GM Cutlass RWD 1970-1987 Repair Guide

Axle Shaft, Bearing and Seal

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Two types of axles are used on these models, the C-lock and the non C-lock type. Axle shafts (in the C-lock type) are retained by C-shaped locks which fit grooves at the inner end of the shaft. Axle shafts in the non C-lock type are retained by the brake backing plate, which is bolted to the axle housing. Bearings in the C-lock type axle consist of an outer race, bearing rollers, and a roller cage retained by snaprings. The non C-lock type axle uses a unit roller bearing (inner race, rollers, and outer race), which is pressed onto the shaft up to a shoulder. When servicing C-lock or non C-lock type axles, it is imperative to determine the axle type before attempting any service. The best way to do this is to remove the axle carrier cover and visually determine if the axle shafts are retained by C-shaped locks at the inner end, or by the brake backing plate at the outer end.


CAUTION
Since the brake shoes will be exposed as you perform this procedure, note that some brake shoes contain asbestos, which has been determined to be a cancer causing agent. Never clean the brake surfaces with compressed air! Avoid inhaling any dust from any brake surface! If you have to clean the brake shoes, use a commercially available brake cleaning fluid to remove any brake dust first.

Non C-Lock Type

See Figure 1


CAUTION
Before attempting any service to the drive axle or axle shafts, remove the differential carrier cover and visually determine if the axle shafts are retained by C-shaped locks at the inner end, or by the brake backing plate at the outer end. If the shafts are not retained by C-locks, proceed as follows.

Design allows for maximum axle shaft end-play of 0.022 in. (0.558mm), which can be measured with a dial indicator. If end-play is found to be excessive, the bearing should be replaced. Shimming the bearing is not recommended as this ignores end-play of the bearing itself and could result in improper seating of the bearing.

  1. Remove the wheel, tire and brake drum.
  2.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Breaking the bearing retainer with a chisel

  1. Remove the nuts holding the retainer plate to the backing plate. Disconnect the brake line.
  2.  
  3. Remove the retainer and install the two lower nuts finger-tight, to prevent the brake backing plate from being dislodged.
  4.  
  5. Pull out the axle shaft and bearing assembly, using a slide hammer.
  6.  
  7. Using a chisel, nick the bearing retainer in three or four places. The retainer does not have to be cut, merely collapsed sufficiently to allow the bearing retainer to be slid from the shaft.
  8.  
  9. Press off the bearing and install the new one by pressing it into position.
  10.  

Do not attempt to press the bearing and the retainer on at the same time.

  1. Assemble the shaft and bearing in the housing, being sure that the bearing is seated properly in the housing.
  2.  
  3. Install the retainer, drum, wheel and tire. Bleed the brakes.
  4.  

C-Lock Type

See Figures 2, 3 and 4


CAUTION
Before attempting any service to the drive axle or axle shafts, remove the carrier cover and visually determine if the axle shaft(s) are retained by C-shaped locks at the inner ends or by a brake backing plate at the outer end. If they are retained by C-shaped locks, proceed as follows.

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it with jackstands, remove the wheels.
  2.  
  3. The differential cover has already been removed (see Caution above). Remove the differential pinion shaft lockscrew and the differential pinion shaft.
  4.  
  5. Push the flanged end of the axle shaft toward the center of the vehicle and remove the C-lock from the end of the shaft.
  6.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Remove the differential lock bolt from the differential



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Fig. Fig. 3: Remove the differential pinion shaft



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Fig. Fig. 4: Remove the C-lock from the axle shaft

  1. Remove the axle shaft from the housing, being careful not to damage the oil seal.
  2.  
  3. Remove the oil seal by inserting the button end of the axle shaft behind the steel case of the oil seal. Pry the seal loose from the bore.
  4.  
  5. Seat the legs of a bearing puller behind the bearing. Seat a washer against the bearing and hold it in place with a nut. Use a slide hammer to pull the bearing.
  6.  
  7. Pack the cavity between the seal lips with wheel bearing lubricant and lubricate a new wheel bearing with same.
  8.  
  9. Use a suitable driver and install the bearing until it bottoms against the tube. Install the oil seal.
  10.  
  11. Slide the axle shaft into place. Be sure that the splines on the shaft do not damage the oil seal. Make sure that the splines engage the differential side gear.
  12.  
  13. Install the axle shaft C-lock on the inner end of the axle shaft and push the shaft outward so that the C-lock seats in the differential side gear counterbore.
  14.  
  15. Position the differential pinion shaft through the case and pinions, aligning the hole in the case with the hole in the lockscrew.
  16.  
  17. Install the pinion shaft lockscrew.
  18.  
  19. Use a new gasket and install the carrier cover. Be sure that the gasket surfaces are clean before installing the gasket and cover.
  20.  
  21. Fill the axle with lubricant to the bottom of the filler hole.
  22.  
  23. Install the brake drum and wheels, then lower the vehicle. Check for leaks and road test the car.
  24.  

 
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