How to Remove a Rear Axle Differential Assembly
The rear differential axle assembly on your vehicle is a device that employees
which transmit torque and rotation
to the rear wheels of the vehicle. Power from the
passes through the
attached to a driveshaft
driveshaft then turns the gears in the differential which drives the rear wheels
and makes the vehicle move. Although it doesn’t happen often, the rear differential
can go bad requiring replacement. Most commonly, the differential will make a
from bad bearings,
or if there is a bad or damaged gear, there can be a grinding noise.
Regardless, if it needs replacement, the job can be done at home with common
tools. Please note that if the vehicle is a
axle ratio must be the same as the front differential. Otherwise, one
will spin faster than the
other causing a binding and other problems. Additionally, vehicle speed sensors
located on the transfer case will think the vehicle is skidding or spinning and
cause the ABS
or on vehicles with automatic 4wd, the
Before we begin start with the car on level ground with the
on and the
engine off. Always lift the car by the manufactures recommended instructions and
secure the car with jack stands. Be sure to have plenty of clearance to work under
the vehicle. Also, we will be dealing with transmission fluid, gear oil, and brake
fluid so be sure to wear protective clothing, eyewear and gloves. Disconnect the
negative battery cable
you start to avoid electrical
Tools Needed to Complete this Job
1. Hydraulic floor jack
2. Jack stands
3. Ratchet and sockets
4. Wrench set
5. Pry bar
6. Electrical tape
7. Line wrench set
8. Gear oil
9. Brake fluid
10. Shop towels
Step 1 - Park the vehicle on a flat, firm surface.
Step 2 - Disconnect the negative terminal of the
Step 3 - Block the front tires so the vehicle can’t move.
Step 4 - Using a hydraulic jack, lift the vehicle on its frame or where the manufacturer’s
recommended location and secure the vehicle with quality jack stands. Do not lift
it from the axle.
Step 5 - Place quality jack stands under the axle to hold the axle’s weight when
Step 6 - Remove the tires
Step 7 - Next, remove the drive shaft from the differential. It is held in place
with U or mounting bolts that hold a
differential. Remove the nuts-bolts from the u-bolts and carefully pry the u-joint
away from the differential.
Step 8 - Take electrical tape and wrap it around the universal joint so the end
caps don’t come off, and slid the drive shaft from the
place it out of the way.
Step 9 - Next, you will need to detach the brake line that is attached to the
axle housing. Usually, it is held in place by a steel tab. Use a line wrench to
prevent damage to the fitting.
Step 10 - Once the brake lines are disconnected, you must stop the brake fluid
from draining out of the system. A rubber cap or plug works well for this.
Step 11 - Check the differential housing for any wiring. Many vehicles have speed
sensors that are attached to the housing. Disconnect the wiring and remove the sensor
if you plan to reuse it.
Step 12 - Remove the shocks
from the axle.
Step 13 - Detach the emergency brake cables from the union at the cable junction,
or remove the brake drums
and disconnect the cable and housing from the backing plate.
Step 14 - Now that everything is detached, locate the large u-bolts that attach
the leaf springs to the axle assembly. The u-bolts will wrap around the axle and
push through a mounting plate. Using a ½ in drive ratchet, loosen and remove all
the nuts on both sides of the axle so you can remove the u-bolts. (Note: Remember,
the axle assembly is very heavy. Make sure you have it properly supported.)
Step 15 - At this point, the axle is loose from the vehicle. However, to remove
it, you might need to lower the leaf springs. The leaf springs are mounted to the
vehicle’s frame. Select which is easier for you to access, front or rear leaf spring
retaining nuts from the mount.
Step 16 - Once the nuts are removed, the bolt that holds the leaf mounting bracket,
the shackle, need removed. Most times you will need a punch to tap them out due
to corrosion. Be careful at this point because once the bolts are removed, the axle’s
weight will drop to the jack stands you placed under the axle. Make sure they have
little room to travel. Remove the bolts and allow the leaf springs to lay on the
Step 17 - Once both sides are down, take a hydraulic jack, lift the axle so the
jack stands can be removed and slowly lower it to the ground one side at a time.
Once both sides are down, you can slid the axle from under the vehicle.
Step 18 - Replacement is the reverse of removal. (Note: Remember, your
old brake shoes
hardware, and wheel cylinders
are still attached to the old axle. You may want to save them or reuse them with
the replacement axle).
If further assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready
to answer your car questions
. Also, gain manufacturer
specific instructions and information by clicking -
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Article first published 2009-07-28 (Updated 2015-01-07)