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Thread: Jeep JK Wrangler Front Axle Shaft Removal & Replacement Write-Up + VIDEO

  1. #1
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    Jeep JK Wrangler Front Axle Shaft Removal & Replacement Write-Up + VIDEO

    Contrary to what so many people seem to think, the number one reason why factory Rubicon Dana 44 front axle shafts break is not because they're weak but rather, because they come with c-clips. Over time, movement in the bearing caps can cause the c-clips to work themselves free and once they're gone, there's nothing to keep the caps in place. Once one or more bearing cap is gone, it's just a matter of time before the trunnions tear through the ears of axle shaft yokes. While buying a set of overpriced RCV axle shafts is one solution to this problem, a more affordable and just as effective solution is to pick up a set of chromoly axle shafts with u-joints that have full circle clips much like the kind that AlloyUSA makes. Unlike c-clips, full circle clips will completely surround the u-joint bearing caps and that that will prevent them from working themselves free.

    While we do already have a front axle shaft removal and replacement write up, we recently picked up a set of new AlloyUSA front chromoly axle shaft for our 2012 Jeep JK Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited and thought it would be good to post an updated version of it along with the following short step-by-step video.



    For those of you who are interested, we got these shafts with a set of their X-Joints as they come complete with full circle clips and you can see a write-up on how to assemble them here: How to Install U-Joints w/ Full Circle Clips onto a Chromoly Front Axle Shaft + VIDEO


    What You Will Need
    • 12 Point 13mm Box Wrench
    • 21mm Wrench
    • 19mm Socket
    • 36mm Socket
    • Torque Wrench
    • Breaker Bar
    • Floor Jack
    • Jack Stand
    • Red Loctite

    What you will need to do
    1. Place a floor jack under the base of your front axle's control arm and raise it up until the wheel slightly off the ground. Set your axle back down onto a jack stand for safety and then use a 19mm socket to remove the lug nuts on your wheel.


    2. Remove the wheel and set it under the frame rail of your Jeep for safety.


    3. Disconnect your speed sensor line from its 2 retaining clips.




    4. Follow the speed sensor cable up to the back of the frame rail and unplug it.


    5. Using a 36mm socket, remove the axle hub nut. If you don't have access to an impact wrench, it will help to have someone step on the brakes during this process.


    6. Using a 21mm wrench, remove the 2 bolts securing your brake caliper to the knuckle.




    7. Carefully remove the brake caliper and zip tie it onto your lower control arm or frame so that it's out of the way. Do NOT allow the caliper to hang from the brake line.




    8. Remove the rotor and carefully set it aside.


    9. Using a 12 point 13mm wrench, remove the 3 bolts (2 above and 1 below) securing the hub/wheel bearing to the knuckle.




    10. Remove the unit bearing and dust shield and set them out of the way.


    11. Remove your factory axle shaft.


    12. If it didn't come out with your axle shaft, you will need to look inside your axle tube and phish out the plastic shaft guide as it will prevent you from reinstalling your old shaft or installing a new one. This guide is not needed and can be discarded.


    13. Carefully slide in your new axle shaft. You will need to tilt up the end of it to get the splines to engage into the locker.


    14. Reinstall the dust shield and unit bearing.


    15. Apply some red Loctite onto the threads of the unit bearing bolts.


    16. Secure the unit bearing onto the steering knuckle with the bolts and tighten the bolts to 75 ft. lbs. of torque.




    17. Reinstall your rotor onto the wheel studs.


    18. Apply some red Loctite to the threads of your caliper bolts.


    19. Reinstall your brake caliper onto the rotor.


    20. Secure the brake caliper to the steering knuckle with the bolts and tighten them to 120 ft. lbs. of torque.




    21. Reinstall your speed sensor lines into the retaining clips.


    22. Plug your speed sensor line back into the wiring harness at the frame.


    23. Apply some red Loctite to the threads of your axle hub nut.


    24. Secure your axle shaft in place using the hub nut and tighten it to 100 ft. lbs. of torque. It will help to have a friend apply pressure on the brake pedal when doing this.


    Repeat on the other side and that's it! You now have a set of brand new chromoly axle shafts and ones that should last you quite a long time.


    I hope this write-up has been helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions.

  2. #2
    Knows a Thing or Two xkid's Avatar
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    You make that job look easy. You give us more confidence to tackle the job. Thank you Sir.

  3. #3
    Nothing but a Thing JK LYF's Avatar
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    Thanks for the write up! I'll be doing this soon.
    2008 2DR RED ROCK X

  4. #4
    Knows a Thing or Two chipper's Avatar
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    Great write up and video. I didn't realize this was a simple job until I watched your video. Not nervous about changing mine out now. Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Fresh Catch
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    Aren't the plastic axle shaft guides actually pretty important? I can't imagine possibly managing to get my shafts in without obliterating the inner axle seals without those guides.

  6. #6
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christensent View Post
    Aren't the plastic axle shaft guides actually pretty important? I can't imagine possibly managing to get my shafts in without obliterating the inner axle seals without those guides.
    LOL!! They're about as important as the assembly washers attached to your wheel studs and hold your rotors in place. That being said, if you have two left thumbs and can't possibly imagine getting your shafts in without obliterating the inner axle seals without them, I suppose you had better reuse them.

    BTW, welcome to WAYALIFE!

  7. #7
    Guy with a Red 2-Door cozdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christensent View Post
    Aren't the plastic axle shaft guides actually pretty important? I can't imagine possibly managing to get my shafts in without obliterating the inner axle seals without those guides.
    Nope they are not important at all. You can slide the new shaft in easily without it and will not damage the inner seal as long as you go easy and take your time
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  8. #8
    Administrator wayoflife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xkid View Post
    You make that job look easy. You give us more confidence to tackle the job. Thank you Sir.
    Quote Originally Posted by JK LYF View Post
    Thanks for the write up! I'll be doing this soon.
    Quote Originally Posted by chipper View Post
    Great write up and video. I didn't realize this was a simple job until I watched your video. Not nervous about changing mine out now. Thanks again.
    Glad to know that my write-up and video were helpful to you. So you know, I'm all new to this and don't know anything about working on Jeeps so please take what you see for what they are.

  9. #9
    Nothing but a Thing JK LYF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayoflife View Post
    So you know, I'm all new to this and don't know anything about working on Jeeps so please take what you see for what they are.
    Your write ups/videos are the best! I always try to find a write up on Wayalife whenever I, or a friend, has an issue with the rig.

    BTW, Had no idea you are new to this! Lol!!
    2008 2DR RED ROCK X

  10. #10
    Meme King WJCO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wayoflife View Post
    Contrary to what so many people seem to think, the number one reason why factory Rubicon Dana 44 front axle shafts break is not because they're weak but rather, because they come with c-clips. Over time, movement in the bearing caps can cause the c-clips to work themselves free and once they're gone, there's nothing to keep the caps in place. Once one or more bearing cap is gone, it's just a matter of time before the trunnions tear through the ears of axle shaft yokes. While buying a set of overpriced RCV axle shafts is one solution to this problem, a more affordable and just as effective solution is to pick up a set of chromoly axle shafts with u-joints that have full circle clips much like the kind that AlloyUSA makes. Unlike c-clips, full circle clips will completely surround the u-joint bearing caps and that that will prevent them from working themselves free.

    While we do already have a front axle shaft removal and replacement write up, we recently picked up a set of new AlloyUSA front chromoly axle shaft for our 2012 Jeep JK Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited and thought it would be good to post an updated version of it along with the following short step-by-step video.
    Thanks for the video and writeup.

    Quote Originally Posted by christensent View Post
    Aren't the plastic axle shaft guides actually pretty important? I can't imagine possibly managing to get my shafts in without obliterating the inner axle seals without those guides.
    Welcome to WAL.

    Quote Originally Posted by cozdude View Post
    You can slide the new shaft in easily without it and will not damage the inner seal as long as you go easy and take your time
    Thanks for the tip. That's what she said.
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