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Axle replacement for EA series cars


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43 replies to this topic

#1 edrach

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 12:46 AM

I get asked this enough that I finally went searching the archives to find my original write-up and update it a bit and repost it. Perhaps one of the moderators will transfer it into the current USRM.

This procedure works for the early '80's GL and Loyale series cars. Might even work on the early '90's Loyales although I haven't actually done one of those.


EA series front axle replacement



Remove the cotter pin in the axle nut while the car is still on the ground and "break" the nut loose with the 36mm socket and a long breaker bar. Remove the wheel after jacking the car up (wheel chocks and jackstands are VERY important here). Knock out the pin on the DOJ with a drift-tool from the UNBEVELED hole and remove the pivot bolt from the lower arm. I don't remove the sway bar mount (never had to). Pull the DOJ away from the transmission; it should move freely now but won't quite come off. Tug on the wheel hub and pull on the DOJ and often it will pop off the stub axle. If not, loosen the nuts at the top of the strut tower a bit (don't take them off!) and/or pry the lower pivot arm away from its support with a crowbar or large screwdriver. This should allow you to get the DOJ off the stub axle. Now remove the castle nut, and both washers (tapping the hub smartly with a small hammer will help get the spring washer out). Now the trick is to get the spindle out of the hub. Either get a large gear puller (6 or 7 inch version) or a sledge hammer and a block of wood. You can push the spindle out with the gear puller or smack the spindle with the sledge (MAKE SURE THE BLOCK OF WOOD IS THERE to prevent damaging the threads--hard to get your core charge back if the threads are bunged). You might need to use your drift and a smaller sledge and pound the spindle out the last inch or so via the small hole in the end. Now carefully remove the axle from the car. Installation is the reverse of removal. Feed the spindle into the hub first; once you get the nut started on the spindle you can use two screwdrivers to pry the spindle out of the hub. I have a number of large washers that I use for spacers to help that along. In really difficult cases I remove the four bolts holding the outer portion of the hub and put the hub aside to give me more purchase on the end of the spindle. Once you have the spindle through the hub reinstall the washers and castle nut and tighten (not completely yet). Now re-install the DOJ (line up the splines first and note that the splines only line up one way--one hole has a tooth in the center and the other has a groove in the center). Tugging on the hub you should be able to slide the DOJ back onto the stub axle again. Line up the holes and knock the spring pin back into the BEVELLED hole. Put the pivot bolt back into the lower arm and snug it up, but DO NOT TIGHTEN. Tighten the nuts at the top of the strut, replace the wheel and drop the car back on the ground and tighten the castle nut to 145 ft-lbs of torque (or more--more is better and won't hurt anything). Torque the wheel lugs to 75 ft-lbs replace the cotter pin in the castle nut. Now that the car is back on the ground, tighten the pivot bolt with the suspension under load. I got that info from the Subaru Guru and it makes sense to take some pressure off the rubber bushing.
Re-torque the lug nuts after 300 miles again and check the castle nut for tightness (yes they can loosen up--I'll explain the mystery of that some other time if you ask nicely). Start to finish takes less than 45 minutes unless you run into a snag.

Thanks to Andy and Skip, the trick of removing the swaybar clamp is definitely less work than loosening the strut tower nuts and certainly is easier to remove the DOJ from the stub axle this way.


Some people have suggested removing the ball joint to move the hub away from the tranny and get the axle off. I've found that removing the ball joint is often more destructive than releasing the sway bar or loosening the upper strut nuts (nut loosening not needed if you release the sway bar). You can save the threads on the axles if you need to drive it out with a sledge hammer (many axles require that) if you put a block of wood between the sledge and the axle. Once you get the axle to move inwards about an inch for more, you can use the drift tool on the axle end (it'll clear the small hole) and drive it out the rest of the way. I've no problem with those of you that remove the ball joint end to free up the strut enough to get the DOJ off the stub axle. Whatever works for you will do the trick.

New versus re-manned versus used axles:
You know, I've not had much success with re-manned axles (with the exception of www.cvaxles.com/ and I haven't bought enough from them as yet to have a good statistical base. I've had my best success looking at the axles of cars in the yard at the local Pull a Part yards. One can usually tell from the condition of the boots how old the axles are and when I find one that looks good I usually pull it so I have spare axles for emergencies. When I use one of my emergency spares, I usually think about ordering a remanned unit from Florida as soon as the used one starts to make noise. I'm still waiting for the last one I installed to start making noise.

#2 Gloyale

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 11:16 AM

This procedure works for the early '80's GL and Loyale series cars. Might even work on the early '90's Loyales although I haven't actually done one of those.

Yes 90's Loyales are identical to the GL's in this regard.


Some people have suggested removing the ball joint to move the hub away from the tranny and get the axle off. I've found that removing the ball joint is often more destructive than releasing the sway bar or loosening the upper strut nuts (nut loosening not needed if you release the sway bar).


If you remove the base of the ball joint from the knuckle you won't damage anything. Just don't try to wedge the clamp open too much, just a little bit is all that's needed. Then just remove the 2 brake caliper mounting bolts and swing the whole caliper/rotor assembly aside and bungee it to the spring. no need to unbolt anything else. This is the method I use.

Edrachs method certainly works too, I just don't like messing with the control arm and sway bar bolts.
If you try to "pickle fork" the ball joint stud out of the control arm then yes you will cause damage to it's boot.

#3 daeron

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 02:22 PM

I think its up to us to go "submit to the USRM." I just did so; and since it was more than just the original post, might I suggest that we try to keep any superfluous comments aside? I am sure we are all thankful to ed for the write-up, and if anyone has anything to add then add it.

The USRM only grows when we submit our write ups, and the more detailed they are, the less searching needs to be done AND the more links we have to point at for the common stuff.

#4 flight_of_pain

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 09:19 PM

if you undo the bottom nuts on the rubber tranny mounts, you can push the tranny up and to either side. this allows you enough room to pull axles without molesting any of the front suspension bits. thats the way ive always done it


isaac

#5 86BRATMAN

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 11:55 PM

if you undo the bottom nuts on the rubber tranny mounts, you can push the tranny up and to either side. this allows you enough room to pull axles without molesting any of the front suspension bits. thats the way ive always done it


isaac


Or if you have crap for tranny mounts it will work the same way...

#6 pagosa

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:43 PM

First I have to say my job has always been cutting the bs out. Second I have to ask EA what?!? cause this doesn't work on EA82.

Being very experienced in this matter on other vehicles and trying everything posted here and other places I'm going to simply list what doesn't work in afformentioned posts and attempt to save people a ton of hassle. We did six just today so we had the opportunity to try all the methods and had to back up to edrach's post with some changes. From this thread the following is true.

A) DO NOT bother or even try to a loosen the lower ball joint or the clamp.
B) DO NOT bother or even try to loosen the top struts.
C) DO NOT bother or even try to remove the tranny mount bolts.
D) DO NOT bother or even try to remove any brake parts.
E) Even without any tranny mounts you can't do this job ;)
F) The reverse of installation does not work ...the stub axle for the hub never goes in without a fight you must also have those tools.

What to do?.... easy follow edrachs guide with the exceptions:

A) Remove only the swing arm bracket from the engine side not the lower tire side(there is only one swing arm ...lower swing arm lol).
B) Remove the sway bar from the swing arm.
C) You must also have some method of getting the axle back in. It doesn't slid right in as this thread might make you think.You must remove the outer hub(if it slides right in your in deep doo doo that means all those parts are worn completely out.) You must also either have a bunch of oversized washers( for the axle) or the right tool to pull it into place(ask Subaru if you want the right tool.) We opted to use a 3/8 inch thick piece of sheet steel with a 1" hole.

Other than these details this thread can be followed. It amazes me anyone could use the other methods mentioned. After murking our way through this less than desirable thread it took 3 hours to do 6. Even with 4 huge guys we couldn't use this thread as is. If you have an EA82 take everything here with a grain of salt.

#7 baccaruda

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:31 AM

i've had several EA82s and I never need my salt shaker.

#8 dave valiant

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:34 AM

Nice post Ed. I noticed one thing that you left out. If you have a rust belt car be prepared to cuss alot if you are attempting to drop the ball joint.

#9 edrach

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:35 AM

C) You must also have some method of getting the axle back in. It doesn't slid right in as this thread might make you think.You must remove the outer hub(if it slides right in your in deep doo doo that means all those parts are worn completely out.) You must also either have a bunch of oversized washers( for the axle) or the right tool to pull it into place(ask Subaru if you want the right tool.) We opted to use a 3/8 inch thick piece of sheet steel with a 1" hole.


After murking our way through this less than desirable thread it took 3 hours to do 6.

Item C) I don't think I ever said it was easy. Before I got the Subaru tool off ebay, I used to pull the stub axle through by using a number of large washers and an axle nut and pry the axle through with two large screwdrivers and a fair amount of effort. I did at least a half dozen on my '86 wagon that way. Some were easier to pull through than others . Only in the worst cases did I ever remove the outer portion of the hub.

Three hours to do six is excellent time; I've taken anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours each depending on the car and bearings and axle. Ninety minutes is about average for an axle replacement by your average "shadetree" mechanic.

#10 86BRATMAN

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:35 AM

I think somebody just doesn't know what the hell they are doing...

#11 edrach

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:40 AM

Nice post Ed. I noticed one thing that you left out. If you have a rust belt car be prepared to cuss alot if you are attempting to drop the ball joint.

Rust is why I don't suggest dropping the ball joint. But to each his own easiest method.

#12 dave valiant

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:46 AM

I agree with leaving the ball joint alone to do an axle. I have heard some say to do that on here in the past and it is a very bad idea. Rust is natures super glue.

#13 Hondasucks

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:51 AM

I'll look @ work tomorrow for the part # for the roll pin punch, I got mine from the MAC truck for $14.99 I think, it works great and doesn't bung up the roll pin.

#14 86BRATMAN

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 12:55 AM

I'll look @ work tomorrow for the part # for the roll pin punch, I got mine from the MAC truck for $14.99 I think, it works great and doesn't bung up the roll pin.


I got mine for a local garage, its a 3/16 inch straight punch, haven't messed one up yet.

#15 daeron

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 01:04 AM

First I have to say my job has always been cutting the bs out.


Listen, man. I am a SUPER nice guy.

First off, I have to say that using your first post to browbeat like this and infer that a number of longtime members and major contributors to the knowledge base of this forum, makes for an awful impression.

Secondly, I must add that every vehicle is going to be a different experience, and nobody here expects everything from the internet to translate directly to their own experience with their own cars. This forum is dedicated to the collection of experiences (mostly mechanical/repair wise) with certain older automobiles, and the sharing of advice on how to deal with issues that arise in ownership. No one here REALLY expects Dad to show up with all the answers.

And finally, nobody really appreciates someone coming along pretending to be Dad about it all.

now like I opened with, I am a super nice guy, I hate to just jump off and say this to you.. (especially if you are actually an experienced, no-nonsense type owner who can contribute in a major way here) but when I read the first two lines of your post, my jaw actually dropped and I had to read it again. Please, my friend, have some courtesy? I can accept that you might believe that nobody else could ever use the methods described above, but you can find a much more polite way to voice your own concern over the relative ease or reliability of advice given by established members, in a community you are just stepping into.

Knowledge is great, but so is tact. I hope I don't sound too much like an rump roast.

#16 baccaruda

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 01:13 AM

rust is sort of its own special issue.
if you have a rust belt car, i'd guess that half of the by-the-book procedures won't work for you as smoothly as they're supposed to.
Rust means extra projects. Rust means that electively removing and greasing your ball joints and and electively removing your axles and antiseizing your stubs are part of maintenance...

#17 RelicGL

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 03:07 AM

I've been slowly going through my 83 EA81 wagon and have done the wheel bearings and seals and am awaiting new axles [payday] so some more crap DOES have to be removed than if one were just changing axles. With 3 types of penetrating fluid and patience, I had great success sticking a second small floor jack and a piece of wood under the ball joint with the nut very loose but threaded on, then jacking it until a reasonable amount of pressure contacts the nut and then using a piece of wood and a 3lb sledge to smack the lower control arm down off the tapered part of the ball joint. It came apart beautifully that way without stressing any rubber roots on the ball joint. Tie rod popped fairly easy.
Due to some rusty hell on the driver's side I removed the whole strut and knuckle as an assembly, [calipers wired off to side, hub and rotor off] instead of screwing with rusted pinch bolts for the ball joint to knuckle or the lower strut cartridge itself. I undid the two top outer nuts on the strut mount, left the center nut tight, [spring! DO NOT TOUCH!!!]] and just yanked out the whole unit, after smacking out the axle with a piece of wood. Axle popped out very pleasantly with only a few blows of the same 3lb sledge and a piece of 2x4. I had to make one crafty cut for the brake cable to come away from its strut mount, but it will assemble fine with the prong bent back into place and the clip replaced. It was easy popping out the old seals and wheel bearings and putting in the new ones even though it seemed an odd angle at times. Did it right on the pavement on a piece of cardboard right beside the car with, of course, plenty of rags and brakecleen. I had a new grease gun cartridge of chasis and wheel bearing grease I had been neglectful to load into the grease gun so I pillaged it for doing the wheel bearings. Run what ya brung and it's what I had! Saved a trip to the store. Now I just have to source the new GCK axles here locally and experience the utter joy of getting the new axles in through the knuckles and new bearings. I am hoping the NEW axles and NEW bearings make the pull-through a little more co-operative than possibly otherwise. New Raybestos semi-metallic PGD brake pads as well. I went with the cheap-rump roast rebuilt water pump and surprise, it had the correct original-style impeller, excellent!
I've also been changing spark plugs, cap and rotor, [new wires already there, 7.5 mil] engine seals and the oil pan gasket. I used gasket adhesive to glue the cork to the cleaned oil pan and just left a nice clean surface where it mates to the block and got the bolts back in quick enough for a little wiggle room before the adhesive set further. The idea for that is so if I ever have to take the oil pan off again, for whatever reason, the gasket will stick to the pan and release cleanly from the engine block saving the gasket for re-use. Thwarting Murphy's Law by being prepared for a second pan removal means I WON'T have to ever remove it again! I hope! [also cleaned the pick-up screen with lots of brakecleen and a brush and a old towel to catch the drippings; also cleaned the inside bottom of the oil pan. Surprisingly not very cruddy. I expected all kinds of crap to lay in there] and doing the water pump as well as the rear brakes. Basically just going through it and making it safe and operate dependably for another 100,000 miles. One rear wheel cylinder was leaking, no big deal. Two new wheel cylinders and cleaned up the shoes, drums and backing plate with brakecleen and reassembled, final bleeding stilll to come. New gear lube concoctions for the trans and diff as well.

I still haven't found a local retailer for GCK axles, but I must admit, I haven't looked that hard yet. Front axles have to wait for payday anyway but I will Phone and google around. Doesn't seem to be an Autozone in Vancouver, yet, but SOMEONE here locally, wet coast Canada, has to be able to source them. :eek:

I bought the car for a hundred bucks and by the time it's done I'll have another $600 or $700 or so into it and I'll know exactly what I have as I drive down the road, or off-road. I got a little delayed due to a back-log of bills and other life expenditures but they are all paid finally and I'm getting close!!! :banana:

#18 Reveeen

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 03:55 AM

9 times out of 10 here, the ball joint pinch bolts are tightly rusted, needing heat to remove (and I'm not too keen on heating close to a ball joint I wish to re-use). Unless I'm replacing the ball joint, I usually split the assembly at the bottom, loosening the nut, with a jack under it, and tapping the control arm, to pop the ball joint out.

Whatever method you use, liberal application of anti-seize is your friend, the next time you find yourself in this area you will thank yourself.

#19 edrach

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 07:53 AM

I'll look @ work tomorrow for the part # for the roll pin punch, I got mine from the MAC truck for $14.99 I think, it works great and doesn't bung up the roll pin.

Sears Craftsman WF 42885 is one drift tool to use that works quite well; 3/16" for the generic tool.

#20 Caboobaroo

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 09:23 AM

IIRC, the MAC tool number is LT-730. I actually have two which is nice and when I swapped my 5-lug and my RX box into my coupe, it made it sooo easy, eaier then anything I've done in the past. Plus it has a nice grip on it too when your hands are all greasy...

#21 mikeshoup

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 09:31 AM

I just have a generic punch (5/16" I believe). It works great.

#22 Gloyale

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 10:32 AM

Just a note about punches and rollpins. For the rear axles, the inner roll pin is larger dia. than the outer roll pin. The 5/16 punch will not work on the outer (smaller) pin, you'll need a 1/4.

#23 Gloyale

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 10:53 AM

I missed this guys first post, and I had a few things to say about it.:mad:

First I have to say my job has always been cutting the bs out. Second I have to ask EA what?!? cause this doesn't work on EA82.

Being very experienced in this matter on other vehicles and trying everything posted here and other places I'm going to simply list what doesn't work in afformentioned posts and attempt to save people a ton of hassle. We did six just today so we had the opportunity to try all the methods and had to back up to edrach's post with some changes. From this thread the following is true.

A) DO NOT bother or even try to a loosen the lower ball joint or the clamp.
B) DO NOT bother or even try to loosen the top struts.
C) DO NOT bother or even try to remove the tranny mount bolts.
D) DO NOT bother or even try to remove any brake parts.
E) Even without any tranny mounts you can't do this job ;)
F) The reverse of installation does not work ...the stub axle for the hub never goes in without a fight you must also have those tools.


Firstly, welcome to you too:rolleyes:

Second. Why not remove the pinch bolt or the brake hardware? I have found it to be the very easiest way. You yourself say you need to remove the outer hub to get the axle back in, so that means you have to remove the rotor, which means removing the Caliper and it's bracket(unless you unbolt the rotor from the hub which. If you think the pinch bolt is rusty and prone to break, they are nothing compared to the hub/rotor bolts) So since the brakes have to come off anyway. Then you're left with one pinch bolt and the spindle will swing free to allow the axle to slide out. Soak it with PB blaster first. Once the bolt is out, turn the wheel(spindle) all the way to the outside, drive a wedge in the gap, and then stand on the control arm. Sometimes tough, but I've never had a problem with dozens of them.

What to do?.... easy follow edrachs guide with the exceptions:

A) Remove only the swing arm bracket from the engine side not the lower tire side(there is only one swing arm ...lower swing arm lol).
B) Remove the sway bar from the swing arm.
C) You must also have some method of getting the axle back in. It doesn't slid right in as this thread might make you think.You must remove the outer hub(if it slides right in your in deep doo doo that means all those parts are worn completely out.) You must also either have a bunch of oversized washers( for the axle) or the right tool to pull it into place(ask Subaru if you want the right tool.) We opted to use a 3/8 inch thick piece of sheet steel with a 1" hole.


He says you MAY have to remove the swaybar bolt(if you are removing swing arm bolt, which my method doesn't require), and he mentioned the need for washers or some other method of pulling the axle through.

Other than these details this thread can be followed. It amazes me anyone could use the other methods mentioned. After murking our way through this less than desirable thread it took 3 hours to do 6.Even with 4 huge guys we couldn't use this thread as is. If you have an EA82 take everything here with a grain of salt.


I Just don't really believe this. 3 hours to do six? fudging the numbers a bit eh?

#24 msteel

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 11:39 AM

OK, I'll add my $0.02

* I've always removed the ball joint from the lower control arm, using a pittman arm puller to pop it out (doesn't hurt the boot), and a sturdy rod to lever the control arm down enough to get the stud out of the hole. I've never tried removing the bolt on the other end of the control arm. Sounds like a nice method that I might try next time.

* Some axles I've done have come out almost by hand. One came out with the wood block and sledge method, but brought the inner bearing out with it. I think a brass hammer is about the best way if you don't have a suitable puller (which I don't).

* The washer method of reinstalling the axle works. But a special tool is much nicer. The one I have is a homemade version of the Subaru tool.

#25 aba4430

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 08:41 PM

Can you post a picture of your homemade tool - or give some details on how you made it etc.
Thx,
aba




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