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Obstructed pan bolts

I’ve got my car up on jack stands to do a tranny fluid and filter change but it doesn’t look to be as easy as I thought it would be. About 8 of the bolts are blocked by a crossmember…at least that’s what I think it’s called. I don’t mind removing it but don’t understand what purpose it serves and if the engine needs to be supported from above first before taking it off?
I could maybe get to the pan bolts with a universal joint but don’t see any way to torque them down properly with the crossmember still in place.

1998 Mazda Protégé 1.5 litre Z5 engine.

Has anyone on here done a transmission fluid and filter change on this make/model? If you have, how did you do it?

Took my cars, not Mazda, it the dealer. They have the right tools and experience.

My last Protege was a manual shift. But, IIRC, the engine should be supported ftom above before you take out that crossmember. Especially if you’re going to be underneath it. Also, don’t these transmissions have drain plugs? You can decide if the filter needs replacing by judging the amount material at the bottom of the pan. This will be helpful next time you need to change the fluid.

It does have a drain plug. The last time the fluid was changed the filter wasn’t replaced. Heck, I don’t even know if the filter has ever been replaced on this car so I figured it should be done with this fluid change.
Do you know of any easy ways to support the engine on this car without resorting to expensive specialty tools?

If you can get at the fasteners using a U-joint then use it to remove and reinstall the fasteners.

There are times where a torque wrench can’t be used because of the awkward approach to the fastener. So you go by feel when tightening the fastener.

After all, we’re not talking about torquing down head bolts or bearing caps. This is just a pan with a gasket.


I’ve heard our local Ford dealer doesn’t replace filters. They just hook up a flushing system. Someone I now that works there said the risk of a leaking gasket was high so they didn’t open them up. Every transmission I’ve tried to improve with a filter change wasn’t successful. I somewhat doubt how worthwhile filter changes are. Those I’ve replaced have never had much in them.

An awful lot of servicing is never planned for by the designers. We shops get stung with this all the time and the corresponding labor rates go hand in hand with the lack of planning for service.
The ONLY thing that matters to the designers is the asssembly line.
Sub assemblies are wedged together and to heck with us who have to service them.
( had to pull the engine from a Mustang…to change the STARTER ! )
How many heater cores require a full dash removal ?
– I could go on…

‘‘After all, we’re not talking about torquing down head bolts or bearing caps. This is just a pan with a gasket.’’

Good point. I’ll give the U-joint a try.

Hopefully you can remove the unbolted pan with the crossmember in place.


I used to have a 1997 Protege 1.5 automatic, and I serviced the fluid and filter many times

I actually advise against using the swivel sockets. The working angle will still be extreme, and it’ll be extremely difficult to put them back. Since the angle is extreme, you stand a good chance of stripping the threads in the case, because it’s aluminum alloy

Take off the crossmember to gain access, but you need an engine support bar. It looks something like this. This happens to be a very cheap one, and of questionable quality, in my opinion

As the others have said, it might not be worth buying an engine support bar, just to do a fluid and filter service, unless you think you’ll use it frequently. Personally, I’ve used my engine support bar many times over the years

If you can support the engine under the oil pan, I suppose it should be possible to remove the crossmember. Be aware that one of the motor mounts bolts to the crossmember. This is a good time to inspect it. I fully expect it to have seen better days

@db4690, what would be the best way to support the engine via the oil pan? Could I safely use my hydraulic jack with a section of 2’‘x4’’?

And I take it the oil pan is made of solid steel & not some soft metal like aluminum, right? Just want to be sure.

On your Protégé, do you remember the two square indents on the bottom of the transmission, close to where the flywheel drive plate access cover is? If you know what I’m talking about, could I support the engine there?

Yeah, support the oil pan on a 2x4

The engine oil pan is stamped steel

I’m afraid I don’t have my Protege anymore, so I can’t go out and look at those indents. Sorry, but I just can’t picture them right now