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I’m going to start at the end and work my way through the whole bloody story.
Please read the whole post before you pass judgment and assume I’m just another idiot who shouldn’t touch a wrench...

In the process of doing a simple automatic transmission fluid drain and refill on my 2014 tundra, I managed to strip the pan drain bolt, snap 5 (FIVE) of the 12 bolts that hold the pan on, and strip 1 of the 4 bolts the secure the filter to the valve body. This is the AB60F transmission.

A little background and how I got this lucky:

The truck had just shy of 60K miles on it. I had not bought into the whole “lifetime” transmission fluid business; it just didn’t make sense. Nothing lasts forever and I couldn’t figure out how or why WS fluid would be an exception. Bearing this in mind, I decided it was time to change the fluid and after much debate, research, and a phone call to the support line to Valvoline, I went with Valvoline Maxlife ATF. I had used this product in place of several other vehicles that called for WS with absolutely no issues.

Before tearing into this project I purchased a new filter, trans pan seal, and O-rings / crush washers for all the plugs I knew I’d need. I wasn’t planning on having to drop the pan but I figured I’d be a fool to not at least have them on hand.

Prior to attempting anything I soaked the plug and pan bolts in penetrating oil several times over the course of 3 days. I live in an area that gets plenty of snow and with it comes plenty of road salt. Nothing looked like it needed that much attention as the truck was rust free but I knew better then to skip such an easy step.

I pulled the truck in the garage before it had a chance to warm up so everything was at ambient temperature. I pulled the fill plug first to make sure it wasn’t stuck and it came out no problem. I then pulled the check and drain bolts which also came out easily. After letting the fluid drain I put the drain bolt back in and began tightening it to 15 Ft. Lbs. per the manual using a 3/8” torque wrench that was known to be accurate. The bolt got just about to the point that the wrench was going to click indicating it was torqued when all of a sudden the resistance went away and the little sucker just started to spin in place. “Sh*t”.

The drain bolt was stripped in the pan and would just spin in place whether I tried to tighten it or loosen it. I tried a few tricks I knew of including grabbing it with vise grips and doing a pulling / turning motion to try to get the threads to engage. I also tried some heat and jamming a stout flat head screwdriver in between the bolt flange and the pan to try to put some down force on the bolt while I also spun it… no luck.

Time to pull the pan so I can punch the drain bolt out. There were 12 6MM bolts holding the pan on. Using a ¼” ratchet I very gently started to back out the pan bolts. 5 of them snapped off flush with the trans case the moment I put any kind of torque on them; FIVE with no warning what so ever. 4 of them were on the sides of the trans so they were through and through, one of them was near the rear of trans where the transfer case is mounted and was in the blind so I couldn’t see or feel the other end of the bolt.

Upon getting the pan off I figured I was already in this for the long haul and I couldn’t possibly have any more fasteners bust so I decided to pull the 4 bolts that hold the filter on. They all came out no problem. I popped my new filter and O ring in and put the bolts back in. 3 of them torqued to 7 Ft. Lbs., 1 of them just barely torqued and I could feel it getting “mushy” in its threads but it was in there.

I could not for the life of me get the mangled drain bolt out of the pan with out getting destructive. I tried pressing it with a few long sockets and a ball joint press among some other tricks for about an hour. I eventually decided to punch it out with the right size punch, hammer, and wood blocks. I was able to drill and then run a heli-coil and larger bolt in to replace the plug.

Back to the pan bolts; I tried to drill the five busted off bolts out using a hand drill and a steady hand thinking I could slap in a few heli-coils and call it a day. I had done this many times before with success; not this time.

The drill bits “walked” off the bolts surface and botched the aluminum transmission case to the point that only one of the five holes would accept and hold a heli-coil. I didn’t have a welder handy so I couldn’t do any tricks with welding another bolt to what was left of the snapped off bolts. At this point I was very desperate and pissed off and probably not thinking as clearly as I should have been so, this is what ya get.

What I ended up doing was cleaning the transmission surface very thoroughly with brake clean and roughing up the surface with some 100 grit sand paper. I took some JB weld and packed the now egg shaped bolt holes with the goop and let it sit for a full 24 hours to cure. I then drilled the hardened resin with the right size bit and got some new, longer 6 MM bolts, nuts, and washers. I secured the pan to the transmission using the longer bolts that ran through and through so I had a nut and washer on the top side of the trans for the bolts to anchor to.

The blind bolt near the transfer case just would not hold. I tried tapping the hardened JB weld with the right tap but the bolt just would not torque up.
To make up for this I used a healthy bead of black permatex RTV the whole way around the top of the rubber gasket that sits between the trans pan and transmission belly. I figured this should more then make up for any lack of torque that that one missing bolt might not provide. I let the RTV set up for a full 24 hours before filling the transmission back up and going through the whole fill and check procedure (why don’t they just give us a f**king dip stick?).

Its been a month and I’ve gone through a few hundred miles and several heating and cooling cycles and I haven’t had any leaks so I think I might be good.

To be clear, I am not a professional or credentialed automotive mechanic. I have built rebuilt cars in my garage, worked on aircraft and ships in the military and I work in the rail industry on locomotives all day long as a mechanic. I am also a licensed electrician. I say all that to say I’m not a dummy. I have worked on mechanical “stuff” for over 20 years and I am confident when it comes to fixing vehicles, particularly when were just talking maintenance items. All that said, this thing kicked my ass.

If you are going to try this just be prepared for a friggin’ nightmare.

Maybe my truck was built on a Friday by a disgruntled assembly line guy who said to hell with the torque wrench, maybe the 6MM bolts they used on the stupid trans pan were cast incorrectly, or maybe my stupid luck just ran out. Whatever the case, you’ve been warned.
 

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holy sh#$# sorry to hear about the ordeal you went through with this.. a supposed easy fix turned into a nightmare. Hopefully the jbweld holds and don't have any leaks.

I went through something similar this weekend in 95 degree heat in my garage. Changing pads/rotors on a 2001 VW Jetta. Damn rotor screw snapped when i tried removing it, both front rotors. Even with PB blaster and a BFG and impact screwdriver. A 1 hr job took over 2 hours to do, since i couldn't get the rotor to align on the hub so i could get the tire on. Finally got things to align right and get both tires back on. Bedded the new brakes/rotors afterwards and was smooth stopping.
 

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(1) Drain plug stripping in that manner is due to past abuse, maybe on assembly, but unlikely. Probably previous owner or shop service with unintended consequences.

(2) Virtual certainty of pan bolts snapping off during removal is a well-known risk for Tundra transmissions. Probably one of the reasons why Toyota doesn't even bother trying to repair the transmissions in the field.

This situation, plus your experience twisting them off at very low stress makes me wonder if Toyota has used a stainless alloy in the pan bolts. Lack of magnetism may not be a completely reliable determinant for stainless. Stainless alloys are subject to Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking (CLSCC), and fail easily after salt has done the heavy lifting, i.e. the cracking process.

I know you didn't put much stress on the pan bolts, because a 1/4" drive ratchet won't develop a lot of torque before the ratchet breaks. I've broken a couple, and that little replacement 1/4" ratchet gathers dust in my tool box, except in rare instances.
 

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I had my serviced at a reputable shop. At first they were going to do the transmission flush but called me and advised against it "heavily", said there were numerous bulletins advising to NOT flush these transmissions. So I tell them to go ahead and drop the pan, replace the transmission filter and all like they wanted to. They ran across 3 bolts that snapped. They were able to get them fixed. This was one of the most expensive transmission services I have ever paid for $450 and they did not charge any extra for the 3 snapped bolts. But that was refilling with BG fluids as well, not sure if there may have been a much cheaper alternative fluid out there or not, but they recommended the BG so I went with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
(1) Drain plug stripping in that manner is due to past abuse, maybe on assembly, but unlikely. Probably previous owner or shop service with unintended consequences.

(2) Virtual certainty of pan bolts snapping off during removal is a well-known risk for Tundra transmissions. Probably one of the reasons why Toyota doesn't even bother trying to repair the transmissions in the field.

This situation, plus your experience twisting them off at very low stress makes me wonder if Toyota has used a stainless alloy in the pan bolts. Lack of magnetism may not be a completely reliable determinant for stainless. Stainless alloys are subject to Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking (CLSCC), and fail easily after salt has done the heavy lifting, i.e. the cracking process.

I know you didn't put much stress on the pan bolts, because a 1/4" drive ratchet won't develop a lot of torque before the ratchet breaks. I've broken a couple, and that little replacement 1/4" ratchet gathers dust in my tool box, except in rare instances.

I had heard of some instances of the bolts being suborn but it didn't seem to me that it was an issue of epidemic scale. I had run into some difficult equipment before and figured the handful of accounts regarding the tundra trans were as common as with any other vehicle... oops.

You mention Toyota techs not attempting trans repair on this vehicle; to what extent is that? Will they not even drop the pan if they know what the problem is like a solenoid or a valve body for example?
If that is the case then do they just swap the whole trans when they run into problems?

I apologize for all the follow-up questions but I'm learning as I go with this truck.

This whole experience has me scarred for what the future holds with keeping this vehicle alive. I had my last toyota truck, a 97 tacoma, forever and kept it alive all on my own after having to do some serious work to it.

I realize that things have gotten exponentially more complicated with vehicles since 1997 but some of this stuff is just stupid.

I just don't know if this tundra has the same serviceability or longevity as the tacoma did. sort of making me regret my decision to upgrade.
 

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Bummer.Fortunately your skills were able to get you through this challenge.In this case I will consider the trans fluid as "lifetime".Thanks for taking the time to post your ordeal.
 

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I had heard of some instances of the bolts being suborn but it didn't seem to me that it was an issue of epidemic scale. I had run into some difficult equipment before and figured the handful of accounts regarding the tundra trans were as common as with any other vehicle... oops.
Before my adult responsibilites caught up with me, I spent even more time on this site than now. I have read multiple instances here and seen videos on youTube of Tundra pan bolts snapping off exactly as yours did. It's unlikely that every bolt will have the problem, but the chance of ONE breaking off is enough for me. The fluid can be changed COMPLETELY without removing the pan if you carefully follow an established procedure. (Search)

Given the experience of others, I would not even consider trying to remove my transmission pan in the future: (1) a more thorough oil change option is available, (2) if serviced regularly, the strainer will not need changing, and (3) the risk of bolts snapping off is avoided.

You mention Toyota techs not attempting trans repair on this vehicle; to what extent is that? Will they not even drop the pan if they know what the problem is like a solenoid or a valve body for example?
If that is the case then do they just swap the whole trans when they run into problems?
There are many threads here regarding transmission warranty and non-warranty repair. (Search) The service response is always the same: replace the transmission. I suspect it's a corporate policy on warranty work that is continued by dealerships for non-warranty to avoid just the kind of headache that you endured. In the dealer's case, time = money.

I apologize for all the follow-up questions but I'm learning as I go with this truck.

This whole experience has me scarred for what the future holds with keeping this vehicle alive. I had my last toyota truck, a 97 tacoma, forever and kept it alive all on my own after having to do some serious work to it.

I realize that things have gotten exponentially more complicated with vehicles since 1997 but some of this stuff is just stupid.

I just don't know if this tundra has the same serviceability or longevity as the tacoma did. sort of making me regret my decision to upgrade.
No problem. All of us learn something every day, hopefully, and this is a good place to learn the secrets of Tundras. And, there is no need to be anxious about the longevity of your Tundra. Toyota would like you to frequent the dealer for expensive service, but I see no need to take it back there if it's something the owner can handle...you'll just need to visit here often to map the minefield. ;)
 

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Given the experience of others, I would not even consider trying to remove my transmission pan in the future: (1) a more thorough oil change option is available, (2) if serviced regularly, the strainer will not need changing, ;)
Not True. All automatic transmissions have metal chips and bits in them, way too many moving parts to not. That is exactly what the mesh filter is for, to collect those chips and stop them from circulating into other areas of the transmission. Which was exactly why the shop I used suggested or heavily recommended not doing a flush. They said that a system flush had been known to dislodge those metal flakes and chips, sending them into the transmission. I think this is also why so many people recommend to not service a Dodge tranny as well, far too many stories of someone getting their system serviced and the tranny going out a short time after. I would suspect that in these instances that the tranny was flushed as well. Otherwise their is absolutely no logical reason as to why a fresh, non-restrictive filter and fluids would harm a transmission. Makes no sense at all. Not even on a transmission that has 200k on it. The only thing that could be a potential problem would be refilling with incorrect fluids, fluid levels or forgetting a key additive. IMHO
 

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I had heard of some instances of the bolts being suborn but it didn't seem to me that it was an issue of epidemic scale. I had run into some difficult equipment before and figured the handful of accounts regarding the tundra trans were as common as with any other vehicle... oops.

You mention Toyota techs not attempting trans repair on this vehicle; to what extent is that? Will they not even drop the pan if they know what the problem is like a solenoid or a valve body for example?
If that is the case then do they just swap the whole trans when they run into problems?

I apologize for all the follow-up questions but I'm learning as I go with this truck.

This whole experience has me scarred for what the future holds with keeping this vehicle alive. I had my last toyota truck, a 97 tacoma, forever and kept it alive all on my own after having to do some serious work to it.

I realize that things have gotten exponentially more complicated with vehicles since 1997 but some of this stuff is just stupid.

I just don't know if this tundra has the same serviceability or longevity as the tacoma did. sort of making me regret my decision to upgrade.
It is a solid, well made truck! I wouldn't worry about it.
There is probably only one truck on the market that could be considered better Ford. But trust me, Ford has their quirks as well, like staying away from the 4.6 and 5.4 engines, then you have to be careful which plant the old reliable 5.0 comes from. I'd totally pass on their Turbo charged V6 as Ford has never had a very good history with forced-induction engines (maybe that has changed?).
The other 2 American automotive manufacturers I won't even mention!
Don't worry about it, the Tundra gets good customer reviews and ratings, it is a solid and well made truck.
 

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Not True. All automatic transmissions have metal chips and bits in them, way too many moving parts to not. That is exactly what the mesh filter is for, to collect those chips and stop them from circulating into other areas of the transmission. Which was exactly why the shop I used suggested or heavily recommended not doing a flush. They said that a system flush had been known to dislodge those metal flakes and chips, sending them into the transmission. I think this is also why so many people recommend to not service a Dodge tranny as well, far too many stories of someone getting their system serviced and the tranny going out a short time after. I would suspect that in these instances that the tranny was flushed as well. Otherwise their is absolutely no logical reason as to why a fresh, non-restrictive filter and fluids would harm a transmission. Makes no sense at all. Not even on a transmission that has 200k on it. The only thing that could be a potential problem would be refilling with incorrect fluids, fluid levels or forgetting a key additive. IMHO
(1) Flushing is not the complete fluid change option I was referring to...my transmission will never be flushed.

(2) Excessive "chips and bits" indicate abnormal wear and a transmission about to be replaced. For normal wear, if any filings are generated, they are heavier than ATF and will fall to the bottom of the pan and remain there. Anything light enough to float will be removed and trapped by the strainer. If there is enough of such material to obstruct your strainer even slightly, then your transmission is pretty well done. Sludge developing from unchanged fluid is the real concern for stopping up the strainer. Follow Toyota's maintenance recommendations and your transmission should be fine.
 

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There is probably only one truck on the market that could be considered better,..Ford.
I get and appreciate the overall sentiment of your post, but this line is a bit of a stretch. Ford never built a great half ton. They've been trying, ever since Toyota introduced the full-sized Tundra in 2007. But the only thing they've managed to pass the Tundra on are cushy suspension, interior comfort, info-tainment system and cost.
Nothing that has anything to do with actually being a truck. Ford is the Fram oil filter of trucks. Lots of advertising power, lots of brand loyalty, lots of name recognition, lots of sales,.........not engineered as well as they could/should be.
They don't make the 5.4 anymore and as far as I know, the 4.6. I'm pretty sure they use the mini turbo V6s in everything now. I'm not sure. Regardless, I'm not a fan of their halftons in any platform, trim or engine choice. Never have been. And their product support after the sale is famously worse than the product itself. Their only answer is to do sensational crap like aluminium bodies and make better commercials.
Enough about that. As far as American trucks, the Tundra is about as American as it gets, for all intents and purposes. It was designed here, only built here, by American employees and with as many or more American-sourced parts as any other truck.
I put food on the tables of Texan families when I bought my Tundra,.....not Mexican or Canadian Families.
So, when anyone says one truck is "better" than another, opinions are subjective and everyone has different criteria for determining what makes something better.
I'm curious as to what exactly makes you feel Ford possibly builds a better half ton.
 

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I have been replacing (not flushing) "lifetime" transmission fluid for decades in my vehicles. Most recently, my 2006 BMW X5 4.8, in 2011 at 90k, My 2006 Camry Hybrid in 2013 at 100k, and my 5.7 CM Tundra at 175k. The factory recommendation on all was not to change it as it is magical unicorn neverending gobstopper fluid. Nonsense, no such thing as lifetime in the world of machines.

I always have used factory fluids & filters/gaskets (World for the Toyotas, ZF Lifeguard for the BMW) both more expensive than their weight in gold but my results were good so there's that.

None had significant contamination in the fluid or filter, all had goop on the magnets in the oil pan and the fluid was from very dark brown to black.

None had any ill effects from changing, the X5 was totaled by my Son at 174k in late 2017, the Camry was traded in at 132k in January and the Tundra is going strong.

I don't understand how anyone can think anything man made under the stresses of a car can be lifetime. I also am certain if the transmission was fine prior to that changing the fluid actually harmed it.

The only thing I can think of is that the clutch packs were near their limit and the heavier dirty fluid with the detritus of the clutch packs floating around in there were "holding it together" and by changing it that magical elixir was removed.

Just my 2cents.
 

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I had my serviced at a reputable shop. At first they were going to do the transmission flush but called me and advised against it "heavily", said there were numerous bulletins advising to NOT flush these transmissions. So I tell them to go ahead and drop the pan, replace the transmission filter and all like they wanted to. They ran across 3 bolts that snapped. They were able to get them fixed. This was one of the most expensive transmission services I have ever paid for $450 and they did not charge any extra for the 3 snapped bolts. But that was refilling with BG fluids as well, not sure if there may have been a much cheaper alternative fluid out there or not, but they recommended the BG so I went with it.


Should have just paid 220 bucks at Toyota and had them do a passive fluid exchange


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I’m going to start at the end and work my way through the whole bloody story.
Please read the whole post before you pass judgment and assume I’m just another idiot who shouldn’t touch a wrench...

In the process of doing a simple automatic transmission fluid drain and refill on my 2014 tundra, I managed to strip the pan drain bolt, snap 5 (FIVE) of the 12 bolts that hold the pan on, and strip 1 of the 4 bolts the secure the filter to the valve body. This is the AB60F transmission.

A little background and how I got this lucky:

The truck had just shy of 60K miles on it. I had not bought into the whole “lifetime” transmission fluid business; it just didn’t make sense. Nothing lasts forever and I couldn’t figure out how or why WS fluid would be an exception. Bearing this in mind, I decided it was time to change the fluid and after much debate, research, and a phone call to the support line to Valvoline, I went with Valvoline Maxlife ATF. I had used this product in place of several other vehicles that called for WS with absolutely no issues.

Before tearing into this project I purchased a new filter, trans pan seal, and O-rings / crush washers for all the plugs I knew I’d need. I wasn’t planning on having to drop the pan but I figured I’d be a fool to not at least have them on hand.

Prior to attempting anything I soaked the plug and pan bolts in penetrating oil several times over the course of 3 days. I live in an area that gets plenty of snow and with it comes plenty of road salt. Nothing looked like it needed that much attention as the truck was rust free but I knew better then to skip such an easy step.

I pulled the truck in the garage before it had a chance to warm up so everything was at ambient temperature. I pulled the fill plug first to make sure it wasn’t stuck and it came out no problem. I then pulled the check and drain bolts which also came out easily. After letting the fluid drain I put the drain bolt back in and began tightening it to 15 Ft. Lbs. per the manual using a 3/8” torque wrench that was known to be accurate. The bolt got just about to the point that the wrench was going to click indicating it was torqued when all of a sudden the resistance went away and the little sucker just started to spin in place. “Sh*t”.

The drain bolt was stripped in the pan and would just spin in place whether I tried to tighten it or loosen it. I tried a few tricks I knew of including grabbing it with vise grips and doing a pulling / turning motion to try to get the threads to engage. I also tried some heat and jamming a stout flat head screwdriver in between the bolt flange and the pan to try to put some down force on the bolt while I also spun it… no luck.

Time to pull the pan so I can punch the drain bolt out. There were 12 6MM bolts holding the pan on. Using a ¼” ratchet I very gently started to back out the pan bolts. 5 of them snapped off flush with the trans case the moment I put any kind of torque on them; FIVE with no warning what so ever. 4 of them were on the sides of the trans so they were through and through, one of them was near the rear of trans where the transfer case is mounted and was in the blind so I couldn’t see or feel the other end of the bolt.

Upon getting the pan off I figured I was already in this for the long haul and I couldn’t possibly have any more fasteners bust so I decided to pull the 4 bolts that hold the filter on. They all came out no problem. I popped my new filter and O ring in and put the bolts back in. 3 of them torqued to 7 Ft. Lbs., 1 of them just barely torqued and I could feel it getting “mushy” in its threads but it was in there.

I could not for the life of me get the mangled drain bolt out of the pan with out getting destructive. I tried pressing it with a few long sockets and a ball joint press among some other tricks for about an hour. I eventually decided to punch it out with the right size punch, hammer, and wood blocks. I was able to drill and then run a heli-coil and larger bolt in to replace the plug.

Back to the pan bolts; I tried to drill the five busted off bolts out using a hand drill and a steady hand thinking I could slap in a few heli-coils and call it a day. I had done this many times before with success; not this time.

The drill bits “walked” off the bolts surface and botched the aluminum transmission case to the point that only one of the five holes would accept and hold a heli-coil. I didn’t have a welder handy so I couldn’t do any tricks with welding another bolt to what was left of the snapped off bolts. At this point I was very desperate and pissed off and probably not thinking as clearly as I should have been so, this is what ya get.

What I ended up doing was cleaning the transmission surface very thoroughly with brake clean and roughing up the surface with some 100 grit sand paper. I took some JB weld and packed the now egg shaped bolt holes with the goop and let it sit for a full 24 hours to cure. I then drilled the hardened resin with the right size bit and got some new, longer 6 MM bolts, nuts, and washers. I secured the pan to the transmission using the longer bolts that ran through and through so I had a nut and washer on the top side of the trans for the bolts to anchor to.

The blind bolt near the transfer case just would not hold. I tried tapping the hardened JB weld with the right tap but the bolt just would not torque up.
To make up for this I used a healthy bead of black permatex RTV the whole way around the top of the rubber gasket that sits between the trans pan and transmission belly. I figured this should more then make up for any lack of torque that that one missing bolt might not provide. I let the RTV set up for a full 24 hours before filling the transmission back up and going through the whole fill and check procedure (why don’t they just give us a f**king dip stick?).

Its been a month and I’ve gone through a few hundred miles and several heating and cooling cycles and I haven’t had any leaks so I think I might be good.

To be clear, I am not a professional or credentialed automotive mechanic. I have built rebuilt cars in my garage, worked on aircraft and ships in the military and I work in the rail industry on locomotives all day long as a mechanic. I am also a licensed electrician. I say all that to say I’m not a dummy. I have worked on mechanical “stuff” for over 20 years and I am confident when it comes to fixing vehicles, particularly when were just talking maintenance items. All that said, this thing kicked my ass.

If you are going to try this just be prepared for a friggin’ nightmare.

Maybe my truck was built on a Friday by a disgruntled assembly line guy who said to hell with the torque wrench, maybe the 6MM bolts they used on the stupid trans pan were cast incorrectly, or maybe my stupid luck just ran out. Whatever the case, you’ve been warned.
Sincerely thanks for the warning!

I only two things to add.

1. Every quarter turn of the bolt, run it back in back in again. It will time but better than a snap. Not saying it would have worked but I have, in the past with other situation, had success using this method.

2. Alumaloy Official Home

Don't ask me where ALL I've used it... :)

I've used alumaloy more than once to fill large gaps left from breaking off bolts. I even replaced the entire ear of exhaust bolt on an old intruder motorcycle... tapped and never had a single issue.


It does take time to use and you need MAPP gas and patience.
 

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I wonder if the road salt was the main culprit for the bolts snapping? On my '07 5.7L, I've dropped my trans pan twice with no issues at all. Once at 100k and again at 200k. Each time I changed the trans filter, cleaned out the pan (which was pretty spotless anyway) and did a fluid replacement. The fluid replacement method I used was to pin open the thermostat and then remove the cooler line near the grill - start the truck and pump out 2 quarts, then pour 2 quarts of new back into the trans. Repeat until you hit 12 quarts.
 
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