Toyota Maintenance on 4x4Wire

Toyota 4WD Front-end Maintenance - Solid Axle

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Author: Scott Wilson - October, 2000

To disassemble your solid axle to the point where this article picks up, CLICK HERE. This article deals specifically with tearing down the Toyota solid axle. In this article we'll tear the axle all the way down to the axle housing. If you are doing maintenance on your axle (replacing seals, knuckle wipers), replacing a birfield, or removing the 3rd member, this article will cover what you need to know.


Remove using a 14mm socket

Using a 14mm socket, remove the bolts that hold the spindle in place.

Pull the backing plate off of the spindle

Once the bolts have been removed, pull the seal and backing plate off the spindle.

Pull the spindle loose from the knuckle

With a little coaxing, the spindle can be freed from the knuckle. The knuckle is packed with grease. Have a container or towels handy to deal with all the grease (and possibly gear oil) that will be removed from the knuckle.

Align the flat spots and remove the birfield

The birfield joint has two flat spots, opposite each other. While the birfield joint is still in the axle housing, reach in with a finger and locate a flat spot. Align this flat spot with the top and bottom of the axle housing. You should now be able to pull the birfield from the axle housing. The inner axle is attached to the birfield, and will come out as you remove the birfield joint.

Anytime after both axles have been removed, the 3rd member can be removed. To remove the 3rd member, begin by draining the gear oil through the drain hole in the bottom of the axle. Next remove the many 12mm nuts and washers holding the 3rd member in place. Once the nuts have all been removed, you can pull the 3rd member from the housing. The seal may make it difficult to break free. Before putting the 3rd member back in place, clean the mating surface of the housing and 3rd member. Using RTV or other similar gasket maker, lay a bead along the mating surface. Now place the 3rd member into the housing, put the washers and nuts into place and tighten down.

Knuckle bearing cap

To remove the knuckle, first the bearing cap on the bottom and steering arm on the top must be removed. The bearing cap and steering arm locate and maintain preload on the knuckle bearings. Remove the 17mm nuts, lock washers, then remove the bearing cap. The bearing caps and steering arms are not always easy to remove. Depending on the condition of your axle, you also have to consider that water may have entered and rusted the two pieces together. A heavy hammer, drift, pry bar, etc. may be needed to coax the bearing cap and steering arm loose.

Steering arm w/cone washers

If your knuckle bearings are more than a few years old you may also want to plan on replacing them. If a bearing is damaged, or rusted to the bearing cap or steering arm, the bearing may also be destroyed in the process of disassembly. Keep this in mind if you're planning to reuse your knuckle bearings, you may not have that option.

17mm nuts, washers, and cone washers hold the steering arms in place. If the cone washers have rusted they may be very difficult to remove. Soak them with a penetrating oil, then using your brass bar and hammer, hit the top of the stud until they come loose. Removing the steering arm will then be like removing the bearing caps, there is a possibility they will not come out easy, and may destroy the bearing as they come out if the bearing is rusted to the steering arm. Also when you remove these pieces you will find shims beneath them. Note the amount of shim the axle had, and put that same amount back in upon reassembly.

Remove the knuckle wiper retainers The knuckle can now be pulled from the housing

The knuckle wiper retainers must be removed to remove the knuckle. Using a 10mm socket, remove the 8 bolts holding the retainers. Once these are removed you will be able to pull the knuckle off the axle housing.

Note: The metal retainers, as well as metal ring (located behind the rubber knuckle wiper) are not included with Toyota knuckle wiper kits. Unless you plan to purchase these parts separately, do not discard these pieces.

Use a brass bar to remove the races

To my knowledge, no aftermarket knuckle bearing exists. The bearings must be purchased from Toyota. The best price I have found was $22/ea from Steven's Creek Toyota (Santa Clara, CA). The new bearings all come with new races. To remove the old races from your housing, use your brass bar and hammer. Find the two notches behind the bearing race, set your brass bar in them, and pound out the race. The new race can then be tapped into place with the brass bar.

A screw driver can remove the oil seals

Inside the axle housing you will find the oil seal. It keeps the gear oil in the housing, and prevents the gear oil from getting in the knucles and mixing with the grease. These seals are inexpensive and SHOULD be replaced while the axle is disassembled this far. It is ok to destroy the old seal while removing it. If you do not have a seal puller, a screw driver can be used to remove the oil seal.


The new oil seal in place

Carefully tap the new oil seal into place. Be careful not to damage it. Any number of things could be used to seat the new oil seal. Your brass bar or a large socket would both be ok choices. Once the new seal is in place, put a light coating of grease on lip of the seal, right where it will touch the axle shaft.

Now install the knuckle wipers. The order they should go over the axle housing is felt, rubber, then the metal ring. Once the knuckle wiper pieces are in place on the housing, the knuckle can be installed. Pack the knuckle bearings with grease, put them in place on the axle housing, and then slip the knuckle in place over the end of the housing. Next, take the steering arm and bearing cap, and slide them in place over the studs on the knuckle housing. You'll need to make sure the part of the steering arm and bearing cap that protrudes into the housing is going though the center of the knuckle bearing for everything to fit together properly.

Replace the cone washers, washers, and 17mm nuts for the steering arm and bearing cap, and tighten them down. You can now put the knuckle wipers in place on the knuckle, and install the wiper retainers.

Next begin to pack the knuckle with grease. Just pack the back of the knuckle, where it will be hard to pack once the birfield is in place.

Disassembly of the birfield requires removal of axle from the birfield. This will be covered in a separate article coming soon. Pack the birfield with fresh grease. We will now put the birfield and axle back into the axle housing.

Carefully insert the axle through the end of the axle tube, being careful not to damage the oil seal. Once the axle is nearly all the way into the housing it will hit the differential. You will now have to move the axle so that you can insert it into the splines on the differential. If you think that you have the axle in the right place, but it is not going into the splines, try reaching over and turning the drive shaft. This will turn the splines and help you align them. Again aligning the flat spots on the birfield with the top and bottom of the housing you can insert the axle the rest of the way into the housing.

Next, pack the knuckle completely with grease. You can now put the spindle, backing plate, seal, and gaskets in place and tighten them down. The order of reassembly is gasket, spindle, gasket, backing plate, seal. Take care when aligning these pieces, the holes only line up correctly one way. Once everything is in place, replace the bolts and lock washers, and tighten down with a 14mm socket.

If you wish you may now remove the plug on the top of the knuckle and top the knuckle off with grease. If you did a thorough job packing the knuckle earlier you may skip this step.


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