Gen 4 Trans Pan Drop and Filter Change AX4N - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
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post #1 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Gen 4 Trans Pan Drop and Filter Change AX4N

So I'm doing this writeup because the other one in the topic finder has no pics anymore, and is for a gen 3 (even though its virtually the exact same thing).

I did the fluid and filter change for the first time today. I haven't ever done it before. Not a hard job by any means. Doesn't take specialty tools or anything. To promote longevity of the transaxle, this pan drop and filter change should be performed every 30,000 miles or less. If you do not know the last time yours has been changed, its safe to assume it hasn't ever been (wether that is true or not). Changing it early doesn't hurt a transmission. My Sable had a dealer change at 33k miles and 67k miles. I believe that was a full flush, but am not sure. Then at 115k miles it had a third change (and flush?) from a trusted mechanic. As you can see it was overdue on that third change. I'm at 141,3xx miles and slightly under due for the fluid and filter change. The reason I did it early was because the last change was performed longer than it should have been. If your last change was over 60k miles ago, it's a good idea to perform this again in 10k or 15k miles to make sure you keep the transaxle in top shape. If you still have a ton of crud on your next change, do it again in a shorter interval. This is the single best preventative maintenance to keep your transmission running for the life of the vehicle.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What Supplies Do I Need?

-8 QTS MERCON V ATF - MUST BE MERCON V, NOTHING ELSE. I used the walmart supertech brand. It works very well. You may use the expensive synthetic brand if you wish. As long as it says Mercon V.

-Long neck funnel to reach the dipstick hole for the transmission

-New transmission filter. These usually come with a gasket as well, but if you still have your original ford gasket it is reusable and you shouldn't use the new gasket. Look for 'FORD' written somewhere on the trans pan gasket if you are not sure. Make sure you buy the proper filter/gasket for YOUR transaxle. AKA AX4N will not work with AX4S. However 4F50N and AX4N are interchangeable.

-8mm 1/4" drive ratchet - please use a 1/4" to avoid accidentally tightening the bolts too much, soft aluminum warps easily under pressure.

-Needle nose pliers

-Very small flat head screwdriver (not 100% necessary, just helpful)

-Shop rags (5 at the minimum to be safe, a couple need to be CLEAN)

-High flash point cleaner like non-chlorinated brake cleaner or carb cleaner.

-Catch pan for the old ATF (bigger the better).


Optional but recommended Items:

-Large plastic tub. Use it instead of what I did to catch the trans fluid.

-Gloves. Any kind will do. Vinyl or latex recommended. Multiple pairs. They like to rip. I happened to just run out for this job so I only had one glove and it was a heavy duty one. Not made for copious amounts of liquids like you deal with when doing this job.

A setup to catch any fluid that manages to miss the catch pan. My pan wasn't big enough to cover the entire pan. So I had to play favorites and try to get what I could. This setup can be:
-Cardboard as a bottom layer. Spread WAY out to make sure any drips don't get on the ground. I would do this for sure no matter what.
-A LARGE metal tray with 1" or so sides.
-An extra large catch pan in the first place to make sure you don't miss anything.
-Kitty litter on the ready incase there are any spills.

-A lift. Would make the job easier 10x easier but by no means necessary AT ALL.

-A handheld vacuum pump with long tube if you want to suck the fluid out first.

Pic thanks to rohand901. This is a PROPER setup to minimize mess!!





Don't mind the Mobil 1. I wasn't actually doing anything with it.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LETS GET STARTED!
I apologize I took many pictures during the process so they aren't necessarily how things will be when you do it.

1. Put the trans in PARK, turn the car off, apply the parking brake to the max amount you can. Obviously be where you are going to do this.

2. Chock the wheels and raise the car. Be sure to use more than 1 jack! I just used my 3ton floor jack on the front subframe and then put jack stands just behind where the LCA enters the subframe. That was kind of a bad spot, but it worked. I used 4 lines of defense here. 2 Jack stands on the subframe (the weight was fully supported on them), then my floor jack on the passenger side pinch weld and my trolly jack under the drivers side pinch weld. They were pushed onto the weld, but weren't really taking any weight. It was just a backup measure. Usually I will put a wheel under the car, but I didn't have a wheel off! I used a piece of wood and a brick as wheel chocks.




3. Put down cardboard under the trans pan if you want. Make sure to have a pretty wide area of cardboard. If you are on any kind of slope, be sure to have more towards the down-hill direction as thats where missed fluid will move. Just cover the underside of the car in cardboard wheel to wheel. Make it go as far back or forward as you want it to. May be overkill, but better none on the ground! You'll see I ended up getting a LOT on the ground unfortunatly.

4. Get your catch pan ready and under the trans pan. Recommend you doing NOT what I did. Get a large clear plastic tub type thing.


5. Using an 8mm ratchet, loosen each pan bolt one turn or less. 1/4" drive not necessary for this, but may as well use it. I used a 1/4" with a 2.5" extension on it. Actaully I used a 1/4" to 3/8" adaptor then 3/8" to 1/4" adaptor then a 1.5in 1/4" extension... Ended up being about 2.5".

6. Remove one half of the pan bolts. As you do this, fluid will start to flow out of the pan. I recommend removing the bolts that are on the downhill side if you are at ANY unlevel surface. For me it was the drivers side. Be ready for fluid to slowly seep out. Don't get it in your eye like I did! Wear chemistry glasses to be safe. ATF smells bad, especially when burnt.

Video:

7. Remove the remaining bolts. As you do this, suddenly more fluid may flow out. It may be from the opposite side of the bolt you are removing too! Be sure to support the pan when you are removing the last few to avoid possibly bending the soft aluminum.

Video:
Pic thanks to rohand901. This is the PROPER way to minimize mess.


8. Take the pan out from under the car and inspect and clean it. Using your brake or carb cleaner, spray the top of the gasket, then remove it. Spray the other side of it as well. Set aside in a clean area (if reusing it). Spray the pan out well. Be sure to spray around the gasket mating surface and where the bolts go in. My pan was VERY dirty on the outside. I ran out of brake/carb cleaner and couldn't clean the outside completely. If you have a magnet in your pan, be sure to clean that off as well. Wipe the pan out with a clean towel. My pan was pretty dirty and was noticeably cleaner after spraying and wiping it out. BE SURE to clean and wipe where the gasket meets the pan VERY WELL. Clean the heads of the bolts off as well if you can. One thing to note - if you see a lot of fine metal shavings in the pan that can be a sign that the transmission is in bad shape, or the filter just hasn't been changed in a very long time. Some is normal, but if there are a lot, I would change the fluid and filter again fairly soon. Notice how there is no magnet in my pan. Your pan should have a magnet. My magnet must have been removed by a shop that changed the fluid in the past. I am going to get one and put it in there soon. The magnet keeps a lot of the clutch material from clogging the filter. You can see how full of crud mine is because of the missing magnet.

Dirty Pan:


Half Cleaned Pan:


Clean pan:


Clean pan with clean gasket:



9. Remove the filter. Just pull straight down. Inspect it for debris. Mine was packed full of brown, nasty gunk.



9a. Remove the filter gasket if it didn't come out with the filter. BE CAREFUL. I didn't have a pair of needle nose pliers on me so I used a small flat head screw driver and carefully pried it down on all sides. Once it was far enough down I grabbed it with a pair of regular pliers. Discard it. You must be careful to not scratch the aluminum where the gasket meets or it could cause leaks.


This is a second way of doing it (courtesy of Bull Geek).


Gasket still in:


No gasket, shiny aluminum!:



10. Install the new filter. Just make sure its at the right angle (the trans pan won't fit if its at the wrong angle) and push until it wont go farther. The filter should have some plastic prongs on the back to keep it in place around a metal line.


11. Wipe the mating surface on the transmission clean. Just use a clean rag and make sure its all nice shiny clean aluminum! If your pan is not clean yet, or not clean enough, clean it now! I completed this step in the last picture.

12. Position the gasket on the pan and finger tighten all of the bolts. If you have cleaned properly the gasket will probably slide around. Just put one bolt through and thread it on. Then put a second one in on the opposite side. I used my cordless impact wrench to quickly screw them in. However I did NOT tighten them down. I just got them tightened until they were nearly touching the pan, then finger tightened the rest of the way.

13. *CAUTION* Tighten the pan bolts. This step must be done correctly. It's not hard, just follow my instructions. First, you should tighten these in a sequence, like lug nuts. Once you tighten the first one down, then tighten the one opposite to it. After those two, make sure the rest are still finger tight, then continue alternating. The proper torque specification is 8ft-lbs (96 in-lbs). You may use a 1/4" torque wrench if you wish to and tighten them to that proper specification. If you are not planning on using a torque wrench, you MUST use a 1/4" ratchet. The pan bolts do not need to be very tight. Over tightening can warp the pan and damage things. Aluminum is very soft. Tighten no more than 1/4-1/2 turn after the bolt head has hit the pan. Make sure to go back and ensure the bolts are all tight at the end. No need to tighten them more, just push slightly to be sure they are not loose.


96in-lbs



15. Lower the car.

14. Refill the fluid. Remove the dipstick and set somewhere clean. Take your long neck funnel and stick it down into the dipstick tube/filler hole. Pour Mercon V ATF into the funnel! Put 6 full qts into the transmission for now. Replace the dipstick and start the car. You must now wait for the car to reach operating temperature. While you wait, go ahead and start cleaning things up now if you haven't already.


15. Check the fluid level. It is important that the car has reached operating temperature, better to wait longer than not long enough. Remember, fluids expand at higher temperatures. Transmission fluid is no exception. The car MUST be running when you check the fluid level or you will get an erroneous result. Add more fluid as needed. Be sure to not go over the full mark. I would get the fluid to 3/4 of the way to the full mark and leave it there to be safe. For me the level was too low to even register on the dipstick for 6 qts. I added a 7th and waited a few minutes so all the fluid travelled down to the pan. The car was still running. Checked the level again and it was just below half. I added just under a half qt and waited another few minutes. After checking the level, it was nearly to the full mark. Perfect!


16. FINISHED! Drive away! Congrats on prolonging the life of your transmission! If you did this to remove some symptoms then hopefully they are better! Completing this made my hard park to reverse and park to drive shifts much better. She shifts like new!

Feel free to ask me any questions or correct me if for some reason something is wrong.

Sam

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Last edited by Sam; 04-29-2013 at 09:11 PM.
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post #2 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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More Pics:

Old gunky filter still on trans:


New filter!


See how the plastic things on the filter line up? In this pic they aren't actually in the right spot, but you get the idea.


After it's all back together... doesn't look like anything changed. Believe it or not the pan is WAY cleaner on the outside though.


What I used to screw the bolts in quickly:


Waiting for VMware to load so I can find out the trans pan bolt torque spec. Ooops, should have done it earlier. Thank God for alldata! Even though I JUST remembered (as I am writing this) I had my factory manual in the garage.


A pulled back view while waiting to find the torque spec:


I tried using this fancy thing, but it just took longer. ...


Hello duratec! Waiting for her to warm back up.


Soaked my cardboard... I spilled quite a bit...


Oops... Kitty Litter time.


I soaked 4 rags in old ATF.


My trash pile:

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Last edited by Sam; 04-03-2013 at 05:18 PM.
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post #3 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 05:22 PM
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good job i think i used just about 7.5 qts for my pan drop
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post #4 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ford1998taurussedohc View Post
good job i think i used just about 7.5 qts for my pan drop
Just about the same here!

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post #5 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 06:50 PM
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Best thing to use for catching transmission drippings is one of those big clear plastic storage bins.

Also helps to take out the central plug from your drain pan.........

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post #6 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 06:56 PM
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I suck out the fluid from the dipstick tube with a quart bottle with two hose fittings attached to the cap. One for the Harbor Freight air vaccum pump and the other goes down the dipstick tube. After all sucked out I wait 15 minutes so all the dippings fall in the pan. Absolutely no fluid spill and reduced clean up. I guess there is no magnet in the pan. Why don't they install a drain plug.
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post #7 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfhess View Post
Best thing to use for catching transmission drippings is one of those big clear plastic storage bins.

Also helps to take out the central plug from your drain pan.........
What plug?! There is none! Or are we talking about something else. Good idea, but I just used what I happened to have. I don't mind the cleanup...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Automender12345 View Post
I suck out the fluid from the dipstick tube with a quart bottle with two hose fittings attached to the cap. One for the Harbor Freight air vaccum pump and the other goes down the dipstick tube. After all sucked out I wait 15 minutes so all the dippings fall in the pan. Absolutely no fluid spill and reduced clean up. I guess there is no magnet in the pan. Why don't they install a drain plug.
Yeah, this works for me! You could suck it out instead though. This requires no vacuum pump. I thought there was a magnet in all of them, but I guess not. Actually its supposed to have a magnet, but a prior shop may have left it out. Weird and annoying. I'll pick one up the next time I go to the junkyard. I'll just plan on doing another pan drop and filter change in 10k and install the magnet then.
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post #8 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 09:14 PM
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Ford is infamous for not including tranny drain plugs. Not sure if they ever redesigned the pan like they did for the E4OD.
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post #9 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 05:46 AM
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thanks!
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post #10 of 146 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 10:39 AM
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^+1 on using a Sterilite clear under-the-bed storage tub available at Walmart, etc. Get 1 large enough the tranny pan can sit inside. Reuse original pan gasket after spray cleaning with brake cleaner.
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Last edited by sheila; 04-04-2013 at 08:44 PM.
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