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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in the process of swapping out my driver side CV axle in a 01 5 speed, V6. I ordered the CV axle from the part store, and they looked up the one for a manual trans, and waited until they got it in, and when I pulled mine out of my car, the shaft going into the differential was about 3 1/2 inches longer than the new one. Now when I called them they said the longer one was for an automatic. Is this right? Or is their system wrong? Did someone maybe do a CV axle and put the long one in by mistake because I didn't think you could put the longer one in there if it called for a shorter one. Thoughts?

I got the other one coming in tomorrow with the longer shaft for comparison just wanted to ask you guys cause you would know more where you have had experience with cougars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update: I had the right axle the entire time for a manual transmission and the reason why I thought it was longer was because the CV joint was completely pulled apart which was causing my binding and it made it a few inches longer. So I'm looking at the new one it was the correct one the whole time. But my other question is on the new one there is a little bit of a gap in between the transmission and the back of the CV axle. Is that normal? See picture to know what I'm talking about because I am waiting to put it back together until I know for sure if that's supposed to be all the way in the transmission and why it won't go in if it is.
 

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That is not normal. There should be hardly enough room to squeeze a pry bar between the axle and the trans case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Could it be that that little c ring won't let the whole thing snap into place, I don't have any axle grease to put it on there but would petroleum jelly work at all to get that thing in the middle to try to snap in there? That is kind of what I figured it was supposed to look like is how you said I'm just wondering why it won't go all the way back in. I didn't really have any trouble pulling the old one out with a slide hammer so I can't see that it would be messed up at all. Should I try hitting it harder with a hammer? I looked at YouTube videos but everyone else seems to be able to just slide it in so idk what would cause it to not want to go in.
 

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They are often very difficult to get seated in the transaxle. It takes a pretty sharp pop to get it inserted completely. Are you sure you have the right axle? Does the splined end match your old one?
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes I have looked at both of them and the splines look to be about the same but I am glad that you said it is usually pretty difficult to get them in the transaxle so I know it isn't just me having trouble popping it in. I have looked online and seen people using axle grease to put around that little c ring to hold it in place to help it snap in but I do not have any at the house I was wondering if petroleum jelly would work in its place as that is about the only thing I have. Should it be able to go in their difficulty by hand or do you usually need to hit it with a hammer on the end with the axle nut on the end of it in order to get it to slide in there? Maybe I just wasn't hitting it hard enough to get it to go with him but I didn't want it to damage anything hitting it with a hammer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Would I be able to use the slide hammer and put it on the end of the axle and hit the end of that with a hammer and try to slide it in that way? Also they gave me an axle with the ABS ring around it, but I was reading on this form and it says that if you don't have ABS and it doesn't matter whether the ring comes on or not, is this true? My vehicle does not have abs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update: well I got the axle in all the way, used a hammer and a little bit more force and it went right in. Put everything back together and take it for a test drive and the car is still jerking horribly to the left when you around corners or try to just turn the steering wheel a little bit to the left.

Now the ball joint is completely worn out so I am wondering if a completely worn out ball joint with a torn and boot and no grease on it could pop enough to make the vehicle jerk horribly to the left when even slightly turning the wheel and making it seem like the car doesn't want to go to the left at all, and when it jerks it feels like it wants to jerk the transmission from the vehicle. I thought the CV axle was binding up and causing it to do this but now that I replaced it I know that is not the issue and I'm wondering if a bad ball joint could cause this if it is bad enough or if it is more than likely a bad rack and pinion. Also it only seems to do this when the vehicle is in gear and not when it is in neutral when coming around a corner.

The car hit a bank and it bent the subframe a little bit and caused a power steering leak I believe out of the rack and nobody knew about the bent subframe until we tried to take it to get it in for an alignment. Could the subframe have been bent enough to cause this jerking motion only when turning the wheels to the left and not to the right?
 

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You could possibly have differential damage inside the transaxle. You can check by draining the trans fluid to see if there is metal dust/shavings in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Ok I will do that as soon as I can and get back with an update. If it's bad that means the trans needs to be replaced correct? This car was in great shape until it hit the bank and shifted the subframe. Looks like I might just be buying a cheap car and keeping this one for a project if that's the case.

Where is the drain plug located? At the bottom? If that is the case, I take it the car is completely undrivable until it gets fixed correct?
 

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If the differential is damaged, it’s just going to eat itself alive from the inside out as you drive, and you’ll eventually stop moving for good.

The diff is replaceable, but it’s usually easier and cheaper to just buy a used transaxle and swap the whole thing.

The drain plug and fill plug are both on the same side of the trans case.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay I will be draining the trans fluid later this afternoon to check for the metal shavings. And this might be a stupid question but, when you say transaxle you mean the whole transmission correct?

I've never taken out a transmission or a differential so I'm not sure if I would want to do it myself or not and I don't have a lift or the tools to do it but I know the cost will probably be somewhere around $1,500 or more if I had to guess for a shop to do it.

Is it possible that when the subframe was shifted that the trans is sitting cockeyed and causing it to not want to go to the left since that's the side that it was hit on? And if so then the only way to fix that would be to either get another subframe for it or try to shift this subframe back correct? I just want to know if that's possible from shifting the subframe or not that maybe or the CVx goes into the transmission is sitting on some type of very unnoticeable slant that is causing it to not want to turn to the left unless it jerks the whole car. And again the car turns to the right just fine going around corners and it doesn't seem to do it when it's in gear.

And I'm going to go ahead and assume that the differential is damaged before I take out the trans fluid just because you have probably had more experience dealing with something like this than I have and you seem to know more about what you're talking about which is why I'm glad I came on this forum, but if, and I guess at this point is a big if, the differential is not damaged then what would be the next thing to look for when it is only doing that going to the left and seeming like it's only when it's in gear?
 

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...Is it possible that when the subframe was shifted that the trans is sitting cockeyed ...
Yes

...and causing it to not want to go to the left since that's the side that it was hit on?
Seems unlikely. This really sounds like the dif, although if your ball joint is messed up, that should be ruled out, and also your tie rods checked out.

...And if so then the only way to fix that would be to either get another subframe for it or try to shift this subframe back correct? I just want to know if that's possible from shifting the subframe or not that maybe or the CVx goes into the transmission is sitting on some type of very unnoticeable slant that is causing it to not want to turn to the left unless it jerks the whole car...
The subframe is pretty beefy. Probably stronger than the unibody. They also aren't that hard to come by in the junkyards depending on if you have 2-bolt or 4-bolt control arms. I would definitely be looking for a replacement subframe, but I would also be concerned about the unibody being damaged past the point of it even mattering. If the new subframe bolts up without significant effort, than its probably salvageable but if the holes are misaligned dramatically than it might best to be moving on.
 

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I would think if you put the front end up on jack stands and turned the wheel back and forth in neutral, then tried it again with the wheels turning you should be able to learn something.
Actually, I guess you dont even need the jackstands in neutral...if the steering works fine with the transmission disengaged than you know its a transmission problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes



Seems unlikely. This really sounds like the dif, although if your ball joint is messed up, that should be ruled out, and also your tie rods checked out.



The subframe is pretty beefy. Probably stronger than the unibody. They also aren't that hard to come by in the junkyards depending on if you have 2-bolt or 4-bolt control arms. I would definitely be looking for a replacement subframe, but I would also be concerned about the unibody being damaged past the point of it even mattering. If the new subframe bolts up without significant effort, than its probably salvageable but if the holes are misaligned dramatically than it might best to be moving on.
If a ball joint is bad enough, and this one certainly is, the boot has been ripped open, and it was so loose that it went back into the knuckle with ease and you can literally move it in a circle with your fingers and there is no grease at all left in the ball joint, could that cause the issue?

And you brought up checking the tie rods, the passenger side outer is brand new but when I went in to have it taken in for an alignment and they told me the frame was bent, I had a power steering link that had happened when the car hit the bank and they told me it was leaking out of the rack on the side that I did the outer tie rod. But the reason why I think that they said this is because I had to put an alternator in the car and I cut open the inner tie rod boot on that side in order to get it out like an idiot. Could that inner tie rod and the rack be bad enough to cause that only when it's in gear maybe because of the load that's on it from the transmission?

And as for jacking the car up, would I be able to see without unbolting the subframe if the unibody was messed up just from looking under the vehicle? Also if it is up on jack stands and it is running and I turn the wheel all the way to the left with the vehicle on and it didn't first gear would that be enough to replicate the problem or is the problem something more of having to have the wheels and the pressure of gravity in order to be able to feel that?
 

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Okay I will be draining the trans fluid later this afternoon to check for the metal shavings. And this might be a stupid question but, when you say transaxle you mean the whole transmission correct?
Correct - a transmission with axles coming directly out of it is known as a Transaxle. Basically any front-drive vehicle arrangement is a transaxle, and things like Corvettes that have the trans in the rear between the wheels is also a transaxle. If it has a drive shaft/prop shaft coming out of it, instead of CV axles, it's just a transmission.

All transaxles are transmissions, but not all transmissions are transaxles.

Pedantic I know, but I like to be precise-ish.

I've never taken out a transmission or a differential so I'm not sure if I would want to do it myself or not and I don't have a lift or the tools to do it but I know the cost will probably be somewhere around $1,500 or more if I had to guess for a shop to do it.
I lost my differential at about 130,000 miles and replaced it with an upgraded Torsen torque-biasing differential, since my car was seeing frequent track abuse. It was NOT an easy or cheap job all those years ago, and by now I would imagine most of the shims, bearings and races needed to complete the job are no longer available. On the other hand, I could probably find an entire good used 96+ Contour/Mystique or 99+ Cougar manual transaxle for less than $200 and swap it in over a weekend, and have the car back on the road in short order. It's the economical and practical way to go IF there is indeed differential damage. NOTE: Pre-98 Contour/Mystiques used a different metal alloy in the differential components that is reportedly stronger and less prone to failure, so that's a good measure to take to further prevent it from happening again. Given the option, always go with the 96-97 Contour/Mystique transaxle.

Is it possible that when the subframe was shifted that the trans is sitting cockeyed and causing it to not want to go to the left since that's the side that it was hit on? And if so then the only way to fix that would be to either get another subframe for it or try to shift this subframe back correct? I just want to know if that's possible from shifting the subframe or not that maybe or the CVx goes into the transmission is sitting on some type of very unnoticeable slant that is causing it to not want to turn to the left unless it jerks the whole car. And again the car turns to the right just fine going around corners and it doesn't seem to do it when it's in gear.

And I'm going to go ahead and assume that the differential is damaged before I take out the trans fluid just because you have probably had more experience dealing with something like this than I have and you seem to know more about what you're talking about which is why I'm glad I came on this forum, but if, and I guess at this point is a big if, the differential is not damaged then what would be the next thing to look for when it is only doing that going to the left and seeming like it's only when it's in gear?
I am just guessing, but a hard impact on the wheel could have easily forced the axle deeper into the trans, and the force cracked a spider gear inside the diff. The spider gears are notoriously soft and prone to breakage under the most minimal amount of abuse. I wiped mine out just through spirited driving, with no hard impacts of any kind.

The differential's only purpose is to act in cornering. In a corner, the inside wheel is turning slower than the outside wheel, and the differential accommodates the speed differential between the two sides. That's also why there are no signs of trouble when driving straight ahead - only when turning - and no signs of trouble when not rolling - only when moving.

If there is diff damage, it will generally be missing some teeth on the spider gear, so when you are turning, the missing teeth on the gear will cause lurching and noise as the wheel turns, which just causes more wear on the remaining teeth - which is why once they start to go, they don't last long.
 

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If a ball joint is bad enough, and this one certainly is, the boot has been ripped open, and it was so loose that it went back into the knuckle with ease and you can literally move it in a circle with your fingers and there is no grease at all left in the ball joint, could that cause the issue?
I would think if the ball joint were causing the problem, it would affect turning both directions equally. Either way, that doesn't sound like a safe ball joint to be driving on. Its your call, but I certainly wouldn't go above speeds that I would be willing to lose a wheel at.

...Could that inner tie rod and the rack be bad enough to cause that only when it's in gear maybe because of the load that's on it from the transmission?
Same as the ball joint, I would think it would affect turning in both directions but its hard to say without checking it out physically.

And as for jacking the car up, would I be able to see without unbolting the subframe if the unibody was messed up just from looking under the vehicle?
Maybe, maybe not. It would help to have a good one next to it to compare it to because you're probably not familiar enough with what it SHOULD look like, but if its really twisted maybe you would see it.

... Also if it is up on jack stands and it is running and I turn the wheel all the way to the left with the vehicle on and it didn't first gear would that be enough to replicate the problem or is the problem something more of having to have the wheels and the pressure of gravity in order to be able to feel that?
On further thought, I dont think you need the wheels in the air. Do it on the ground in neutral with the engine running first. Problem there = suspension problem. Problem not there = transmission problem.

Dummy check: You did put oil in the transmission after the axle replacement, right?
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I haven't had a chance to drain fluid yet but if their are shaving in it, that's what it'd be from What I'm guessing.

Correct - a transmission with axles coming directly out of it is known as a Transaxle. Basically any front-drive vehicle arrangement is a transaxle, and things like Corvettes that have the trans in the rear between the wheels is also a transaxle. If it has a drive shaft/prop shaft coming out of it, instead of CV axles, it's just a transmission.

All transaxles are transmissions, but not all transmissions are transaxles.

Pedantic I know, but I like to be precise-ish.



I lost my differential at about 130,000 miles and replaced it with an upgraded Torsen torque-biasing differential, since my car was seeing frequent track abuse. It was NOT an easy or cheap job all those years ago, and by now I would imagine most of the shims, bearings and races needed to complete the job are no longer available. On the other hand, I could probably find an entire good used 96+ Contour/Mystique or 99+ Cougar manual transaxle for less than $200 and swap it in over a weekend, and have the car back on the road in short order. It's the economical and practical way to go IF there is indeed differential damage. NOTE: Pre-98 Contour/Mystiques used a different metal alloy in the differential components that is reportedly stronger and less prone to failure, so that's a good measure to take to further prevent it from happening again. Given the option, always go with the 96-97 Contour/Mystique transaxle.



I am just guessing, but a hard impact on the wheel could have easily forced the axle deeper into the trans, and the force cracked a spider gear inside the diff. The spider gears are notoriously soft and prone to breakage under the most minimal amount of abuse. I wiped mine out just through spirited driving, with no hard impacts of any kind.

The differential's only purpose is to act in cornering. In a corner, the inside wheel is turning slower than the outside wheel, and the differential accommodates the speed differential between the two sides. That's also why there are no signs of trouble when driving straight ahead - only when turning - and no signs of trouble when not rolling - only when moving.

If there is diff damage, it will generally be missing some teeth on the spider gear, so when you are turning, the missing teeth on the gear will cause lurching and noise as the wheel turns, which just causes more wear on the remaining teeth - which is why once they start to go, they don't last long.
You definitely seem very knowledgeable with cars and with cougars in general B3NN3TT and I appreciate the in depth detail as it helps me understand more about how this and other transmissions work. As soon as I drain the fluid tomorrow after work I will have an update.

So I guess all I can hope for right now is that the unibody isn't bent, what's the possibility of that happening if it tweaked the subframe? Is there anyway to tell without dropping the old subframe first?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I would think if the ball joint were causing the problem, it would affect turning both directions equally. Either way, that doesn't sound like a safe ball joint to be driving on. Its your call, but I certainly wouldn't go above speeds that I would be willing to lose a wheel at.



Same as the ball joint, I would think it would affect turning in both directions but its hard to say without checking it out physically.



Maybe, maybe not. It would help to have a good one next to it to compare it to because you're probably not familiar enough with what it SHOULD look like, but if its really twisted maybe you would see it.



On further thought, I dont think you need the wheels in the air. Do it on the ground in neutral with the engine running first. Problem there = suspension problem. Problem not there = transmission problem.

Dummy check: You did put oil in the transmission after the axle replacement, right?
Dummy answer, no 🤦

I didn't even think to add anymore after I was done because I was so happy to just finally have it finished. Dumb I know. Would that really have an effect on if it was still doing the same thing as it was before the axle was replaced? I would think it would affect both sides if that much has leaked out, not making excuses for not doing it lol, would it be better to just drain it at this point and see what it looks like and then add new fresh stuff if there aren't any shaving in it and see what happens?

How many qts would it take? I already bought two qts of Pennzoil Synchromesh, should I buy another one?

And as for the ball joint, I didn't really see how bad it was until I did the axle but that will be replaced if I don't need a trans before I get it up on the road. Question: how hard are the four bolt LCA to do?

Dummy question: as for another subframe, when they say 2 or 4, they are talking about the LCA being 2 or 4 correct?
 

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There's nothing in there to drain.
If a couple quarts didnt fall out when you pulled the axle, than it was empty to begin with and that was probably your root problem.
At this point, your best hope is that adding oil will free up whatever damage there is in there. Its sounding more and more like your trans is probably trashed, but maybe if you flush out the debris it might be able to turn enough to get you through for a bit.
Here's a thread about the correct oil
I would use the cheapest of the recommended oils at this point. You might need to fill and drain a couple times to flush it out.
 
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