How To Change the Front Axle on a Car

Have you ever experienced driving on the road to work, hitting the speed limit and then your car starts to shake? Like driving on uneven terrain? Or have you rounded a corner only to hear that rough "rattling" noise? Your axle joints must have failed.

Front wheel drive cars have a pair of shafts called a Half-Shaft. It's a shaft which comes from the transaxle attached to the engine towards the middle of the car and the wheel hub. Each shaft has two universal-type joints to allow the front wheels of your car to go up and down as well as to turn corners.

The joints wear out over time. At some point you will experience clunking when moving from a stop or feeling vibrations at slow speeds. These joints are covered by a boot or bellows. Grease around the metal gets dirt and wear out faster when these rubbers wear out. An oily boot is likely to be torn, allowing dirt or grime to stick into CV joints. Replacing the boot is important. The cost of labor for replacing a rubber boot is only a little less than the cost of a rubber boot and CV joint. Do not repack CV joints, but have them replaced immediately.

Here are some instructions on how to change your own CV axle on your front wheel drive car.

  1. Engage the emergency brake and jack the car up. Roll the jack hydraulics underneath the front of the vehicle and shoot for the engine cradle. The car's radiator is in front. Jacking up on the bottom will destroy it so aim for the sturdy components like the engine frame. Once high enough and secured, have your jack stands in place. Look for a sign of a bad half-shaft joint by slowly turning the tire with your hands and holding on to the metal part between the joints. Your CV axle may be leaking with grease or the boot is torn. Car dealers and parts stores provide the shafts you need to be changed as a unit.
  2. Remove the car wheel nuts. The brake clip is cast-iron and the wheel is aluminum. It is necessary to strike the tire to remove them from these surfaces. They corrode together and make it harder to remove even with the nuts off. Now roll the wheel aside and remove the cotter pin and the nut.
  3. Use a pry bar and prevent the front hub assembly from turning by stopping it with a screwdriver. Some wheels have a brake caliper, unbolt them. You can prevent damaging the rubber brake hose by hanging it on a heavy wire.
  4. From this point, pry the wheel hub assembly off the suspension strut (A McPherson strut is common). After the hub and strut are separated from each other, remove the axle (Be sure to put a oil drip catcher under your car's transmission). After removing the old axle, push the fresh axle shaft into your car's transmission. Take your wooden block and clasp it against the end of the hub (this is where the axle nut goes in place).
  5. Tap the wooden block and axle into place in the transmission until it sits into place. When tapped into place and seated well, pulling will prevent it popping out. Finally, simply reinstall all components back together, just the same way you disassembled them.


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