My Vacation By Ed Bon July, 2007.
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By Ed Bon
I had mentioned to a few buddies that I felt the 2002 A4 (4-speed automatic) C5 Corvette I bought for Carole was in need of a little massagingbut I promised her I wouldn't break into the engine (yet, heh-heh). For the past few weeks I have been preparing for the changeover by buying all the parts and then taking a few days off of work to complete the upgrades. My plans included headers, a 3.42 ratio diff, a high stall torque converter, a tranny oil cooler and an insulated tunnel plate. I started on July 4th and finished off the last couple of details in a week.
Carole, when she wasn't busy, spent a bit of time assisting me and shot a few of the following pictures. What follows is a photo-logue of the project.
I pre-assembled the American Racing Headers when they arrived to check out the fit.
This 3.42-ratio diff is the one out of my M6 C5 that I put 4.10’s in when the car had ~3K miles on it so it’s just broken in. The one I’m replacing is a 2.73 ratio.
Dave at Yank Converters made this and shipped it to me in record time when another vendor dropped the ball in sending me another TC I had ordered earlier. In retrospect, I am very happy about that because it turned out to be a much better choice than the original one I ordered.
I picked up a 72” tranny jack for a great price. This came in very handy as you’ll see.
In anticipation of a bit of messiness, I laid some cardboard down. I also rearranged some of the rolling cabinets to give better work area efficiency.
Placed support under the torque tube in preparing to remove the rear cross member.
Disconnected the electrical connectors on the tranny along with the shifter cable.
Then I used the tranny jack to lower the rear cross member to the lift runners on top of some towels. I slid the entire assembly rearward so it was out of the way when I dropped the drive train.
At this point, it was easy to drain the fluid out of the 2.73 diff and place the tranny jack under the tranny.
I moved the jacking tray to the back of the engine to support it while the TT was off.
Also, here are a few shots of the empty drive train compartment. This is the underside of the main rear tub.
Here you can see the fuel filter, the fuel tank cross tube and the Evap unit.
The TT slid back pretty easily. I’ve done it before – but never on an automatic, and never alone.
Next, I pulled the TT off the front of the tranny. (Like my TT positioning fixture?)
Here are the stock and Yank converters side-by-side. Dramatic difference.
I filled the Yank with a quart of Dexron III – it took forever to seep in so I did other things in between pouring bits at a time. Even had time to take this picture.
Assembled the 3.42 ratio diff to the tranny and torqued everything down.
Here’s the completed TT sub-assembly ready to be reinstalled.
Carole caught me shoving the drive train back into place. It actually went in quite smoothly. Once again, the tranny jack was more than worth the selling price when doing this task alone.
I pushed the cross member back in position and lifted it into place with the jack. Then I jacked the lower A-arms up, reinserted the axles and reconnected the upper A-arms, shocks and brakes. Of course, there were the various lines, connectors and clips that need to be reconnected as well.
Moving on to the headers, I pulled the stock manifolds off and unbolted the alternator and starter.
I had heat-shielded the starter on my other Vette so I did the same with this one to protect it from any extra heat the headers might radiate.
The American Racing Headers went in very easily but the starter wires weren’t as easy to reconnect as I had hoped. Still, they eventually went in fine.
The trusty jack once again was handy in holding the tunnel plate up for installation.
I also used the jack to hold the mid-pipe section in place while I assembled the exhaust system.
I devised this method to hold the muffler tips even while I tightened the bolts. Worked great.
To start the tranny cooler installation, I freed up the fan shroud to give me room to get behind the radiator.
Getting the cooler hooked to the tranny fluid lines took a bit of imagination as there are no adapters for directly attaching a cooler to the lines for later model ‘02’s and later. I had to splice into the return line but it worked well. I also had an issue updating the PCM with the new diff ratio but I believe I now have that squared away as well.After topping the tranny off with fluid and triple checking all my work. I took the car for a long, relaxing ride (Yank says to break in the TC for 120 miles before any WOT runs.) The A4 is like a whole different car. It accelerates with authority and sounds much better (gears, TC and headers). The car is so much more responsive I was taken by surprise. Small throttle inputs now create significant surges of thrust forward. NO drivability has been lost – in fact, the car actually feels tighter than when it was stock. Carole reminded me about the Elite tunnel plate I installed and the billet-feel I was experiencing made more sense. The response of the car is definitely what I was hoping for – and I have been light-footed so far in deference to the new TC. Can’t wait to see what WOT is like.I have to rethink my whole attitude towards automatic Corvettes now. I have to say this A4 is very close to the fun factor of my head/cam/headered, etc. M6. Wait ‘til Carole drives this thing – she may never let me into the driver’s seat again.What a fun vacation!