Easy Transaxle Removal
Question: What is the easiest way to remove a transaxle?
Answer: This from an original post to a V6 owner, with additional notes from Vic Tapscott, a 4 cyl owner, added in.
You don't have to drop the engine and cradle to remove the transaxle. You are going to cock the cradle and remove the transaxle from under the left lower frame rail. No need to unwire the engine or even drain the coolant. However, you WILL need a special tool to make it easier.............a piece of 2X4 about 8" long! Also, jackstands and a floor jack.
Do the following from the top. Disconnect the battery, take the "S" air inlet tube off and detach the dogbone from either end. Remove the slave and it's heat shield and mount bracket, leave the line attached, and hang it out of the way. Take the shift cables, back up light, and VSS connections loose. Remove the exhaust crossover bolts to manifold and heat shields, disconnect the EGR valve pipe from the adapter (carefully or it WILL crack, may anyway). After getting the car on jackstands, remove the starter to get the dustshield off. Then replace the starter (important part of the trick). On the drivers side remove wheel well, break the tierod from the spindle, remove the pinch bolt from the ball joint, take the emergency cable off the caliper, remove the caliper or the hydraulic line (we do that and bleed later), the three strut bolts from inside the engine compartment. and then using a prybar, "pop" the axle out of the trans. This allows removing the entire left suspension including the axle (except lower control arm) as a unit without messing up alignment when reinstalled and it leaves a "clean" space for the trans to come through.
Place floor jack (with piece of flat wood) under the engine oil pan for support/slight lift. Remove trans mounts and BRACKETS. Lower engine/trans onto "Special Tool 2X4" placed between starter and engine cradle. Remove select cable bracket. Removing the various brackets gives less possibilities of catching the trans on anything. Then place floor jack under the rear of cradle and remove the cradle bolts on pass side rear, and drs side front and rear. Lower jack until necessary trans clearance is attained. This will kink the coolant hose but no harm should happen as the necessary clearance is just before that point. Remove bellhousing bolts (remembering where the studded ones are, and that the lowest one toward the trunk is from the pass side). If you do not have enough clearance to remove the bolts, then remove the exhaust crossover from the downpipe. Remove trans axle. Should take about 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours. You will need an extra hand to reinstall. That is used to guide the pass axle into the trans. Should take 2-3 hrs. Suggest you remove the clutch and inspect. Also remove the flywheel and reseal the cam cover (use black RTV, not a gasket). Rear main seal if leaking.
This is basically what is required to change a clutch in 84-87 Fieros.. In the case of the imput bearing/release bearing collar has snapped off the Getrag 5 spd at the bellhousing, if so, "Proper" way is to split the trans case and drive the bearing out from the inside. Rodney has the necessary pages, for only a few $, from the Pontiac manual explaining how to split the 5 spd case (88 was the only manual with instructions). "Improper" way is to carefully cut the remaining bearing out with a dremel tool, flush the trans several times, and install a new imput bearing, all from the outside. Either way will take several hours. NOTE: With the 88 cradle being hard mounted, it will not tip. It has to be rotated from both front attaching bolts. This requires the removal of both rear strut assemblies. The lateral links can be left on the cradle (similar to a control arm) and will be out of the way. Special Tool "2X4" is still the key. The engine wiring (not the ground strap attached to the trunk hinge, take that loose) and hoses have just enough slack to allow rotating the engine until it is nearly touching the trunk wall. That will give sufficient clearance to remove the trans.
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