CV axles and ball joints

Andrew Sarangan

The biggest challenge in replacing the CV axles is the removal of the old axles. The shaft is locked inside the transmission with an expanding C-clip. To release the shaft, it has to be pulled sharply to make the C-clip compress and slip out of its retaining groove.


First, the steering tie rod has to be disconnected, and the wheel hub has to be removed from the lower control arm. A prybar could be used to remove the axle from the transmission, but a more effective method is a slide hammer. This can be done as follows: separate the inner CV joint by removing the metal strap that holds the rubber boot and then pulling the joint apart. This will leave just the cup attached to the transmission. Then clean all the grease inside the cup.

The inner CV cup

The tool we need is a slide hammer with a vice grip attached to the end. Most slide hammers come with a threaded attachment. As long as we find a vice grip with the correct screw size, it can be directly attached to the slide hammer.

Vice grip attached to a slide hammer

Tightly clamp the vice grip to the cup wall. A couple of sharp pulls on the slide hammer should release the shaft from the transmission. If that doesn’t work, an alternate method is to drill two holes on the sidewalls of the cup, insert a bolt and attach the slide hammer at the center. Luckily, in my case the vice grip method worked for both axles.

Vice grip attached to the inner CV cup

The shaft seal should be replaced any time the axle is removed. This will require a seal puller. Installing the new seal can be done with a wooden block and a hammer, but a bearing driver comes in very handy.

Shaft seal
This is what the transmission input looks like with the shaft seal removed.
With the shaft seal

Installing the new axle is a lot simpler. It can be simply inserted into the transmission and gently tapped with a hammer to snap the C-clip in to place (with the axle nut attached to protect the threads).

Old vs new axle

The grease boots on my lower control arm’s ball joints were torn, so this was a good time to replace them. The arm is attached to the frame as well as to the stabilizer bar. There is a welded nut inside the frame that the bolt screws into. At the other end, the stabilizer bar runs through the control arm with two bushings on either side.

Removal of the lower control arm
Old and new lower control arm
With the lower control arm removed

This is also a good time to replace the outer steering tie rod end. There is a jam nut that locks the position of the tie rod. This is a critical part that determines the alignment of the front wheels, so it must be replaced in the exact same position. Even then a new alignment job may be necessary.

Old and new tie rod end
With the new rod end and control arm installed

Here is a photo of all of the items that were replaced. It includes brake pads, axles, seals, lower control arm and tie rod ends.

All the parts that were replaced

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