Transmission problems

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NotYourHairyUncle
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My tercel:: 1987, sr5

Transmission problems

Post by NotYourHairyUncle » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:23 pm

Hello all tercel wagon lovers I recently purchased a 87 sr5 wagon from an old man who took great care of it. Only problem is he let his grandkids drive it and they kinda trashed the transmission.
1st gear pops out
2nd sticks pretty bad but once it's out it's smooth sailing from there
4wd also gets stuck and I haven't tried EL yet for fear that something will go horribly wrong.

My original plan was to have the transmission rebuilt but the more I'm learning about these cars the more it seems like the gears are hard to come by these days.

Would I be better off just buying a parts car that I can just swap the tranny over or is getting it rebuilt something that can be accomplished?

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xirdneh
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My tercel:: 87 tercel 4x4 wagon w/reringed engine, 83 tercel 4x4 wagon w/salvaged engine and 4.1 Diff's
Location: seabeck, washington, USA

Re: Transmission problems

Post by xirdneh » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:40 pm

there are videos on utube showing how to take apart tercel tranny and put it back together
its easier to find another tranny if you can, they are getting harder to find
cost could be 400-800 depending on where you get it
i have some internal parts for them stored away
the problem i have is that the parts that wear out the most are getting or have been used up.
popping out of first could be just a bad bearing (the one on front end of output shaft) and that bearing is commonly available.
if its the 1st gear itself its usually not the gear teeth but the small meshing teeth that the syncros line up with. they get banged up. have to replace gear if that is it.
since you are having multiple problems it could be something else entirely.
the two wheel versions of the 4wd tranny have many of the same parts inside
where are you located?
Love those Tercell 4x4 wagons but they sure suffer from road noise.

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Petros
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My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
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Re: Transmission problems

Post by Petros » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:09 pm

finding a good trans, from a parts car or alone, is the best and easiest thing to do. As Xirdneh points out, some parts are still availalbe, but many are not. No way to tell unless you pull it out and take it all apart.

If you find another trans to put in it, save the old one for the much needed parts to use to save other transmissions.

good luck.

the sticking in gear might be from your tires being different sizes or different inflation pressures. all wheels and tires must be the same size or it gets stuck in 4wd because of stress on the drivetrain. Fix that and see if the shifting improves.

It might also help to do a trans flush, fill it with 50/50 AFT and gear oil, drive it for a day and than change it out with good gear oil. it will remove sludge and crud and sometimes helps shifting.

Popping out of gear is likely worn gearings (the sloppy fit causes it to pop out), replacing the bearing usuallys solves that. but it is a major job to pull it apart far enough to replace the bearing. Because of that most people will want to do a full rebuild since it will be apart anyway.

you might check around with trans shops to see if htey can locate rebuild kits, though I would not hold out much hope.

if you pull the trans and take ti to the trans shop, it might save you $800, but a whole trans RandR and rebuild usually is $1700-2000. If they can locate the parts they need, which may not be possible.

good luck
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

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xirdneh
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My tercel:: 87 tercel 4x4 wagon w/reringed engine, 83 tercel 4x4 wagon w/salvaged engine and 4.1 Diff's
Location: seabeck, washington, USA

Re: Transmission problems

Post by xirdneh » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:02 am

one way of getting it out of 4wd is to put in reverse and push out of 4wd while moving car backwards.
i would say the last option is to take it to a tranny shop
even if you remove and reinstall tranny yourself
they will charge 1200 or more to fix it
Love those Tercell 4x4 wagons but they sure suffer from road noise.

NotYourHairyUncle
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Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:04 pm
My tercel:: 1987, sr5

Re: Transmission problems

Post by NotYourHairyUncle » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:53 pm

ImageThank you both for the quick response

I'm located in Washington state towards the idaho border so I'm hopeful there is somewhere close with a tranny but I figured I'd be waiting for a while.
Been calling local junk yards and import stores but so far no luck. Also I'm a little hesitant about changing the gear oil. I had a similar transmission problem with a 97 civic and when I changed the fluid it got better for a week then the transmission went out completely shortly after, lucky those things are a dime a dozen.

I drive a lot for work and I picked up the tercel for 600 so I'm hoping it is gonna last me through the winter before I have to start pulling it apart. But again thank you for the info I'm going to start hunting for a new transmission asap.

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xirdneh
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My tercel:: 87 tercel 4x4 wagon w/reringed engine, 83 tercel 4x4 wagon w/salvaged engine and 4.1 Diff's
Location: seabeck, washington, USA

Re: Transmission problems

Post by xirdneh » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:30 pm

After thinking about this problem you have
i'm thinking one or two of the three detents for the synchos has fallen out
i had a car recently that did almost exactly what yours is doing and it was a missing detent
its an easy fix after tranny is taken apart.
i have some spare detents
Love those Tercell 4x4 wagons but they sure suffer from road noise.

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helipilot77
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My tercel:: 1984 SR5 wagon
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Transmission problems

Post by helipilot77 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:43 am

Just so everyone knows. Rebuild kits are still available from Advance Auto. You have to order it online only. Not available for in-store purchase. However at $500 it is quite expensive, but does come with most syncros.
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NotYourHairyUncle
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My tercel:: 1987, sr5

Re: Transmission problems

Post by NotYourHairyUncle » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:45 am

Ok so an 83 tercel wagon popped up at my local junkyard I haven't Checked it out yet but I'm going to in the morning.
If it is a manual and in decentish condition will I be able to swap an 83 transmission into an 87 with out any problems?

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BaileySims
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My tercel:: 1983 Tercel SR5 4WD
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Re: Transmission problems

Post by BaileySims » Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:54 am

If it's a 4wd and as long as you NEVER use the 4wd function it can work, otherwise no, the transmission for 83 thru 84ish (correct me if I am wrong) have different gear ratios. It can work fine if you swap out the rear diff along with the trans from the same car.
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xirdneh
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My tercel:: 87 tercel 4x4 wagon w/reringed engine, 83 tercel 4x4 wagon w/salvaged engine and 4.1 Diff's
Location: seabeck, washington, USA

Re: Transmission problems

Post by xirdneh » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:07 pm

yes you can interchange the transmissions
you cannot interchange the differentials due to different gear ratios

usually the wrecking yards consider the differential and transmission (which are bolted together) to be a single unit and will not sell seperatly.
so seperate the tranny yourself after you get the unit
Love those Tercell 4x4 wagons but they sure suffer from road noise.

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Petros
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My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
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Re: Transmission problems

Post by Petros » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:32 pm

all true, you can not just swap the whole transaxle assembly, but you can use your own front diff assembly. Use the bell housing/front diff as a unit, do not attempt to chanage out the ring and pinion, that requries careful shiming to get the ring and pinion gears to match correctly. Keep it together and swap it over, not too bad a job, just unbolt it. That is presuming your front diff is good to use. The other alternative is use the whole trans axle and also swap over the rear diff third member from the wrecking yard car. That will raise your final drive ratio from your current 4.11:1 to 3.73:1. There are benefits to both, but it would depend on what kind of driving you do. I have owned both, the 4.11 is better for low speeds, rough or steep roads, and for use with the under powered stock engine. the 3.73 is better for highway driving, engine is at lower rpms (and quieter) at high speed, but not so good starting from a stop (unless you install a 4ac or use other means to increase your hp).

there are a few other minor differences, the '85 and later has three electrical connectors, '83-84 only has two. one for the 4wd indicator, one for the reverse light on both years, the extra one is for an "EL" indicator light on the dash of the later years. I do not know if you can swap the sensor over or not, but it will not harm you not to have that feature. Not even sure why one needs it (as if you can not tell when it is in EL).

If you have no other option, than using that trans is your best bet. It just depends on if your front diff assy is good.

Also, test the trans once out of the car: put it in each gear and rotate by hand the input shaft, feeling the gears rotate, also put your hand on the output to feel it at the other end. do it for all gears, and also both in and out of 4wd. if it is all smooth and all gears transmit power to the output shaft, it is likely okay.

Make sure you get it properly filled with all 4 liters of gear oil before you drive it. You might consider an ATF flush, but get it in the car and see how it drives first.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

NotYourHairyUncle
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My tercel:: 1987, sr5

Re: Transmission problems

Post by NotYourHairyUncle » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:33 pm

Looks like someone wasn't paying attention :shock:

So this is the junkyard find, I'm hoping since it was in an accident the transmission is ok. I climbed inside and tried fiddling with the stickshift but seemed to be locked in gear. I'm having difficulty removing ball joints and tierods looks like they're 30+ years old. The tire on the passenger side won't budge at all and finding the engine mount bolts is a pain with the crushed engine bay.

I wasn't able to get very far yesterday due to prior obligations but I'm going back today with hopeful intentions of completely removing the tranny. Still need to read up on the removal procedure.

Besides that rest of the car is in tact, I'm snatching the front seats but if anyone is interested in anything let me know
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BaileySims
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My tercel:: 1983 Tercel SR5 4WD
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Re: Transmission problems

Post by BaileySims » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:07 pm

What color is the interior? I'm might need a few things if it is tan/beige.
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NotYourHairyUncle
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My tercel:: 1987, sr5

Re: Transmission problems

Post by NotYourHairyUncle » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:25 pm

Yea
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Petros
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My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
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Re: Transmission problems

Post by Petros » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:31 pm

that should have an inclinometer in it, grab that while you are at it. and the instrument cluster might be worth getting.

you should bring a big steel pry bar and work the radiator out of it, so you will free up the engine somewhat. You will not be able to reach the bolts between the bell housing and back of the engine if you can not move the engine/trans around a bit.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

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