Rear Main Engine (crankshaft) Seal Replacement – Volvo 240

By Joe HC

Raising the car.

I went to HF and bought some heavy duty jacks specifically for this job because I wanted the height and stability.  I knew that I was going to spend A LOT of time under the car, and wanted it to be as stable as possible.  The HF jacks I bought is model  38847-6VGA. I put the jacks at the jack points on the car, and slowly inched the car up at about 2 notches at a time on the jacks, first the front, then the back, etc.  I think I got it up to the sixth notch and left it there.  My usual procedure when I have the car on floor jacks is to make sure they are stable, real stable.  So I shake the car around from different points to make sure the stands are squarely on the floor and the car doesn't shift around.  It was solid as a rock.  Note:  The bottom of the rockers was 21” off the garage floor.

Draining fluid.

Then I drained the tranny fluid, and while it was draining, I disconnected the driveshaft at the point where it meets the back of the tranny.  Made sure I marked both sides of each interface to make sure I put it exactly how it was.  There are 4 bolts/nuts there, 15 and 17 mm open ended wrenches.

Dipstick tube, cooler lines, kickdown cable. OD solenoid

Lower Starter BoltAfter the tranny fluid was drained, I squirted where the tranny dipstick tube goes into the pan.  The big nut there is notoriously difficult to get off, so I let the PB Blaster soak in while I disconnected the tranny tubes that go to the radiator.  I had never disconnected those before, and I learned that you disconnect where the tubes go into the connector that attaches to the tranny, you don't disconnect the coupling that attaches to the tranny.  Interesting.  It was very tight in there, but I used a combination of a short open ended wrench and a regular wrench.  14 mm I think. The kickdown cable must be taken off the throttle spool.  I unscrewed the nut facing the open end of the cable on the kickdown cable holder near the spool.  Then I slid the cable back and it came right out of its holder and dropped down.  I kept the KD cable attached to the tranny the entire time.

Then I went back and took the dispstick tube off of the pan.  Despite my efforts to grease it up first, it was a challenge to get it off.  I used a large adjustable wrench and an extender to get torque on it.  That was a tough one.

I couldn't get a reach on some wires for the OD, so I disconnected the OD solenoid on the tranny and let it hang there.  It was out of the way and seemed pretty happy there, so I didn't mess with it. 

Reasons to have help

brother regretting helpingI honestly think there is no way that one person could do the job.  The tranny is very front heavy, at the bellhousing, when "balanced" on a tranny jack, plus all the guiding and jacking takes at least two people.  Plus, when you finally have something in position, you need to have someone hand you the tools.  We took the vertical wings off of the adapter and duct taped the back of the tranny to the jack.  Not classy, but it worked for us.

Transmission jack adapter

I brought on the floor jack from the back of the car, and mounted HF's transmission jack interface which is model number 507-5VGA.  My brother was kind enough to help out, and he spent a good 20 minutes putting the adapter on my floor jack.  In the end, this adapter was a big pain.  Not sure what else I would have used, but this was marginal at best.  They say this adapter will tilt from side to side, but we couldn't get it to do that.  Also, the little vertical supports that can be found on the jack got in the way.  Especially when trying to raise it, the vertical supports kept getting caught up on the exhaust.  I think if you have a large flat surface that the transmission pan can sit on, you should be fine.

We put the jack (with adapter plate attached) under the tranny pan and put some pressure on it, then unbolted the tranny support.  There are 4 bolts there, maybe 14 mm.  If you have a new rubber tranny mount that attaches to the support and the back of the tranny, this would be a good time to replace that rubber part.  I wish I had one because mine was shot.  I'll maybe put it on next week.  With the tranny support off and the jack taking all the weight of the tranny and back of the engine, I thought it would be wise to get some support under the engine once the tranny comes off.  So I got a regular car jack with some blocks of wood and put it under the engine pan to relieve some pressure.  As we lowered the tranny jack slightly, we would then lower the engine jack.  Slowly, slowly, slowly.  I wasn't sure when to stop, but the valve cover was getting close to the firewall so I thought that should be good. 

Separating the tranny

I decided to take the starter off first, since that was straight in front of me and something that needed to come off.  So I disconnected the battery cable and took the two big bolts that go from the tranny housing to the back of the engine.  19 mm I think.

Disconnecting the flex plate from the torque converter

I didn't take the exhaust out, and despite what I read about the procedure, once I got the plate separated, the tranny came out pretty easy. Oh, I almost forgot the unbolting of the flywheel to the torque converter (TC).  This needs to be done before you start unbolting the entire bellhousing.  There are 4 bolts there, just like it shows in Bentley.  One of the difficulties I had was getting the flywheel to stay still while I used an open end wrench (16mm I think) to unbolt them.  The damn thing kept spinning on me.  But if you put a 22mm socket on the crank at the front of the engine (the lowest one with belts on it), you can stop it from spinning and use it to for stabilization.  Because there are 4 bolts in a + pattern, you can use the 22mm to spin the flywheel.  This is where it got a bit tricky because they say to mark it, which I did, but it was real easy for me to lose my marks.

Unbolting the bellhousing

I got the extensionsJust as an FYI, all of the bolts that attached the bellhousing to the engine are in there really hard.  On each one I had to crank pretty hard and heard a big POP when they cut loose.  Kind of like I sound about an hour after I have a bowl of Wendy's chili.  Also, I can’t emphasize enough that one needs a large amount of extension to reach these bolts.  If you have someone at the engine bay to guide you, or reach down and attach your long extension set up to the bolt, that is a lot easier.  Starter off now, and I then went to the other side and unattached the two bolts that are on the bellhousing and hold some exhaust parts.  Pretty straight forward on that one, POP, POP, and they are out.  On those bolts, I was cranking on them so hard that when they popped, my arm flew up and my forearm hit at metal edge that runs the length of the car.  You know that long sharp one that is at the very edge and bottom?  Yeah another FYI; if you hit your forearm with enough force on that, it hurts like hell.  I can personally testify to that.  And if you decide to hit your arm there, make sure there are no women around because you are going to cuss like a sailor. 

I should have mentioned this earlier, but my father-in-law, Dave, who is a great guy btw, had some old couch cushions that I laid on while I was under the car for a couple of days.  I did get some road rash from scooting around down there, but the cushions were a blessing.  Thanks Dave. 

Top bolts

Next, I went back to the other side (where the starter was) and worked my way across detaching bolts.  The crank position sensor is at the very top, and there are bolts on each side of it.  Those, my friend, are really tough to get to.  I couldn't even see them from under the car, so I had someone guide me.  It was crazy, crazy, crazy.  Those bolts off and I think there is one more on the passenger side.  Boom.   

Tranny to engine brace

Next, and I didn't realize this, but there is a small plate at the back of the oil pan that comes off.  It bolts straight up into the block and then the bellhousing bolts to the plate. This U shaped plate bolts slightly over the backside of the oil pan, and the upper connection bolts straight into the bottom of the block; I think there are two bolts there.  On the part of the plate that faces the tranny, there are 4 bolts that the tranny bellhousing goes into.  Very easy to take off.  Once that plate is off, one can see the sacred flywheel. 

Pry it loose

Another view of flywheel from bottomView of flywheel from bottomNow the tranny is unbolted but doesn't want to come off.  You have to get a screwdriver or pry bar and separate the flywheel from the torque converter.  I had never seen where these two meet before, and I was unclear about what it looks like.  The flywheel, that vicious circle thing with nasty looking teeth, has a small "fence" on the inside of it towards the back.  You can't really see this fence while it was on.  When they are together, the torque converter attaches to the flywheel and is inside of this fence.  When you first get the tranny slightly apart and look between them, you see the fence.  Don't crank on that.  Instead, stick something on the big air vents at the bottom of the tranny and reach forward towards the engine.  Then you will get a piece of it and it will separate.

Keep the torque converter from falling out

torque converterWhen we pulled the tranny off, I always made sure that someone had a hand on the torque converter (TC) to make sure it didn't fall out.  It spins pretty freely in there, and it feels as though it can fall out pretty easily if tilted forward. 

Dropping the tranny

I have read that some people lowered the tranny from here, and had to really twist it to get it to drop.  I didn't have that experience.  It dropped almost straight down until it came near the exhaust, and then we barely tilted it and it came down pretty easy.

Now here is the first problem.  Once we got the tranny all the way down, we couldn't get it out because the car was not high enough or the jack with adapter was too tall.  Crap.  So we slid the tranny off the jack onto a piece of carpet and pulled the carpet from under the car.  Now that I think about it, I don't think I would have raised the car higher because my arms were getting pretty tired reaching up to undo many bolts there.  I am not sure what the solution is on that one.  While the tranny was out, I replaced the tailshaft seal and bearing, but I didn't take notes on that. 

Removing flex plate and spacer

flywheel spacerflywheel uninstalledflywheelWith the tranny off, one can see the flywheel.  Unbolt the bolts, and I wrote on the flywheel which way is up.  There are 2 additional items on the flywheel assembly.  Starting from the back of the engine, the order goes: spacer, flywheel, cupped washer, head of bolt.  Take all these off and remember which order they go on when you put it back together.  I didn't, but I'll get to that later.

Removing seal carrier

back of bad sealWith the flywheel off, one can see the rear seal and housing, and it became real obvious right away that the problem was my rear seal.  There was oil all over the place.  I chose to take the housing off (I had a gasket in hand), there are some bolts that are go around the housing and 2 at the bottom that come up from the oil pan.  Once those were unbolted, I had to pry the housing off a bit, but once loose, it came out pretty easy.

Diagnosis complete – note position of old seal on crank

dead sealbad seal profileThe rear engine seal was completely shot.  When I touched it while it was still in the car, a piece of the "rubber" (now like brittle plastic) fell in my hands.  I took a good look at the seal and felt the inside of it; I wanted to see what the inside lip felt like.  Well it was clear that the seal had better days because the seal started to crumble right away.  BTW, the edge of the seal was exactly lined up in the outside edge of the housing.  This is important to note.  With the old seal out, and cleaned the part up etc, and put the new seal in.

Installing new seal

bad seal setting bad seal setting - another viewfront of bad sealI read somewhere that the white plastic thing that is on the Volvo real seal is real handy to use to install it.  I used it to push the seal into the housing, then pulled the plastic thing off.  I decided to set the seal slightly into the housing so the lip would not ride on the groove that is on the crank.  I got my seal slightly crooked (and I mean slightly) so I use the white plastic thing and put it on the inside of the seal.  I used a small wooden mallet and evened out the seal edge all the way around.  Pretty straight- forward process. 

Seal carrier in place

grooved crankgrooved crank - another viewgrooved crank - another viewThen I put the gasket on (of course I cleaned and scraped where the old gasket was) and let the gasket goopy stuff set a bit.  While that was doing that, I got some 000 or 00 steel wool and polished up the crank a bit, and cleaned that up a bit.  Then I got some engine grease and really put a healthy dose of that all over the crank.  Then I added some gasket goop to the gasket again and engine grease to the seal and slide it on gently. 

new seal setOn the very inside of the seal is a very small lip and faces towards the engine.  The idea is to make sure that lip does not fold over while you put on the seal.  It did the first time, so I pulled it off and re-greased.  I found if I started the bottom first and slowly worked my way around, the lip stayed where it was supposed to.  It was kind of like putting a lid on a Tupperware bowl.  I pushed it back real slow into place, and bolt down.  I cleaned where the bottom of the housing meets the oil pan gasket and put some gasket goop before I tightened to spec.  Seal done.

When it is time to put the tranny back on

Despite our efforts, when it was time to put the tranny back in, the torque converter did slide out a bit.  It took my brother some time to get it to click in.  You know when it is right because it is more than 1/2 inch inside the bellhousing.  The flywheel is slightly inserted into the tranny bellhousing, and the little "fence" on the perimeter of the flywheel covers the connection between the TC and flywheel.  We didn't realize this and continued to put the tranny on, but we always had about a 1 inch space all the way around.  It wasn't until we figured this out, and my brother got the TC set in place, that it went on.

Mating the tranny to the engine

trying to put tranny inholding converter inGetting the tranny on was a witch with a capital B.  Very frustrating.  It took us a long time to get the torque converter to "click" in at its lowest point, then try to guide it into the exact center of the flywheel so the "stub" fits exactly into the female portion of the flywheel.   The challenge was getting the stub in the center of the TC in the hole that is in the center of the flywheel.  As you get the two closer together, you can see it line up, but the final 1.5 inches you are blind to it.  You have to watch the teeth of the flywheel and make sure that they are all on the inside of the tranny bellhousing evenly.  Also, you have to hit the flywheel almost perfectly square.  If you are too high, low, tilted, etc, it won't happen. The tranny also has to hit the engine housing square and level.  I have read on the brickboard that some guys do it alone, which I don't think is possible.  My brother and I were under the car shifting the tranny around delicately, while his girlfriend was adjusting the jack’s height.  After I got 2-3 bolts on the tranny to the engine, I cut the help loose; I don't think they planned on staying there that long.  So I did the top 2 bolts on tranny/engine connection alone.  From under the car, I couldn't see the 2 top bolts; I could only see them from the hood.  So I would push my extension up there, crawl from under the car, and look at the bolt from the top and see if I was close, then crawl back under and adjust. Lastly, I had to wash my hair twice last night to get all the tranny fluid out. Yuck. Real "fun". 

I think we tried 7-9 times before we got it right.  I think I smoked a pack of cigarettes that day.

Kickdown cable replacement

Everything is put together at this point, but I have one big problem; the shaft of the kickdown cable broke where it meets the tranny, which is bad.  Now it leaks tranny fluid. 

Dipstick tube again

broken kickdown cableHere's what I did for the KC replacement.  Drain tranny fluid, removed tranny dipstick tube.  Once again, I lucked out and it came off not too bad.  I think I am one of the lucky few on that one.

Pan off

pan offdirty tranny panThen I took the tranny pan off, about a zillion bolts, 10mm.  I tried to remove the bolts evenly on both sides just to keep everything straight.  Not sure if it helped, but it made me feel better.  With the pan removed, I got a chance to see how dirty it was.  I have taken one off on a previous 240, and mine didn't look to bad.  Clean it real good including the magnet.  I insured that the gasket I had would fit, and laid it on top of the tranny and put an arrow on the gasket noting which was front.  Then I cleaned where the gasket fits on to the tranny real good, and set the gasket on there so it would be completely set when it was time to put it on. 

Disconnect cable in engine compartment

comparing cablesstuck cableconnected cables Disconnected the KC at the throttle spindle, and disconnected it at the holder on the backside of the spindle.  Before I let it fall, I compared the two and tried to put the nut in the same place on the new one.  I was afraid that once the old KC falls back, I wouldn't be able to fish the new one to where it needs to go.  So I tied a piece of string to the new and old one, and fished the old one out from below the car while it pulled the new one down.  To make sure I didn't pull the new one too far, I tied the top end to near the throttle spindle.  The new one got caught up a bit, but after fiddling with it a bit, it came thru fine.

Disconnect cable inside tranny

tranny spindle - another viewtranny spindle - another viewtranny spindle - another viewtranny spindleThe KC cable on the tranny side goes into a small hole, and the cable goes straight down from there and attaches to a small spindle in the tranny; the tranny spindle is very similar to the throttle spindle.  Because the tranny spindle is spring loaded, you have to pull it back in order to take the tension off so you can remove the old cable.  I made a small hook with a clothes hanger for this purpose.  It was about 4-5" long and had a right angle hook on it, about .5" long.  I pulled on the old cable, making the spindle spin, and stuck the hook into the spring hole, which was pretty easy. 

Tip for holding spring

With the remainder of the hook, I bent over one of the tranny cooler lines to keep in place.  Not a bad idea, if I do say so myself. 

Removing old cable from tranny

Getting the end of the cable, which has a small metal cylinder at the end, like the ones at the end of the cable that attaches to the throttle spindle, was a bit tricky.  I had to cut the old cable and fish it down from the top of the tranny and pull it thru so the cable came out of the hole that I was working with.  Then I had to push the cable towards the bottom of the tranny spindle to get some slack so I could use a pair of needle nose plies and manipulate the metal end off of the tranny spindle.  It is pretty tight quarters in there, and requires some patience.

After that was off, I used a screwdriver to reach up and take off the old KC casing that was still attached to the hole.  I think there is one pic that shows the tranny spindle and above one can see the broken KC housing. 

Connecting new cable in tranny

Then I put the new cable housing near the hole and fished down the new cable into the tranny, near the spindle; you need to make sure that there is a lot of slack in the cable here.  I pulled the new cable down and slightly bent the end so I could hook it into the new hole.  Once again, this isn't technically hard, but it does take some patience.  The way the hole on the tranny spindle is designed, the cable needs to be at a certain angle to get it into it.  I suppose that is a good thing because you don't want the cable to fall off of the spindle.  Seeing how it holds it so well, it would be pretty hard for it to fall out if put in right.  With a combination of a small headed but long screwdriver, and moving the cable around, the end finally seated onto the hole right.  You know it is correct because the rest of the cable will easily fit into the groove on the spindle of you pull it from the top. 

cable end detailconnecting and adjusting kickdown cableThen I put some light grease on the KC fitting, and "snapped" it into place.  It went in a lot harder that I thought it would.  I was very careful to put  straight downward pressure on it when pushing it in.  I would have been really bummed if I pushed it at a slight angle and the fitting broke (it is made of plastic).  You know it is seated right because the plastic housing has a lip that should be touching the tranny, and if you crawl underneath and look up into the hole you have been working with, you can see the plastic "snap" parts come down.  Make sure you can see the snap parts go into the tranny pretty good.


Filter cleaning

Tranny filterThat's about it.  Connect the KC to the throttle spindle and set correctly, which is much more challenging that one would think.  Oh, when I took the pan off I also took the filter off since I was there and cleaned it.  It took 8mm mini socket for that one.  As an FYI, when you take the filter off, a reasonable about of tranny fluid will come pouring out.  Got about a mouthful, which didn't taste too good.


Replace pan gasket

Careful when putting the gasket on, and make sure your gasket sealer is spread on the gasket liberally.  And be sure and clean the tranny end where the gasket is going to go.  It is next to impossible to take all of the fluid off that spot.  Make sure you have a good torque wrench, because mine didn't work at low numbers and I broke a bolt while putting the pan back on.  I put more gasket sealer around the edge and it seems to be holding fine.  Be sure and balance the order of the bolts so the pan goes on evenly, and put your filler tube back on the pan.  Add fluid, etc.

Six weeks later (June 2006)

To this day, the seal seems to be holding and not a drop anywhere.  Now that I look back at it, I would certainly include changing the kickdown cable as part of the whole process.  It sure would be easy to do it with the tranny out, and might as well do it for good measure.

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.  Email whiteclay (at) gmail dot com.