (3/8" - 10mm) and drop pan
Clean oil pan and gasket sealing surfaces on pan and block
Remove 10mm bolts and rear seal carrier from engine block; save bolt spacers
Clean gasket from carrier and block sealing surfaces
Inspect crankshaft where seal is made; if crankshaft seal surface is badly pitted or scored, a sleeve kit is available
If rusted or dirty, clean crankshaft with steel wool or crocus cloth, wash with solvent, wipe with oil
Note or measure position of old seal in carrier
Pry out old seal from carrier using screwdriver
Clean seal area and install new seal square into recess, lube seal lip with engine oil or grease
Install carrier bolts finger-tight with spacers
Tighten four corner bolts; check alignment of oil pan sealing surface by placing straight edge across carrier and block; if a feeler gauge larger than 0.004" can fit under the straight edge on either the carrier or the block, loosen bolts and re-adjust
Apply RTV sealant into the gap between the carrier and the block where the pan gasket will set: strike excess with a single-edge razor blade
Install flexplate (published torque spec is incorrect for VIN K '95 flexplate bolts - should be 11 ft-lb + 50 degrees)
Install oil pan gasket and oil pan, connect oil level sender
Refill oil and coolant

Prepare the transaxle and trans cooler:

Check ID tag to make sure new trans model, type, matches old
Check ID tag on new torque converter to match old (first 4 characters)
If attached, remove TC holding fixture, remove and drain torque converter into clean pan
Inspect fluid from TC for sparkly metal chips - if chips are present, don't re-use TC
Install plastic pipe plugs at drive shaft seals to keep dirt out of trans
Position trans to gain access to pan and filter
Remove and clean pan, magnet and bolts
Clean the dipstick tube; remove the plug from dipstick hole; carefully clean around the hole; replace the plug
Check orientation of thermal element: V point up against flat
Install new filter and pan gasket; torque pan bolts to 13 ft-lbs
If changing solenoids, carefully clean area all around side pan gaskets.
Remove side pan bolts and nuts; if possible, carefully pry and pull side cover off without cutting gasket free to prevent gasket particles or other debris from falling into trans
Swap out parts keeping everything as clean as possible, re-clip wire loom
Clean side pan; clean gasket sealing surface on the trans using foil or other dirt shield
Install side pan with new gaskets, torque bolts to about 8 ft-lb, nuts to 6 ft-lb
Remove old pump seal (behind torque converter) by puncturing with heavy screwdriver and hammer from slot in bottom of bell housing
Clean pump seal seating area
Seat new seal with 10" length of 3" schedule 40 PVC pipe, 2-lb hammer
Change turbine shaft o-ring under torque converter; lubricate with trans fluid
Seat torque converter (lift, spin L & R while pushing); install holding fixture
Clean and inspect trans drive shaft seals being careful to keep dirt out of trans
Swap neutral safety switch, shift lever, vss as needed
Using a 3/32" drill bit, locate the alignment hole for setting neutral safety switch
Blow out trans cooler lines with dry air (in rad bottom, out top)
Catch fluid in clean pan to inspect for metal chip contamination
Cut fitting from cooler flush hose, heat hose to fit over cooler line flare
Flush cooler lines with aerosol solvent
Blow cooler lines with dry air

Install transaxle

Slide trans under car approximately in position
Rock and block trans 5" high with 3, 1' 2 x 6s under pan edge
Place low scissors jack with 1' 1 x 4 under trans CG (center of gravity)
Jack and block high enough to place floor jack w/ board under CG
Remove torque converter holding fixture
Jack trans into position, leave in place until mounts are done
Insert dipstick/fill tube into hole (leave plug in 'til inserting); tighten 10mm bolt
Wiggle trans onto dowel pins
Insert top 3 18mm bolts finger tight through bell housing into block
Install 18mm "backwards bolt" through block into bell housing
Tighten all 18mm bell housing bolts exc. front mount torx socket bolt
Install 3 13mm rear mount bolts into trans (driver's side)
Install 3 15mm nuts onto rear mount bolts through bottom of rear crossmember
Install 4 13mm bolts finger-tight in trans/engine bracket;
tighten engine bracket bolts first; tighten trans bracket bolts last
Install oil sender with thread sealant
Make elec connections to senders and to vehicle speed sensor
Connect solenoid wire to starter (5/16")
Connect coolant lines to trans (5/8" flare)
Install torque converter bolts using an 11/16" offset box wrench
Install torque strut mount to rear crossmember, then to trans
Place front mount on front crossmember of cradle half; start 15mm nuts on bolts
Lift cradle half into position: RF, LR, then start 18mm LF bolt to hold up
Install 4 13mm bolts in LR corner (long bolt through sway bar bushing bracket)
Install 3 13mm bolts and one 15mm nut in RF corner
Tighten 18mm LF bolt
Install front mount bolts finger-tight
Tighten 3 13mm bolts for front mount and cooling line bracket into trans
Tighten torx socket 18mm bolt attaching F mount to engine
Tighten 3 15mm nuts on F mount bolts through bottom of F crossmember
Attach cooling lines to F mount with 10mm bolt and clamp
Install drive axles; pin rotor slot against caliper to tighten big nut
Assemble ball joints using new cotter pins
Install end links; start nut on each side before tightening; jack under bar or ball joint as needed
Install wheel well shields, pass. brake line bracket, road wheels, big front splash shield
Lower car to ground
Install lines to vacuum modulator, vapor canister, both throttle body vacuum taps and fuel pressure regulator
Make 3 elec connections on top of trans
Install shift lever bracket with 13mm studs
Install ball end of shift cable; heat nylon if cold
Install cruise servo with 13mm nuts
Install airbox and flex pipe
Plug in air temp sensor
Connect battery cable
Remove engine hanger
Install strut brace, hood latch, and spring
Install rad cover and top fan support bolts
Install relay center cover
Fill trans; (20 pts for drained used trans and TC) check for leaks
Start engine, check for leaks, check trans fluid level
Check shift positions for neutral, and park start; adjust neutral safety switch if necessary
With car running, shift to each position; check function; check fluid level
Test drive; re-check fluid; check for leaks; install engine cover
Now you know why it costs so much to have your trans replaced!


Engine hangers can be purchased for about $200. Some places rent them (but not in my town) or you can build one.
Find instructions here:
To remove drive axles: After splitting ball joint and separating lower control arm from knuckle, turn steering wheel to lock on opposite side and pull knuckle to rear. For example, for R axle removal, turn wheel to L, pull knuckle to rear and tie back out of way to jackstand or underbody of car. Place a heavy wooden dowel against the back of the inner CV housing as close as you can manage to be parallel with the R axle shaft. (A hickory sledge handle works great for this.) Strike the dowel with a light (4-lb) sledge to "pop" the snap ring. Be careful with the passenger shaft not to drag the splines on the inner end of the shaft across the trans lip seal when removing and installing.
The driver's side axle can be removed by placing a big screwdriver or tire-iron between the side frame rail and the inner CV housing and striking the lever to "pop" the snap ring loose.

When lifting the transaxle, use a board on top of the jack to distribute the weight so you don't dent the pan. With the torque converter in place, the balance point end to end is at the face where the bell housing attaches to the engine, the balance point front to back is best judged by looking at the trans from the driver's side. Keep the jack under the trans until all the mounts are in place and can safely hold the weight of the trans without distorting or stressing the trans case. You can spin the jack as needed to get better access as you work, but don't release it until all the mounts are tight.

Instructions are included for changing the rear crankshaft seal while the trans is out of the car. I did not do this (the first time) when I had the chance. A couple of days after the "new" trans was installed, the rear crank seal started to leak, and I had to remove the trans again to replace it.

When I test drove my "new" used trans, the torque converter did not hold under light load in lock-up. The fluid flushed from the cooler and drained from the old torque converter was dark but showed no sparkly bits of metal, so I felt safe to swap some parts from my old trans to the new one. I removed the trans from the car and changed the "new" torque converter for the old one that I knew worked OK. I also changed the turbine shaft seal (o-ring) under the torque converter, opened the side cases and swapped the PWM and TCC solenoids, and also swapped the vacuum modulator from the old trans to the new one. The new trans now holds properly in lock-up.

To change the trans filter, I used an engine hoist to lift the trans with a chain installed using bolts tightened near the balance point. It may be OK to just roll the trans on its side to change the filter and clean the pan, or you can just wait until the trans is in the car. Before you open the trans in any position other than pan-down, carefully clean all around both sides of the gasket to keep dirt from falling into the trans when the pan is removed. When cleaning a vertical gasket sealing area on the trans case, (for example, top of side pan seal) use aluminum foil or other lint-free material to catch and deflect debris and to keep dirt out of the transmission.

You have to be pretty aggressive with the old pump seal to get it out. It is necessary to distort and destroy the old seal to remove it. Use a heavy screwdriver with a pretty sharp tip. Keep the angle of the screwdriver low (close to perpendicular to the shafts) and be careful not to hit any of the shafts or the case. There is about a half inch of space behind the seal. Get the new seal started and use the PVC pipe and a heavy (2-lb) hammer to drive it in. Keep the pipe in contact with the full face of the seal and strike the other end of the pipe where the seal is out the most - you will have to hit it pretty hard to get it to seat. Make sure the end of the pipe against the seal has been cut square.

My replacement trans had a longer shift lever than the original (column shift, maybe?) Hold the lever with a big Crescent wrench when doing and undoing the nut. I changed the lever for the old one and also used the old neutral safety switch because the wiring looked better. I positioned the old switch on the new trans using the marks on the switch from the mounting nuts as a guide.

The fitting on the end of the vinyl hose on the can of aerosol cooler flush was way too small for the trans cooling line. I cut off the fitting. The i.d. of the vinyl hose was about 1/4" and the o.d. of the flared end of the steel cooling line was about 1/2" By heating the end of the vinyl hose with a heat gun and spreading it over the cone shaped nozzle on my engine cleaner wand, I was able to get it big enough to start and stretch over the bigger diameter flare on the cooling line to make a good seal.

You might want to prepare some wooden blocking pieces and practice rolling and blocking the trans outside the car. Learning how to do it underneath is a little more difficult. I used a scissors jack from an old Mustang - it is only about 4" high when all the way down. I used this jacking and blocking method because I was unable to lift the trans onto the floor jack and plywood board when it was under the car. If you have a helper, you may be able to eliminate the jacking and blocking steps.

Check Techinfo for torque specifications for your car:

The vehicle speed sensor and dipstick tube hold-down bolts can be easily reached from the top of the engine by lying on the engine.

Make sure you install the front mount on the front crossmember BEFORE you install the cradle half. If you don't, you will have to take the cradle half back down to do it like I did.

When filling the transaxle, assuming you have dumped all the fluid you can get out of the torque converter, put about two gallons in, then start the car, then add a pint at a time, checking the level frequently until the level is correct. It took a little more than 2-1/2 gallons to fill mine the first time, and about a quart less (?) the second time.

If you have any questions send me a PM.

Good Luck, Bill Buttermore


1998 3.8 Dodge Caravan 214K
2000 3.3 Dodge Caravan 175K
1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe 4-dr sedan 25K (needs some work!)

Last edited by bill buttermore on Sun Jan 04, 2009 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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