Tech Tips

Axle Removal
Remove Front Axle: 1986 Grand Wagoneer full-time hubs

This started as a replace the disk brakes project... So much for simple tasks. Actually it's really simple. 


1. Block the vehicle up on jack stands (a must you may have to use force later)

A. the front wheels should be off the ground
B. Use a freind to apply brakes to loosen lug nuts or loosen before jacking

2. Remove wheels/tires

3. Remove caliper bolts, used a 3/8 disk caliper rachet tool

4. Hang the caliper by strong wire (coat hanger) off the shock mount 5. Use a blunt punch (or screw driver you've broken before) and a RUBBER hammer to remove the dust cap from the hub, light hits at 12 6 3 and 9 O'clock (that's the sequence I used!)

6. Push the drive gear back slightly and remove the C clip retainer 
(note the orientation of the drive gear inside vs outside) 

7. Remove drive gear and spring

8. Remove the outer locknut using a 4 prong socket for 1/2 ton/1 ton Dana 44 axles
(Found a great deal at Advanced Auto Parts $10 and it has a solid outer ring around the 4 prongs, makes the reinstall of the lock ring easier and a stronger tool)

9. Remove locking washer 

10. Remove inner locknut (it has a post on the outer side take note)

The hub is now ready to pull from the axle. A slight tug on the disk rotor will loosen the outer wheel bearing. Note the protective cup on the outer side of the bearing. I could find no mention in several books about this cup. It protects the wheel bearing from the retaining spring you removed earlier. Make sure this cup is in GOOD shape. If your not sure go look at one the dealer or junk yard. Replace it if your not sure, if the spring gets into the bearing it wears it out pretty fast!

Take the bearings and hub down and get them cleaned. I have a buddy that has a garage and lets me use his cleaning tank. When you regrease the bearings you want them clean, some greases are not compatable with others. Also insure that your using grease for disk brake systems, it handles the higher temperatures better. 

Now to the axle removal. Take some time to get familier with the axle area, you may need this knowledge during reinstall. Note the U joints between the spindle. Take your time. The next part is the easy part.


1. Remove the 6 bolts holding the brake baking plate on the spindle (there is a 7th small bolt not in the cicle pattern, remove it too)

2. Remove the brake baking plate and place out of the way

3. Spray penetrating oil around where the spindle sits in the steering knuckle (go get a soda or coffee, play with the dog, just get away for awhile)

4. Get your flat punch/broken screw driver and a solid hammer. Using firm hits at 12 6 3 and 9 O'clock (that's the sequence I used!) loosen the spindle from the knuckle

5. Once it's loosened the spindle should pull free

6. Now the axles is free, remove it slowly, there is a seal at the diff and you don't want tear it as you pull the axle out

I had the U joints in the axle pressed out, $60 for parts and labor. 

Putting things back together is reverse of the removal process... Ya right. 


1. Clean the splines on the axle and all surfaces, cleanliness makes sure it goes together all the way and that it won't brake later due to grunge!

2. Fill the splines on differntial side with grease, this will help them slide go through the seal with minimal damage

3. Now the tricky part, slide the axle in to the differental splines without letting the end fail down!! Ya right. The best I could do was get the axle most of the way in letting it rest on the axle housing. You'll FEEL the axle touch the seal, if you go slow. Then I took a rachet handle and placed it in the axle housing opening under the axle and used it as a lever to lift the far end of the axle. Slow and with patientance it went right in!

4. Once it feels in, have a friend hold the other axle and turn your side to see if it's engaged. Ya right. This is the first axle. Rotating the axle back and forth you can feel the weight of the differential on the axle. 

5. Make sure the spline housing is clean and free of grit, slide it over the axle into the steering knuckle

6. PUT THE BRAKE BAKING PLATE BACK ON!! I forgot mine until trying to put the caliper back on. It won't work.

7. Put the 7th bolt in first, don't tighten all the way

8. Tighten the 6 bolts in a star pattern, go slow incase the spindle housing is not completely seated, it will jam. 

Your axle is now back in place. It may not feel like it turns correctly. The hub holds the axle in the correct position, that will be your best test and not far away. 

My discs where resurfaced and had the bearing replaced, so all was clean and wheel bearing repacked. Wheel bearings and seals where in place. Make sure all parts are clean and free of grit.


1. Make sure the spindle is clean and free of grit

2. Slide the hub back on the splindle, give it a gentle push, the seal will then snug up to the spindle

3. Slide the outer wheel bearing into hub and push into place with your fingers

4. Now get the drive gear and slip in on to the axle and into the hub, it may take some twisting of the hub and axle to get them to line up. Once in place NOW test the axle to insure fonte is no grinding or binding parts. None GOOD!! If there is some; this is where getting familiar with the axle setup before we took things apart becomes GOLD. You'll find what missing or put in wrong. 

5. Remove the drive gear

6. Install the protective cup over the wheel bearing

7. Using the COOL cup on the 4 prong tool (what you didn't get that tool?) install the inner locknut (the one with the peg on it), make sure the peg is on the outside. 

8. Using a torque wrench AND TURNING THE HUB tighten the locking ring to 50 foot pounds. This seats the bearing. Then back off 1/8th of a turn. This should be the proper pressure for the bearing. (Got that from the Haynes manual and it seemed quite correct)

9. Another tricky part getting the lock ring in place, but the hole on the ring must go over the post on the inner locknut AND in the keyed slot

10. Install the outer locknut torque to 50 pounds

11. Install the retaining spring, narrow side in

12. Install the drive gear and C clip

13. Use some silicone sealer on the dust cap surface (What you don't get yours in water???) and push back into the hub

The rest is putting the caliper back on and the wheel. 

Kevin Smith