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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked up a used 99 Rodeo last weekend. Yesterday was the first free day I had with it to do some maintenance. (83K miles on the clock)

I also had this weird thunk whenever stopping or starting. (Was hoping an ATF d/f would help it.)

Here's the quick and dirty:

Serpentine belt: 5 minutes, nothing fancy, a great design!!
- I did however, opt to use a new type of belt, it's called a gator belt made by Goodyear. Instead of being straight ribbed it's ribbed and then cross hatched. (Picture straight ribs with / / / through them.) Supposedly lasts longer and does not squeal.

Oil change: Pretty straight forward. Again, a great engineering job on the front skid plate (remove to get to the oil filter) and filter location. you just undo the rear 2 bolts, and loosen the front two and it slides forward and out. On my old Montero, it was a PITA trying to hold up this heavy old skid plate while trying to unfasten all the bolts.
(I put in Mobil 5W-30 as the weather is getting colder, any other recommendations out there?)

Spark Plug R&R: I much prefer coils over old plug wires. (no chance of ripping the wires out of their boots...) Everything is very straight forward until you hit the cylinder closest to the drivers seat. What a major PITA to get to. You have very little room to maneuver anything. I used a small gear wrench for the Coil bolts. Then I had to rig up some short 3" (whatever the standard size is) with a universal joint to get the plug socket in there with a 3/8 ratchet. Then to take out the socket, I had to rig up a locking 6" extension with a piece of dental floss (to actuate the lock release) to get down in the plug hole and free the socket from the plug. Then I used a grabbing snake tool (long flexible tube that has a small retractable claw at the bottom) to fish out the socket.
--I put in NGK plugs, their standard V-powered ones (about 3 bucks each at a local auto parts store in NJ). No funky idle, no stumbling, just nice and smooth power.

ATF Drain and Fill: I tried and followed the Haynes repair manual. I think the only key here is to top off while the engine is running and the tranny fluid is warmed up.

Tranny has a drain bolt and a fill bolt that is in the same plane as the drain just raised about 2 inches higher. (when you see it you'll know what I mean.)

Drained about 4 quarts or so.

Refilled 4.5 - 5 quarts with Mobil ATF. (you have to pump it back in there) I used a cheapie hand pump (like a large liquid hand soap dispenser with a long tube) with a cleaned windshield washer fluid jug.

I over filled with the car off and the extra just pissed out of the fill plug. Started it up and ran through the gears. Then added an additional 0.5-1 quart. Let it drain the extra and closed the fill plug.

Thunking is almost all gone now. (Attribute to low fluid as I added at least .5 more fluid then removed.) It's very slightly noticeable still. Shifting is much smoother.

It's so nice when you don't have to jack up the vehicle to work on it. I'm a pretty big guy and that's saying a lot for this nice little suv. I'm looking forward to some winter excursions.

BTW I will be doing at least one more ATF drain and flush in the next few weeks. I'm about at 50/50 New and Old fluid (total cap 9.1Quarts) another change will get me at about 75% new. I might try a full pan drop to replace the filter next spring. I'm not clear if I can just drop that cross member without haveing to suppor the tranny/engine at some other point.

If anyone has any tips for that one pesky spark plug or a better ATF replacement method, please let me/us know.

Edit: I also added a locking gas cap. I don't like the fact that the gas flap does not lock. Call me paranoid but for 10 bucks, worth the peace of mind.

I hope this was useful for people.


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591 Posts
Excellent start on the maintenance Mike. You may want to changeout the tranny filter at 83K as well. The 4L30E does use a screen/cloth filter. I do 3 consecutive drains/fills on mine. It's messy by easy. The main tranny pan should drop right out without removing any cross-members. Good idea with the dental floss to retrieve the socket out of that #6 cylinder!! That is a major PITA being right on top of the brake booster. Follow Randy's advice on the drive-line "thunk". Your slip yokes need lubing Oh yeah.. its a good idea to keep clean/fresh coolant in these engines too- since they are all aluminum. Old coolant tends to eat that stuff away :shock: .

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13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·

The reason I think I have to drop the cross-memeber is that there are a few bolts for the tranny pan right under it. Are you saying it's possible to access these without removing the crossmember? I'll get under there this weekend and really take a look.

Do we have magnets in the pan to hold metal particulates? I've seen them in other AT pans.

How many slip yokes are there? I'm not too familiar with 4x4 drivetrain terminology yet. I'm thinking some sort of CV joint/boot that is on the main shaft (at the universal joint?)? or do I just have to hit all the CV joints.

Thanks for you help!

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1,238 Posts
Any more clues on how to get to the pesky plug?

I replaced my spark plugs yesterday, went very easy, only took an hour or so (not counting the bike ride to my friends house to get another 3/8 drive short extension).
I needed the additional short extension to get at the rear drivers side plug. As has been mentioned here previously, the master cylinder is in the way. By using 2 short extensions, a U-joint, and the long extension I was able to make it work, by sorta feeding the short extensions into the plug hole one at a time.
The other 5 plugs are a piece o cake. It sure is nice to have the plugs up top like that. I think back to the days of the old American V-8s, where I basically replaced plugs by feel, without ever seeing the hole...

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13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·

1) Use a gear wrench or standard combo wrench to get off the coil bolts.
2) Remove coil. You may need to move one of the AC lines out of the way, mine had plenty of play to let me wiggle the coil out.
3) Using your standard plug socket - 3in extension - universal - another 3in extension. You can hook up your 3/8" ratchet and get the plug out.
4) Put a little antiseize on the new plug threads and get ready for some creativity.
5) You have a couple of options on how to put it in.
a) The way I did it: Using the 3" extension rig you thread by hand then finish up with your 3/8" ratchet. I couldn't get a torque wrench in there, so I did it by feel. When I went to remove the extensions and socket, the socket remained in the spark plug tube. I ended up using a 6" locking extension with a long piece of dental floss to actuate the locking mechanism to grab the socket off of the spark plug. Then I released the socket (since you can't pull at 6" extension with socket out of the hole). Next I used a grabber thingy (looks like a thin long coiled spring with a grabbing claw at the end) to get the socket out.
b) Next time I might just loop some dental floss through the socket itself and bring it up that way.
c) My friend suggested duct taping the extensions together and to the socket to keep them from separating when you try and extract.
6) Reinstall coil, and coil bolts.

Choose what method works best for you.

Hope that helps.

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5 Posts
I loosen the plug with the extension/universal set up. However take out the rubber insert in the socket so the plug will fall out after it is loosened. After it is completely out and in the bottom of the plug tube I use a magnet on a stick to lift the plug out. Place a length of 3/8" fuel line over the top of the gapped new plug, anti-seize the threads and use the tubing to get it hand started in the plug hole. This ensures no cross threading and that it is "gently" inserted in the plug hole. After it is started well pull off the tubing and tighten to torque (approx) with the socket, extension and universal rig. A little oil or dielectric grease inside the fuel line will make it slide off easier. I also find a long extension between the universal and the ratchet allows me to thread it between the A/C lines and the Brake Booster to almost go "almost straight" into the plug tube. Of course, your mileage may vary. Good luck.

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