03 Front Axle Shaft Swap | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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03 Front Axle Shaft Swap


September 11, 2009
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Year, Model & Trim Level
03 Eddie Bauer
Hello everybody. I need to replace the front driver side axle on my 03 Eddie Bauer. I got a new axle at Advance Auto Parts, more on this in a minute. I bought a 32mm socket as I had seen in several places that was the correct size for the spindle nut. Well, it is the correct size for the spindle nut on the new axle but it's much bigger than the spindle nut that's currently on the truck. Can I install this axle, or will the spindle not go through the hub? Is it normal for a replacement axle to have a different size spindle? For the life of me I can't find a 1 1/4" wrnch around the house to test and see if that's the right size. Thanks in advance for any help.

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Instead of looking for the right socket size, measure it with a ruler first (or a vernier caliper if you have one).

Thanks I just did that. I'm still a bit worried about the replacement axle having a different spindle size.

Well you can always compare the two axle shafts side by side when the original one is out. If the spline count and overall shaft diameter at the spline is the same, then its probably good.

Size of the spindle irrelevant? I can slip the nut from the replacement axle on the spindle of the axle on the explorer with ease, I think there's about 1/16" of play. If it doesn't matter and I'm worried over nothing that's fine it just seems strange to me.

The splined part is all that matters from a 4wd perspective. Although it is strange that this new axle shaft has a different thread size, the threaded section and the accompanying nut is only there to squeeze the bearing assembly together.

Also, if you have the part number and you bought it from say Advanced Auto Parts, go to their website and verify that the part number is correct for your vehicle.

OK. So I've read enough how to's on here that I should know what I'm doing BUT I can't get the upper ball joint to budge out of the steering knuckle. I've hit it with WD40, hammered and pried the control arm up ward with no results. I had a four foot steel pipe wedged between the control arm and steering knuckle with all of my weight on it, no dice. Do I have to hit this thing with a torch? The ball joint I think is fine so I didn't want to destroy it but I have no idea what to do. I even jacked up the suspension thinking it would take the weight off and tried to pry it but nothing.

i think its easier to drop the lower arm, and the sway bar links, then the upper arm. that upper arm does not like to come out. i could of sworn ford bolts for the front are 36mm could be rear, some aftermarket axles will come with a smaller nut and a washer, the ford washer is on the nut. you can probably reuses it.

Im having the same problem... I will try to remove the bottom and see if I can go from there.

Black EB.... Why are you replacing the CV Shaft? I have a vibration that I have been chasing for months. The vibration starts in around 50mph and gets worse until it levels out at .. well.. I havent gone any faster than 75 trying to diagnose this issue. I have replaced all 4 wheel bearings, front drive shaft, put new tires all around, and a u-joint in the rear drive shaft. Im thinking this is the next step because it appears to be coming from there.

The wheel bearings were just replaced, and the noise sounds like it's coming from near the wheel. Sounds like an axle issue and there is a little play so I figured I'd just go for it.

Got it. 30 seconds with the blowtorch on the bottom of the steering knuckle and ball joint stud and it came lose with two whacks with the sledge.

Im at the same point you are... I have put new bearings in all 4 wheels, new front drive shaft, new tires all around, and a new U-joint in the rear shaft. My hum... vibration sounds like it is the front drivers side CV Shaft. Im just going for it also!

So.. A little heat with a propane torch you think? I dont have a blow torch

There's not really much around to worry about as long as you're careful. Like I said, I hit mine for about 30 seconds with the torch and a few whacks broke it loose. I guess I'd prefer a blowtorch for something like that where you're trying to heat a small area, You might want to shield the ball joint with something.

Im gonna try this afternoon.

Did the new Half shaft fix your hum? Im running out of things to replace! At least the half shaft is only $60 and Im saving on the labor.

Don't know because I can't get the freakin axle out. I've been trying for three and have no clue. I've removed the sway bar link and unclipped the abs sensor from the brake lines so that I can move the steering knuckle out as far as it goes. I guess I'm separating the tie rod now? This is getting ridiculous.

I replaced my half shaft.. didnt fix my vibration :(

I removed the brake caliper.. rotor... bearing all together... upper ball joint.. lower ball joint and tie rod end which totally removed that whole assemble (cant remember what it is called). Pulling the hafl shaft apart from the pumpkin I simply slid a flat bar in and pried a little.. it came right out. I didnt remove the sway bar.. almost.. was thinking of it but instead I used a bugger crow bar and simply moved it a little just enough to get the dang thing out.

Good luck!! Hope it fixes your issue!

How did you get the tie rod ball joint out? I've use penetrating oil, heat, and a BFH and the thing hasn't budged. I even put a floor jack under and maxed the suspension out.... nothing. I'm about ready to get the die grinder out and take a 1/4 inch off the end of the spindle on the axle to get it out. I really can't believe that it should be this difficult.

Get an inexpensive tie rod puller from the auto parts store. Autozone rents them. They usually pop right out for me.

Grrr... chasing the same vibration/hum you guys are. Sounds like it's the drivers side just past 35 mph. I think it's the front diff. bearings but I'm guessing.

Mine isn't really a hum, it's more of a clacking noise and the axle swap didn't solve it but it sounds like it's coming from right near the wheel. It's intermittent so it's hard to try to pin down. The front hubs were replaced in May. So back to the drawing board.

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