I’m Sure the Answer’s “No,” but... Drain Bolt on the Torque Converter?


rangerenthiusiast

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Hey, guys.

Just picked up a ’92 Ranger 4.0 with the A4LD auto trans. Going over her and changing all the fluids (she was badly neglected by the previous owner). I know the Haynes manual says 3 quarts of Mercon go in the trans at fluid change, but I’m assuming that something like 1-2 quarts of the old crap probably stays in the torque converter as well.

Some of my old cars from the ’60’s actually used to have a drain bolt in the side of the torque converter. When you were changing the trans fluid, you could actually rotate the converter until this plug was visible, remove it, and drain out all that old crap, thereby doing a relatively complete drain. Modern vehicles don’t seem to have the plug and I’m sure my Ranger doesn’t either, but I thought I’d throw it out there, in case someone knows definitively.

Thanks! :icon_thumby:
 


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adsm08

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I have seen one A4LD with a drain in the converter, and I'm not sure it wasn't an aftermarket replacement.

The 4.0 has no inspection plate, so if there is a drain it will be in the side, not the face. My recommendation would be to see if your bell housing has a rubber plug or other inspection hole in the bottom. If it does take a marker, make an x or some other easily identified mark, and then spin the engine around by hand until you either find a drain plug, or your mark. Then you will be sure.

If it doesn't have one what you can do, and I recommend this over a spill n fill for autos anyway, is to drop the pan, get what you can out, refill the trans with fresh, let it sit at idle for about 10 minutes, working your shifter through it's positions, rinse and repeat until you have dropped the pan 3 times. This will get more of the old fluid out than just dropping the pan, and should push all the old crap out of the converter.
 

rangerenthiusiast

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Hey, adsm08. Good advice, as always. A triple flush would be pricey, but then again, so is replacing the trans if it goes bad because it’s full of old nasty. Thanks for the heads up about looking for a rubber plug in the bell housing too; I’ll check it out.

Yeah, my ’69 & ’75 Grand Prix’s had a drain plug in the side of the torque converter, just as you describe. One more good idea of the past that’s gone by the wayside in modern vehicles. :-(

Out of curiosity (and I’m not planning to do this), if someone wanted to carefully drill a hole into the side of the torque converter, tap threads, and add a drain plug, would it be doable? Would it damage anything internal or throw off the balance of the tq by having the extra weight of a plug on one side? Just curious. I don’t have the guts to try it, but someone else might be thinking about it.

Thanks again, bro!
 

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It could put it out of balance, but given the rotating weight of the converter I doubt that would be much of an issue. I'd think the fluid inside would dampen out the vibration like a bead or sand balance on a tire.

I think the bigger issues to worry about are damaging internals, by hitting a fin on something, and material depth.

All the TC drains I've ever seen were done somewhere that had extra thickness added, either on a foot pad, or some even looked like someone just took a welder and passed it over the surface a few times to build some thickness before making the hole. Your average un-reinforced spot is only 1/32" or so thick, so not enough depth to get a good threading.
 

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When my boss was doing more wrenching he used to drill a 1/4" hole on the converter, drain it, tap it an put a plug in it. I believe he still have some plugs from back then. He used a stopper on the drill so the bit would barely go through the converter housing and not hit anything inside. I've never tried it but I know it can be done..
 

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I've never seen a drain on an A4LD torque converter - only on older vehicles, I believe I've seen some C4's and C6's that had them. It's a crap shoot.

Wouldn't worry too much about draining the torque converter, really. It only holds maybe a quart, and you have the radiator and cooling lines full of fluid as well.

If you want a good flush, you could disconnect both cooling lines at the radiator, put them both in a bucket, and start the engine. See which one pukes fluid, the other can be put in a container of new fluid and with the engine running the pump will change the fluid for you.

That doesn't get you a new filter and pan gasket though. I usually just pull the pan, new filter, fill it back up and call it a day.
 

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Thanks, adsm08 and fr7. Don’t think I have the nerve to try a retrofit at this time, but it’s nice to know that it is (theoretically) possible.

Thanks to you as well, Shran. Never knew that the lines worked that way (though it make total sense), so I learned something new today! I’m sure that I’ll just drop the pan, change the filter and whatever comes out, then probably just do it again in six months or so (unless it’s really bad in there). Should get most of it out that way.

Best wishes to all,

RE
 

rangerenthiusiast

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I've never seen a drain on an A4LD torque converter - only on older vehicles, I believe I've seen some C4's and C6's that had them. It's a crap shoot.

Wouldn't worry too much about draining the torque converter, really. It only holds maybe a quart, and you have the radiator and cooling lines full of fluid as well.

If you want a good flush, you could disconnect both cooling lines at the radiator, put them both in a bucket, and start the engine. See which one pukes fluid, the other can be put in a container of new fluid and with the engine running the pump will change the fluid for you.

That doesn't get you a new filter and pan gasket though. I usually just pull the pan, new filter, fill it back up and call it a day.
Just changed the fluid, filter, and gasket and completely forgot about your idea of how to flush things using the cooling lines.
Apparently, the torque converter and lines contain more than a quart, as the specs indicate that the total capacity is 6 quarts, with only 3 being lost during a pan drop and filter change. Sure enough, mine only took about 3 - 3.5 quarts today. So only about 50% of the old fluid got out. Maybe that’s for the best, given that I hear there are a lot of problems with the A4LD, particularly after fluid changes? :icon_confused:

I did notice while I was under there that the lines are leaking fluid at the junction point where the rubber hoses coming off the radiator attach to the metal lines that run back to the tranny. It looks like there’s a little bit of slack in those rubber lines, so I’m thinking of cutting them back a couple of inches, then re-attaching them to the metal lines. While I’m in there, I might get another gallon of ATF and try your idea to flush things now, since the filter is still brand new. I’m assuming that the pump would suck new fluid in fast enough to replace what’s lost without risk of damage to the tranny, yeah?

Something else that surprised me was the fact that there was no magnet in the pan when I took it off. Shouldn’t there have been one in there, or am I just coo-coo for coco puffs? :icon_twisted:

Thanks, all! :icon_thumby::beer:
 
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rangerenthiusiast

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Anyone care to comment on either of the above questions? It really bugs me that there was no magnet inside the pan. Those rubber lines running from the trans cooler in front of the radiator back to the metal lines that go to the trans are still leaking at the junction. I haven’t tried cutting them back yet, but might just replace them. Hoping they won’t still leak; it looks like the PO put two regular screw-type hose clamps on each junction and tightened the heck out of them, but they still leak.

On a side note, I had to re-torque all of the trans pan bolts today. My Haynes manual only calls for 96-120 inch pounds of torque (8-10 ft lbs). Didn’t seem like much, so I set them at 10 lbs and planned on having to re-torque. 1,000 miles later, they were leaking like a little bitch, the level on the dipstick was way low, and the truck was starting to hesitate when going into reverse when cold. Sure enough, they were all loose, so I tightened them back up to 10 ft lbs. Anyone know if they should hold until the next time I drop the pan? I have enough leaks on this truck as it is... Thanks.
 

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The trans should have had a magnet, it may have been left out on purpose (a donut magnet is handy for lots of stuff), lost, or damaged and subsequently not put back in at a prior servicing.

You can try cutting your soft line back, but that should have had screw fittings like a brake line originally.

If done properly your trans pan bolts should not be coming loose. How many times are you doing to torque sequence? Just once, or are you going around multiple times? You should make a minimum three passes, jumping across the pan as you go, similar to tightening a wheel, to get good even and consistent torque. If you are going around the circle by the time you get the last bolt done your first one is now loose.

If you are doing it properly and still having issues consider a thread locking compound.

The transmission's internal fluid pump will likely not create enough suction force to pull new fluid in, unless you can find a way to have the container above the level of the transmission. Like most pumps these are designed for pushing, not pulling.

Many transmission service machines, like the BG ones, that use the trans pump to replace the lost fluid aren't actually using the pump to put the new fluid back in. The way they work is actually using the old fluid to push the new stuff in. Inside the machine is a two-chambered container with a very flexible rubber diaphragm separating the chambers. You fill the one with new fluid, then use shop air to pull a venturi vacuum on that chamber, so the diaphragm is tight. Then the trans pump pumps the old fluid into the other chamber, and as it does so it pushed against the diaphragm and pushes the new fluid out of the first chamber and into the transmission.
 

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The trans should have had a magnet, it may have been left out on purpose (a donut magnet is handy for lots of stuff), lost, or damaged and subsequently not put back in at a prior servicing.

You can try cutting your soft line back, but that should have had screw fittings like a brake line originally.

If done properly your trans pan bolts should not be coming loose. How many times are you doing to torque sequence? Just once, or are you going around multiple times? You should make a minimum three passes, jumping across the pan as you go, similar to tightening a wheel, to get good even and consistent torque. If you are going around the circle by the time you get the last bolt done your first one is now loose.

If you are doing it properly and still having issues consider a thread locking compound.
I see. Yeah, I only went around the bolts twice. 10 ft lbs is the lowest my torque wrench will go (I should really be using one that measures inch lbs), so I’m always a little worried that I’ll miss the click and go too far.

I also looked into the trans cooling lines. LMC has nothing (which was surprising, given the plethora of parts they do have), while AutoZone and Advance just offer more rubber lines. I only have one line leaking, so I’m assuming that it’s the pressurized feed line and will probably never seal with rubber hose and clamps. Anyone know where you can pick up the OEM style lines or have a reliable fix?

Thanks.

EDIT: I did find something (part number 800612) on RockAuto: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=633977&jsn=10675. If I bought two, would they work for both the feed and return lines? At a total length of 21”, would they be long enough to go from the trans fluid cooler behind the radiator all the way down to where the steel lines that go back to the trans start (roughly underneath the front of the engine, just above the front differential)? And I assume that the little brass compression fitting shown in the picture would be used to connect the new line to the old metal ones running back to the trans and that the silver colored quick connector goes on the cooler? Thanks a million!
 
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An all metal cooling line would only be about two hours work to make with a roll of tubing and a flare kit.

If you have any good metal on those lines I think I would just flare it there, and make a new section to the cooler out of bulk brake tube, then connect with a proper union.

Compression fitting will work, but they aren't ideal. They can let go of the line if the pressure is too high, or if the condition of the metal is degraded, which is why I don't like them. Brake lines routinely handle a few thousand PSI, and so should be more than enough for the trans system where max pressure is around 300 PSI.
 

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Anyone have a photo, schematic, drawing on a napkin, etc of what the OEM trans cooler lines would have looked like? I could probably pick up a mandrel, some brake line tubing, and end connectors if I absolutely have to. But I’ve no idea where the bends will have to go on the missing original halves, what size thread the end connectors should have, whether the lines were originally one piece or contained connectors, etc. Frustrated. Can’t believe it’s this damn hard to find replacement cooling lines.

Thanks.
 

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An all metal cooling line would only be about two hours work to make with a roll of tubing and a flare kit.

If you have any good metal on those lines I think I would just flare it there, and make a new section to the cooler out of bulk brake tube, then connect with a proper union.

Compression fitting will work, but they aren't ideal. They can let go of the line if the pressure is too high, or if the condition of the metal is degraded, which is why I don't like them. Brake lines routinely handle a few thousand PSI, and so should be more than enough for the trans system where max pressure is around 300 PSI.
Thanks, man. Any idea if the OEM lines would have been one continuous piece of metal tubing from the trans all the way up to the cooler? Just wondering if, when I either find some pre-formed lines or make them myself, there will be a problem with body flex affecting the lines...? I’d hate to fabricate them only to find out that they snap under daily driving conditions... :icon_confused:
 

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An all metal cooling line would only be about two hours work to make with a roll of tubing and a flare kit.

If you have any good metal on those lines I think I would just flare it there, and make a new section to the cooler out of bulk brake tube, then connect with a proper union.

Compression fitting will work, but they aren't ideal. They can let go of the line if the pressure is too high, or if the condition of the metal is degraded, which is why I don't like them. Brake lines routinely handle a few thousand PSI, and so should be more than enough for the trans system where max pressure is around 300 PSI.
Hey, adsm08. So I haven’t been able to find out if the OEM lines would have been one solid piece from the trans to the oil cooler or not and I’m nervous that maybe a one-piece line might snap if the body flexes (?). I also looked at where the remaining metal lines attach to the trans and they look to be a b@tch to get at (I’ll have to drop the exhaust, at the very least). So I had another thought. I found this: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=633977&jsn=10675

Would something like this work to replace the silly rubber hoses that I currently have up front if I flare the back end of it, flare the front end of the existing metal lines that run back to the trans, and connect them with a proper union? And, I assume that the proper union would be those brass barrel shaped threaded connectors that one uses on things like brake lines?

Thanks, man. I’m struggling here.

EDIT: Uggh. Never mind. I just noticed that the part mentioned is only 15” long. I need at least a couple of feet...
 
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