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HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

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mancat
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Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:05 pm

HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by mancat » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:10 am

Here is a short guide on bypassing the factory transmission cooler, which is prone to leakage. Mine started leaking around 90k, very little at first, but seemed to continue worsening until it was regularly marking its territory in the driveway.

Rather than pay a ton to replace the flawed factory AC condenser/transmission cooler combo assembly with one that would eventually fail in the same manner, I decided to bypass the leaking cooler completely.

RESULT: No leaks and good transmission temps - have not tested long term yet, but ran around town and highway today and hot running temps were between 140-160 depending on situation.

I purchased a Derale 13614 plate and fin cooler. This cooler is rated for 24,000lb GVWR - Taurus X weighs 5,379lb - so cooling will not be an issue after installing this.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X ... UTF8&psc=1

The cooler comes with 3/8" NPT barb fittings, but you will need 1/2" fittings to connect to the factory cooler hoses, which are 1/2" ID hose at the barbed fittings of the factory cooler. So I also ordered the Derale 1/2 NPT barb fittings with the cooler.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X ... UTF8&psc=1

You will need two 1/2 barb joint unions, available from Home Depot (or other h/w store). These will be used to extend the length of the factory hoses another 10" or so to reach around the radiator, condenser, and attach to the cooler.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Sioux-Chief- ... /202254892

You will also need:
- 6 5/8" hose clamps.
- Small razor/hobby saw, or something you feel confident cutting plastic at odd angles in cramped space with
- Zip ties
- Probably a lot of degreaser to clean up the nasty gunk deposited all over the AC condenser as a result of the leak
- 3ft or so of 1/2" transmission fluid hose - DO NOT USE HEATER OR FUEL HOSE - ATF will soften these hoses over time and begin to leak.
- 3ft or so of 1/2" clear flexible hose - we will use this to reclaim leftover ATF from the old cooler
- Air compressor with a decent blow gun attachment set

1. Put the vehicle on ramps, it makes the job much easier to do.

Image

2. Unfortunately this job really requires that you remove the entire front bumper cover and grille. If the plastic "grille" was easily removable on its own, this wouldn't be an issue - but it's not.
Start by removing the two screws and scrivets from the top of the bumper cover.

Image

3. Remove the three screws from the bumper cover / wheel well trim molding.
I didn't have a screwdriver short enough to do it without turning the wheels, so I put a Phillips bit into a pair of vise clamps. Worked great.

Image

4. Remove the bottom bumper cladding/debris shield bolts and scrivets - one off to the left not pictured.

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5. If you have fog/driving lights, unplug them.

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6. Carefully separate the upper corner of the bumper cover from the front quarter panel here. Sort of hard to explain, but if you pull the wheel well trim back from the quarter panel, you can then pull the bumper cover corner outwards and up. It will unsnap from the two plastic tabs in the upper quarter panel section just behind the light - these tabs are in the circled area pictured below..

You may want an assistant, but I did this on my own. The bumper cover is really flexible so you can let it droop down and touch the ground while you move to the other side and repeat.

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7. Repeat for the other side. When the opposite is released, the bumper cover will drop down.

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8. Your AC condenser will probably be a caked up, oily mess like mine. If so, you will want to degrease it. I sprayed several applications of Purple Power, let sit for 10 minutes each, and then hosed it down and through the condenser - yes some of it will probably get on the radiator, but the radiator is more likely to cook off the caked up tranny fluid over time than the AC condenser ever would be.

I then came through afterwards and blew compressed air through the condenser - this got the condenser and radiator pretty clean and see-through.

NASTY !!!!

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9. After you are done cleaning the condenser, remove the air intake/filter box securing bolts, and remove the MAF sensor connector by unclipping the red clip on the bottom of the connector, then pulling.

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10. ....and pull the air intake/filter box up out of its snap-in mounts. This will allow you to access the transmission cooler hoses.

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11. Pull back the compression fittings from the two transmission cooler lines.

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12. Gently twist and pull the transmission cooler hoses off of the barbed fittings of the factory cooler.

ALSO I used a clear 1/2" line to connect to one barbed fitting, while blowing compressed air through the other fitting. This did get some additional fluid out of the cooler. I then capped the factory cooler barbed fittings with 3/8" vacuum nipples.

You will also want to temporarily plug the factory hoses with some solid object to keep debris out - I used some screw-on electrical terminals that plugged them like a cork.

Image

13. Unclip the two transmission cooler lines from their plastic retaining clip inside the engine bay - PICTURED ABOVE, black clip below the two barbed fittings. We will need to secure the cooler lines a bit lower to pass around the side of the radiator - I moved the lines to just below the black plastic factory clip, and zip tied them snugly (but not too tight) to the subframe rail.

14. Attach your clear 1/2" flexible hose to the lower port of the factory cooler, and route the tube down to a container. This will catch the reclaimed ATF once we pressurize the cooler.

Now attach your blower gun to the upper port, use a different nozzle if you need to get a good fit. Start blowing air in to the system, and ATF will come out of the flexible hose. In my case this took a few minutes of blowing before I got all that would come out - about a pint or so. But gradually that pint would have made a whole new mess as it seeped out of the cooler over time.

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Then cap off with your 3/8" vacuum nipples.

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15. Make a small relief cut into the plastic support structure for the radiator/condenser on the driver's side, in order to pass the factory hoses around the driver's side of the radiator/condenser. I used a small razor saw to cut this "D" shaped relief.

There is a large bolt on the engine bay side of this area, you will see it when looking below the barb attachments for the factory hoses - you will need to make the relief cut below this bolt, as it's the only spot where there is enough free room to neatly pass the hoses through without them rubbing on anything. Really don't worry, they have ample room.

Watch where you're cutting as this is getting close to the plastic radiator tank.

Be sure to clean up the edges of your cut when you're done.

Image

16. Route the factory hoses through your relief cut, and pull the plastic sheathing through with the hoses. Use your 1/2" barb union joints and hose clamps to connect the factory hoses to two lengths of 1/2" transmission hose.

If your cutout in the plastic support is large enough, the two factory lines should curve gently around the radiator tank and condenser, with no harsh bending/kinking.

Image

Make sure to position the hose clamps so that the adjustment screws face forward. This will prevent them from ever damaging the condenser - though mine never once showed any sign of wanting to rub against the condenser.

Image
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17. Install your 1/2" barbed NPT fittings into the transmission cooler. Be sure to install using thread tape to prevent leaks

18. Follow the transmission cooler's instructions on using the installation hardware. I used the cushion pads and plastic ties included with the kit.

I positioned the cooler as close as possible to the center of the electric fan so that it would always have airflow whenever the fan was running.

Image

19. Triple check all of your hoses and fittings, then start the engine and watch for any leaks at the hoses.

If you cleaned your condenser and radiator, don't be alarmed if the radiator begins to boil off the water and you start to see steam.

Check that the cooler is getting warm - in my case it took about 10 minutes of idling in park before I could even feel that the cooler was becoming warm at all whatsoever.

20. Reinstall bumper cover, making sure that all tabs re-engage the rear upper corners of the bumper cover and the quarter panel and wheel well trim. This may take some time, just be patient. Eventually it will all snap back together.

21. Reinstall all bumper fasteners & hardware, lower debris shield, wheel well trim screws, and reconnect your fog/driving lights.

22. Take for a short drive to get your transmission fluid warm, then check and fill as necessary. I had to add about a quart and a half of ATF due to the addition of the dry cooler.
Last edited by mancat on Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.

pwschuh
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Re: HOWTO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by pwschuh » Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:52 am

Awesome write-up! Thanks for taking the time to document.
2008 TX Limited
Silver Birch Metallic/Black leather
WeatherTech floormats all rows
Bought used on 17 Nov 10 with 20,000 miles

mancat
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Re: HOWTO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by mancat » Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:03 pm

Thanks ! Edited for additional clarification and photos.

airlinepilot
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Re: HOWTO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by airlinepilot » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:04 pm

WOW! This is an awesome write-up! I am very impressed by your work and the quality of your job! I am looking forward to do the same job on mine. Your cooler choice is very wise too, there is no need for multiples size adapters and this cooler is probably the most efficient design. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and how-to with the rest of us!

chuckblouse
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Re: HOWTO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by chuckblouse » Fri Jul 29, 2016 9:25 am

Wondering how the cooler mounts in the car? Does it attach to the old transmission cooler?

mancat
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Re: HOWTO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by mancat » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:37 am

chuckblouse wrote:Wondering how the cooler mounts in the car? Does it attach to the old transmission cooler?
Basically. Most aftermarket coolers mount using plastic zip tie type fasteners which must be passed through the fins of the condenser and radiator.

AlexmenRib
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HOW TO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by AlexmenRib » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:26 am

Im thinking about buying a 93 F150 4x4 as a work truck. I live in alaska and my day to day truck is taking a beating. They are asking 500, but the trans is leaking. I think it might just be seals but I have never taken out a trans before. I am wondering what you guys think. Is it a good deal? And would it be a difficult job to change seals? I am mechanically inclined to a point. Thanks

knowitall
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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by knowitall » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:22 pm

A few problems with the OP's assertions.
The transmission cooler is not prone to leak and the cost of the replacement is under $50.
If you are taking the time to remove the front bumper and associated items then just replace the transmission cooler with OEM.

pwschuh
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Re: HOW TO Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by pwschuh » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:49 am

AlexmenRib wrote:Im thinking about buying a 93 F150 4x4 as a work truck. I live in alaska and my day to day truck is taking a beating. They are asking 500, but the trans is leaking. I think it might just be seals but I have never taken out a trans before. I am wondering what you guys think. Is it a good deal? And would it be a difficult job to change seals? I am mechanically inclined to a point. Thanks
I believe you have the wrong forum.
2008 TX Limited
Silver Birch Metallic/Black leather
WeatherTech floormats all rows
Bought used on 17 Nov 10 with 20,000 miles

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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by Webmaster » Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:15 am


66 Galaxie
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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by 66 Galaxie » Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:51 pm

knowitall wrote:A few problems with the OP's assertions.
The transmission cooler is not prone to leak and the cost of the replacement is under $50.
If you are taking the time to remove the front bumper and associated items then just replace the transmission cooler with OEM.


The transmission fluid cooler is the same design as in the Edge, Flex, newer Explorers, Taurus, etc and is prone to leaking. My Taurus X is on its 3rd trans cooler/ac condensor unit at 254k+ miles so I have some experience with this problem.

For the DIYer replacement as done by the original poster can be the easiest and cheapest way to go unless he/she has access to equipment to evacuate and recharge the a/c system.
2008 TRex Limited AWD
255k+ miles and going strong.
All original drive train including PTU

Macetom1122
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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by Macetom1122 » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:35 am

Will the radiator melt the zip ties? How tight did you tighten them on the fins? And how do I measure the temp of the fluid to make sure it’s cooling properly? I’m doing this next week

Macetom1122
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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by Macetom1122 » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:36 am

Also do you put a cushion between it and the condenser?

mike35
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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by mike35 » Thu May 09, 2019 8:39 am

I think the aftermarket units come with a small pad to go between new and old coolers. You can see them in this pic of one I found being sold at autozone as part of the zip ties. He mentiones these in step 18.
https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/wcsst ... i_larg.jpg
Last edited by mike35 on Thu May 09, 2019 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

mike35
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Re: HOW-TO: Bypassing leaking factory trans cooler

Post by mike35 » Thu May 09, 2019 8:42 am

One question I have is where the cooler tends to leak? And could it be repaired with something like JB Weld? Awesome write up and pics btw mancat. Thank you very much. need to do this on my 2008 Taurus. It has about 135K so made it a bit longer than yours.

Just did it on my Taurus and to answer my own question no it would be be very hard to find and patch leak on the tranny cooler. I'm guessing leak was on passenger side of tranny cooler as that side of condenser was covered in dirt stuck to the oil and you can see that end of plastic piece is oily. Here's my cooler installed. Not impossibly hard but a lot of little annoying issues. One being tranny hoses were 1/2" and new hoses were 3/8" so had to run back to home depot to get more parts. Finished mine with a drink on the hood!

I bought mine from Autozone, Advance Auto sells something similar. It's actually a hayden 401 they both call it some other brand. https://www.haydenauto.com/upload/Hayde ... oolers.pdf
https://www.autozone.com/transmission-a ... 267252_0_0

Many thanks again Mancat!

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