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DIY: Replace front axle components

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Here is a DIY to tear down a axle from the tire to the axle shaft. Good instructions for replacing a axle shaft, U joint, seals, wheel bearings, ball joints, removing calipers, spindle, etc.


Tools needed (depending on how far you will tear down)
Sockets, wrench, cheater bar
Snap ring pliers
Needle nose pliers
Torque wrench in/lb and ft/lb
Flat tip screwdriver
Jack and stands
Allen wrench set (for Warn hubs 7/64 and caliper 3/8)
Bearing packer/grease gun
Axle nut socket Performance Tool Part # W1269 for GM 10 bolt and Dana 44
Ball joint press
Wire wheel/drill
Pry bar
Penetrating lube

Step 1. Safely chock wheels, set E brake, position axle on jack stand, and remove tire. Soak everything in your favorite penetrating lube, especially the ball joints, if your removing them.

Step 2. Remove brake caliper and secure so it doesnt fall or hang from brake line.

Step 3. Remove your hub. I had manual hubs, so I locked the hub and removed the (6) 7/64 allen bolts. Then I removed two snap rings and pulled it all out. Its easier to pull it out if you screw two screws back in. It should now look like this...

Step 4. Remove outer axle nut, washer, and inner axle nut with axle nut socket. The washer might be a little difficult to get out without a pick or screwdriver. A bent coat hanger can work.



Step 5. Now that the axle nut is off, slide the hub assembly and brake rotor off, taking care not to drop the outer bearing if you aren't replacing it. This is how it should look now.

Step 6. Remove the (6) 9/16 nuts and washers shown above and slide off the dust shield/caliper bracket.

Carefully tap a flat tip screwdriver between the back of the spindle and the knuckle to separate them. You may have to do a little at a time, moving around as you go. A rubber or dead blow hammer can work as well, just be careful because it is what the bearings ride on.

It should now look like this:

Step 7. If you are removing the axle shaft, replacing the U joint or ball joints, you can slide out the axle shafts at this time. I used a paper towel to wrap the end so grease wouldn't get everywhere and so the splines wouldn't get damaged. Just pull it all out and set it in a safe place. It should now look like this...

Step 8. Remove tie rod and drag link if removing knuckle.

Step 9. Remove upper castle nut and lower nut on the ball joints and have fun with a BFH. Dont hit the top of the upper ball joint because it will mushroom and damage the adjusting sleeve. A pry bar assists sometimes. I found it easier to take the steering arm off when using the pry bar. That means I HAVE TO BUY NEW NUTS because they are "one time use."

Knuckle removed...look at all that dirt and debris....

US Marines improvise, adapt, and over come...I didn't have vacuum extensions long enough to get the dirt out of the axle tube, so I used some duct tape and a hollow broom handle...

I used a wire wheel to clean up most of the dirt and grime, then some black paint to make it look a lil nicer.

To remove the ball joints, the lower ball joint must be removed first. Set up your ball joint tool according to its instructions, this is how mine set up. Remember to remove the snap ring first on the bottom ball joint. Each ball joint gets pressed "upward."

Recommended torque specs per factory 1979 Chevrolet light duty truck service manual. Always consult your own manual.

Ball joint, lower                 70 ft/lb
Ball joint, upper                100 ft/lb tighten as necessary to align castle nut with cotter pin hole.
Drag link to steering arm
Dust shield to knuckle        33 ft/lb
Inner spindle bearing         50 ft/lb while spinning hub. Back nut off and re-torque to 35 ft/lb while spinning hub. Back nut off again
                                     maximum 3/8 turn to align washer.
Outer spindle bearing         80ft/lb
Steering arm nuts             90 ft/lb
Tie rod to knuckle             45 ft/lb
Wheel lug nuts                 70-90 ft/lb or per wheel manufacturer.

Cool write up. A dead blow hammer works well to whack the spindle between the two surfaces that the bearing cover. Once you get one side open a little then slide the screw driver in there, and hit the spindle toward the screw driver with the dead blow hammer.
There is also a slide hammer attachment that treads onto the spindle that works pretty good too.

Ya I didnt want to suggest hitting the spindle, someone out there would have used a regular hammer.

So, as I'm cleaning up the area before I put the wheel back on, I noticed a part laying on the ground (oh no!) that I didnt recognize when I took it off...

It came out in between the inner axle nut and outer wheel bearing...Almost a year ago, I did as described above on the passenger side of the axle and don't remember this piece being in there. 2 of my mechanic books (1 haynes and 1 GM factory book) dont show this piece, but only show the axle nut up against the bearing. I dont remember which way it faced when I took it out either. I think the face up side was against the bearing.

Do I need it?
Should it be there?
Was it only for the brand of bearing I took out?

is it a seal or metal?


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