REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
See Figures 1 through 9
Although the axle shaft is easily removed using common hand tools, special tools are required if the bearings are also to be serviced.
- Raise and support the rear of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
- Remove the rear wheel and brake drum.
- Using a wire brush, clean the dirt/rust from around the rear axle cover. This should be done to help prevent foreign material from entering the rear axle and possibly damaging the differential.
- Place a catch pan under the differential, then unscrew the retaining bolts and remove the rear cover. When removing the cover, a small prytool may be used at the base of the cover to gently pry it back from the axle housing, breaking the gasket seal and allowing the lubricant to drain out into the container. Be careful not to use excessive force and damage the cover or housing.
- Remove the rear pinion shaft lockbolt and the pinion shaft from the differential.
- Push the axle shaft inward, then remove the C-lock from the button end of the axle shaft.
- Remove the axle shaft from the axle housing by pulling straight back on the shaft hub, be careful not to damage the oil seal with the shaft splines.
It is recommended, when the axle shaft is removed, to replace the oil seal.
- If the bearing and/or oil seal is being replaced, use a medium pry bar to carefully pry the old oil seal from the end of the rear axle housing. DO NOT score or damage the housing oil seal surface.
- If the wheel bearing is being removed, use the GM slide hammer tool No. J-2619, along with adapter No. J-2619-4 and the axle bearing puller No. J-22813-01, or the equivalent tools to pull the bearing from the tube. Be sure to install the tool assembly so that the tangs engage the outer race of the bearing, then use the action of the slide hammer to withdraw the wheel bearing from the axle housing.
- Clean and inspect the axle tube housing.
- If the bearing was removed, thoroughly clean the wheel bearing using solvent, then blow dry with compressed air. DO NOT spin the bearing with the compressed air or damage may occur. Inspect the wheel bearing for excessive wear or damage. If it feels rough, replace it.
- With a new or the reused bearing, place a blob of heavy grease in the palm of your hand, then work the bearing into the grease until it is thoroughly lubricated. Using an axle shaft bearing installer such as No. J-34974, J-23765 or equivalents, drive the bearing into the axle housing until it bottoms against the seat.
- If the bearing and/or seal was removed, use an axle shaft seal installer tool such as No. J-33782, J-23771 or equivalents to drive the new seal into the housing until it is flush with the axle tube. If a seal installer is not available, a suitably sized driver or socket may be used, just make sure the surface in contact with the seal is smooth so that it won't damage the seal.
- Using gear oil, lubricate the new seal lips.
- Using a putty knife, clean the gasket mounting surfaces on the housing and cover. Take care to keep material out of the differential housing. If necessary, place a rag or paper towels over the differential while cleaning the housing flange.
When installing the axle shaft(s), be careful not to cut the oil seal lips.
- Slide the axle shaft into the rear axle housing, taking care not to damage the seal, then engage the splines of the axle shaft with the splines of the rear axle side gear.
- Install the C-lock retainer on the axle shaft button end. After the C-lock is installed, pull the axle shaft outward to seat the C-lock retainer in the counterbore of the side gears.
- Install the pinion shaft through the case and the pinions, then install a new pinion shaft lockbolt. Tighten the new lockbolt to 27 ft. lbs. (36 Nm).
When adding oil to the rear axle, be aware that some locking differentials require the use of a special gear lubricant additive.
- Install the rear cover using a new gasket and sealant. Tighten the retaining bolts using a crosswise pattern to 20 ft. lbs. (27 Nm).
Make sure the vehicle is level before attempting to add fluid to the rear axle or an incorrect fluid level will result.
- Refill the rear axle housing using the proper grade and quantity of lubricant as detailed in Routine Maintenance of this repair guide. Install the filler plug, operate the vehicle and check for any leaks.