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Experts, I need some help.. (Rear axle assembly)

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by Aliceinchainsaw, October 20, 2018.

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    1. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      Hey there, long time lurker first time poster.

      I am in a lurch and it's a bit of a story but I'll try to sum it all up. Here is a little about my X.
      2001 Explorer XLS with < 260,000 on it.

      This all started from what I thought were bad front wheel bearings and a very unsettling movement in the steering. I initially replaced both front wheel hub bearings as well as the upper control arms on both sides. (I don't know if they were bad yet but they soon would be as I noticed the boots were torn).

      Test drive and it's 85% better except for a HOWLING from the back.

      Rear end driver side wheel (99% certain it was bad bearing). I thought about this long and hard because I know how tough they are to deal with. It wasn't something I felt comfortable tackling so I looked into having a shop do it. (We all know how expensive that is..) I wasn't keen on paying that much for it because of the mileage on the thing and my concern was a month later the passenger side would start going out, etc.

      Sooo... after much internal debate, I decided perhaps I should just get a whole different axle assembly and solve many problems at once. I was torn between a re-manufactured and a used one with a 5 year warranty. Well, I chose to go with the used because it was about $500 cheaper. (Hindsight.... sigh).


      As I began this process, I realized that if I was doing the axle assembly than it would be wise to replace the shocks, u-bolt mounts, leaf spring shackles, bushings, since I am in there anyway.

      So I did all of those. Then I get the new axle installed. (Note: Axle is 45 - 8.8 3.55 ratio)

      My first test drive of it was less than a block. The passenger rear wheel bearing is fried from what I can tell. It was grinding something awful and when I got it back in the garage and hand spun that wheel and I can almost feel the gears clicking as it spins. "dunk-dunk-dunk-dunk-dunk". I don't know what else it would be other than a bad bearing.

      I go and do some reviews and find out the company I bought this from is notorious for supplying junkyard garbage to people.... great. So I will need to deal with that.

      Here is where I am at now though... What is the most logical way of getting this resolved now for the cheapest? I'm literally trying to close on my house November 2nd, so I am strapped.

      I have my old axle assembly sitting in the corner of the garage. I know nothing about differentials or gears or pinions or any of that. However, it's definitely more accessible than it was on the car... Do I go about removing both sides and replacing those bearings out somehow and then putting it all back together and swapping it back in?

      That seems like the best plan to me but I haven't the foggiest on where to even start.. I found a few tutorials but the pics are long gone. :/

      Half of this was a vent.. sorry. Hah.

      Thanks in advance for any advice.
       
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    3. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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      Your in the right place buddy we will get through this
       
    4. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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      Some vids to show what you may need
       
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    5. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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    6. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      Thanks these are helpful, especially that first video so far.

      Not gonna lie though, this is an intimidating job. Especially when it comes to getting bearings pressed in/out.
       
    7. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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      Last edited: October 21, 2018
    8. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      Thanks for the confidence, lol. (and the links)

      I will watch these videos a few times and try to get a feel for it and go from there.
       
    9. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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    10. Mbrooks420

      Mbrooks420 High Voltage. Elite Explorer

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      I’d start by getting a new axle from the company that sold it to you. Surely it has a warranty.
       
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    11. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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      I agree but he has the old his axle to rebuild and taking it in and out is a bitch why not just get it over with he said he was in a hurry just my 2¢
       
    12. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Bad bearings typically don't make clunk, clunk sounds. Bad gears do making clunking noises.

      Let's assume you want to now replace the bearings in your original diff. It will be a bit easier to work on now that it's out of the truck.

      You mentioned you thought the problem was axle bearing(s). Does this mean the bearing out near the wheel? These go bad more often than the carrier bearings and are more easily changed.

      Do you have a limited slip diff? If your not sure check the axle code on the sticker on the door jam. For example D3 means a limited slip diff with a 3:73 ratio. Limited slip diffs are a little more difficult to work on, but not by much. The main difference is that the LSD's have a spring which requires a bit of a technique to remove and re-install.

      Basically, you need to remove the diff cover, remove the retainer bolt on the pin and remove the pin. Once the pin is out the axles can be pushed in enough to remove the "C" clips that prevent the axles from pulling out. Don;t be alarmed if the spider gears fall out. I like to keep them in order for re-installation. Note that it is of extreme importance to not round off the head of the cross pin retainer bolt. If you do you're pretty well screwed. If necessary purchase a new, good quality box wrench or 6-point socket to get the best fit on the bolt head. I always replace that bolt with a new one during re-installation.

      Once the "C" clips on the axles are removed they can simply be pulled out. Then the axle seals can be removed to gain access to the bearings. You'll need to borrow a bearing puller and a slide hammer to pull the bearings out of the axle tubes, and a bearing/seal installation tool to install the new bearings. Most auto parts stores lend these tools with a deposit.

      It's not really a difficult job, just a bit intimidating if you've never done it before. Look for YouTube videos of the job. It will make you feel more comfortable after seeing how it's done.

      Consider that this might also be a good time to replace your pinion seal and LSD clutches.
       
      Last edited: October 21, 2018
    13. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      I would normally agree but the company I purchased this from has an apparently horrible reputation (didn't know until after the fact). I'll be lucky to get my money back (Already filed a chargeback on it) let alone a working replacement.
       
    14. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      In the NEW axle the sound being made feels like it is coming from within the differential. I don't really know how to explain it other than when I spin the passenger rear wheel by hand I can feel a rhythmic vibration as it turns that is coming from somewhere inside the mechanism. The driver side rear wheel does not do this.

      In my original OLD axle, the left side drivers wheel has a little bit of play in it. Not dramatic, just a little bit. The sound is very telltale when driving around 40+. It's almost a roar coming from back there and when you let off the gas and let it coast the volume matches the wheel speed. I would say it is very likely that is the portion near the wheel as you said.

      My axle is marked 45. It's 8.8 3.55 ratio and not limited slip.

      The differential is one area of a car I have never really dealt with. I've got no idea how the gears work or go together. Hell, this was the first time I've even messed with leaf springs/bushings and doing a rear end swap. The pulling of the bearings out of the axle tubes and the installation of the new bearings seems like the hardest part. I've read horror stories about folks taking the entire hub to get the bearing pressed out on a 20 ton press at like NAPA or something and that doesn't end up working.

      This particular area of the process is what confuses me most. It seems the bearing/race is just inside the tube after the axle shaft is removed? That has to be removed and another put in?

      I think this is probably the route to go though - with the axle being out of the car already it can't get any easier than that and once I'm done I can swap it back in.

      Thanks for the replies
       
    15. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      Would it help if I post a video of what exactly is occurring?

      I'll have time to do that tomorrow.
       
    16. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Sounds like an axle bearing type of noise. Some in/out play of the axle is normal and has nothing to do with the axle bearings. Not being a LSD the job is made easier. I've replaced an axle bearing on my '01 ST. Wasn't very difficult to do. Maybe 5-6 whacks with the slide hammer had the old bearing out. Driving the new one in took about the same amount of effort. I'd do both sides while you have things apart.
       
      Last edited: October 21, 2018
    17. donalds

      donalds Elite Explorer

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      Be sure to replace the crosspin locking bolt as they break in the axle and have the extractor tool ready and if you replace the pinion seal new crush sleeve is necessary
       
      Last edited: October 21, 2018
    18. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      OP - I went through the same thing years ago trying to buy a used replacement diff from a parts finder company called "Quality Parts". Apparently they work out of India. My old diff had been run near empty with water in it and was not worth rebuilding. Quality Parts sent me a completely trashed, totally unusable, rusted diff and expected me to pay $300 in return shipping to get my money back. I disputed the purchase to my credit card company, eventually got my money back and I was just told to scrap the POS diff. Afterwards I figured out that any 8.8" Explorer or Mountaineer diff could be used and I bought one locally that came with a 30 day guarantee.
       
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    19. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      @Aliceinchainsaw working with your original diff:

      1. Remove the diff cover and drain the oil out. Also see if you can remove the fill plug
      2. Using a tight-fitting box wrench or socket carefully remove the cross pin lock bolt (8MM?)
      3. Remove the cross pin (don't be concerned if the 2 small spider gears walk out). Usually the cross pin will just slide out once the lock bolt is removed, sometimes a little persuasion is needed
      4. Push the axles into the diff, which is easily done once the cross pin is removed
      5. Using a magnet, remove the "C" clips from the ends of the axles
      6. Once the "C" clips are removed the axles can be easily pulled out
      7. Using a seal puller (a large screwdriver can also work) remove the axle seals
      8. Using a Ford axle bearing removal attachment on a slide hammer, remove the old bearings
      9. Clean out the ends of the axle tubes with parts cleaner and lubricate with fresh gear oil
      10. Install the new bearings using a bearing/seal installer tool and large hammer. You'll be able to hear and feel when they're fully seated.
      11. Pack the backs of the new axle seals with grease and Install the new axle seals
      12. Clean & lube the part of the axles where they will ride on the seals and reinstall the axles (do your best not to drag the axles across your new axle seals)
      13. Replace the axle "C" clips and pull the axles outward to seat the "C" clips in the side gears
      14. Reinstall the spider gears and cross pin using a new cross pin lock bolt and thread locker (I use Loctite red/permanent thread locker on the lock bolt, which requires heat to remove in the future, but I suppose blue thread locker would also work).
      15. Clean any old sealant from the diff cover and its mating surface using a scraper and parts cleaner.
      16. Apply a decent amount of Permatex Ultra Black RTV to the diff cover (no gasket is needed) and attach to the diff screwing in the bolts only finger tight. After several hours you can tighten the cover bolts all the way.
      17. Wait 24 hours for the sealant on the cover to fully cure before adding oil
      18. Refill the diff with 3 quarts of hypoid gear oil (synthetic gear oil is recommended but expensive. 80W140 conventional hypoid gear oil can be used and is 1/3rd the price of the synthetic. On a diff with 260K on it, I'd use the less expensive conventional oil.

      I recommend Timken brand (or National) but here's an example of a axle bearing and seal set on eBay:
      Rear Wheel Bearing&Seal Assembly for 83-05 Ford E-150 F-150 Ranger 8.8"Ring Gear | eBay

      Note: Replacing the pinion seal (should you decide to do this) is more easily done with the diff fully reinstalled in the vehicle, because you'll need to have a way to prevent the wheels from turning while you remove/reinstall the pinion nut. If you pinion seal isn't leaking currently, you may want to skip this step for now. You can always do it later. You can chose to replace the crush sleeve, but this makes the job much harder and there is a cheat for this. Again, with a diff with 260,000 miles on it you may want to save a few bucks where you can.

      Some videos on the job can be found at the link below:
      video on replacing ford 8.8 axle bearings - Google Search
       
      Last edited: October 21, 2018
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    20. gmanpaint

      gmanpaint Back in 5 minutes Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Did you check the fluids and/or replace them in the replacement axle ? Parts are supposed to be drained for shipping reasons.

      E-brakes can make the clunk-clunk-clunk sound, if they are not installed right, ie...missing spring.
       
    21. Aliceinchainsaw

      Aliceinchainsaw New Member

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      Yep, I put new gasket seal on diff and added just over 3 quarts of 75w 140.

      It doesn't seem like ebtake. It's more of a feel than an audible loud clunking. It's like a rythmic vibration from within the axle shaft when you spin tire.
       

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