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Engine is out already... good time for axle boots?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 jarl

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 02:56 PM

I guess the right question would be: is it really that easy to pull the inner end of the front axles from the transmission as some threads suggest? What's the catch? :D

I'm waiting for some parts to arrive to start putting together my '99 OBW, so the EJ22 is still on the stand and I have good access to the sides of the gearbox. Both inner boots are shredded, but the previous owner told me he had not noticed any noise coming from the axles, so I'm thinking about just replacing the boots.

My goal is to separate the inner ends of the axles from the transmission, clean everything, reboot and put together -said the optimist guy-. But I know there's something ready to bite me in the lower back -there's always something ready to mess you up when fixing a car- so... what is it?

I have read about removing one of the strut bolts and loosening the other one, and the one I like better: removing the bolt holding the front suspension arm -if I remember correctly-. On the last one, though, there's a note saying "this is for a EA81". Is the post still valid for a '99 OBW?

#2 Fairtax4me

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 04:25 PM

I pulled the transmission out of my car without even taking any of the suspension apart. I knocked the roll pins out, then lowered the transmission a couple inches and slid the axles right off.
You might have to undo the transmission mount and slide the transmission back away from the front cross member some to do it that way, but I thought it was easier than fighting with ball joint bolts, struts bolts, positioning the knuckles right so you don't screw up the alignment.

#3 grossgary

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 04:27 PM

yes they slide right off the trans stubs, knock out the 3/16" pin and off the axle comes. it only installs one way so make sure the holes for the pin line up correctly when you slide the axle back on.

boots are really easy actually - just extremely messy.

if the outer boots are okay you could entertain the idea of just doing the inners, which in my experience are the most likely to break - they're closest to heat. you could probably do the inner boots in the engine bay if the engine is out! :lol::lol:

the strut bolts are never rust/corroded or a problem - so that's a 100% repeatable and simple option for me where rust is a huge problem, unlike suspension bolts lower than those.

i'd just reboot them and roll. aftermarket axles absolutely suck, i'd rather reboot known (or probable) Subaru axles any day.

i rebooted some front axles that broke boots on the start of a 4,000+ mile trip into the mountains of colorado and were shaking violently on the ride home. they've been quiet ever since and that was 2 years ago.

even when noisy subaru axles last an insanely long time, so if they develop noise they'll last years probably anyway, plenty of time to ignore or plan ahead for a repair. but chances of that happening are small anyway.

#4 jarl

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 05:40 PM

Wait... can the axles be separated from the transmission without taking anything else apart? That can't be true, can it? :banana: Then what is it that's going to bite me in the butt? :D

The outer boots seem to be fine, and I already spent all the money of the "since you are there" allowance so I'm not replacing the axles without confirming they need to be changed. So I'll be replacing the boots and yes, I'll probably be doing it from inside the engine bay instead of doing it from underneath. Uncomfortable and messy beats uncomfortable, messy and with a lot of crap falling in my face :)

I need to clean the mess inside the engine bay as well (from the axle grease and the oil leak that lead to the demise of the EJ25D)... that's going to be some serious fun :)

#5 grossgary

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 08:17 PM

i was sort of joking about doing it in the engine bay: :lol: it could be done but would not lend itself to ease with the way the joints/boot/clamps go together. not sure what they're called but the joint has little "discs" that go on one way and need to stay on as you slide the end cup in place and it starts to get messy as the new grease works around the joint/parts and you're trying to slip the boot/clamp in place. simple to take it off.

good luck, sounds like yo'ure on it!

#6 Fairtax4me

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 09:44 PM

Come to think of it. With out the engine attached to the transmission, you can probably just push the transmission to one side far enough to pop the axles off. Once the pin is out you literally only need like 1/2" of extra clearance to slide the axle cup off the differential stub. You probably could do it with the axle still on the car, but seems like it would be a PITA that way. Much easier to work with it on a bench with a vise.

#7 jarl

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 10:06 PM

Uhm... I guess that's where bad luck may show it's ugly face... :)

The reason I'm considering doing the boots on the car is because a thread at NASIOC say it's possible (and because I really want to avoid being under a car with the current heat wave).

I actually found the page on the FSM about replacing the boots, but on one point they say not to remove the axle, and the next one they say to do the same as the full axle overhaul (i.e. remove it, mount it on a vise, etc.) :mad:

BTW: on the FSM I can see nothing resembling a disc other than the bearings on the trunnion... are those the one you are talking about?

I wonder if someone around here has re-booted axles without removing them... the thread at NASIOC is kin of old to revive it...

Edit: Sorry Fairtax... I didn't see your post on time. Somehow I had not considered juggling the transmission, although the FSM implies it's possible to remove the axle without any weird manouver. And while I agree it may be a PITA, reading about broken breaker bars, pullers, brass hammers and whatnot are starting to sound like $time$ to me...

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Edited by jarl, 21 July 2011 - 10:15 PM.


#8 grossgary

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:38 AM

you can definitely do them on the car. no one does it because it'll take longer. this comes down to removing one nut to get the axle off, the axle nut - so maybe in two minutes round trip (or a minute or less with air tools). add another minute for tire removal if they're still on. takes that much time to crawl over the radiator supports a couple times! :lol:

but you won't have to worry about seized axles in the hubs which happens sometimes.

if you do remove the axle it's a good time to check your front axle seals, clean them up, possibly replace them if they're bad. those are what keep the wheel bearings from failing.

#9 grossgary

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:42 AM

just take a look at those rings before they fall off and take note of which way to install them. it's quite obvious - the "larger" diameter sits closest to the axle shaft.

the axle nuts are tough - 3/4" tools or air tools are your friend there.

the brass hammers and such shouldn't be necessary - 1 out of 20 or more times do you run into that. *those* just happen to be the situations most likely to be posted about - so you seem more problems here. i don't post threads about the 100 successful axle removals i've done, so what you see on forums is a bit swayed.

but, like you said, you'll get to avoid that, definitely a good thing.

not sure what kind of access you have to the outer clamp on the outer boot but it might even be possible to do the outer boot too because it's installed once the inner joint is removed - you slide the new outer boot all the way along the shaft. with a worm type clamp or zip tie (yes some people use them, i haven't tried it yet), you could probably do the inner boot too.

#10 jarl

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 08:44 PM

After-the-fact debriefing:

I re-booted both front axles today. The passenger-side one 100% from inside the engine bay, driver's side partially from inside the engine bay and partially from underneath.

Instead of buying the (craftman) recommended drive pin punch, I bought a 5 piece kit at harbor freight. With coupons it was $5 or so, and while it doesn't have a perfeclty-fitting size, it worked fine. I bought the clamp pliers somewhere (o'reilly?) for $10, and some aftermarket boot kits from rockauto (I think this is going to bite me in the butt, though). I had the circlip tool from before (harbor freight as well, probably $3 or so).

Anyway... the passenger side was extremely easy to do. I couldn't remove the Y pipe before, so doing this from the top was almost the only way around. Driving the pin out/in wasn't a problem at all, and things came apart/together without a hitch. Grossgary: "extremely messy" is an understatement!!! I went through half a roll of blue paper towels on just this axle! The rings you mentioned were a nuisance but not too bad. I just held the whole trunnion with one hand, removed the circlip with the other, and off it went. I cleaned the rings one by one to avoid mixing them up, followed all the other instructions by the book and was done in probably 1 or 1.5 hrs (I took my time).

Driver's side access from the engine bay is not that easy. I removed the pin from the engine bay and began pulling the axle (Fairtax: pushing the transmission to the opposite side helped a lot!), but it was soon too obvious it was not going to work (steering wheel shaft). I ended up doing things from underneath the car, and it went somewhat smooth, except every time something fell it a) was grease/greasy water and landed on my hair, or B) was something that is supposed to stay clean and landed on the dirty floor.

In any case, after a ~$30 investment and a couple of hours of my time, both axles have been re-booted. I have the impression the axles are going to fail sooner than later (apparently the booths have been ripped for a while), but what the heck.

Finally, to answer my own question: Yes, if your engine is out and you need to replace your inner boots, go for it :D

Edited by jarl, 04 August 2011 - 08:48 PM.
Keyboard is failing :D


#11 1-3-2-4

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 08:50 PM

I did this on a friend's 02 forester both inner's the passenger side was harder lol I was fighting with the curclip.. however I did not know my channel lock's had a 90 degree tips which would of made it A LOT faster then how I did it..

My friend was going to replace his OEM axle with a aftermarket store brand.. I listened to the people here not to have him do it (was my first time doing an axle) it's not bad at all very easy, it's been about a year now and no problems.

#12 forester2002s

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 09:10 PM

I've today replaced the inner right-side CV boot (2002 Forester 5MT).

I did from below, and it really wasn't too hard. However I do have a maintenance pit, so working from below was easy.
The FSM is a great help, well worth getting.
BTW, Subaru recommend using a new rollpin when reassembling. I did this; the new OEM rollpin cost almost as much as the aftermarket boot!

In the first post, mention is made of 'shredded' boots.
If anyone else notices visible damage to the CV boots, I would highly recommend replacing the boot, before it throws stinky grease all over the engine compartment.
At least on the right-side, the inner boot will spray grease onto the exhaust pipe, so it doesn't take long to figure out that something is wrong!




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