GM Malibu/Cutlass 1997-2000

Halfshafts

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The drive axles on front wheel drive vehicles are often called halfshafts. They are flexible shaft assemblies that transmit rotational force from the transaxle to the front wheel assemblies. The halfshaft assembly is made up of an inner and outer Constant-Velocity Joint (CV-Joint) connected to an axle shaft. The inner plunge joint is completely flexible and has the ability of in-and-out movement. The outer joint is also flexible, but cannot move in and out.

Two types of joints are used in the halfshaft, or drive axle. The outboard joint uses what is called a Rzeppa joint design. The shaft end mating with the steering knuckle/hub uses a helical spline to assure a tight, press-type fit. This design provides a no-end play condition between the hub bearing and the driveshaft. With no end play between the hub bearing and driveshaft assembly, the design provides added durability and reduced bearing noise. The inner joint uses what is known as a Tripod design without an over-extension limitation retainer. The left side halfshaft inboard shaft attachment to the transaxle uses a female spline which installs over a stub shaft protruding from the transaxle. The right side halfshaft uses a male spline and interlocks with the transaxle gears using barrel-type snaprings.

The front halfshaft, or drive axle, assemblies use inboard and outboard joint seals made of a thermoplastic material and clamps made of stainless steel. The thermoplastic material performs well against normal handling and operational wear and conditions. However, it is not strong enough to withstand abusive handling or damage due to objects such as sharp tools or the sharp edge of any surrounding component in the vehicle.

The functions of the seal (most often referred to as the CV-joint boot) are to protect the internal parts of the inboard and outboard joint by protecting the grease from extreme temperatures, stones, dirt, water salt, etc., as well as facilitate the movement of the joints.

The clamps are designed to provide a leak-proof connection at the housing and axle shaft for both the inboard and outboard joints.

The CV-joint boots should be inspected regularly and replace immediately if any defect is found. If the boots are damaged, the special grease will run out, become contaminated and water and dirt will get in an quickly wear out the joint. Refer to for CV-boot inspection.

NOISE DIAGNOSIS



The most common indicator of a defective or failed CV joint is noise. Any noise while driving should be diagnosed to determine the source. The noise may be coming from another component such as the engine, steering, or suspension. A road test should be performed on a smooth surface, such as an empty parking lot. Be sure to have all accessories turned off and maybe even have the windows down. The test should include some variations of stopping, accelerating, and coasting. Also include some sharp turns in both forward and reverse.



CLICKING OR POPPING WHILE TURNING usually indicates a worn or damaged CV joint. Be sure to try the test in reverse also. If the noise increases, the outer joint is most likely the problem.
 
CLUNKING DURING ACCELERATION OR DECELERATION or when the transaxle is put into drive can be evidence of excessive play in the inner joint. But be sure to check for loose engine and transaxle mounts before coming to a conclusion.
 
HUMMING OR GROWLING can be caused by a joint whose boot has been torn and the lubricant is either missing or contaminated with dirt or water. Do not forget to check the wheel bearings, or worn shaft bearings in the transaxles first. The brakes should also be checked for wear. Refer to the appropriate information.
 
SHUDDER OR VIBRATION, especially under acceleration could be from a worn or damaged outer joint or it could be from another source. If the CV-boots are in good condition and there is no obvious damage, look for a tire problem, an engine-related vibration or perhaps a damaged wheel with excessive run-out or out of balance.
 

Vibration that increases with speed could be caused by out of balance out of round tires or wheels or a possible worn outer CV-joint binding.

If there is a noise while driving straight ahead but it disappears while turning, the problem is probably not a defective CV joint but a bad front wheel bearing. Refer to for bearing diagnosis.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION





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Fig. Remove the hub nut from the axle shaft . . .



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Fig. . . . then remove the washer located behind it



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Fig. Remove the brake caliper from the hub assembly and support it using mechanic's wire or another suitable device



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Fig. Remove the rotor from the hub assembly



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Fig. The tie rod end must be removed from the hub assembly to allow the access needed to remove the halfshaft



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Fig. Remove and discard the cotter pin from the tie rod end . . .



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Fig. . . . then remove the retaining nut from the tie rod end



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Fig. A special puller is recommended for removing the tie rod end from the hub assembly to avoid damaging the tie rod end



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Fig. Remove and discard the cotter pin from the lower ball joint . . .



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Fig. . . . then, using a wrench, loosen and remove the ball joint retaining nut



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Fig. Use a suitable prytool to remove the lower ball joint/control arm from the hub assembly



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Fig. Remove the tie rod end from the hub assembly



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Fig. Detach the wheel speed sensor electrical connector



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Fig. A large punch can be used to drive the halfshaft out of the hub. Ensure that the punch is placed in the centering hole of the halfshaft and does not hit the threads of the halfshaft



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Fig. Remove the halfshaft from the hub



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Fig. A large prytool (although not recommended) can be used to release the halfshaft from the transaxle . . .



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Fig. . . . then you can remove the halfshaft from the vehicle



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Fig. Inspect the axle retaining ring located on the output shaft of the transaxle differential

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. With the weight of the vehicle still on the wheels, loosen, but do not remove the front hub nut. This may require an assistant holding the brakes to keep the front halfshaft from turning. It is good practice to wire-brush the exposed threads on the outer CV-joint stub shaft and apply a generous amount of penetrating oil before attempting to loosen the hub nut.
  4.  
  5. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  6.  
  7. Remove the tire and wheel assembly.
  8.  
  9. Remove the hub nut and washer.
  10.  
  11. Install an axle boot seal protector on the right-hand inner boot, if equipped.
  12.  
  13. Remove and support the brake caliper.
  14.  
  15. Remove the brake rotor.
  16.  
  17. Remove the lower ball joint cotter pin and nut and loosen the joint. If removing the right halfshaft, turn the wheel to the left. If removing the left halfshaft, turn the wheel to the right.
  18.  
  19. Disconnect the ABS sensor, if equipped.
  20.  
  21. Separate the lower ball joint from the steering knuckle.
  22.  
  23. Disengage the halfshaft stub end from the front wheel bearing and hub assembly using a suitable press-type tool, pressing until the halfshaft splines are just loose.
  24.  


NOTE
A hammer and a suitable punch can be used to drive the axle out of the hub.

  1. Separate the hub and bearing assembly from the halfshaft. Move the strut and knuckle assembly rearward.
  2.  



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Fig. To prevent damaging the transaxle or halfshaft, use the tools as shown to remove the halfshafts

  1. Separate the inner joint from the transaxle using the proper puller tools.
  2.  


NOTE
A large prytool can be used to disengage the halfshaft from the transaxle. Care must be taken as to what is used to pry on for leverage, prying on the wrong item can cause damage.

  1. Remove the halfshaft from the transaxle. Do not pull the halfshaft by the CV-joint boot or on the joint itself.
  2.  

To install:

  1. Prior to installation, cover all sharp edges in the area of the halfshaft with shop towels so the CV-joint boots will be protected from damage. When a halfshaft is removed for any reason, the transaxle (the halfshaft male and female shank) and knuckle sealing surfaces should be inspected for debris and corrosion. If debris or corrosion are present, clean with 320 grit crocus cloth or equivalent. Transaxle fluid may be used to clean off any remaining debris. The surface should be wiped clean and dry before attempting to install the halfshaft.
  2.  
  3. Install the halfshaft into the transaxle (or intermediate shaft, if equipped) by placing a brass drift pin into the groove on the joint housing and tapping until seated. Be careful not to damage the axle seal or dislodge the seal garter spring when installing the axle.
  4.  


NOTE
Be sure the halfshaft is fully engaged in the transaxle. Verify that the halfshaft is seated by grasping the inner joint housing and pulling outward. Do not pull on the shaft or the boot, but on the inner joint housing only.

  1. Install the drive axle into the hub and bearing assembly.
  2.  
  3. Install the lower ball joint to the steering knuckle. Tighten the ball joint-to-steering knuckle nut to 41 ft. lbs. (55 Nm) to install the cotter pin. Do not loosen the nut at any time during installation. Install a new cotter pin.
  4.  
  5. Install the washer and a new hub nut. To keep the hub from turning while the hub nut is being torqued, insert a drift pin through the caliper opening into one of the ventilation openings in the brake rotor. This should lock the assembly together. Tighten the hub nut to 185 ft. lbs. (260 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the tire and wheel assembly.
  8.  
  9. Lower the vehicle.
  10.  
  11. Test drive vehicle to verify no front drive noise.
  12.  

CV-JOINT OVERHAUL



Outer CV-Joint
  1. Before servicing the vehicle, refer to the precautions in the beginning of this section.
  2.  
  3. Remove or disconnect the following:

    Front wheel
     
    Halfshaft and position it in a vise
     
    Large CV-joint boot clamp and discard it
     
    Small CV-joint boot clamp and discard it
     
    CV-joint boot and slide it back on the shaft
     
    Outer race from the halfshaft by spreading the outer race-to-halfshaft retaining ring using Snapring Pliers J-8059
     
    Retaining ring from the halfshaft and discard it
     
    CV-joint boot from the halfshaft and discard it if damaged
     

  4.  
  5. Disassemble the chrome alloy balls from the CV-joint cage as follows:
    1. Position a brass drift against the CV-joint cage and tap it with a hammer to tilt the cage.
    2.  
    3. Remove the 1st chrome alloy ball from the cage.
    4.  
    5. Tilt the cage in the opposite direction.
    6.  
    7. Remove the opposite chrome alloy ball.
    8.  
    9. Repeat the procedure until all 6 balls are removed.
    10.  

  6.  
  7. Disassemble the CV-joint cage and inner race as follows:
    1. Pivot the cage and race 90 degrees to the center line of the outer race.
    2.  
    3. Align the cage windows with outer race lands.
    4.  
    5. Remove the cage from the outer race.
    6.  
    7. Rotate the inner race upward and remove it from the cage.
    8.  

  8.  
  9. Thoroughly clean and inspect all parts.
  10.  



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Fig. Exploded view of the halfshaft assembly



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Fig. Crimping the small boot clamp-Outer CV-joint



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Fig. Crimping the large boot clamp-Outer CV-joint

To install:

  1. Lubricate the parts with a light coat of grease.
  2.  
  3. Assemble the CV-joint cage and inner race, as follows:
    1. Rotate the inner race 90 degrees to the cage centerline.
    2.  
    3. Align the cage windows with inner race lands.
    4.  
    5. Insert the inner race into the cage by rotating the inner race downward.
    6.  
    7. Insert the cage/inner race into the outer race.
    8.  

  4.  
  5. Assemble the chrome alloy balls into the CV-joint cage, as follows:
    1. Position a brass drift against the CV-joint cage and tap it with a hammer to tilt the cage.
    2.  
    3. Insert the 1st chrome alloy ball into the cage.
    4.  
    5. Tilt the cage in the opposite direction.
    6.  
    7. Insert the opposite chrome alloy ball.
    8.  
    9. Repeat the procedure until all 6 balls are inserted.
    10.  

  6.  
  7. Install 1 / 2 of the kit grease into the CV-joint.
  8.  
  9. Install or connect the following:

    Small ring clamp on the CV boot
     
    New retaining ring on the halfshaft
     
    Large ring clamp on the CV boot
     
    Outer race assembly onto the halfshaft until the ring engages the halfshaft groove
     

  10.  
  11. Slide the small end of the CV-joint boot/clamp into place, with the seal lip in the halfshaft groove
  12.  


NOTE
Make sure the boot lies flat against the halfshaft.

  1. Using the Crimp tool J-35910, a torque wrench and a breaker bar, crimp the small CV-joint boot clamp to 100 ft. lbs. (136 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Check the clamp gap dimension; if it is not 0.085 in. (2.15mm), continue tightening the clamp until it is.
  4.  
  5. Install 1 / 2 of the kit grease into the CV-joint boot.
  6.  
  7. Slide the large end of the CV boot/clamp into place, with the seal lip in place over the outer race.
  8.  


NOTE
Make sure the boot lies flat against the outer race.

  1. Using the Crimp tool J-35910, a torque wrench and a breaker bar, crimp the large CV-joint boot clamp to 130 ft. lbs. (176 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Check the clamp gap dimension; if it is not 0.102 in. (2.60mm), continue tightening the clamp until it is.
  4.  
  5. Install the halfshaft and the front wheel.
  6.  

Inner (Tri-Pot) Joint
  1. Before servicing the vehicle, refer to the precautions in the beginning of this section.
  2.  
  3. Remove or disconnect the following:

    Front wheel
     
    Halfshaft and place it in a vise
     
    Snapring from the stub shaft and discard it
     
    Small CV-joint boot clamp, cut and discard it
     
    Large CV-joint boot clamp, cut and discard it
     
    CV-joint boot by sliding it away from the tri-pot joint
     

  4.  
  5. Install a Stub Shaft Removal tool J-38868-A to the stub shaft snapring groove.
  6.  
  7. Using a slide hammer puller, press the stub shaft from the tri-pot housing.
  8.  
  9. Remove or disconnect the following:

    Tri-pot housing from the tri-pot spider
     
    Inboard spacer ring slide it rearward on the shaft using Snapring Pliers tool J-8059
     
    Outboard retaining ring using Snapring Pliers tool J-8059 and discard it
     
    Tri-pot joint spider assembly
     
    Inboard spacer ring and discard it
     
    CV-joint boot
     
    Trilobal tri-pot bushing from the housing
     

  10.  
  11. Throughly clean and inspect all parts.
  12.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Exploded view of the inner (tri-pot) joint

To install:

  1. Install or connect the following:

    New snapring onto the stub shaft
     
    Small boot clamp
     
    CV-joint boot
     

  2.  
  3. Using the Crimp tool J-35910, a torque wrench and a breaker bar, crimp the small CV-joint boot clamp to 100 ft. lbs. (136 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Install or connect the following:

    Inboard spacer ring slide it rearward on the shaft using Snapring Pliers tool J-8059, past the 2nd groove
     
    Tri-pot joint spider assembly onto the shaft until it passes the 2nd groove
     
    Outboard retaining ring into the axle shaft groove using Snapring Pliers tool J-8059
     
    Tri-pot joint spider assembly, slide it against the outboard retaining ring
     
    Inboard spacer ring, seat it in the groove
     
    1 / 2 of the kit grease into the boot
     
    1 / 2 of the kit grease into the tri-pot housing
     
    Trilobal tip-pot bushing flush with the tri-pot housing face
     
    New large seal clamp onto the CV-joint boot
     
    Tri-pot housing, slide it over the tri-pot joint spider assembly
     
    CV-joint boot/clamp, slide it into place, over the trilobal tri-pot bushing with the seal lip in the groove
     

  6.  


NOTE
Make sure the boot lies flat against the trilobal bushing.

  1. Using the Crimp tool J-35910, a torque wrench and a breaker bar, crimp the large CV-joint boot clamp to 130 ft. lbs. (176 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Check the clamp gap dimension; if it is not 0.102 in. (2.60mm), continue tightening the clamp until it is.
  4.  
  5. Install the halfshaft and the front wheel.
  6.  

 
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