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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Replacing Valve Body / Solenoid: How Complicated Is It?

Ok, so I've got the 1776 code and need to replace the solenoid pack. But I have no experience with transmissions, and the thought of accumulator pistons, springs and ball bearings falling all over the place scares the crap out of me.

How hard is it to replace the two units together? I saw this on Ebay, and was wondering if this is a job I could do myself.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/BRAND-NEW-VA...be4ffa&vxp=mtr

From reading posts here on the forum it seems less involved to replace both the valve body and solenoid as a unit at the same time, correct? Or would I do better to just bring it to a local transmission shop? I have a quote of $670 to do the job (new valve body & solenoid) but was looking for a second opinion. It'd be nice to save $400 or more bucks.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 04:27 PM
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Most recommend complete rebuilt valve body due to small parts incompatiblity anywho, but some will disagree
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 300maximilien View Post
Most recommend complete rebuilt valve body due to small parts incompatiblity anywho, but some will disagree
Yes, that's exactly what I meant. I would buy the valve body and solenoid pack as a single unit. So, is that all there is to it - remove the 17 bolts, unplug the connector, drop it into a pan, replace it with the new unit, replug the connector and re-bolt the thing up there? Or, am I missing something?
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 06:40 PM
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If you've never dug into a tranny before, the 42LE is not a good beginners unit. The process is fairly simple ans straightforward, but you're dealing with an incredibly sensitive automatic transmission. When you drop the valve body, actuators are going to fall out of place. You need to make sure that the new one goes in exactly like the old one came out, actuators, check balls and all. Or else you're caught with a tranny that will be nothing more than a 175lb paperweight. Doing tranny swaps aren't fun....I've done two so far.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Squilliam View Post
If you've never dug into a tranny before, the 42LE is not a good beginners unit. The process is fairly simple ans straightforward, but you're dealing with an incredibly sensitive automatic transmission. When you drop the valve body, actuators are going to fall out of place. You need to make sure that the new one goes in exactly like the old one came out, actuators, check balls and all. Or else you're caught with a tranny that will be nothing more than a 175lb paperweight. Doing tranny swaps aren't fun....I've done two so far.

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Well, if you think you'll be out in Eastern PA (Pike County) and wanted some side work, I pay in beer.

ETA, Y'know, if there were some photos of the assembly in the process of uninstall/reinstall, I'm pretty good at figuring things out...

Last edited by RKBAGUY; 05-15-2012 at 09:04 PM.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 10:29 PM
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Make sure a shop does a complete diagnostic test to be certain it is actually the valve body assembly (valve body/solenoid pack/TRS-MVLPS) and not something electrical or internal.

A good diagnosis means more than just pulling the transmission-specific codes with a scanner. Diagnostic tests include a road test, pressure checks on the transmission's side taps, and pulling the pan for a debris check. As I recall reading in the FSM, other diagnostic checks can also be done with the pan and valve body off using an air pressure test plate, and of course they can inspect the valve body internal parts if they disassemble it. You might be a little upset if they put in a new valve body assembly for over $600 and you've still got internal trans problems.

As far as pricing, the Mopar 42LE rebuilt valve body assembly comes complete with a new solenoid pack, a new filter and gasket, and I think a new transmission range sensor (TRS) (or the similar Manual Valve Lever Postion Sensor [MVLPS] in early 1st Gen transmissions). A shop could buy it at their shop discount from a local Mopar dealer (or other reman sources) for ~$275, and they'll add their percentage parts charge on to that. Putting it in is not hard on a lift for a pro, but remember part of your labor charge is for the fluid flush/fill and filter change [~$100]). If it is just the solenoid pack that needs to be replaced, that is around $150 for the shop to buy. If it is just the TRS or MVLPS (depending on year) that is around $50. (Again add shop parts mark-up to that, and of course the $200-$350 in labor for the diagnosis, install, and new fluid/filter).

Putting in a replacement valve body assembly on your back with the car on jack stands is a pain unless you are a fairly skilled, careful home mechanic and don't mind getting smelly red transmission fluid dripped on your face, hair, arms, and on your (old!) clothes. (Obviously, you also need to wear safety glasses.) Nevertheless, there are a few How Tos and threads here and on LHforums dot net on this. Beware that it is tricky to get it out and especially to put in back in. Two people make things much easier. Do a search on the threads on "valve body" and "solenoid pack" and you'll get all the details, rather than me trying to go through it all. The FSM and most of the manuals don't describe the procedure very well.

Be warned that if you drop the loose round accumulators and they are dinged up or scratched, you've got to order new ones. If you drop or otherwise damage the new valve body assembly parts, well that's up to $300 that you just as well could have spent on lottery tickets.

BTW, the valve body check balls won't fall out unless you disassemble the valve body, which should NOT be done except by a trained transmission tech. You need a couple of special tools anyway, so don't try it. However, If you are skilled enough to take the valve body assembly out, you can replace the solenoid pack and the TRS (or MVLPS). Both of them are just held in place on the valve body with screws. The pdf of the Factory Service Manual archived on this site shows the procedure.

You also have to keep the new valve body and the underside CLEAN. E.g. you can't have the valve body sitting there while you are scraping off gasket material. You should do this in a clean garage or covered carport with a smooth, dust free floor (clean it first) - not in all the dust on the street. Avoid touching the new valve body with dirty hands (use clean nitrile gloves). Anything you wipe on the underside of the transmission (for example if you get scraped gasket material stuck there) must be wiped with special lint free towels, not shop towels. Some parts stores or specialty auto paint stores have them, but they are hard to find. Alot of tiny debris (like grains of sand blown into the underside while you are working) can clog up the fine passages in the transmission and valve body and can cause other problems if they circulate around the transmission before the filter catches them.

SO---
All that said, for most people, paying the ~$300-$350 labor in addition to your parts cost to have the shop do it is well worth it. If things go wrong doing it yourself, you'd have to tow the car to a shop and explain what you did. (Real bummer.)

To find a shop, if you don't use a Dodge/Chrysler dealer (more expensive), I'd recommend an ATRA member shop (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association - searchable on-line at ATRA dot com).

Last edited by pt500; 05-17-2012 at 05:07 AM. Reason: clarify & check ball info
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 10:52 PM
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If you are a quick learn, try the FSM and see if it looks like something you can handle. I just re-sealed my pan tonight but that was under a lift and had all my tools handy. Granted, you don't need many with a pan drop but, in case I found some debris in the fluid, I was ready.

There was a detail about the P1776 that applied to the build date of the solenoid. I don't have the data right in front of me but, certain build dates had the affected valve in the solenoid and others were in the valve body. Since there is no way to see the build date without first removing the valve body, (Which by the way does have the solenoid attached in either case), you might as well listen to all of these that said just replace both as an assembly. Replace the filter too and ONLY use ATF+4.

The best trick I've seen was with a second set of hands to hold the accumulators in place with a yardstick or such and during re-assembly. Just remember, the open end of the accumulator points downward. The yardstick not only keeps the accumulator up while installing, it prevents the springs from falling out as well until the valve body assembly is far enough installed to prevent them from falling out.

The terminals for the solenoid point upwards and can require a bit of jockeying to seat into the connector properly. Don't worry about fluid in the terminal area. The top of the solenoid is not sealed to the trans body. it is only the plug itself that has a seal on the outer side of the trans body. You won't even have to bother with the plug unless the solenoid or plug has fried terminals. (Not an effect of the P1776).

Had to edit as I just remembered. Looking from the top down you'll need to crank the shifter lever as far clockwise as it will go to allow the park lever to pass the bracket that it works with.
You can do this in about 2 hours on your back and I highly recommend NOT using a gasket. RTV for ATF usage is all you need to re-seal the pan.

Last edited by Adpros; 05-15-2012 at 11:53 PM. Reason: memory
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-15-2012, 11:20 PM
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it's not a hard job to do, but it's not any fun either. I hate laying underneath cars these days and even more when the job is messy. I was not happy my car needed a new valve body at 50K miles, but I was glad I could save a few bucks and make sure the job was done to my satisfaction by doing it myself.

The accumulator pistons will fall off the valve body when you pull it down. It's not too hard to prevent this by going slowly. The following picture shows the pistons from the front of the car.



Getting the new valve body in sucks. This is what I did to hold the pistons in while raising the valve body into place.



It's a simple piece of plastic hacked out of an old container. A single pan bolt holds it in place. Once you get the valve body raised and a few bolts holing it up you can slide this plastic out and finish bolting the valve body in. Another view:



Good luck if you decide to give it a go.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-16-2012, 01:00 AM
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Wow, I like the 'Tool'!!!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-16-2012, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the great feedback, guys. You've all been very helpful, and that idea from Cheif Brody rocks.

From what I see here, it looks as though I can do the work within my skill set if I'm careful. But I think we're into the realm of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" at this point. There's some wisdom to having a pro do the work, and my local trans shop (who quoted me $670 for the VB and Solenoid replacement) is ATRA certified, so maybe it makes sense to just bring it in there.

I very much appreciate all the terrific support. I was hoping to save a few bucks, but there's also a cost to savings, and the risk relative to the savings just doesn't seem worth it at this point.

Last edited by RKBAGUY; 05-16-2012 at 01:04 PM.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-16-2012, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Brody View Post
it's not a hard job to do, but it's not any fun either. I hate laying underneath cars these days and even more when the job is messy. I was not happy my car needed a new valve body at 50K miles, but I was glad I could save a few bucks and make sure the job was done to my satisfaction by doing it myself.

The accumulator pistons will fall off the valve body when you pull it down. It's not too hard to prevent this by going slowly. The following picture shows the pistons from the front of the car.
Chief,
Couple of questions:
Where did you get your replacement valve body and cost?
What year valve body was the replacement and what year is the LH it went into?

Thanks.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-16-2012, 03:25 PM
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I would ask that shop if they have worked on a 42le before and if they have could they show you some receipts..it's not a tranny for the average tranny shop to work on.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2012, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
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Chief,
Couple of questions:
Where did you get your replacement valve body and cost?
What year valve body was the replacement and what year is the LH it went into?

Thanks.
Paid around $300 at Teterboro Chrysler here in NJ.

No idea what year the rebuild came from. I used p/n R5012907AC and it worked fine. The car is a 2004 Concorde LXi.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-17-2012, 08:34 AM
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Paid around $300 at Teterboro Chrysler here in NJ.

No idea what year the rebuild came from. I used p/n R5012907AC and it worked fine. The car is a 2004 Concorde LXi.
.
Thanks for the info, appreciate it.
If I have to do it, I wanted to know how much I'm looking at.
.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Paid around $300 at Teterboro Chrysler here in NJ.
Wow, small world. My folks are up in Washington Twp, off 17, right near Hillsdale/Paramus.

Wondering if I might be able to ask for your help. I've been thinking off and on about the possibility of doing the transmission work myself (replacing the vb/solenoid) because I'm out of work and this is an expensive repair.

I'm far more inclined to do so if I have someone who's been through it can help look over my shoulder to offer 'technical advice'. I know you said you're not one to crawl around under cars any more, but if I'm able to save $400 by doing the work myself, it would surely be helpful at this point in time.

I'd do all the work, but having an 'assistant' would be extremely helpful. And there's a really nice dinner in it for you and your wife (or significant other) as my feeble way of saying thanks. Maybe a gift certificate to Morton's, Houstons, or River Palm Terrace?

Feel free to PM me if this is something you'd be willing to consider.

Last edited by RKBAGUY; 05-21-2012 at 02:26 PM.
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