There are (2) ways to approach this job:
1) Grab the plugs with needle nose pliers, but this only works if you have small hands.
2) Remove the driveshaft(s) and transmission crossmember, lower the transmission slowly with a jack, and let it lean down to open up the area.
I’m about to explain the first method. You can either silicone the original ones, buy new rubber ones, or put freeze plugs in place for a permanent fix. (See Illustration 1-4)
1. Get under your truck and locate the shift rail plugs. (See Illustration 1-1 and 1-2)
2. Grab them with needle nose pliers and pull them out.
3. Now coat them with orange silicone (high temp) and let sit for 1 minute. (See Illustration 1-3)
4. Now just push them back in with your hand and viola. (See Illustration 1-1)
Note: I’d let the truck sit for an hour or two before driving it, to let the silicone dry enough.
This is a relatively easy job. Including the picture taking, this only took me about 15 minutes.
Information Above Provided By MechanicMatt (MMProgramer)
Update (02/28/09) by fordwheelinman (forum member):
A while back after swapping a 89 Bronco II from an automatic to a manual, the problem of the shift rail plugs came to our attention when having to add fluid to the transmission every other week. After consulting the tech library, we decided to try the metal plug option since new rubber plugs could not be found. We acquired new plugs, removed the transmission, and to our surprise, the plugs were too small. Looking at the situation, I quickly gathered that the wholes might be tapped with a pipe tap, and then a pipe plug installed to remedy our situation.
Using a 3/8-ths pipe tap (nearest recollection), coat the tap with axle grease in the flutes to catch as much of the shavings as possible, and on as straight an possible (some angle is required due to case interference) slowly turn the tap with a wrench a quarter turn at a time allowing the metal to rest every couple of turns so as not to split the case. When a comfortable depth has been acquired (going too deep could split the case as well, only go about a 1/2 inch, as deep as the plug is tall), Put some thread tape on the threads of the 3/8-ths pipe plug and slowly turn it into the newly taped hole. The end result, if done properly should look something like this:
NOTICE: This worked for us, if you attempt, you take the risk into your own hands. We are not liable for any issues that arise in you doing this. This is not a step by step how to, it is merely a suggestion and how we went about fixing the problem.
I did mine from the top with the transmission installed. I just pulled out the shift boot, pulled the old plugs, cleaned them up, RTV’d them and put them back in. no problems a year later. you may have to unbolt the plate bolted to the floor, but definitely don’t need to cut anything.
Took some pics of the shift rail plugs for the tech section, just to show location basically.
Using Metal Freeze Plugs:
These factory plugs can be replaced with Dorman metal freeze plugs.
Dorman P/N 555-108
Find them at: