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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi -

Got under the engine to inspect the oil seepage and looks like it's mostly stemming from the upper oil pan seal. Wonderful.

@Bitter or @Haloruler64 or anyone else who might have removed/installed the upper oil pan on the 7A-FE - how much needs to be removed to do that job?

The FSM is rather unhelpful because it just suggests you remove the engine from the engine bay (uh, I don't think so).

The Autozone manual seems to indicate you need to lower the exhaust pipe and potentially lift the transmission a tad with a jack (scroll down to about midway on the page for the 7A-FE section): Repair Guides

Just looking to confirm I won't have to remove the stay between the cross member and the front frame?

Looks like I also have to pick up a new oil strainer tube gasket as part of the job.... 1985-1997 Toyota Engine Oil Pump Pickup Tube Gasket 15149-16010 | Conicelli Toyota of Conshohock

I was hoping to get away with only doing the bottom half, but nope...
 

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1995 Toyota Corolla
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This video shows installation of the upper oil pan at 49:10.


It doesn’t seem like the exhaust has been moved or that anything is in the way. I’ve heard the Geos have a brace in the way of the oil pan, but not the Toyotas.
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah... but you also can't see the brace that runs from front frame to crossmember... looks like it's been removed, right?
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #7
Just re-read this on my laptop (was looking at the photos on my phone before). So what they're saying is essentially unbolt the front of the brace, then pry it down. So don't mess with the rear part of it. That's smart - I like it. Thanks again for posting. I was fearing having to drop the crossmember to get the front brace off.
 

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Having the cross member down is a huge help in terms of not having it stuck in your way though, otherwise you're trying to wrangle the angle of the dangle all around it with silicone on the engine or pan that you can't bump into anything with while you're in motion down there. It'll go a lot easier with less things in your way!
 

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1997 Corolla
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Removing that brace shouldn't be a problem unless you have rusty nuts/bolts. The engine weight is supported by the side mounts. The front and rear mounts just prevent engine rotation. The engine will rotate easily a few degrees without the front and rear mounts attached, but that shouldn't cause a problem getting the oil pan off. Just remove the exhaust pipe first. If you had to apply major force to get the oil pan off, like prying the sealant off then you might want to leave the brace and front/rear mounts attached until after the oil pan is loose.
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #10
Can you remove the brace without removing/dropping the crossmember? I could probably duck under there to answer my own question...
 

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I pretty sure you can remove it without loosening the crossmember, but I can't remember exactly how the nuts and bolts hold it on. There are several nuts/bolts there that hold the back mount, brace and crossmember. Some hold all three and some just go through 2 of those parts.
 

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1997 Corolla
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I found a picture. As you can see the center part of the crossmember isn't touching the car's frame. The brace slips over top of the crossmember. You can see 3 of the nuts are fastened to the back motor (trans) mount. The brace is sandwiched in between the mount and crossmember. There is a 4th smaller bolt that just holds the brace to the crossmember.
299419
 

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Oh, wait, if the brace is sandwiched between the mount and crossmember then you won't be able to slide it out because the mount's studs will be going through the brace, but it should give you enough wiggle room to let the brace hang down and give you room to work on the oil pan.
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Finally got around to dig into this project after work yesterday. Some key updates:

The front brace can actually come out without dropping the cross member
  • You have to unbolt all the bolts for the brace itself, PLUS all the nuts for the transmission mount.
  • You then also need to tap the right transmission mount bolt out (it taps out easily - top is serrated to hold in place, not welded)
  • Finally remove the exhaust mount
  • The final brace bolt will NOT tap out. You can leave it in place
  • With everything else out of the way you can now wiggle the brace out from under the transmission mount
The exhaust can be lowered, front pipe does not need to come off.
  • If I were to remove the front pipe I would have to cut the bolts off where it connects to the cat. Between the oxidation and the extreme heat from the cat, over the years the bolts have completely welded themselves on to the flange. No amount of torch heat, PB blaster or impact wrenching is going to undo that.
  • So with the exhaust mount removed I removed the two nuts connecting the front pipe to the exhaust manifold and carefully lowered the exhaust to rest on the crossmember. It can be moved around enough to not be in the way when removing or installing the upper oil pan.
I then removed the lower oil pan, the "skirt" that goes around the oil pick-up tube, and the pick-up tube itself. I stopped short of doing the upper oil pan, as two of the allen head bolts are obscured behind the AC compressor, and I need a 5 mm ball head hex to get them out at an angle. On order now!

Observations:
  • A tiny bit of sludge/buildup in the lower pan. Most came out by wiping with a shop towel. Someone was posting in another thread that the pan's proximity to the exhaust is causing sludging. Looks like the exhaust side of the pan indeed got the most varnish.
  • Pick-up tube/strainer and skirt, and inside of upper oil pan had quite a bit of varnish. The interesting thing to observe was that the varnish was starting to come off, and I could wipe it off in certain areas with a shop towel. I think this is the result of running conventional oil for the first 120k miles, and then for the past 35k miles mostly synthetic (albeit some semi synthetic). It looks like the synthetic has slowly been chipping away at the varnish. I will try to apply some Simple Green degreaser to the parts I have removed to get the rest of the varnish off (not that it matters that the varnish is there... by the OCD in me wants to see it gone!)
Once I have my ball head hex socket I'll remove the upper pan and do some more cleaning!
 

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1997 Corolla
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That doesn't sound like that bad of a job, actually.

Although I think I'd dismount the compressor to get at those two bolts, just to get on with the job.
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #17
Well the upper pan is finally out! What a pain! The two hex bolts hiding behind the compressor were really stuck on. I had to use my newly acquired Mini Ductor II tool to heat up the bolts, and they finally gave up their grip and came out with the ball head hex. The rest of the hex bolts were also pretty stuck, but came off with a regular 5 mm hex socket. There are 23 bolts in total for the upper pan, so a battery powered wrench is highly recommended.

I then realized I had to remove the crank pulley to get access to tap in the pan removal tool. Which in turn means loosening the alternator and the AC idler pulley. Sigh.

I was able to clean off all the varnish on both pan halves with Simple Green de-greaser (the purple colored one) and an old toothbrush :)

Then... a bird whispered in my ear that I should plastigage the rod bearings to see if they're worn, since the pans are already off. And with that I think I'll have my next step outlined! Just need to source some plastigage!
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Some notes: Green plastigage is the way to go - will measure the range applicable:

Bah... I'll figure out the readings eventually. Struggling with the FSM.
 

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I then realized I had to remove the crank pulley to get access to tap in the pan removal tool. Which in turn means loosening the alternator and the AC idler pulley. Sigh.
LOL, this thread reminds me of threads I've seen on other car forums, where the owner goes in to do one job, and ends up going in to a full restoration, turning the thread about that initial job into a forty page, three-year-running epic thread...

The rabbit is loose!
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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4,344 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Yeah no kidding. I'm now super nervous I'll put all this back together only to find out it was the rear main seal leaking all along, just that the oil was finding its way to the seams of the oil pan, making it seem as if those were the areas leaking.
 
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