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Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

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clarknova
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Location: Alberta

Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by clarknova » Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:01 pm

We pulled a CVT from a 2006 AWD and put it in a 2007 AWD recently, so I figured I should share some of what I learned while the memory is fresh.

I found some instructions somewhere that tells you to remove the driveshaft from the PTU, remove the exhaust, remove the front subframe and drop the cvt out the bottom. We ended up just disconnecting the PTU from the tranny and using an engine hoist to pull the tranny out the top. The aluminum hood/bonnet is very light and quickly removed. The transmission is a tight fit out the top, with the engine intake and the radiator fan being the most significant squeeze points.

The battery, air filter, throttle body all have to come out. The ABS controller (don't know the proper name) can be unmounted via a bolt that is accessed through the driver side coil spring. The ABS part then moves out of the way without disconnecting the lines.

The PTU disconnects from the tranny with 4 13mm bolts from the right side. You have to remove the knock sensor first to get its bolt head out of the way of one of the PTU bolts. You'll also have to take the driver side front wheel, ball joint and axle/half shaft off.

With the tranny out, there will never be an easier time to change the high pressure oil filter. Mine hasn't been done, but if you're planning ahead then hunt one of these down first if you can. Around here it's a minimum 2 week wait to get one locally if you don't want to pay rush freight. You should also have some proper CVT fluid on hand, as you will lose fluid when you disconnect the transmission fluid cooler from the transmission. I think we had to disconnect coolant hoses from the engine as well, so be prepared to collect dropped coolant.

I've left out a lot of detail, but I would say the procedure is fairly straightforward if you have the right tools. Most of the bolts you'll run into are 8, 10 or 13 mm, and secured with some type of thread locker. Many of the bolts can be removed with an impact driver or ratchet, but for others you'll need a basic wrench (ratcheting helps) to get to it. Hose clamp pliers for the hoses. You'll need something to pry plastic rivets, and a dozen or so spare rivets for the ones you break would be good.

Although I say the procedure is straightforward, it is quite time consuming. If you're well equipped and know what you are doing then you might be able to complete this swap in a day. It took my mechanic and me two Saturday afternoons and him a couple of Monday mornings, but the second transmission did come out a lot quicker than the first. Here's how it broke down for us:

Pull first transmission: 6 hrs (2 people)
Pull second transmission: 4 hrs (2 people)
Place and bolt transmission: 2 hrs (2 people)
Reconnect accessories, hoses and electrical, refill coolant and attach wheel: 4 hrs (1 person)

Adding CVT fluid is tricky business. There is a blue bolt head on the top of the transmission for this purpose, but it's hard to see even with the air cleaner pulled out of the way. We opted to take the dipstick tube from the wrecked tranny, which couples nicely to the primary dipstick tube, for double height. If you can find a bottle lid like this one: http://bit.ly/1XlWb4F then you can cut it to fit into the extended tube and pour your CVT fluid into it. Be sure to remove the second dipstick tube and replace the dipstick and air cleaner before driving.

For CVT fluid spec and filling procedure see here. You need a scan tool that tells you fluid temp to do this properly:
http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/erc53 ... cedure.pdf

There are various sources for CVT fluids that meed Ford's spec, including Motorcraft, Amsoil, Amalie, and Valvoline. The high pressure oil filter is Ford part number FT178 and WIX has an equivalent part number 58121. Both are synthetic media and nobody stocks them locally.

I hope that helps. I know a lot of this information is available elsewhere in this forum and on the internet. I hope this helps anybody looking to do a transmission swap. If you have any questions please post them.
2007 Freestyle Limited AWD

K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:35 am

I know this is an old post but it's worth a shot to reply to see if I can get help to get some answers in my quest to replace the CVT. I'm working on an '05 AWD.

First off... I appreciate the time this person took to write about his experience removing the CVT. Very helpful as the Ford manual only steps you through taking it out the bottom. I don't see that happening without a lift to get the body high enough.

My problem is removing the PTU. I'm working on jack stands so space is very limited. I was able to get the knock sensor out and can feel the PTU bolt but no way I can access it. Even using a universal jointed socket. What is the trick to get to that last PTU bolt? Does the engine have the lifted/rotated?

The only other detail I'd like to know is about shifting the ABS lines. 2 of the lines are braided but appear to be solid so I don't think they will bend easily to be moved out of the way. Disconnecting the lines at the master cylinder seems like the easiest. I don't normally fear brake work but bleeding an ABS system can involve many pitfalls that I may not want to deal with.

I have searched a lot and read many articles on here but these are the details I'm looking for to help me get the CVT out. Thanks so much in advance for your help!

clarknova
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:46 am
Location: Alberta

Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by clarknova » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:09 am

Unfortunately it's been long enough since I did this that I don't have specific memory of those details. I do remember struggling with a couple of bolts, and all I can offer is that you may have to get creative with tools and hand positions.

I hope somebody else can give more specific advice.
2007 Freestyle Limited AWD

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jas88
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by jas88 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:35 am

If you will go to page 7 of this thread, I list out the things that need to come out of the FS to pull the trans out the top:

viewtopic.php?t=6305&start=90
2006 SE Silver w/Slate cloth

K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:38 pm

Thanks I’ve seen your post and read it many times but see that it makes no mention of the PTU. So I assume it was attached to the transmission when you pulled it from the top.

I removed the master cylinder and set it aside. However the lines do not bend much so I do not know how much room that will buy me. Here’s a pic. How far did you bend those lines?

Everything else seems to be ready. I do need to remove the water pump bracket. My plan was to use 2 tow straps and wrap around the transmission instead of bolting on brackets.

This is a junk car so I’m being more careful than I need to be but I’m practicing for when I have to do it on my nice 2007

K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:41 pm

Pic of the current situation with master cylinder pushed aside (but not far enough?)
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jas88
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by jas88 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:35 pm

Thanks I’ve seen your post and read it many times but see that it makes no mention of the PTU.
That's because my FS is not AWD.
2006 SE Silver w/Slate cloth

K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:21 pm

Ha... one very important detail I overlooked! Thanks Jas88.

So how much flexibility are there in the brake lines to bend the master cylinder over far enough to make room? I see that one transmission line is crimped from the previous owner trying to put the transmission in so I really need to be careful not to have any collateral damage like this. The car just isn't worth much to source new lines so that's why I'm being careful with the master cylinder.

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jas88
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by jas88 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:07 pm

I did not move my ABS stuff at all, I just moved the master cylinder as you see it is attached by flex lines. Do you have water pump and water pump mount removed?
2006 SE Silver w/Slate cloth

K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:43 pm

Yes, just took off the valve cover and the water pump bracket. The valve cover was stubborn.

Things are on hold until I figure out how to get that last PTU bolt out or if the transmission can be removed with it attached.

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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by fuxxy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:55 pm

Keep in mind that if you remove the PTU from the transmission with it still in the car, you need to remove the passenger half-shaft, as it goes through the PTU into the transmission. Once the passenger hub is removed from the halfshaft spline, only two bolts on a carrier bearing keep it in the car. After that is removed, you should be able to reach all four PTU bolts, one of which IIRC required a very long ratchet extension.


I ultimately decided to remove the subframe, and the engine/transmission came out from under the car.

I found that the best way to perform this process in the driveway is to save the four subframe bolts for last.
Unplug the engine wiring harness from the ECU, Recover and disconnect the A/C lines from the receiver/drier, remove the two coolant hoses and two heater hoses, disconnect the two power steering hose, remove the upper engine roll bar, disconnect the shift lever, pull the halfshafts from the transmission, and remove the exhaust Y-Pipe.
Once that's done, I used a peice of steel to bridge the driveshaft tunnel, resting on the body reinforcements on each side of the tunnel, then lower the front of the car (and the subframe) onto a furniture dolly. I had to add wood spacers to the dolly so that the subframe would rest evenly on the dolly, then I could remove the four subframe bolts. After the subframe bolts were removed, I used the same steel bridge in the same location to jack the front of the car back up until the body cleared the engine and transmission, then simply rolled the engine and transmission out from underneath the car.

K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:24 pm

Great insights fuxxy! Thanks. I was successful in getting the CVT out the top. It took some patience but I did get to the PTU. As you mentioned it required a very long extension. I found it interesting the PTU in the car was different than the one the owner said was original. The one I removed was not tapped for any bolts for the bracket. The original had the bracket. I’m wondering if the PTU that was in the car is even for a Ford freestyle. The car is an 05 so did they delete the bracket for 06 or 07? Everything looks the same except for the bracket. I need to decode the part numbers but I recall both are marked with Sweden.
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K4uwc
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by K4uwc » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:27 pm

Here are the 2 ptus. Why would one not have the bracket? Getting the knock sensor out was tough. I couldn’t see it and it was all feel plus very little space to swing the wrench. I got like 1/8 of a revolution before having to reposition the wrench
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fuxxy
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Re: Some insights on replacing the CVT transmission

Post by fuxxy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:40 pm

could have been a design change, my 2005 definately had the bracket.

The PTU itself is just two gears on some bearings. If they sound the same when turning by hand, I would most likely re-use the 2005 with the bracket. Otherwise, you could drill & tap the case on the newer model. If you give the PTU a good inspection and Ford has decided additional mounting is not necessary for the newer PTUs, then you MIGHT consider not including the bracket if you use the newer PTU.

Remember that its an oiled unit, and now is definately a good time to change the oil. Mobil 1 LS75W90 for the front PTU. The rear haldex differential takes something different.

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