Where do you live at?
Saskatchewan, Canada. The land of no hills.
Hi, new here, I had honda crx for 15 years, two sets of axles, one in, one waiting. Boots always ripped, but the balls and cage were always, ALWAYS in great shape! My experience, buy refab, or used axles, as an extra set. I understand its a daily driver, but one day is good time to spend, both cost and experince.
It seems relatively straight forward but there seemed to be cautions about damaging seals and whatnot that made me a bit iffy as it'd be out of commission while I waited for parts. If we had a second vehicle I'd certainly give her a go.
if the other axle's boots are in good condition and it isn't making noises, leave it in place. do more frequent inspections of it and regrease/reboot when a split boot is detected.
(if you want a 'project', swapping it to the other side would put infrequently worn surfaces used only in reverse, into the forward use position and could extend the life of a few of the metallic components. while it's out, you could also reboot it as preventive maintenance.)
MANY people will just replace axles as the labor and cost is close to the same as rebooting but, finding quality replacements is not easy - do a search, everyone has issues along these lines.
if MWE/FWE is still in business, they enjoy a good reputation for having quality rebuilt Subaru axles. Some folks have had good luck with aftermarket new axles; Raxles, EMPI, SureTrak and others - still, you can find complaints.
as said, we all seem to gamble when we stray from the OEM axles. It's my understanding that the Subaru rebuilts are rebuilt for them by Cardone. If the there is no or limited grinding such that the case hardening of wear surfaces isn't compromised, they should be decent parts.
I know it seems like a crazy issue,...... because it is. If we could just find a way to get NTN axles at discount prices.....
I was wondering about only changing the one side as the other seems fine right now. Everywhere says to change both sides but doesn't really say why. RockAuto doesn't seems to have much selection so I stopped by NAPPA today and they could get the axles in at $750 each! Granted they were new and couldn't get refurbs but still, pricey! At that price plus potentially labour the thought of doing one side is attractive. Any real reason why they say to do both beyond the other side potentially going soon? Couldn't I just keep an eye on it as you say and keep an ear out for clicking?
Thanks for everyone's replies!