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Swap to stronger rear Axles

Article by: Adam Carlin (Vortex)

Summary:

Tools needed: Sockets, Wrenches, Slide Hammer, Press or access to somewhere that has a press, seal driver or flat block.

I will start off saying I was lied to. My mechanic's new service writer told me it was definitely too hard for the average wrencher because it required specialized tools and it would be more cost effective to have them do it. Wrong!

I decided to do it myself after 3 different times that 2 different people stiffed me on ordering and axle. They wanted $315 for an axle I got both sides for $250 from PoweredByFord.com out of Orlando, FL Anyway, onto the swap:

Details:

First off, if you put in new differential gears be sure to replace all of the clutches, bearings (including axle bearings) and seals, so you don't have to re-do any of this in the near future. Jack up the vehicle and slide some jack stands under the axle tube.

Slide a drain pan under the differential cover and loosen the bolts on the cover starting at the bottom. Depending on how the differential was sealed the last time, you may have to slightly pry on the cover to get the fluid to flow out. Once the fluid has drained, go ahead and remove the cover completely and observe the complex center that you won't have to deal with.

While the rest of the fluid is still drizzling out, remove the wheels and calipers. Do not let the calibers hang by the attached brake hose while removed from the caliper bracket & rotor. Be sure to use something else like a coat hanger to suspend them. Now remove the caliper bracket, and finally the rotor. In the center of the differential, you will notice about a 1/2" pin driven through the center holding the "upper & lower spider gears".

On one end of the pin there will be about an 8mm bolt driven through the side of this pin, referred to as the pinion shaft (not to be confused with the pinion gear shaft) With the bolt out, the pin will push through with your finger. Remove the shaft.

WARNING: Do NOT rotate the axles at this point.

My assistant, A.K.A, "Tool Bitch" turned it just the slightest and the upper & lower spiders popped out like a pop-tart. and it took about 2 hours of lining them up, to get it back to normal. If you need to rotate the carrier to get the shaft out, push the pin all the way back in so that both gears are supported.

Now, push one axle inwards and inside the differential, pull out the c-clip attached to the end of the axle shaft with a magnet. The c-clip will be just off-center of the differential, coming out of the spider gears. When the clip is pulled, move back to the hub and slowly pull the axle out. Be sure to support the axle shaft (as you would a camshaft) when pulling and installing the axle.

With the axle free and clear pull the other axle the same way. now, you have just axle bearings and seals left. You can use a seal puller, screwdriver, or the end of the axle to pull the seals. Seals are cheap replace them while you're in there. The bearings are pressed in, so you will need to rent a slide-hammer with 3-jaw puller from somewhere like AutoZone, where you leave an $80 deposit but get it back when it's returned.

Slide the 3-jaw in and tighten up the collar until it touches the sides of the axle tube. Pull the hammer out until it's up against the bearing. then just push the handle in and slide out hard to dislodge the bearing. It should pull out with a few hard pulls. I put some hi-temp grease on the new bearings just to be on the safe side and a little on the outside to help with the install. Place the bearing in the tube and push it flush. now, using a bearing driver or a socket or a block of wood and hammer to tap the bearing in equally all around, until it seats itself against the taper in the tube.

The same can be done with the seal. It is very important to drive the seal in equally because the seal can bend which will cause leaks. Be sure to drive the seal in flush to the tube opening. I bought Moser hardened 28-splined axles and wheel lugs/studs. In most cases, you will need to have the ABS sensor wheel pressed onto the new axles. You can install the lugs yourself by tightening up open-ended lug nuts with a spacer in between.

They will seat themselves but a press is easier. It cost me $15 for both rings to be pressed on. With your axles complete, slide the axle in, holding it up so that it doesn't damage the seal. you may have to tilt the axle up or down to fit into the carrier. Once it is in, slide the c-clip on the end and pull the axle back out to seat it.

Do the other side and push the pinion shaft back in and tighten the side bolt. Scrape the differential cover and housing clean, apply new silicone and then reinstall the cover. You can use cork gaskets but coming from a 4WD background, getting cork gaskets wet in a puddle, can cause them to leak. Once you have tightened all of the differential cover bolts, you're pretty much there. Jack up the front of the car to make it level and fill the differential to stock specs, which in my case, is 2.5 quarts. Re-install the rotors, caliper brackets, calipers and finally the wheels. Now take it for a spin and check for noise or leaks. If none are found then you are all done and mission accomplished! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me for more information.

 

 

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