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kocho | profile | all galleries >> Public >> Repairs >> 2000 to 2001 Toyota Camry 5S-FE i4 Automatic Transmission Replacement tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

2000 to 2001 Toyota Camry 5S-FE i4 Automatic Transmission Replacement

The gallery has photos and a quick write-up on my experience replacing the automatic transmission on my '00 Toyota Camry LE 4 cylinder.

The problem - at 120,000 miles the car lost the reverse gear. After doing all kinds of diagnostics and reading horror stories on the net, I was convinced enough the transmission needed replacement. And so it got one! The good news is that the new transmission seems to be working well after the first test drive. Hope it will continue to do so for the next 120K miles at least -;)

Look at your own risk - this is a dangerous and costly repair! These are for my own reference only. Not intended to be a guide or advice of any kind to anyone else. Not responsible for what you do or not do with this information!

Before deciding to replace the entire transmission, I confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the solenoids or the valve body or the switches and electronics by measuring various resistances and actually replacing the entire valve body with the one from the new transmission in an attemt to save myself the effort of removing the entire transmission. These were all on-car procedures but none of it worked... So replacing the entire transmission, including pulling out the "new" valve body from the old transmission and putting it back into the "new" transmission became the only option. And unfortunately, removing the transmission requires to remove half the stuff in the engine bay and most of the suspension and brake components - not a fun job by any means.

Finally, it will be nice to do a wheel alignment after the repair is complete since the entire front sub-frame and suspension was disassembled. Though the car feels straight after I put it back together, so I might wait till my new tires need to be installed to do that...

I followed the instructions in the Toyota factory repair manuals (can be obtained in electronic form for a very small fee from Toyota TIS on the net). I found them very accurate if not very detailed (they assume certain knowledge and mechanics skill). Also referred to the Haynes repair manual on occasion. Tools used were regular set of socket wrenches (1/2 inch drive and another set with smaller drive for where the 1/2 inch did not fit). Torque wrench is a must - anything from 5 ft/lb to 217 ft/lb so I used two - one small and one big. Deep sockets are necessary for some parts: 30mm for the driveshaft nut and another one for the engine mounts, which have bolts that stick-up way over thru their nuts and some regular sockets are too shallow. Several extensions were also essential for the hard to reach places. Also a set of regular flat wrenches and a set of hex wrenches are needed, plus some vise-grip/pliers and snap-ring pliers and tie-rod end tool. Plus jacks, engine hoist, transmission jack, ramps... I had most of these from previous repairs but still had to spend quite a bit on new tools (see below).

I followed the instructions pretty close. Except for *not* removing the passenger-side drive shaft and the corresponding brake. I did remove the snap ring on the shaft bearing in the middle of the shaft to give me a little more play at the inner end of the shaft that goes in the differential. Another useful deviation from the instructions was to drain the fluids early so that they have time to drain better.It would have been better to remove the under engine covers before disconnecting the transmission lines to avoid spilling fluid on them, but they are easy to clean once out of the car. I found it key to photograph the precise location of each of the wires and connectors and how they route to their destinations – would not have been able to reassemble them without these photos.

The biggest deviation from the instructions was to remove the entire exhaust instead of just the front pipe – I could not separate the front pipe from the back so I removed the entire exhaust: three bolts at the manifold, one nut to the transmission, two bolts at the second bracket, three bolts at the third bracket near the oxygen sensor after the cat converter, the oxygen sensor was just unscrewed, two bolts at bracket at the front of the muffler, and the one muffler rubber hanger in the back.

The photos come in pretty much the order in which I did the work. I may have skipped photographing some of the more basic steps. In total, I was able to finish in about one week of several hours a day of part time work. Uninterrupted, it would have taken me about one to one and one half days to put the transmission back in. It took be about three times longer to take it out as I was not rushing it and, being my first time doing such a job, did not want to mess anything up.

I had to do all work on my own so the use of up to three jacks of various sizes, the engine hoist, car ramps, car jacks, and some belts to hang/pull heavy items were essential replacements for a helper’s hand.

Cost was as follows:
- $375 for the used transmission off a local junk yard (along with torque converter, transmission mount and differential gears attached). This is a complete, direct replacement. This price was with core exchange (e.g. I need to return my used transmission to them to retain my 101 days warranty). Off a 2001 Camry CE with 19K miles on it.
- $40, approximately. Non-reusable parts approx. cost (Toyota OEM parts off from Toyotaparts4u.com, mostly): Transmission pan gasket ($10), gaskets ($2 each) for the transmission drain plug, $8 three front pipenuts (to the manifold), the differential drain and fill plugs, snap ring for the driver-side drive shaft ($2), snap ring and retaining bolt for the middle bearing on the passenger side drive shaft ($2), lock-nut fasteners (cotter-pins) for the driveshaft nut and the tie-rod end nut ($2), $5 front pipe to engine manifold gasket.
- $45 for transmission fluid – Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF Dexron III (Mercon V).
- $300 approximately for tools that I did not already have: engine hoist ($100 after rebate, PepBoys), heavy 3.5 ton floor jack ($90 after rebate, PepBoys), transmission jack adapter ($45 – eBay), 30mm deep socket ($5) and 24” breaker bar ($21) for the driveshaft removal, snap-ring pliers ($11), tie-rod removal tool ($15),
- Miscellaneous $50 or so: $2 for thread locking compound, $4 for black heavy duty gasket maker silicone (RTV) for the engine oil pan leak repair (not par of the tranny repair but to get to it you would need to remove the exhaust anyway, so at 120K miles - a good idea to do it now), $5 for paper napkins (get plenty of them!), $10 for large metal pan to collect the fluids (2x4 feet approximately, WalMart), engine cleaner, brake cleaner, etc.
- $30 or so for things I did not need – 10 quarts of cheaper fluid (at $2 per quart) to do a flush of my old tranny before I declared it dead; some bolts and gaskets that I did not use (mostly for the exhaust since I was not able to disassemble it).

Total: about $850. If I decide to sell the hoist and large jack I might recover $150 or so. The lowest labor charges I got a quote from a friend-mechanic was $400 + parts, so I did not do better but matched that and at least did it carefully and torqued all to spec -;).

The automatic transmission fluid type is listed as Dexron III for all 4 cylinder Camry from '94 to '01 (only the 6 cylinder versions use type T-IV). Fill capacity from empty is 5.9 US Quarts (drain and refill is less - only 2.6 quarts !!!) for the Tranny and 1.7 quarts for the Differential (drain or fill from empty is the same here). Since specs change over time, it is possible that T-IV fluid may now be specified also for the four cylinder Camry as well - if anyone knows this for sure, I'd appreciate a note.
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