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Stuck Axle Nut!!


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28 replies to this topic

#1 brendan_ward

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 04:12 PM

Well the time has come to replace my right front driveaxle on my '91 Legacy Wagon, but I cannot get the bloody axle nut off!! :banghead: I have unstaked the nut and been squirting it with penetrating oil for days. Used an 18" breaker bar and a 2ft piece of metal pipe to no avail, and broke the breaker bar! I've been trying to work it clockwise and counter-clockwise just to break it loose. Tried a sturdier 25" breaker bar with 2ft pipe, with two people standing on it, and the nut didn't even budge. I've tried using a smaller socket & hammer to give the nut a good shake, didn't help. Tried heating it with a mini-torch, then jumping on the breaker bar, still nothing.

Any ideas? What's the trick? Obviously many of you have gotten these off just fine. I don't have access to an impact wrench, and I thought that they were discouraged for Subaru axle nuts anyway.

I thought about having a shop break it loose for me, but the few I called refused due to liability issues.

I'd like to do the rest of the axle replacement myself rather than just turning the whole operation over to a shop (read: poor starving grad student).

#2 joeo

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 07:18 PM

The only way I could get it off was with an impact gun. Even then, it took some serious beating on it before it broke loose.
I'm trying to change the bearings, but wondering if it is really necessary:
Bearings - thread.

#3 jcniest5

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 08:59 PM

On mine, here: http://65.54.170.250...46&goto=newpost

I had to take it to a shop and they used super hot torch and heated the nut until it turned RED and even that, it still took them many times to make it loosened. Also, an impact wrench would make it so much easier.

#4 brendan_ward

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:27 PM

So can I just take it to a shop and have them do it with an impact wrench? I certainly didn't call every shop in town, but my impression from the few I talked to was that they wouldn't do it for liability reasons.

What would be a fair charge for them to break it loose for me?

jcniest5, your link did not come through correctly.

Thanks everybody!

#5 jcniest5

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:35 PM

Yeah, only a few shops will do that. They want to collect the money from doing the whole thing for you. I actually went through a few shops myself, asking for that service. They said if they did that, they wouldn't make any money so they can't. Tsk...tsk...tsk...they are so freaking greedy! If I had a shop, I would do that for any customer for a minimal charge. Besides, it's a service itself, so why not? Only these greedy people wouldn't do it. I was mad upon hearing that.

FYI: I paid $20.00 to have mine done at the shop that was willing to do it.

Oh, the link above is just my other post, look for: AT Shift Control Unit and read further down for my experiment.

#6 99obw

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:40 PM

I think you should offer to them that you will bring a new nut that they can stake back in place. Just have them break the rusty one free and stake a new one in. Them remove it when you get home. You will need two new nuts instead of one but it may be the only way they will touch it.

#7 jcniest5

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:58 PM

The problem is if they put it back on and stake it, it would be too hard and impossible to remove it again! Then you are back to square one! Hehehehe...

#8 NOMAD327

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 10:15 PM

a lot of equipment rental places rent out impact guns (usually electric but sometimes pneumatic with a matching air compressor). The problem there is the sockets they have are normally sae size, not metric. It may be an option

#9 99obw

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 10:20 PM

The problem is if they put it back on and stake it, it would be too hard and impossible to remove it again! Then you are back to square one! Hehehehe...


He is fighting years of WI rust, not the torque of the nut itself. With a breaker bar they come off pretty darn easy when they aren't rusted on.

#10 brendan_ward

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 01:26 PM

I found one generous shop today that tried to loosen it for me with an impact wrench first, and when that failed, a long breaker bar. Didn't even budge it - the shop tech. said he'd never seen a nut that tight, and he was much burlier than me! And I've been soaking it in penetrating oil for 4 days now!

Do y'all have a trick for getting the oil into the threads, since the nut/axle is pointed very slightly downwards causing anything I squirt in there to drain back out.

Now it is on to another shop to try torching it, along jcniest5's suggestion.

Why are these nuts so bloody tight??? :banghead: For a '91 with >160K, I can't imagine that the axles are original. The nut is not rusty on the surface, but the threads definitely seem seized since it hasn't so much as budged.

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions!

#11 tcspeer

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 01:43 PM

Could have been cross threaded when it was put on. Wal Mart cross threaded one of my lug nuts it would not budge, I got big breaker bar and twisted it off and put new lug in it. If you are going to replace the axle why not get a bigger bar and break it. Get a big 3/4 breaker bar and then get a big pipe to go over it. I know that is a big piece of steel and you still might not be able to break it.

#12 joeo

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 02:01 PM

With an impact gun, if you switch it to tighten, beat on it, then loosen, and repeat, that can help break it loose.

#13 jcniest5

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 10:07 PM

The torch will do the trick. If not the first time, a few times later would do it, unless it is of extreme situation, which may require other means of loosening it. Just torch it until it turns RED!

#14 99obw

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 04:35 AM

Getting it too hot can damage the seals, so go easy on the torch.

#15 SevenSisters

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 09:09 AM

If you have a little grinding tool and pencil bit, you might try grinding a lateral slot in the nut (like a nut splitter would do) and using a chisel to split it off.

#16 MorganM

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 10:23 AM

Brendan: I'm in the TwinCities MN; where you at in WI? I got an impactr wrench and compressor. If that dont work I got a small torch/welder !_! You can get the little torch at Home Depot for $50 Its an oxygen/acedliline setup with everything you need to get started. Had to use it the other day for my brother to get a tranny cooler line fitting loose! Don't bother with just MAP gass or propane as that wont get it hot enough; gotta have that oxygen amplification! :D

Peace

#17 lagwagon

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 11:10 AM

I have had great luck with Sea Foam penitraiting oil ( makes WD-40 look like water).Even parts that where so rusted on you could not even see the treads anymore. I have never not gotten a nut off ( I know ,double negative). Napa has the stuff. this situation maybe beyond oils but ya never know till ya try.

After you let the oil sit on there for a while ( over night/a week ) and keep reappling . Do the same thing. Have someone stand( bounce a little )on the breaker bar extention and tap on the back of the socket with a mallet. Poor boys impact hammer. I put the wheel on the do this step. patientence helps a lot. If it doesn't go reply oil and try again.

This technique has liberated many rusted on nut for me. I think you will be surprised by the Sea Foam. It's even a carb cleaner. Good Luck!

I think the torch is okay to use also. All those parts are exposed to a lot of heat from the breaking system.

#18 cookie

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 11:33 AM

when I lived in Maine it was salt central. That nut is rusted on tight enough that oil will do nothing for you.
We used to cherry the nut and sometimes we would only get a couple of turns with a breaker bar before we had to cherry it again. Yes the seals are at risk. With the worst nuts we cut them off with a torch, but this requires some skill to avoid damage.

#19 Nug

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 02:19 PM

Get a big cold chisel and a big hammer. Lock the cold chisel in a pair of vise-grips so you don't miss and smash your fingers off. Put the cutting edge of the chisel on a flat of the nut, parallel with the axle. The object is to split the nut in half, making it a "C" shape. Understand?

You don't need to break it all the way in half. Just a judicious beating with a cold chisel will expand the inner diameter enough for the rust to let loose. When they are this bad, I like to get the chisel at least half way through the nut before I start jumping on a breaker bar again.

Or go to a truck stop, hand a mechanic $10 (or a six pack) and tell them to hit it with the big gun. They'll have an impact big enough!

#20 brendan_ward

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 03:39 PM

So if I get it torched, I risk the seals. If I take a cold-chisel to it, what do I risk besides fingers? Any chance this will trash my bearings, hub, etc?

So the informal poll:
Who votes for torching and who votes for splitting the nut with a judicious wacking?

MorganM, I'm in Madison, certainly too far from the Twin Cities to be worth a trip.

Thanks everybody!

#21 MorganM

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 03:48 PM

So if I get it torched, I risk the seals. If I take a cold-chisel to it, what do I risk besides fingers? Any chance this will trash my bearings, hub, etc?

So the informal poll:
Who votes for torching and who votes for splitting the nut with a judicious wacking?

MorganM, I'm in Madison, certainly too far from the Twin Cities to be worth a trip.

Thanks everybody!


If you have a torch I'd try and heat it and break it free with a cheater bar.

No torch? Chizel is much cheaper :) I got a big 1" chizzle with hand guard on it for pretty darn cheap at Home Depot. Man that hand guard is a digit saver!

Too bad you are in Madison :( That is quite a drive... 4 hours aint it?

#22 cookie

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 04:34 PM

but there is one more option if you can find a tool called a nut splitter.
This device surrounds a nut and tightens with a wrench to split it. Thus you prevent damage from heat and damage from hammering.These bearing are known to be fragile and Subaru has instuctions on how not to damage them.

#23 kmix99

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 05:07 PM

I broke two Craftsman 1/2 in. breaker bars trying to get mine off. I bought something called a Craftsman breaker T-bar from Sears (Napa has it too) and it worked wonderfully. It is a large bar with a sliding 3/4 in. socket head. It is in the shape of a T, so one hand pulls up on one side of the bar while the other pushes down (excellent leverage).

If you don't have access to an impact wrench, this is the next best thing.

#24 jcniest5

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 11:14 PM

This thread is getting interesting with the many replies posted. Keep us posted as you go on with the journey of loosening the axle nut! Hehehehehe...LOL

#25 alia176

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 01:56 PM

I vote for using the cold chiesel and a BFH! The threads could be cross threaded and/or perhaps Loctited? In any case, if you take it to someone, then once the nut is off, it'll prolly ruin the threads. After that, your car won't be driveable! So, try to do this at home and it's a great learning experience for you.

Once you get the nut off, you can bet that your splines of the axles and the hub are fused together. I used a huge brass hammer to pound the axle through the hub. This is after the lower arm was disconnected from the chassis and the whole strut assembly was dangling freely. However, the better way is to use a Hubtamer type of tool to gently force the axle through the splines. Don't forget to apply antiseize liberally to everything before reassembly.

Lots of great ideas were already mentioned. Just be safe and use safety glasses, gloves and common sense! Frustrations can lead to hurt body parts!

Hope this helps some.

Good luck

Ali
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