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Submitted By: robo51
Date: February 10, 2009, 02:51:50 AM
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How to Replace Axle/Wheel U-Joints and Inspect Wheel Bearings on Dana 44 Full Time 4X4 Front Differential. - robo51 and Bummo

Patience, coffee, and sum luck.

Fig. 1​

Bummo’s 1977 Ramcharger SE. Has full time four wheel, 400 big block, auto. Classified as a W100, the front axle is a Dana 44, 3.55.

Fig. 2​

The front axle/wheel u-joints. This is the passenger side u-joint on the axle shaft that is being replaced.

Fig. 3​

Remove tire, large nut with cotter pin at centre, and move back the brake caliper. Lots of room to sit the caliper off to the side without disconnecting brake line. No bleeding required.

Fig. 4​

Remove (if your lucky) the 6 bolts that hold the rotor to the hub flange (see Fig. 5). If you can’t get them all out you will need a hub puller to remove the rotor and hub/bearing assembly all at once. The 6 bolts can then be removed with vice grips or a small pipe wrench from the inside. But through the access hole (picture above) is much better.

Fig. 5​

The 6 trouble makers. 12 point 3/8 socket is needed. Heads round off really easy, so use a small hammer to tap the socket to a firm fit before you start to loosen each bolt. Turn by hand only, don’t use air tools here. The bolt with a socket on it required a 6 point socket and a lot of luck to come out. Left the socket on for the reverse install.

Fig. 6​

With the 6 bolts removed the rotor will pull out by hand. You might need to encourage it with a pry bar from behind so make sure the rotor doesn’t fall off and hurt itself. Note the 2 bearings, 2 races, and centre spacer. They were in good shape so only new grease was required (see Fig. 7). There is a 90 degree grease nipple (arrow). Access for greasing is through the same access hole used to remove the 6 bolts. Check this nipple to be sure it is working properly. You can use it to keep your bearings greased. Clean up the flange. It will be sealed with silicon later.

Fig. 7​

Closer shot of bearings, etc. We had a new set ready (recommended) but no need to replace old ones. Keep your receipts; these parts aren’t that cheap.

Fig. 8​

Old seal can be seen inside the axle tube end by the axle spline. Mine came out in 2 pieces. You can push it out from the back. Check the new seal so you know what to push on.

Fig. 9​

Seal out and axle removed. With the seal out you can pull out the axle with the u-joint attached. You will need to remove the brake caliper attachment bracket to get everything out.

Fig. 10​

Remove the clips, then the cups and centre of the old u-joint. Clean everything up for a nice install of the new u-joint. If you have never removed and replaced a u-joint just about every auto manual will give you a step-by-step. Drive shaft u-joints install the same way. You will need a vice, grease, and a clean area in case you drop a cap. Note the grease nipple in the end of the cap. This will need to be removed when you are sliding the axle assembly back into the axle tube because of clearance. Reinstall nipple immediately. Rob likes to paint everything.

Fig. 11​

Clean up everything before sliding in the axle. Check for any debris in the tube and lightly grease spline end. We removed the rotor cover plate so we could clean up the flange mating area.


Axle is in and seal is being fitted. Tight fit. Keep the axle set in all the way to help get the seal started and set in place. Find something like a piece of plastic pipe or a seal install tool that is the same size as the seal to tap it in place. About flush with the rear worked for us, and the axle is pulled back out a little through the inside of the seal to set in proper location (see Fig. 13).

Fig. 13​

Silicon the mating area for the flange. Reinstall the rotor cover, rotor and bearing assembly, caliper bracket, etc. Grease the bearings and everything else with a nipple while your there. Torque the hub nut to about 100, or follow bearing torque instructions if new bearings were installed. Test drive and comparative check axle ends for excessive heat. Now do the other side. Good luck.
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