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Hey guys, thought I'd do a write-up on removal and replacement of an A140E valve body. This opportunity comes courtesy of an '00 5S-FE Camry that I did an engine replacement on (bought it cheap with bad rod knock). After firing it up with fresh Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc, I noticed that forward gears worked fine (it would shift appropriately from 1 to 4, and would lock up the torque converter at the right speeds), but it would slip bad in reverse: you had to rev it to 3000 RPM to get it moving anywhere.

Before trying this yourself, you need to realize a couple things:

1. I or Toyota Nation are not in any way responsible for whatever you do. You undertake the procedures outlined here at your own risk, and on your own head be it. That being said, note that the valve body is the most complex piece of your car as part of the automatic transmission: it's a mechanical computer, and if you screw it up, well, you get the picture.

2. Valve body problems are rare on these transmissions. They usually occur in two ways: either some jerk screwed it up by damaging it physically (read on), or it's a cascading failure from extreme transmission abuse, such as large amounts of metal particles chewing up bores and seals.

So before you jump to the conclusion that you have a valve body problem, you should check out a state diagram of the transmission, and try to logically figure out what the hell the problem could be. Hey, if any of you fancy yourselves A140E experts, feel free to correct any mistakes you find below; I haven't taken one apart for a rebuild, just making educated guesses based on the literature and what I've seen in other transmissions.

Why I decided to check the VB: I looked at a chart of which clutches and brakes are applied (or not) for which gears. Here it is:




...as you can see, for Reverse, the Overdrive Direct Clutch, Direct Clutch, and First and Reverse Brake are applied. The first thing to do is check what other gears share application of these, so you can see if those are having problems as well.

If it were a problem with the O/D Direct Clutch, we'd have problems with the car bogging down when it inadvertently shifts into overdrive OR the gears start clashing; its purpose is to activate the O/D brake (overdrive gear is in the drum tacked onto the driver side of the trans) to hold it out of the way so the lower gears can do their thing. No problem with forward gears, so this should be fine.

The direct clutch is for low gear engagement. Common sign of failure here is slippage in 1st or 2nd, or delayed engagement, taking several seconds to drop into gear. Especially because when you shift into D, these transmissions first shift into 2nd, then 1st; this is to reduce the harshness of the shift. Thumps into gear just fine, and 1st and 2nd are good, so probably no problem here.

The First and Reverse Brake works right before the output at the differential: it serves to keep the transmission from getting out of 1st (if shifter is in the L position), and to keep the trans in Reverse. Given that 1st works fine in L, but the car slips badly until 3000 RPM in R, what could be the problem?

Well, the fluid pathways are different in the valve body, as in this brake (probably a band, so a fluid-actuated band apply servo) is applied two different ways in the VB. Note: at 3000 RPM, the car "catches" in reverse. Holding the throttle steady, I can see the revs drop as torque is transmitted to the wheels.

That is the giveaway: this is a fluid pressure issue. Some musings on this:

- could it be the fluid pump? Doubtful. When trans fluid pumps fail, they usually make a loud screeching or whining noise. Also, this would result in not enough line pressure across the board, so we would have trouble in all gears. Hell, I've got another car (U140E) sitting with this exact problem, and the trans behaves completely differently from the Camry

- clogged pipes? Again, doubtful. VB passages are more easily clogged than apply/fluid transfer pipes, and unless you pulled something the consistency of mud out of the trans (I did not. It was black, but flowed easily), this is not an issue. Also, high-quality, fresh fluids with lots of detergents (such as the aforementioned MaxLife) will clean this stuff out. Which is also where the myth that you should not flush out an old transmission comes from; they think it'll dislodge chunks of stuff which will block passages and pipes. No, it'll nab that stuff and put it in suspension, to be removed at your next fluid change or caught by the screen filter

- clogged filter? I read one person's account of solving reverse issues with a filter change, but I suspect they weren't paying attention to the behavior of the forward gears. The filter, like the pump, is low enough on the fluid flow path that everything comes after it, so a clogged filter would cause problems in forward gears, too (at least, it has on every other transmission I've dealt with)

That's all the thought I put into this. Time for action.

First thing I did was drain the fluid (10mm socket cap bolt) and drop the pan (15 10mm bolts). I got this:




...pan magnets are hairy with steel shed from metal part wear. That's never a good sign, but I have a service record showing that the filter and pan gasket were replaced a couple months before I got the car, and I assume they would have cleaned the pan. I'm willing to bet this is from all the revving I did getting the car to reverse (I was driving it around). In any case, I've seen transmissions come back to life after seeing the spiky hair, so I decided to continue.

Here's the pan filter:




...it's got a little of the metal on it from the pan magnets magnetizing it. Notice the clip for the solenoid wire (get that out before dropping the filter). Three 10mm bolts, and it drops right off. Be careful, as the transmission will hemorrhage fluid when you pull it off. Here's the other side:




...notice the smudges of clutch material. That's probably from the brake band. Here's a closer picture of the VB side:




Compare it to the new one:




...see the slivers of metal in the old one? That's not consistent with plate, clutch, or gear wear. If you've ever drilled into metal or tapped a hole, you've seen this.

I found a problem (hopefully THE problem) in the bolts used to secure the filter. There are three: two short ones (45mm) and a longer one (50mm). The long one sits alone one one side, and the two short ones are on the opposite side. I found the long one on the wrong side. Here are their length differences:




Note that the long one will not seat into either of the short ones' holes. However, it did in one of the holes...I'm willing to bet that chewed up the VB and destroyed a fluid passage for reverse gear.

Here is the long one in its proper hole (note that it does not bottom out):




...and here it is in the undamaged, short hole:




And that's as far as I went. The meat and potatoes of VB R&R, so to speak, will be coming up when I get a used valve body from the junkyard.
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #2
Tools Needed

So what tools and supplies will we need? Not much, as it turns out:

- nice gloves that will let you work even when they are covered in trans fluid. My own example: I'm allergic to transmission fluids (ach, eczema!), so I do my best to keep them off my skin. 9- or 11-mil latex/nitrile gloves, while expensive, will do the trick. Preferably get ones with textured fingers, and note that latex will be more rip-resistant. Nitrile is preferred in medical contexts because the rips are easily visible; latex that doesn't show a rip means a doctor or nurse doesn't know they've been pricked. Also, using such thick gloves instead of 5- or 7-mil means they won't rip as easily

I recommend the Microflex Safegrip; about $22 bucks/box of 50 at my local Winchester Auto




- 10mm socket, 6-inch extension, and ratcheting wrench. Every bolt we have here is 10mm, woohoo! I once read somebody's facetious - but funny - comment that if it can be held by a 10mm bolt, the Japanese will do it. Kudos! If you have an electric ratchet, or electric screwdriver with a socket adapter, taking this apart will be a lot quicker. As usual, I recommend the Milwaukee offering (P/N 2457-20), it's served me well

- 1/4" torque wrench. All the torques are low for this job, and you really want to be careful with everything since it's so sensitive. As usual, I recommend the Tekton offering for this (P/N 24320, or TRQ21101 if you want a slightly fancier, dual-direction wrench for A Few Dollars More)

- plastic-faced hammer for tapping in the oil pipes. I like the Tekton one (P/N 30812)

- transmission fluid because there's no way you'll be able to recover all that drips out. You have a lot of choices, but I recommend Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc. Works well in everything I have
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #3
Start Here!

OK, first thing to do is removal of the detent spring and manual valve body. Here's a pic of them still attached:




The manual valve body is held by four 10mm bolts: you can see the short one under the detent spring, and the other three in a line on the other side of the passage casting (they are the same length). Note the peg that mates with the MVB's plunger/boost valve. Here is a closer pic of the detent spring roller on the toothed wheel that drives the MVB (from the shifter):




Notice the roller is centered in the groove. Remember that for reassembly. Here is the detent spring removed:




...note the little plate between the spring and the two bolt heads, and note where the short bolt goes and where the long bolt goes. Note: I won't give lengths of every single bolt, just relative sizing such as "short" or "long." Here's the manual valve body (underside):




Bolts are laid out where they go (three long, one short). See the passages? Moving the shifter moves the plunger, which controls which way fluid flows to make the transmission do different things. That's why I called these things "mechanical computers"; the main valve body (which we will not be taking apart), is a lot more complex but in the same vein.

If you want to do a cursory inspection of the MVB, move the plunger back and forth. It should not rattle or feel like it has play in its bore, but neither should it feel tight, or scrape. It should feel like it's moving smoothly with some resistance. I don't recommend removing the plunger, because the tight tolerances mean you could accidentally nick it and cause pressure loss.

Next up is the oil pipe bracket:




Both bolts are the same size, so no worries there. Note which way the long dimple in the center is facing. Then, remove these oil pipes:




They're compression fit, and the FSM calls for removal with a "large screwdriver." I found that a regular screwdriver worked fine. Use caution so you don't bend or kink them.

Next up, unbolt the oil strainer (filter). Remember that a solenoid wire was clipped to it: unclip that first, then three bolts (long one by its lonesome, short ones together). After that, undo the solenoid connectors:




Next up is dropping the valve body. When you drop it, a good bit of trans fluid will drop out, so watch it. Here's a pic showing the 12 bolts to take off. Their lengths are color-coded (refer back here for later):




Red = 20mm
Yellow = 25mm
Green = 36mm
Light Blue = 50mm

Keep in mind that I've double-checked this for accuracy, but again, anything you do based on this guide or otherwise, is your problem. You should do something like this as a safeguard:




Now, I couldn't get a good picture in situ of the kickdown cable attached to the cam on the valve body because it's hard to operate your phone when you're holding up a valve body, but here's a pic of the cam:




Take a look at your throttle body cables, this is the same thing. After that, the VB should be free. Here is the old one (left) next to the one from Pick-n-pull:




...seems both valve bodies have been worked on in the past. What you can see: the old one has a baffle plate covering an oblong port (that you can see on the plate-less new one) that runs transmission fluid over a valve. What you can't see: the old one has had a solenoid replacement (aftermarket), and the new one has Aisin solenoids; the new one has an aftermarket separator plate/plate gasket (NStec brand). Whoever did the job didn't quite align it properly, or the aftermarket gasket is shoddily made. Here's the oil hole alignment on the old one:




And here is the same on the new one:




Here's a view up into the trans with the VB removed:




...and it's time to put it back. Having a friend really helps; otherwise, make sure you have everything within arm's reach (not arms' reach). You should turn the kickdown cam as far as you can so you can slip the cable back into it, then raise the VB into the trans, making sure to line up the holes. Make sure not to get the two solenoid wires/connectors caught behind the VB. I threaded all the bolts in by hand, then secured them by length, i.e., torqued 20mm bolts, then 25mm, etc. All bolts are 7 ft-lbs.

Now that the VB is secure, I'd plug both solenoids back in:




The FSM calls for a plastic-faced hammer to tap the oil pipes back into place. I like the Tekton offering:




Pipe #1:




Pipe #2:




Pipe #3:




and Pipe #4:




Then, install the oil pipe bracket (remember the orientation, both bolts are the same) and the pan filter (long bolt by itself, shorter bolts are friends). Clip the solenoid wire to the filter:




Now we install the manual valve body. Look back for the bolt arrangement, 7 ft-lbs:




Here's a closer picture of how the peg mates with the valve:




And the detent spring. Make sure to center the roller and that it is going into the same position that you took it out from (the Park position is where I removed it):




...and bolt it down. 7 ft-lbs:




Finally, it's time to clean out the pan. This is why you use a rubber gasket instead of shitty cork:




...see how cleanly it's coming off, even though it's hard?

Here's the pan, freshly cleaned. Notice that I moved the magnets: the new location is where the FSM says to place them so they won't interfere with the oil pipes:




After laying the new gasket on the pan, stick a couple bolts up from the other side. That'll hold the gasket in place on the trans while you thread every other bolt through:




I torqued everything in a criss-cross pattern. 15 bolts, 43 in-lbs.
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #4
Done!

And that's it! Refill your transmission using whatever fluid you chose, I'm sure you can look up how to do this. Congratulations on swapping out your valve body! If this were a Ford, you would have (or wouldn't have, as the case may be) pulled the transmission by now. o\

In a couple months I'll have another one coming up, as I'm going to replace components on my U140E VB, hopefully we can get a good look at the VB's guts at that time.
 

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Thank you for doing this! I understand that my 95 has the rubber ball in the VB and that they can wear down and fail. IDK what causes them to fail but it won't be because of poor maintenance. The FSM explains how to remove the VB but not in the best details. Please take good pics of the removal of the valve body detent spring, the position of lever ( per FSM: installation tip: check that the manual valve lever is touching the center of the detent spring tip roller).
Very good pics so far.
W95c
 

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Scary stuff. I've taken out a '93 A540E valve body and rebuilt it 10 years ago. Luckily it all went back together ok. The problem turned out to be a broken ferrule on the downshift cable at its base going into the trans which caused very harsh shifts from 1st to 2nd. I never want to do that again.

Sorry, but those metal shavings look like the trans is toast. My understanding is that Reverse gear takes the highest line pressure to engage properly. Did you do a line pressure check before you took it apart?

Might be a good idea to check all the TSB's on that trans to see if this is a known failure mode.
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #7
Scary stuff. I've taken out a '93 A540E valve body and rebuilt it 10 years ago. Luckily it all went back together ok. The problem turned out to be a broken ferrule on the downshift cable at its base going into the trans which caused very harsh shifts from 1st to 2nd. I never want to do that again.

Sorry, but those metal shavings look like the trans is toast. My understanding is that Reverse gear takes the highest line pressure to engage properly. Did you do a line pressure check before you took it apart?

Might be a good idea to check all the TSB's on that trans to see if this is a known failure mode.
I'll check out the TSBs, and no, I didn't do a pressure test. In retrospect, yada yada yada...I'll remember that for the future, thanks.
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Welp, dave was right: swapping the valve body didn't change a damn thing. Ah well, I'll upload my pics anyway to get the write-up done.
 

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Welp, dave was right: swapping the valve body didn't change a damn thing. Ah well, I'll upload my pics anyway to get the write-up done.
:(

That sucks...so the trans is done for?

Either way, I love these DIYs!
 

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Sorry to hear that. Also sorry, I didn't mean to be a party pooper. It was worth a try to do a valve body swap at least.

Transmissions in my opinion are for the pros. The youtuber: ghostes recently rebuilt his wife's RX300 trans and did a 4 or 5 part video on it:
Interesting stuff to watch the whole series, but it looked like a total bear to assemble and disassemble, track parts, get everything back into spec. He was successful, but my gawd, you can see how easily you could miss one thing and that's it. You also have to be able to source the aftermarket parts and hope they meet manufacturer specs. He must be a machinist or something by trade. It still ended up costing him $1000+ in parts I think to do it himself.

Hey, there's even an A140E rebuild youtube series that is part of a 5SFE teardown also (part 4 missing?):


Looks like that guy had a few special tools to compress the clutch packs.

There is a TSB for the A140E for a no reverse that says the overdrive clutch burns up: ATRATB340. But your heavy metal shavings on the mags suggests you may have planetary gear damage or something?
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #11
Oh no problem, not pooping at/on the party at all! Hey, I'd rather know than not, you know?

Yeah if I had the time I'd do a complete rebuild and compile my [magnum opus] of DIY write-ups. Ah well, the first/reverse brake is probably toast. The stuff I cleaned off the magnets and pan wasn't metal - it was clutch material. Guess it's magnetic, or it has metal particles that I couldn't see.

The first time I rebuilt a transmission (Ford AX4N), I made the mistake of tossing in a band with the rest of the metal parts to be hot tanked; the clutch/friction material fell right off in the chemical bath. Not that that's related, but I'm now thinking that the trans fluid wasn't changed in a very long time, and the band wore down to the metal? Or maybe a seal went on the band apply servo.
 

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Either way, I love these DIYs!
Yeah, me too! I've never had trans trouble that caused me to have to take one apart, so it's interesting to see the innards. Deepest I've gone is to change the screen-filters.
 

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It will be great if somebody can give a very clear and detailed explanation of how the gears work for each gear. The first diagram is still too hard for me to understand. Thanks!
 

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Sorry to hear that's a no-go. Nice pics however. Spiky metal hair on magnets means serious metal wear. So that reverse cluctch and steels are probably goners (they might just be victims and as you said, there might be problems elsewhere).

So what do you plan next? A transmission swap or rebuild?
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #16
I hate this didn't fix your problem. So removing the VB wasn't a big deal?
W95c
Nope, not a big deal. I'll post the rest of the pics to complete the DIY when I get a chance.

Sorry to hear that's a no-go. Nice pics however. Spiky metal hair on magnets means serious metal wear. So that reverse cluctch and steels are probably goners (they might just be victims and as you said, there might be problems elsewhere).

So what do you plan next? A transmission swap or rebuild?
Weird thing is, the spiky hair wasn't metallic - seemed to be clutch material through-and-through. I'm just going to keep an eye out and keep driving the car (it's my beater), trying not to get into situations where I have to reverse. I have absolutely no time lately, otherwise I'd do either a swap (easy since I've done it twice now on these cars) or a rebuild (not as easy, but I welcome the challenge and it would make for a nice write-up). Besides, I'm rarin' to get the Lexus working (that's going to be a write-up!).
 
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When the trans starts slipping, shops will often first sell "filter and flush" to customers as a "it's cheaper so let's try it first" (or maybe an easy way to pump some cash?). In reality, I've never seen one of these trans come back to life in such a way.

Also, that is an ungodly amount of metal shavings to collect in few hundred miles after filter replacement. This tranny is a toast.

Save it for the winter project to rebuild the tranny. It may look intimidating, but it's just tedious, and you look like you've got the skills to make it happen. Good luck!
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #18
When the trans starts slipping, shops will often first sell "filter and flush" to customers as a "it's cheaper so let's try it first" (or maybe an easy way to pump some cash?). In reality, I've never seen one of these trans come back to life in such a way.

Also, that is an ungodly amount of metal shavings to collect in few hundred miles after filter replacement. This tranny is a toast.

Save it for the winter project to rebuild the tranny. It may look intimidating, but it's just tedious, and you look like you've got the skills to make it happen. Good luck!
Yeah, me either. What I really need other than time is space - I already have two transmissions taking up my garage floor: a Honda 5MT that needs synchro modification (easy) and a ZF 6HP26 that needs a valve body rebuild and new clutch packs (never done this particular trans before, so took it on). Most Japanese and domestic 4- and 5-speeds are pretty easy, as long as a careful inspection gets done
 

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ISB should do a headbolt repair on a Gen5 Camry 2AZs. I've been finding a lot recently on our local CL with 'overheating' issues. They can also be had for cheap usually too.



What ended up happening to your ES? Trans died recently?
 

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short-throw dipstick
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Discussion Starter #20
ISB should do a headbolt repair on a Gen5 Camry 2AZs. I've been finding a lot recently on our local CL with 'overheating' issues. They can also be had for cheap usually too.



What ended up happening to your ES? Trans died recently?
Well, I've done it on a Northstar, which has the same problem. If only I was a car flipper, I'd totally do the gen5's. I see a lot on my CL as well, but they have moon-miles: 250k+, which wouldn't be cost-effective. Plus, they're all beat-up because the owners never take care of them.

ES is sitting in a private parking lot...still has the problem I bought it with. Haven't had a chance (Insights come first since I miss driving it too much), but I'll do a write-up if I can on dropping the 1MZ trans to replace TC, fluid pump, and rear main seal (along with refreshing the valve body, and installing a cooler and inline filter which you've seen in the "Barn Find" thread). It'll be like my other one on R&R'ing an A140E. Stay tuned!

Hey, you should get an ES (I know I say it a lot) so you can do a thread as well! I always enjoy your excellent, detailed pics.
 
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