GM Firebird 1982-1992 Repair Guide

Axle Shaft, Bearing and Seal

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Axle shafts are the last link in the chain of components working to transmit engine power to the rear wheels. The splined end of each shaft meshes with the internal splines of each differential side gear. As the side gears turn, so do the axle shafts, and, since they are also connected, so do the wheels.

Each shaft passes through the side gear and is locked into place by either a C-lock or flange plate bolted to the end of the axle housing with pressed on bearings. As the name implies, the C-lock is a flat, C-shaped piece of metal that fits into a groove at the end of the shaft. A round pinion shaft is wedged in between the end of the shafts. This pinion shaft prevents the shafts from sliding inward and makes the C-locks functional by pushing them tightly against each side gear. Removing this pinion shaft allows the shafts to slide inward making the C-locks accessible for removal. Once the C-locks are removed, the axle shafts can be pulled from the car.

The wheel end of each shaft is flanged and pressed into it are five wheel lug bolts serving to hold on the wheel. Each axle shaft is supported by an axle bearing (wheel bearing) and oil seal located within the axle shaft housing just to the outside of the brake backing plate.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Except Borg-Warner Rear Assembly

See Figures 1 through 10

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely. Remove the rear wheels and drums or rotors.
  2.  
  3. Remove the carrier cover and drain the gear oil into a suitable container.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: Clean the area around the bolts



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Fig. Fig. 2: Bolt removal



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Fig. Fig. 3: The fluid will begin to seep out



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Fig. Fig. 4: Pry the cover away



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Fig. Fig. 5: Cover removal

  1. Remove the rear axle pinion shaft lock screw. Remove the rear axle pinion shaft.
  2.  
  3. Push the flanged end of the axle shaft into the axle housing and remove the C-clip from the opposite end of the shaft.
  4.  
  5. Remove the axle shaft from the axle housing.
  6.  
  7. Using a suitable tool, remove the oil seal from the axle housing. Be careful not to damage the housing.
  8.  



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Fig. Fig. 6: C-lock removal



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Fig. Fig. 7: Bearing and seal side view



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Fig. Fig. 8: Bearing removal



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Fig. Fig. 9: Bearing installation



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Fig. Fig. 10: Seal installation

  1. Install tool J-22813-01 or equivalent, into the bore of the axle housing and position it behind the bearing, ensure the tangs of the tool engage the outer race. Remove the bearing using a slide hammer.
  2.  
  3. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure. Lubricate the new bearing and sealing lips with gear lube before installing. Tighten the pinion gear shaft lock screw to 27 ft. lbs. (36 Nm). Tighten the carrier cover bolts to 22 ft. lbs. (30 Nm).
  4.  

Borg-Warner Rear Assembly

See Figures 11 and 12

The Borg-Warner axle assembly can be quickly identified by checking the axle code. The Borg-Warner axle numbers are 4EW, 4EU and 4ET on 1988 vehicles, BET, BEU and BEW on 1989 vehicles and 9EQ and 9ER on 1990 vehicles.

  1. Raise the vehicle and support is safely.
  2.  
  3. Remove the rear wheels and drums or rotors. Remove the brake components as required.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 11: Borg-Warner axle shaft removal



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Fig. Fig. 12: Bearing & seal installed

  1. Remove the 4 nuts attaching the brake anchor plate and outer bearing retainer to the axle housing.
  2.  
  3. Remove the axle shaft and wheel bearing assembly using axle shaft removal tool J-21595 and slide hammer J-2619 or equivalent.
  4.  
  5. To remove the inner bearing retainer and the bearing from the axle shaft, split the retainer with a chisel, then remove it from the shaft. Using tool J-22912-01, press the bearing off the shaft.
  6.  
  7. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure. Make sure the axle seal is installed with the spring side facing the center of the axle. Tighten the backing plate bolts to 36 ft. lbs. (49 Nm).
  8.  

There are right (black banded) and left (gold banded) axle seals and they cannot be interchanged.

 
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