Save money and headache by re-booting/rebuilding your own axles, instead of buying remanufactured ones that are likely to fail in short order.
you will need a couple specialty tools to complete the project that you wouldn't need for the removal of the axle. These are a snapring pliers and a CV Boot clamp tool. with some patience and cussing, the snapring can be removed without the tool, but the cost is worth it, even if you only use it once. the clamp tool can be rented from some stores. Both are readily available at any auto parts store for less than $10 each:
you'll also want a roll of paper/shop towels nearby. as there's a lot of grease in there that'll need to be cleaned out. and a good hand cleaner and a solvent.
NOTE: it is possible to replace only the DOJ/SFJ boot (on the tranny/diff side), but it's only about 5-10 minutes extra work and $5-10 extra cost to replace the outer while you're at it. whereas you have to do the whole project to replace the outer boot. so just do it while you're at it, and then you don't have to worry about it!
first, remove the axle. This is a fairly common topic, and write-ups for your specific subaru can be found all over the internet.
once you've got the axle out, and on the bench (or the floor....). Start the disassembly.
now you'll need to remove the clamps:
For future reference, this inner joint, with the squared off cups is a DOJ (double-offset joint) or SFJ (Shuderless Freering tripod Joint) on newer models. both of these designs allow the axle to telescope, and change length a bit.
this can be done with a cutoff wheel, tin snips, but I prefer to pry the clamp apart with a chisel or screwdriver:
This outer joint is a CVJ (Constant Velocity Joint), it does not telescope, but does allow higher angles without binding.
now pull the boot back from the axle cup:
ewwww....that grease is very contaminated and worn out.
once most of the grease is cleaned out, use a screwdriver (or tip of a pliers, or even a pen...) to pry the circlip out of the axle cup:
then pull the joint out of the axle cup:
now, if your joint looks like this, you have an SFJ, which doesn't need to be disassembled. skip the next few steps to pulling the snapring off:
here are the components of a DOJ, cleaned, layed out, and labeled:
wipe some of the grease off, and then rock the retainer back and forth to force the balls out:
once all 6 balls are out, rotate the retainer a bit, and slip it off the inner race onto the shaft:
then use your snapring pliers to remove the snapring:
then you can slide the inner race off the shaft. at this point, be sure to take note of which side goes where. the first time I did this, I used a couple dabs of white-out on one side of the race and retainer so I knew how it went.
now slide both boots off the shaft.
now comes the task of cleaning out the CVJ. this is a little more difficult, as it cannot easily be disassembled (I know it's possible....but I've never done it without destroying it). this one is pretty nasty, dried up and crusted with dirt.
I prefer to work some petroleum based hand cleaner (like Goop or Gojo......make sure to get the petroleum version. easiest way to tell is look at the directions for use. if step one is something like "do not wet hands", you've got the right stuff), and work that into the joint:
then rinse it repeatedly with a solvent (gas works....if nothing else)
once cleaned out, you should be able to move it around fairly easily. don't be alarmed if it binds up while dry. it takes quite a lot to damage these irreparably, once you've worked some grease in there, it should free up quite a bit.
now to put it back together.
fill the CVJ with grease (go ahead and use the whole pack), and then slide the boot on the shaft. then the small clamp. next slide the other smaller clamp, and the inner boot.
now slide the retainer on, followed by the inner race (make sure both are facing the right direction....remember those marks you made?). then install the snapring, and re-assemble the retainer and 6 balls (again, not necessary if you have an SFJ).
put the joint into the axle cup, and re-install the circlip. now, open your other pack of grease and put a bunch in the axle cup, and the rest in the boot. slide the boot onto the cup, seat the boots in the indents on the shaft/cups for the clamps. now install and tighten the clamps. and you're done!
now move the joints through their range of motion repeatedly to work the grease into the joints.
re-install in the car. and enjoy!
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