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Engine and Transmission Removal

APPLICATION: Vanagon, 1980-1983 air-cooled with manual transmission only. This will also loosely apply to late (’75-’79) Buses, but there are many different details, and the devil is in the details, as they say. This procedure is for the Type 4 2.0L fuel-injected engine, for all you non-US folks who had other engine choices.
First, before you attempt this procedure, go buy a copy of the Haynes manual. The Haynes procedure for this job is quite good and I will generally follow their order of operations.
What you should buy beforehand depends on a) how well-funded you are and b) how much time you have. If you have ample amounts of both A and B then you should go whole hog. Buy a new clutch disc and pressure plate, as well as a new clutch release bearing and pilot bearing. If you need to replace fuel lines, when the engine is out is the time to do it, especially if you’re dealing with the fuel rail in the engine compartment or the injectors themselves. Also, if those four big fat short hoses on your intake manifold are shot, now’s a good time to fix that. Anything else you think you should do with the engine out, buy what you need to do it.
This procedure does not concern itself with why you have to remove your engine. I’m just gonna tell you how. I’m telling you how to remove the engine and transmission as a unit from the car, and then separate them on the ground. It seems to be a little easier to do it this way. For this job you will need a helper. Period. You will also need a sturdy floorjack, preferably some kind of dolly you can set the engine/tranny on or a couple sets of jackstands. I had the privilege of performing this procedure with access to an automotive lift. You will also want some sort of largish piece of wood, to spread out the weight of the engine on the floorjack’s saddle. If you don’t have lots of jackstands or a dolly, you can always set the engine down on some sort of tarp or old piece of carpet. Be creative.
Well now let’s get started. I’m not going to quote a list of tools needed here, because it would take too much time. I’ll just mention them as the need for them comes up.
The first step is to disconnect the battery ground strap. Don’t forget this important step! Easy enough…
Next you want to remove the air cleaner assembly. Get your Philips head screwdriver and undo the clamp that holds the rubber S-boot in the engine compartment to the fuel injection system’s air flow meter. Separate the boot from the AFM. Next unplug the FI wiring harness from the AFM. Grasp the plastic plug and pull straight back on it. Next remove the charcoal canister hose from the air cleaner housing. Finally, you will find that on top of the air cleaner housing there is a clip that holds the air cleaner assembly to the body of the van. Unhook this clip (it is similar in operation to the clips that hold the air cleaner assembly halves together). Once you have all this stuff removed, wiggle the air cleaner assembly out of there and set it somewhere safe.
Now check down behind the alternator (toward the front of the van) and see where the wiring connects. You will find a plastic connector plugged into the alternator. Unplug this. Also you will find another single wire coming from the alternator that has a connector plug near the alternator. Unplug this wire too.
Now remove the rubber bellows for the heater blower. You can just pull it out of there.
Next detach the big vacuum hose for the power brakes at the manifold. Just pull it off of the left side of the manifold.
Disconnect the wiring from the ignition coil. On my van, the coil is mounted to the left side wall in the engine compartment. You need to determine which wires must be removed for the engine to come out. The wire to the condenser must be removed as well as the white wire to the fuel injection wiring harness. There may be others that I can’t remember right now. Basically any wires that go to the engine must be removed. Label them so that you know what terminal to place them on when you have to put it back together. Also, disconnect the wire from the oil pressure switch and label it. The oil pressure switch is located immediately forward of the distributor, buried beneath the tin.
Disconnect the wiring plug from the electronic control unit. The ECU is located on the right side of the engine compartment, it’s that electronic box with the huge plug going to it. One end of this plug has a spring lever — push the lever in while simultaneously pulling that end of the plug away from the ECU. Also disconnect the right-side wiring plug from the double relay (mounted to the left side of the firewall). The left-side plug can remain attached to the relay. Disconnect also the wiring plug to the series resistors, mounted near the double relay. Finally disconnect the vacuum hose to the deceleration valve (large cylindrical device mounted to the firewall).
Additionally, disconnect the accelerator cable from the engine. It passes through a barrel-type clamp, so loosen the bolt and pull the cable free, then push it out of the engine compartment, toward the front of the van. I seem to remember the bolt being 8mm.
Now is a good time to jack up the rear of the vehicle and support it on jackstands. Give yourself plenty of room to get the engine out — don’t forget to take into account the minimum height of the floorjack!
Now you have to disconnect the fuel lines. Crawl under the van and notice where the fuel lines pass through the breast tin. There underneath the van you will see where the rubber hoses connect to the metal fuel rail. There should be clamps on each end of the section of rubber hose — if not, you need to buy some. If the rubber hose looks at all questionable, be sure to replace it with quality FUEL-INJECTION RATED hose. A tip here is to take a pair of locking pliers like Vice-Grips and clamp on the rubber fuel hose before removing it to keep the gas in the tank from siphoning out. It helps to own two pairs of locking pliers. You also may want to have a pencil or bolt or golf tee handy to plug the fuel line after removal. Remove both fuel lines, on a fuel-injected van there is a supply line and a return line.
Now you have to undo the wiring from the starter. Remove the 13mm nut from terminal 30 on the back of the solenoid and remove all the wires. Put a zip-tie through all the ring connectors of those wires so you don’t lose any. Then pull the two push-on wires from the solenoid, labeling each one.
Now you have to unclamp the heater flapper boxes from the short pipes that lead from the flappers to the heat exchangers. Unclamp them at the flapper end. There will be some sort of clamp holding it on, probably rusty as hell. Do what you have to do, but the clamps must come off. Once the clamps are loose, unseat the flappers from the heat pipes.
Now you get to have fun with CV joints. You will need to put the transmission in neutral and remove the parking brake. Find out what sort of CV bolts you have. You will either have 6mm allen-head CV bolts (stock) or a set of 12-point bolts (Porsche replacement). You CANNOT use an allen head bit on the 12-point bolts, you will strip them out and will be up sh*t creek. Whatever you have, buy the appropriate bit that will fit on a ratchet. Once you’ve got the tool ready to go, loosen the bolts on each axle that hold the driveshaft to the transmission. You will need to 2 or 3 bolts and then rotate the wheels to get the rest. Once you’ve done that, withdraw the joints from the tranny and let them hang (actually, it would be better to support the axles with coat hangers or something but do what you have to do). You also should wrap the now-open CV joints with a plastic bag and rubber band so they don’t get grit in them.
Now you get to deal with the clutch slave cylinder. On the left side of the transmission you will find it. There are two bolts that hold the slave cylinder to the transmission and then there is another bolt more toward the front of the car that holds the hydraulic pipe support bracket to the transmission. You need to undo the bolt to the support bracket, and then undo the two bolts that hold the slave cylinder to the transmission. They are nuts and bolts, so a helper will come in handy here. It’s easiest to reach them through the left rear wheel well, while someone else underneath holds the nut to keep it from turning. Once you’ve got the slave cylinder loose, set it aside somewhere and support it so it doesn’t stress the hydraulic hose.
Now, look at the transmission nosecone, where the shift rod attaches. You will see that at the end of the shift rod is a big 19mm nut. Remove this nut from the shift rod and pop the shift rod forward so it is free of the transmission.
While you’re down there, remove the ground strap between the transmission and frame. Don’t forget! Also disconnect the two wires from the back-up light switch. You don’t have to label them, it doesn’t matter which terminal of the switch they go to.
OK, now take your piece of scrap wood and put it on the saddle of your floorjack. Now try to center the wood under the engine/tranny and jack it up so that the jack is just supporting the weight of the engine/tranny.
Now get under and head up to the front of the transmission. Find the front transmission mount. There are two ways to undo this, and I chose the way that I thought would be easier to put back together later. You will see that four bolts hold the transmission mount to the frame. Undo these four bolts and put them in a safe place.
Now crawl back out and find where the rear engine bearer bar bolts to the frame on each side of the van with 2 13mm bolts/nuts per side. Undo all of these bolts and put them in a safe place. Now the only thing holding the engine/transmission in is the jack.
Do one last check and make sure you’ve disconnected everything. SLOWLY lower the engine and transmission. It will usually want to tilt one way or another so have your helper steady it as you control the jack. Slowly lower it while checking to make sure nothing will be crushed or broken by the engine — WATCH THOSE CV JOINTS!
Once you’ve got the engine lowered so it will clear the body, slide it back and out of the way — or, if you’re lucky enough to be using a lift, just raise the body up out of the way.
Now you need to set the engine and transmission down. If you have spare jackstands around, you can set up a tripod of sorts by putting a jackstand under each side of the bearer bar and then another one under the transmission. If you have a dolly you can gently transfer the engine to that or if you have a soft surface on the ground, you can do that too.
Now you can separate the engine and transmission. There are two bolts at the top and two nuts on studs at the bottom. All are 17mm. The top right one is also the top mounting bolt for the starter. Once all nuts and bolts are removed and stored in a safe place (don’t lose the washers) then the engine can be removed from the transmission. If you have the engine and transmission resting on jackstands, then you will need to move the one under the transmission to somewhere under the engine case so everything won’t come crashing down when you pull the transmission. If you or your helper is sufficiently strong, then one of you can steady the engine while the strong one pulls the transmission straight back and sets it gently on the ground. If not, you can use the floorjack to help. The transmission weighs about 70 pounds.
While the engine is out you can do whatever you need to do that led you to remove the engine in the first place. You also may want to take this time to clean out the engine compartment, and anything on the engine that looks like it would be easier with the engine out.
Installation really is the reverse of removal. The tricky part comes in aligning the engine and transmission splines for mating the two and in aligning the engine and transmission upon putting them back into place — that is, aligning the bearer bar with the holes the bolts go through and aliging the front transmission mount with its holes. It takes some patience but once you’ve got it aligned then thread the bolts and nuts and then re-attach everything you disconnected. That’s it.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1163 posts on CAT Magazine.


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