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Submitted By: NT0LERANCE
Date: February 10, 2009, 09:47:17 AM
Views: 9147

Dana Front Axle U-Joint Replacement - NT0LERANCE

  • Remove wheel
  • Remove the two bolts holding the brake caliper to the steer knuckle and support it so as not to cause damage to the hose.
  • This is a good time to inspect the brake linings and rotor condition as they are off and easier to replace at this time. (Se my pads, nice huh? What noise?)

  • Remove the small allen head bolts, or larger hex nuts holding the lock out onto the drive hub. If your truck has "RAMTRACK", with the factory hubs, pop off the chrome cover.

  • Remove the smaller inner retaining ring, from around the axle shaft. You'll need to use snap ring pliers.

  • Remove the larger retaining ring from around the outside of the lock out. Use a pick.

  • Using a 4WD nut removal tool, removes the outer retaining nut (shown), the lock ring and the inner retaining nut. If you don't have the 4WD socket tool, you'll need to buy or borrow one. This is especially needed for installation.

  • Remove the rotor/hub assembly. Keep your parts in order of their removal. This may simplify re assembly.

  • Remove the six (in this case) nuts holding the spindle onto the steering knuckle. And remove the spindle. Sounds awfully easy hey? In most cases it wont be. The nuts will be rusted to the studs and the outside (hex) of the nuts will be rusted as well. I soak mine at least a ½ hour. I got one off with the std. 9/16" six point socket, and ½ inch impact. If you have access to air power, I'd suggest first turning the impact down to a lower power and "shake" the nuts a bit before hitting them with full power. Use the proper size "impact" sockets, not cheapy chrome ones, they may round the nuts off. If your spindle is rusted on like mine was your tools will be tested. If your nuts are rusted and or rounded, try using a six point 14mm impact socket. It’s a bit smaller than a 9/16 and may help as it did with mine inF this case. I really don't like to use heat for any of this. Many of these parts are heat treated and using a torch may remove some heat treating.
  • Remove the spindle shaft. Someone must make a tool for pulling this, unfortunately, I don't have nor have I seen one. Any way, my method is a bit coarse, but it works. I take a hammer and chisel and work the chisel in around the circumference of the spindle shaft where it meets the steering knuckle. If you have a good chisel, it will work it loose. Take your time and keep the chisel AWAY from the machined areas of the spindle. Anyone have any other ideas for removing this shaft?

  • The culprit joint

  • This is a U-joint press, comes in very handy on rusted joints. If you don't have access to one and your joint will not come out with a hammer and punch, perhaps you should take the shaft to a shop and have them remove, and install the new joint. Wouldn't be very expensive and may save your axle. See 13.

  • Whoops! That light colored ring around the opening is the old u-joint cap. Instead of the cross joint pushing the cap out, it blew out the end of the cap. It was that rusted.

  • Here’s the fix. Take an old 13/16" spark plug socket, push the other cap out . This should allow you to remove the cross joint.

  • Take the same spark plug socket, and use it as a ram to push the broken cap out. The plug socket seems to be the perfect size.

  • The old joint finally removed. That press helps A LOT. Id have been there a lot longer without it, and my axle yokes might not be all that straight anymore.

Re assembly.
To save web space I didn't include re assembly pics. They wouldn't be a lot different from the disassembly pics. Here are some tips.

  • Check all your grease and oil seals and replace as needed. There will usually be a tell tale sign (oil or grease splatter) If your replacing your brake pads, have your rotors turned or replaced if needed. NOW is the time, they are off.
  • DO NOT use a ball joint press and impact gun to install the new u-joint. It can be very easy to damage the new joint. If you're going to use a press for re assembly, tighten it with a wrench.
  • Install the reassembled axle shaft into the housing.
  • Install your spindle shaft, replacing any worn nuts or studs. I've used anti-seize in the past on them. I like the high temp stuff. The original nuts are an interference fit, meaning they wont usually turn on by hand even when new. Remember this when purchasing new ones.
  • Repack your wheel bearings, replace the grease seal and install your rotor/drive hub assy. Be sure to install the correct nut first. (it has the little nub.) There is a proper hub nut installation torque procedure elsewhere in this site. Refer to it.
  • Reassemble your lock out. If you're using the original RAMTRACK components, this will be pretty easy as its just a toothed disk and snap rings. If you kept your parts in the order they were removed, this shouldn't be too difficult in either case.
  • I've seen guys put silicone over the small allen head bolts holding the lock out onto the hub. Problem is that silicone isn't perfect and if it pulls away at all it may still allow moisture in to the head of the bolt, but then it will also hold some of it in as well. I use a little high temp anti-seize and leave it at that.
  • If you're installing new brake pads, you'll need to compress the caliper with either a caliper tool or c-clamp. If you're using the c-clamp, use the old inner pad to press on to avoid caliper piston damage.
  • When reinstalling the caliper, I use a product called "SYL-GLYD" to lubricate the caliper slides. Anti-seize, even the high temp stuff doesn't work as well as syl-glyd. Also be sure to pump the brake up BEFORE driving off as the piston will not be out far enough to stop the truck.
  • Install the wheel. If you have aluminum wheels it is especially a good idea to torque them on and recheck them after driving 50 miles. Not a bad idea on steel wheels as well.

Other notes.

Be careful how you hold your axle shaft. I put mine in a vise, which I don't like doing but had no other way. The vise can nick your shaft causing failure.

Do not apply too much pressure on the shaft yokes as they can bend. I've never had luck bending them back when friends bring them to me. I don't recommend heating them either, especially on the yokes where the joint is held.
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