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How To: Replacing Rear Axle Wheel Bearings

Discussion in 'Transmissions & Transfer Cases' started by gavin, May 3, 2008.

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  1. BOOMERSOONER63

    BOOMERSOONER63 New Member

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    Replacing both bearings and seals wouldn't be too expensive its the damn liquid gold that's killing me. I can't pay a mechanic or I would, I'm young and living pay check to paycheck. We barely survive as it is, no gov assistance here. Just hard labor and lots of prayer
     
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  3. gavin

    gavin Elite Explorer

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    We still have absolutely no idea what kind of sound it is you're hearing.
    Could be clutch pack or diff. Could be wheel bearing. Could be brakes. Could be tire noise.
    All depends on what the actual sound of the noise is.

    Could lack of fluid cause noises? Sure, if a bearing ran dry. Although I don't know how low it would need to be to prevent decent oiling of the wheel bearings.
     
  4. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    I'm wondering about one step in this replacement, specifically when you are reinserting the axle into the differential. Presumably, you will need to rotate the axle slightly so that you can find the grooves to fully seat the axle into the differential. How do you protect from spinning the spider gears in the differential while you're trying to get the axle to match the grooves and fully insert into the differential ? Should you have an assistant hold the gears in place and from spinning while I try to match the grooves of the axle with the grooves of the differential ?

    Thank you for this excellent write up.
     
  5. gavin

    gavin Elite Explorer

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    You could just hook up the driveshaft put the transmission in gear, that would hold it in place. Or as you stated, have a helper hold on to the pinion shaft. Third option would be to reinsert the cross-pin and slide the lock bolt in place.
    To be honest, I can't remember what I did. Though I do know that I never had to rotate so much as to even possibly spin the spider gears out of place.
     
  6. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    Thanks for the quick response. I had just read somewhere else that as you are reinserting the axle, you have to "find" the grooves in the differential by rotating the axle a degree in either direction. I thought there might be a chance that you catch the spider gears and rotate them slightly while looking to have the axle grooves find the differential grooves.

    Is there any chance that you knock the spider gears out while pressing the axle back into the differential ? I'm just concerned about knocking those spider gears out while they are free and I'm trying to for see any possible mishaps. I intend to immediately put back the pinion and shaft lock bolt as soon as I free the axle, but obviously there are those moments of vulnerability when removing and replacing the axle when the bolt and pinion must be removed.
     
  7. gavin

    gavin Elite Explorer

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    I'm not going to say it would difficult to get them out of whack, but it's certainly not something that can be done terribly easy (accidentally), either.
    The only way to get them popped out would take a fairly significant amount of rotation on the carrier. If they got slightly mis-aligned, it shouldn't be terribly difficult to re-align them by rotating the carrier in the opposite direction.

    Process with less chance: pull crosspin, remove c-clips from axles, re-insert crosspin, then pull axle shafts. Don't remove crosspin again until after you've reinserted the axle shafts and ready to put c-clips back on both.
     
  8. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    And that's my plan. Cheers Gavin. Thanks for an excellent write up and thorough follow ups all these years later !!
     
  9. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    So I did this job the other day. Thanks to this thread I was well equipped and had the entire job done quickly and efficiently.

    I didn't even bother starting the job without first renting a bearing puller kit from Advance (I only needed to use the slide hammer). I also broke the 8mm pinion lock bolt free with a socket and ratchet first, then I got the closed end of the wrench on there to finish it off. Both bearings and seals came out together with the slide hammer. It only took a few good slams to remove them.

    To eliminate all possibility of disaster, as soon as I removed the C-clip from one of the axles within the differential and got the axle out of the way, I immediately replaced the pinion shaft and lock bolt.

    I was very pleased to see both axles in good condition (no excessive bearing wear), and honestly the bearings were in pretty good shape too. Since I've had the car since 100K, and put 155K on myself, I decided to put this job was on my preventative maintenance list before crossing the country in December (will be my second back and forth crossing).

    One question I had while I was doing the job...How does the gear oil migrate from the differential, all the way to the bearing through the axle tube ? It seemed to me like the axle tube was pretty well sealed off by the axle itself from the differential where the oil is. Obviously it works somehow, but I didn't like how I couldn't see how so. So in addition to dousing each bearing with oil before and after installation, I also squirted some gear oil into the axle tubes before reinstalling the axles.

    Can anyone explain to me how the bearings manage to stay lubricated from the gear oil thats all the way in the differential ? I noticed the axles had very subtle winding grooves that maybe pull oil from the differential into the axle tube, but the axle tubes are so spacious around the axle themselves, it still didn't seem likely to me that the gear oil would sufficiently, efficiently, and consistently migrate to the bearing while driving.

    Thanks to Gavin and all others for helping me check another job off my list without frustration.
     
  10. Turdle

    Turdle This is my custom user title Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    The level of the oil in the housing allows it into the tubes. If you were able to pull the axles with the fluid full, some oil would drip out the end of the tube.

    Full diff will have about 1/4 or so of the tube full also.
     
  11. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    I see, makes sense. It just seemed to me there wasn't much room around the axles to allow the oil to overfill into the tubes from the differential. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
     
  12. Friborage

    Friborage New Member

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    Probably tackling this tonight but the spider gears have me nervous.

    Just to clarify, it seems like the opening in the carrier to get the c clips and the crosspin bolt are like 90 degrees separated, so if I take the cross pin bolt out, hold the pin itself in with my hand and rotate the carrier around to where I can get the c clips, then let the pin out... the spider gears should hold in place?

    Also, I plan to let the pin out, get the c clips, then immediately put the pin back until the axles are back inserted in the splines and ready for the clips to minimize opportunity for screw ups. Sound good?
     
  13. gavin

    gavin Elite Explorer

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    that sounds pretty much identical to what I did.
     
  14. Friborage

    Friborage New Member

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    Almost done with the job, I think all is well.

    I know rtv calls for 24 hours to cure before adding fluids, this how-to makes it sound like an hour or two is sufficient.

    Anyone have any insight on if I can fill it up? I was really hoping to drive this home tonight.
     
  15. gavin

    gavin Elite Explorer

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    I had time to let it cure overnight.
    but do searching on it, and plenty of folks fill up pretty much right after tightening the cover without any leaking issues.
     
  16. CDW6212R

    CDW6212R Hauls the mail. Elite Explorer

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    The good RTV's cure fast enough when not thick, to run it in a couple of hours. If you put the RTV on too thick, the amount pushed inside can be thick enough to not cure enough to hold on given the heat.

    It only takes a light smearing of RTV, say a smooth 1/32" layer. I use a bead something like 3/8" along the surface, on average because it's hard to run a continuous bead. I use a finger to spread it carefully, don't get any or much in the holes. So the RTV won't be evenly smooth, flat, measurable etc. But the total will be thin, but thick enough it doesn't skin or dry before you put the cover on.

    The test is how much squeezes out around the cover. It should come out around the whole edge, and only say 1/4" or so thick. If you end up with 1/2" excess in places, then those will be similar inside, and won't cure as fast and needs longer to cure, such as over night.
     
  17. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    So I'm back at this thread to do the same job two years later. It all started because I heard a rotational squeaking/chirping that could only be a wheel bearing in my opinion (what else could it be ?).

    Started by lifting the rig from the ass and rotating the drivers side rear wheel. It squeaked, but when I pulled the wheel realized it seemed to be the E brake falling apart and touching the rotor. Removed the E brake and squeak went away.

    Being diligent I decided to check the other side. E brake was in better shape on that side, but removing the caliper and rotor I noticed a bunch of gear oil on the inside brake pad, and inside the rotor where the E brakes go. So I blew a seal ? Weird thing is once I took the axle out, the seal looked totally fine.

    Can you generally actually see with your eyes when a seal goes bad, or do you only know because you start leaking fluid ? Because if I hadn't seen leaked fluid I would have said the seal looks great.

    Anyway, while I'm getting involved I figured why not spend the $40 on new bearings and do them both again since I'm already doing the seal on one side, may as well do both side and the bearings too.

    I'm a little surprised the seal went and just so grateful for this thread to be able to come back and refresh myself on how to do this job. Fortunately I remember it going very smoothly last time I did it.
     
  18. CDW6212R

    CDW6212R Hauls the mail. Elite Explorer

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    The seals last for years normally, the best brands that is. I replace them any time I have to pull an axle, their $3ish very often each. I do the bearings any time I think they have some miles on them(50k+ etc), or if I don't know how old they are. The axles and bearings are easy, the parking brakes take a little more time.

    Check the axles carefully too, only where the bearings ride. The seals will be ruined fast when a groove begins to appear on the axle, which is from the bearings wearing out.
     
  19. prayforsurf0

    prayforsurf0 Elite Explorer

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    Thanks for your response. I finished this job today and all is well. I checked out the axle but it didnt seem to have any wear that I could visually detect. The seal was leaking but not terribly, just enough to get the inner brake pad wet and inside the rotor where the ebrake is. Most of the fluid was still in the diff.

    It was just strange to me that the seal appeared to be in such good shape, but was leaking. Anyway, squeaking is gone. Ill definitely be curious to see if the seal goes bad on me again so soon. Only took two years (probably 25K driven in that time).

    Time will tell.
     
  20. CDW6212R

    CDW6212R Hauls the mail. Elite Explorer

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    Hopefully the seal will last a bunch longer this time. Usually old age or too much heat, or a bad axle, wears out the seals. If that one leaks early again, I'd wonder if the gear oil is up to the right level, or if the axle is bent.

    I've got about 70k miles on the seals and bearings I put in one of my Explorers about three years ago. In rough conditions the brakes are clean and dry, though I wear out pads in a couple of years it looks like.
     

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