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Old 03-13-2015, 07:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY CV Axle

I have parts on the way and am wondering if there are any secret tricks to changing Tribeca front axles versus the ones I did on my old Outback (a 2003). I am having a hard time locating a manual for sale and not willing to subscribe to a monthly or yearly membership with Chilton. I can't imagine it is much different other than a 32mm socket.
Here is what I imagine:
  1. Pop the axle nut free.
  2. Loosen the lugs nuts.
  3. Lift car (I'm using a DIY shop on a military base to lift the whole car)
  4. Remove tire & axle nut
  5. Raise car higher
  6. Remove and hang brake caliper
  7. Dislodge ball joint behind brake disk (maybe unnecessary)
  8. Slide outer splines out of hub
  9. Pop inner splines from transmission
  10. Ensure I have the ring from the inner splines (I believe there was a ring)
  11. Do the steps in reverse with new shaft
Somewhere in there I remember a step being kind of a pain in the butt. Maybe it was some piece I had to assemble for the inner portion of the shaft to enter the transmission. I cannot recall.
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's the exact same as your outback except your 2003 should have had a roll pin, however, you as correctly describe it, for the tribeca, you pull the axle out of the transmission.

1. Never loosen the axle on the ground. It will damage your bearing. Get the lugs loose, lift the car, have someone step on the brake or use a board to apply the brake with the power seat, and then loosen the axle nut.

6. No need
7. Ball joint is great if it comes apart easily, otherwise go after the strut (mark the top bolt to keep alignment). I have always had luck with the ball joint, but not true for people in salt states. Don't pry the knuckle apart thinking it will help. It will just break an ear off.

10. No sure about 'ring' but you should replace the inner axle seal. I didn't on my outback and had a slow leak. I did on my tribeca and it worked well. I used a claw hammer to remove and the old seal to drive the new one.

Don't use an aftermarket axle. Subaru OEM only, either from a wreck or remaned from the dealer, or reboot yourself (I have done the last two).

Here are some good guides:
http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/...placement.html
http://legacygt.com/forums/showthrea...light=DIY+axle
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Old 03-16-2015, 12:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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7. You can go one of two ways with the ball joint... FSM says to remove the pinch bolt and detach from the knuckle. Although as tdelk said, in salty states, this is damn near impossible. I went the other way by unscrewing the castle nut and separating the LCA from the ball joint. Either way works, but by detaching from the ball joint, you don't have to worry about alignment issues going after the strut (though as long as you mark, you should be OK). Any of the three ways work fine, however.

10. Yes... make sure the clip is on the axle. And make sure it seats and clicks when you re-install. If you have no clip but the axle doesn't slide right out of the differential, you're going to have to go fishing inside the diff with a magnet.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I did this a while back and it's really not hard at all. I popped the strut loose and that was plent of clearance to get the old out and new in. Did have to put a bar in between the old axle and case to pop it out but it came out easily.
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Old 03-29-2016, 08:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Sorry to dredge up an old thread. I've got to replace the halfshafts on my fiance's B9 in a few weeks. It looks like the process is very similar to what I did with my Sentra SE-R and G20.

Question: Do you need to drain the transmission fluid first?

On the Sentra and G20 the gear oil (manual gearbox) would cascade out if you didn't drain it first.

Any tricks for popping out the CV from the transmission or is it pretty straight-forward? It was a little tricky on the Sentra and G20.
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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No need to drain the ATF fluid.

Consider replacing the seal on the transmission as per the FSM says. There is a small spring in there that is often (always?) dislodged when replacing the axle. This will result in a slow leak, really nothing more than a dampness in my experience. But in my old age I like to do things right.

I used a small claw hammer to get the seal out and the old seal to drive the new one in.

In colorado I went after the ball joint without any issues. If you don't have much corrosion in TX (which I imagine is true in the 'woodlands' but maybe not on the coast) I highly suggest it, as it's pretty easy. Also remove the swaybar endlink to give you room to get the strut out of the way. The other option is the 2 strut mount bolts. One is the camber adjust, so make sure to mark it clearly and take a picture.

Also, don't loosen the axle nut on the ground, it can lead to bearing failure. Do it on the air. Some have someone stand on the brakes, I used a board and my power seat to depress the brakes.

Pull the axle out of the transmission is easy.

Make sure to use an OEM axle, otherwise you risk a vibration issue. I got a used one to replace an aftermarket one that was causing a vibration under light acceleration. I was surprise that was the fix, but I'd tried all the other easy things.
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:23 AM   #7 (permalink)
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What a waste, I had already said most of this above. Next time I'll look further up the thread before replying
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Old 03-29-2016, 12:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks so much. I did read what you wrote before. On the other two cars I mentioned I did halfshafts on, the spring clip would make removal and installation a bit tricky. Glad to know it's not an issue here. The rest of it sounds really straight-forward. This car has so far been really easy to work on. I've never done an easier set of brakes.

This is WAY easier than the BMWs I've been working on for the last 13 years (not to mention the Japanese engineering/specs of the parts are an order of magnitude better).

Thanks for the info regarding no need to drain the ATF.

Are there any preferred sources for OEM parts?
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Old 03-29-2016, 02:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I bought my new axles from parts geek. They have held up really well and much, much cheaper than dealer. Whole process took less than 45 minutes.
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:41 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The Cir-clip is there but it pops out easy enough. A firm tug is all that is needed.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:28 PM   #11 (permalink)
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tribeca's are identical to outbacks - essentially the parts are the same minus the wheel lug spacing and minor stuff like that.

Anyone not living in rust prone areas probably won't get or need this. But removing the ball joint is a really really bad general suggestion/rule. And by "really really bad" i'm avoiding the language i should use to describe it!! LOL

Particularly when there's a 100% repeatable way that's easier and takes no extra effort every single time.

mark the orientiation of the top strut mount bolt to the strut body (and reinstall to the same mark)
remove bolt
loosen lower bolt

it's easier and simply can't cause a problem at all.

ball joints can turn into disasters - google search all the cussing, funny, angry, leave your car sit for a week while you source new knuckle housing posts if you need quantifiable evidence. seriously google "ball joint from hell" or add in any combination of "subaru ball joint" and a cuss word and you'll find some funny long threads of disaster.

I highly suggest avoiding that. If you're not convinced or dont' live int he rust belt and find this hard to believe, here's the possibilities:

the main issue is the ball joint sticking in the knuckle. often around here you can't get a ball joint out without ruining the boot so you end up replacing the ball joint because the boot gets ripped from a pickle fork. 5 foot digging bars, air chisels, and dead blow hammers won't get it to come out of the knuckle (struts allow a lot of give and dampen the impact) so you need a pickle fork, it puts the forces between two solid parts - the knuckle and control arm. but usually slices the boot. get a special tool or make one. that might save your boot. but it still doesn't save you from the devil known as rust-welded ball joints.

it's probably more prone/an issue in the rust belt - but the ball joints can be seized in the knuckle. some are rusted so bad that no tool made by Snap On or otherwise can remove them. when they're seized this bad - the tools break or if it does come out - the ball joint will literally shatter and rip the ball out of the housing - still leaving the remaining ball joint housing (without the ball) rust welded up inside the knuckle.

some require hours of essentially machien shop work - drilling and chiseling to remove the remaining sliver of socket (ball joint already ripped out of the housing) out of the knuckle.

granted only 1 out of a few are this bad and you're not likely to see it like me becuase i've done more ball joint jobs than you've probably even thought about - it's rare. but it's hours wasted and 100% avoidable, so why bother?

pinch bolts often shear off as well - then you gotta drill them out and either replace the knuckle, repair the threads, or what most people/shops do is just run a through bolt through the knuckle and use a nut on the other end instead of threading it into the knuckle. a lot of Subaru's have alreayd had that done when i see them - a prior shop did it. very common.

knuckles can crack when the pinch bolt is removed and knuckle spread to remove the ball joint.

strut bolts come out every single time. if in the odd event you had a salt infested vehicle that sat in wet grass for 19 years and the strut bolt sheared off - it just slides right out if that happens, no big deal.

okay, i'm done my northeast warning.
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Old 04-03-2016, 06:32 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Living in a the NE as a teenager, and car work was a necessity on mine and my friends cars due to funds. Have had the same experience he had with ball joints.

Live in Colorado and was really hesitant to do the ball joint, but I've also lost alignment enough times, that I thought that I would give it a shot. I was amazed at the difference.

It really is area dependent. Ball joints are easier to take apart than struts in Colorado, believe it or not Gary!

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Old 04-04-2016, 07:47 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Best of both worlds: pop off the LCA instead. No pinch bolts/knuckles to worry about, no alignment issues. You just need a tool that won't - as Gary mentioned - split the boot.
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Old 09-05-2016, 05:55 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Has anyone attempted to replace the rear CV axles? I'm not finding anybody talking much about rear axles...safe to say if the boots are not split then the axle should still be OK? At some point they have to be serviced. I thought the fronts were relatively easy but was thinking of of doing the rears too.
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Old 09-05-2016, 06:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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When the boot rips or the joint starts making noise it is time to service them, lol.
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Old 09-05-2016, 10:21 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I just did the fronts because the inner boots were torn...the rear axles look fine but I suspect over time the grease will need to be replaced. The Chilton repair manual recommends dropping the rear differential to service the diff and axles. No way I am doing that...guess I'll leave them alone till they start groaning.
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Old 09-05-2016, 11:31 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I suppose at some point the rear cv joint grease will break down and start to harden, but by then the car will probably be on the way to the crusher anyway. IF a boot rips, worry about it then. I suspect you will be waiting a very long time.
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Old 09-05-2016, 12:08 PM   #18 (permalink)
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^^^^, provided of course, we're talking OEM axles and not A/M. If A/M, don't wait until the boot fails before replacing the whole axle... although you probably won't get the axle to the point where the boot fails first any way.
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Old 12-19-2016, 07:13 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Rear Subaru OEM axles last the life of the vehicle. They're seriously pointless to replace.

If you have the weirdo broken boot rear axle, just reboot it when it happens, there's absolutely no value in preemptive replacement of rear cv boots.

I've driven 100,000 miles on broken boot rear Subaru axles, they're very robust.

I haven't done a Tribeca but i'm sure you could disassembly the axle from the rear hub and pull it from the differential that way without dropping the rear diff.

But dropping the rear diff on most subarus actually isn't that hard (again I haven't done it in a Tribeca). It's just super awkward and uncomfortable working under the car on your back with grit falling in your eyes and that thing is heavy in such a confined and limited space. If you plan/have good work area and eye goggles it's actually not bad.
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Old 09-17-2017, 06:03 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Driver's side inner front boot - I followed this video, it's good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf8uRTjfxsk

The video takes less than 1/2 hour, but I needed almost 6 hours. (Including short periods of cussing, considerable clean-up of splattered grease from the blown boot, brake pad replacement on both sides, and several beers).

His method avoids draining diff fluid, and my concurrent brake job also avoided opening the brake line. The only fluid replacement was CV axle grease (I used Redline CV2, filling up the joint only about half way. I think the mixture with soggy old gray stuff will be harmless, though I might be wrong about that. I imagine that I'll hear or feel trouble if the mixture was a bad idea, before anything catastrophic occurs.)

I also used after-market "clip into one of the holes" boot clamps, instead of keeping the originals. On the passenger side, the narrow clamp had become loose over time, allowing a small amount grease to leak out around the axle. I didn't replace that boot, which looked good - I only replaced the clamp. My "loose ends, clip into a hole" type avoided any need to take the passenger side joint apart. Note to self: after a few hundred miles, check all clamps and re-tighten if they've stretched enough to reach into the next hole.

Because I was doing brake pads on both sides, I took the tires off - and that gives you a better view anyway. Before starting, alignment was good. So, I carefully noted the upper strut tower bolt position (a bit past the 4th mark). That's the bolt with the bevel/flange in it, adjusting camber. I also marked both nut positions with a dental scratch tool.

Work was otherwise uneventful, although I needed to tap the 3-cylinder CV joint with a screwdriver and hammer to get it off of the axle, and also to get it back on (screwdriver down next to the axle shaft, NOT up on one of the 3 cylinders). I also used quite a few paper towels to clean up the mess of grease from the cracked CV.

My axle assembly parts (model year 2007) were identical to the parts on the Outback he worked on. The test drive seemed really nice.
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Last edited by rickst29; 09-17-2017 at 02:45 PM.
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