If you have half shafts on the front you should be able to unbolt them and just let the differential sit there. If you have a solid front axle, you can remove the 4wd hub and pull out the axle shafts with the universal joints. That would have to be done anyhow if you wanted to remove the gears from the differential. If you have the bolt-on wheel bearing assemblies, (instead of the two tapered bearings), those must be held together with the axle stub shaft. That means if you want to remove the axle shafts, you must take the outer stub shaft off the universal joint and reinstall it into the bearing and torque it to specs to hold the bearing together and to prevent if from becoming noisy. That's not necessary when you have the two tapered bearings.
Normally that bolt-on wheel bearing is used with cv joints, not universal joints. If you have cv joints, you MUST bolt something back into the wheel bearing, and that must be done while the truck is jacked up. If the vehicle's weight is ever on the bearing without the cv joint bolted tightly in place, the bearing will become noisy. If your half shafts are in good shape, you can often find "cores" at the salvage yard. All you need is the outer housing with the stub shaft and nut to hold the bearing together.
Monday, April 18th, 2011 AT 9:33 PM