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I have just found out first-hand that it is possible to remove the 'front' cover on the AX4N and get the valve body out - without removing the entire engine and transaxle from the engine compartment. After relocating the wiring, removing the battery, the starter, the wheel splash guards, the air intake, the throttle cable bracket, disconnecting the trans cooler lines, and moving the radiator hose out of the way, I was able to finesse the transaxle support out through the wheel well (removed the engine mount as well), then maneuver the cover off the AX4N (through the top of the engine compartment), then remove about 22 or 24 bolts to get the valve body / pump assembly out - and FYI - there is a plate that holds all the check balls and springs into the valve body, and you can only remove the plate if the valve body / pump assy. is off the trans (the bolts go in from the other direction and are not accessible from the outside).
That being said - I have found that one of the vanes on my pump broke, and before jamming up the entire pump by wedging itself in the outlet port, it made some pretty radical looking gouges in the pump cover and pump body - oh, and also broke the input shaft from the engine - which is why my car wouldn't go into any gear other than park or neutral (how quaint!).
Question - any body know of any place in the Dallas, TX area that would have just the pump assembly and internal pump parts? I really don't need an entire valve body - I only found one big hunk of metal in there, and everything seems OK with it. Ford says that the pump assy., and valve body all comes as one part, and it's $727.00. I was hoping for more the $50 - $200 range...