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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Rav4 Community!

I’ve been trying to to repair the clutch on my 1998 RAV4 and at this point I’m pretty much desperate for any help I can get. This was supposed to be a spring break project but has slowly turned into a two and a half week disaster to say the least. I’m stranded back in my hometown and need to get back to college asap lol. Anyway, the only issue I’m having is getting the transmission back onto the engine. It’s seems like the biggest issue with that is that differential that’s attached to the tranny keeps preventing me from aligning it to the engine because it’s such a tight space. You can see in the pictures where the differential has been scratched up by the engine when I’ve tried to jack it up. And it also doesn’t help that it’s such a large and heavy piece, I can’t really shimmy it around into place. I know from all the info that I found online, it is recommended to remove the tranny with the engine as one whole piece, but like an idiot I thought I could take the transmission out and put it back in by itself. The engine is still currently in the car with only one mount holding it in place, so it is sagging a bit where it meets the transmission. I would really not prefer to take out the engine since I don’t have an engine harness and also don’t have the money to get one lol. It seems like my only option is to remove the differential from the transmission, mount the transmission onto the engine, and lastly add the differential back on. Do you all think this would work?? My only hesitation with that option is that I might not have access to all the bolts that attach the differential onto the transmission. Any help is greatly appreciated, as I’ve already balled my eyes out too many times in frustration and my morale is at an all time low.

-manny
 

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'99 RAV4.1, '06 Yamaha Rhino 660 UTV, '96 Newmar Mountain Aire 40' Diesel Pusher Class A Motor Home
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It can be done assembling the transmission with the engine in place but it looks like it would be much more difficult than lowering the engine and bolting it together. If you decide to drop it, you'll have to disconnect the wiring harness in the cab. It's not hard to do, just take a lot of photos of everything you take apart so you know where it goes as you reassemble it. You may have to cut the bolts off that hold the exhaust pipe to the exhaust manifold.
 

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Ochoemma, did you use the clutch alignment when torquing the pressure plate? Before aligning the trans-axle is the last part you will need to remove. Then wiggling or mating the engine to the tran-axle it into position sometimes is a little hard and you might need some help.
 

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A buddy of mine had a similar issue but with a truck. Out of frustration (screw it) he dropped the jack at the engine and the jack at the transmission and it miraculously lined up and went together. He too had played with it for days trying to get it to all lined up.
 

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1998 4dr - Manual AWD
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There may be a certain way you're supposed to twist it back into place, give me a few hours and I'll check my resources.
And have a beer, if you're not back at college then spring break isn't over yet!
 

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The other thing that may be the issue is not having the clutch lined up perfectly to the flywheel. I left my kid to do his himself so that he would learn. I was there for questions when he needed help. We played with trying to get the transmission in and it wouldn't go. I took everything apart and made sure to hold the spline alignment tool securely in place while I tightened the pressure plate. That was his issue, he didn't hold the spline tool tight while tightening the pressure plate to the flywheel. It worked perfectly after I took it all apart and put it back together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quick Update

Thank you all for the responses! It’s good to know that you’re not always alone :) I did end up removing the diff and got the transmission mounted to engine yesterday (Sat) but even with my dad’s help and after hours of working on it today unfortunately I was not able to get the diff on with the transmission mounted to the engine. And I even ended up breaking the power steering control valve during my attempt RIP. So I’m basically back at square 0. I’ve taken the tranny off again and joined it to the differential. I double checked the clutch as you said and I noticed that it was misaligned, probably from all movement that I’ve been causing by trying to put it in and taking it out repeatedly. Man a beer does sound really nice right about now :/ I’m readjusting the clutch again tonight and ensuring it’s perfect with the alignment tool. And well, I guess I’m gonna start to work on dropping the engine as you originally suggested. Cant say that I’m not nervous but I’m out of options at this point. Does anyone have any good resources that could guide me in disconnecting everything from the engine? The main thing that concerns me are the refrigerant hoses for the a/c.
 

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You don't have to disconnect the coolant lines from the AC. I didn't when I pulled my engine. To prevent damaging the radiator, I suggest removing it first.
 

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First take pictures of everything you do, and I do mean everything, including before and after photos. You can never have too many photos. Label hoses and electrical connections so you know where they go back to. It's quite easy to cross up a vacuum line or be left staring at an electric connector and pondering where it goes.

Make sure you disconnect everything electrically, pull the battery, disconnect the engine at the ECU. Pull the engine ECU wiring through the firewall. Trace all other electrical connections and grounds that connect the engine to other components. Disconnect the heater hoses and radiator hoses. I recommend removing the radiator. You can unbolt the AC condenser without removing it. Pull it forward to gain clearance to remove the AC. Remove the AC compressor and secure it out of the way. Disconnect the fuel line, be prepared, it's likely under pressure and will spray fuel. Disconnect any vacuum lines between the engine and other components. Disconnect the fuel vapor line. Remove and secure the power steering pump.

While the engine is out it is a great time to replace the timing belt and water pump. Also, move the VSV behind the engine to the firewall, you'll be glad you did.

USE A TORQUE WRENCH WHEN REASSEMBLING or you will suffer the wrath of the bolt gods, as you will shear off some bolts and pay much penance and invent new curse word combinations as you try to remove the said broken bolts. On the other hand, you will have some backing out because they weren't torqued tightly enough.
 

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I use this for a reference manual for many repairs:

 

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A torch is quite handy to heat any stuborn bolts that don't want to come out. Pay attention and don't heat up things that shouldn't be heated. I found that using a pneumatic impact wrench kept me from shearing off bolts when removing them. The impact wrench is a lot easier on a bolt than a 3 ft breaker bar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
3rd Update!

Hello everyone sorry for the late update. To catch you up, I was actually able to get the transmission on after a lot of help from my dad! Thank god. I just ended up having to remove a could brackets that were getting in the way. Surprisingly it only took about an hour and half of playing with it that it slipped in, but pulling it in all the way was a real hassle. I finished assembling everything and replaced the axles and wheel bearings while I was at it. Now for the bad news, i just barley finished it all up and dropped her to the ground to see if she would start. It did! But it sadly does not go into gear. I bled the clutch slave cylinder where it engages directly onto the clutch but even after that it still won’t go I to gear. If I start the car in gear and disengage the clutch it moves but I cannot put it in gear when I start in neutral. What do you think is wrong? Is there still air in the system? I know that the clutch and brake lines are connected to the same reservoir, would I also need to bleed the brakes? When will this end :(
 

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As long as the reservoir is full you shouldn't need to also bleed the brakes. (Other members correct me if I'm wrong!).
Does it grind when you try to put it into gear?
Or does it seem like the clutch is partially engaged when you start it in gear and have the clutch pedal in?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It doesn’t even grind. I can’t get it into gear at all. It seems like the clutch does not engage fully even though It’s being pressed in all the way. I can start the car in gear and get moving but it still moves even when the clutch is fully engaged.
 

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Sounds like the clutch is not disengaging all the way (like you suspected). I don't know enough about FWD layout manual transmissions to tell you if you put something back together the wrong way, but a potential cause is definitely having air in the lines still.
Out of curiosity I just tried putting mine into gear without the clutch pedal in, and it would not go into any gears like yours, however it grinded when I tried to put it into third (maybe that's because mine is worn).

Did you manually bleed the slave cylinder or did you use a vacuum tool? I tried to do it manually and the process was tricky so I used a vacuum pump from harbor freight and it worked great.

Does the pedal feel normal like it is building pressure?

Did you remove the slave cylinder from the transmission? I did this on a motorcycle once and pressed the clutch in, which overextended the slave cylinder, so I had to compress it with a c-clamp with the bleeder valve out to get it to work again.
 
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