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Thread: How To: Change Yor Axles (Barney style w/ photos)

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2008-08-01 03:45:21
How To: Change Yor Axles (Barney style w/ photos)
I have never done this before, I am not a mechanic, I barely know what I'm talking about and I used the exact directions from the Haynes manual. $20 at your local auto store. If you mess something up, that's what you get for doing it yourself. I took the risk and blame nobody but myself, and so should you. Now to the good stuff...

I thought I'd do something different and add a FAQ before we get it on:

What are you doing?
Changing the driver’s side axle.

I had a 'clunking' noise while pressing on the gas, the brakes and through turns. No real issue while 'coasting'. Sounds like a wrench in a metal tool box being rolled down a hill...

Where did you get your parts, how much was it and why did you get it from them?
AutoZone: $69.99 plus tax and $45 core charge = total of $123.33. (CA taxed)
It was cheap, close and I have a rewards card with them, so I better get some damn rewards for always buying from them!

Are they new? Remanufactured? What brand?
They tell you new in the store, but who really knows. Some people will tell you they are not new. But, if they were remanufactured, then why do they not have the middle damper? (Read on further if you don’t know what the ‘damper’ is.) The actual brand name is "Cardone".

OEM = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Raxles = $$$$$$ (I was quoted $149.95 for each side plus $54 for shipping). AutoZone = $. I'm not racing the car, this is just my daily driver that I want to maintain and learn from. Why spend money if I don't have to…they have a lifetime warranty. Yes, they offer it because it WILL BREAK AGAIN (the one I pulled out was identical to the AutoZone...not stock). But, I'm not made of money...if I was, I wouldn't have done it myself. So, they are good enough for me.

So then...what's the real difference between stock, raxles and what you got?
Aside from the pricing, OEM is...OEM. Raxles is remanufactured OEM with new parts. They both also come with the middle rubber 'damper'. I think that's what it's called anyway…it’s supposed to help with vibration (NOTE: It's vibration is supposed to occur at 30mph...I have yet to feel it. If I do, I will update my experience). The cheap ones have just a straight rod in the middle...see photos below. Green = stock, black = Cardone.

Stock (top one is a LSD axle, bottom is a NON-LSD axle, see this thread :http://www.sr20forum.com/sr20de-technical-corner/190131-lsd-axle-vs-non-lsd-axle-comparison-pics.html for more information on the differences):

Cardone (AutoZone):

Does it matter if you have LSD or ABS?
Yes and no, respectively.

- It does matter if you have LSD. Read the thread I linked above to learn about their differences. Do you have LSD? Yes, if you have a NX2000, B13 Sentra SE-R or ‘95-‘97 B14 200sx SE-R. I have no idea about the G20's. '98 200's did not come with them from what I've read. I don't know for sure, so search if you're unsure. Also from what I’ve read, neither did the B14 Sentra SE’s/SE-L’s.

- No, it does not matter if you have ABS. There is some sensor ring for the ABS, but I have no idea what it actually is. IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY! I don't have ABS, nor was there a difference when you order the part. It's either a 2.0L or 1.6L. So, don’t’ worry about it. But, if you insist…you'll know if you don't have ABS if...

1. When you turn on the car, no "ABS" light comes on at the top of your instrument cluster.
2. There are supposed to be 2 lines going into your master cylinder. 4 lines = NO ABS.
3. There is a sensor on the passenger side strut...or something. I don't know, I don't have ABS.
4. There is this plug behind your air filter just hanging there. It's brown and not connected to anything. Why? Because it's easier to make one set of wires than two. So, if you don't have ABS...then you can't hook it up to anything.
5. You drive really, really fast…brake hard and your brakes lock up and you skid. If you have ABS, you get a foot massage and feel like your car is about to b..bre...break apart. NOTE: Your ABS could just not be working, so this test really proves nothing except that you're an idiot or adrenaline junkie (they go hand in hand most times)...because I just explained four other easy ways to find out.

So, now that I got that out of the way...here is the HOW TO:


Breaker bar and pry bar (or really long and thick flathead screwdriver)
Lug nut socket
Axle nut socket (don’t know the size, sorry)
Needle nose pliers
10mm wrench (optional, you’ll see why)
14mm wrench
Adjustable wrench (didn’t have a big enough size, sorry…I’m cheap)
Jack, jack stands, gloves, goggles, pan to catch tranny fluid…etc. Safety, safety, safety.
Haynes Manual (Optional. This is what I used, but I’m explaining it here, so…just print this out. It has bigger photos. Save the F$M for the ballers and car junkies)

Okay, before I get in depth with photos, do the obvious steps. No photos, you should know how to do this. If you don’t, STOP NOW and get someone else to do it. You’re obviously going to need help.

a. Disconnect the negative terminal from the battery. Now, the manual says to do this for everything, so whether you really have to do it or not, I don’t know. I’m not a mechanic. But I did it anyway…because I’m not a mechanic.
b. Set the parking brake, loosen the lug nuts, jack the car up and take the wheel off. The Haynes manual will show you where to place your jack and stands if you don’t already know (again…you should have stopped earlier).

Now you’re ready for the good stuff.

1. Remove the pin using your NEEDLE NOSE PLIERS. You have to bend the other side so it comes out…duh.
Bend here:

Pull here:

2. Remove the cap:

3. Now you must use your axle socket, breaker bar and pry bar (if you have one). As I did not have one at the time (my uncle later gave me one), I had to ‘adapt and overcome’ my situation. Here’s a photo of what I did to ‘break’ the axle nut loose:

3a. Basically I put a breaker bar (Craftsman) in between my rim and the wheel studs. Then I used my other breaker bar (Snap-On), hooked to the axle socket and yanked it loose. It’s stuck on there pretty good, just make sure not to break anything while you’re yanking. Also, I am refinishing my rims, so I did not care if I damaged them. The manual states to wedge the pry bar (if it’s long enough, my breaker bar wasn’t) between the studs and the ground. But, obviously I couldn’t do that, so I created the method above.
Now take off the nut:

Don’t forget the washer:

4. Next you must release the shifter linkage from the control arm. I don’t know if what I just said is right, but it sounds familiar.
Use your 14mm wrench:

*NOTE* I only jacked up one side, so I don’t know if this matters…but the sway bar (I think that’s what it’s called) popped up after I released the nut. To get the bushing, washer and nut back on, I had to place my jack under the control arm and raise it up past the linkage bolt. Probably not recommended, but what else was I to do? I do NOT know if raising the whole front end would have helped, someone else might know.

5. Now you move onto this pin and nut located behind the brake assembly. I don’t remember what it’s called, but here’s a decent picture of me removing the pin:

5a. Now use your adjustable wrench to get loosen this nut:

5b. DO NOT take it off all the way. Before you do, you are supposed to pry the control arm away from the bolt. It says to use a fork thing, but I didn’t have one, so I just wedged my screwdriver like this:

5c. After you pop it out, finish removing the nut and pull the control arm out of the way:

6. Now you are ready to get the first side of the axle out. Simply move the brake assembly out of the way and it’ll just fall out. This is me ‘moving the brake assembly out of the way’:

And then it falls out:

7. Before you yank the axle out, stick a pan under the tranny where it connects to the axle. Fluid may come out, so catch it in the pan. Nothing came out when I did it. Either that's because I'm low on fluid or because I only jacked up one side, so it was leaning all the liquid onto the other side.

8. Ooh…fun stuff up ahead. Stick your prying object (I used the longest and thickest (did I just say that) screwdriver I had. Wedge it between the axle and the transmission like so:

Pry that sucker out! Doesn’t want to come out? You’ll need either a pry bar, longer screwdriver for more leverage or a really strong mofo. I opted for the pry bar, but choose what you wish. It’ll eventually come out. I spent over an hour trying to find ways to get it out. TIP? Sure, why not. Jack up the car as high as you can so you can get good leverage. Can’t get better leverage? Are you just too weak? Well, do what I did and kick the crap out of the pry bar. Two hours and a few cuts and bruises later, it’ll come out. Trust me. Just ask b13sr20guy how many times I called him to figure out what the hell I was doing.

To put the axle back in, just reverse the directions. I had to hold the axle straight and move the brake assembly out of the way while my uncle tapped the other end of the axle to make it go in. It didn't just 'slide right in'. It got 'stuck' a few times, so make sure you LOOK and see that it's all the way in. There should only be about a CM of space left...if that. Also, read before you do anything as I didn’t. You should put a new axle seal in between the axle and the tranny. I didn’t read that part until I was done and test driving the car. Hopefully it holds up. If not, I have a lifetime warranty and muscle memory of the first go around.

Now that you're done (and you've torqued everything accordingly...I'll update those specs tomorrow, I forgot my book at my parents house where I was working on the car...) take it for a test drive. I noticed a squeal when I first started driving. Almost like rubber against rubber. Anyways, after like 20 seconds of driving I haven't heard it again. When you get back (if you're me), look over at your dad leaving in his 2007 STi and dream on. You own a SE-R (SE/SE-L/G20/G20-t/whatever else you guys cry about).

Owell, some day you'll be done with college and making the big bucks.

I know that was long, but I hope it helps. I’d like to thank b13sr20guy for helping me on the phone, SWISS for this thread : http://www.sr20forum.com/sr20de-technical-corner/190131-lsd-axle-vs-non-lsd-axle-comparison-pics.html. JimR for his post (#6) in this thread : http://www.sr20forum.com/sr20de-technical-corner/190131-lsd-axle-vs-non-lsd-axle-comparison-pics.html. And also to everyone else who knows what they are talking about. Most importantly though, I’d like to thank this guy :

2009-04-05 23:17:02
I would like to post, for general information, that removing the tie rod end and lower ball joint is not necessary. As the FSM shows, all you need to do to remove the axle from the knuckle is take off the two lower strut bolts that connect to the knuckle, and move the assembly out of the way. You can then get the axle end in and out of the knuckle assembly with ease. Taking off the control arm, ball joint, and tie rod end bolts are very unnecessary unless you plan on doing work to the knuckle, such as wheel bearings.
2010-03-01 13:44:44
post needs updated pictures
2010-08-17 20:18:42
+ 1
2011-09-12 09:13:17
Good write up. It had me laughing a few times because I just spent a day dropping my trans for a clutch. The axle nut is a 32. I think the tie rod is a 17 and I know the caliper bolts on a b14 are 17. My strut bolts were 15 and 17
Last edited by Chefjrod1 on 2011-09-12 at 09-16-50.
2011-09-28 16:59:15
How hard is it to replace the left side axle? Can I do by myself, or do I need help? Also is there any secrets in getting the spindle off of the control arm ball joint? I had a hell of a time getting it off before. That damn pickle fork wasn't any help either.
2011-09-28 17:03:48
Axle replacement is easy. The hardest part is draining the transmission and filling it back up. There is no need to unhook the tie rod or the lower ball joint from the steering knuckle! That right there will save you hours of headaches and useless tools and ruined boots.
2011-09-28 17:12:15
Originally Posted by BenFenner
Axle replacement is easy. The hardest part is draining the transmission and filling it back up. There is no need to unhook the tie rod or the lower ball joint from the steering knuckle! That right there will save you hours of headaches and useless tools and ruined boots.

I'm actually replacing the wheel bearing too. So the knuckle needs to come off completely.
2011-09-28 17:16:26
Well to get the lower ball joint to separate from the knuckle, first remove the halfshaft, then place the castle nut back on the lower ball joint upside down so the castle part is facing down. Screw the nut on until the top of the nut is flush with the top of the bolt. Whack that thing with a BFH and be done with it.
2011-09-28 17:18:55
Awesome. Looks like I need to take a trip to Harbor Freight and pick myself up a BFH. Thanks Ben.
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