Dakota pinion bearing bad

Hi All,
I am thinking of fixing this myself. It is a 2001 Dakota 4x4 with the V-6. I have done major overhauls on motorcycles, lawnmowers and
such, but I have never had the chance to do a rearend job. I assume there are some tricks that I should know, can you help me? Any special tools needed? I have a press if the bearing needs pressed on/off, does it? Do the axles slide out easily? Any pointers is appreciated.
Hank
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First step is to get ahold of the service manual - this isn't something you want to just "wing it" - too many torque specs. and critical measurements. You'll need a set of torque wrenches (both foot-pound and inch-pound, and the inch-pound must be either a beam or dial type), a dial indicator and base, a bearing splitter to pull the old bearing off the pinion, a big pipe wrench and a length of pipe to hold the yoke while torquing the pinion nut (replacement for the factory pinion holding tool), and a bearing adjuster tool to loosen, tighten, and torque the side adjusters (either the real tool from a diff. shop, an old torsion bar, or some pipe and fittings from the plumbing section of your hardware store).
If you have all that, or can get it, and are willing to give it a shot, here's some things that will get you around some of the more difficult parts in the service manual:
First, use the combination of the pipe wrench around the yoke, with a pipe slid over the wrench and wedged against the ground or the frame, to hold the yoke while you remove the pinion nut (it's on there tight).
Measure both the old and new pinion bearings. They should be the same, but in case they aren't, you can see how much you need to either add or subtract from the shim pack underneath the pinion bearing to compensate (for example, if the new bearing is .002" thinner than the old bearing, you'd add another .002" of shims before pressing the new bearing onto the pinion. If the new bearing is thicker, you'd remove that amount of shim).
The rest of the re-assembly and set-up is pretty much by the book. When torquing the pinion nut to set the pre-load, once you get passed the initial torque to start collapsing the spacer, check the rotational torque with the inch-pound torque wrench very frequently. You can easily blow right passed the recommended rotational torque if you're not careful - then you need to remove the pinion, put a new spacer on, and start over again.
You're obviously going to replace both pinion bearings and races - if it were me, I'd put in fresh carrier bearings as well (if you buy a master install kit for your differential, you'll get all the bearings). I'd also get new axle bearings (need a slide hammer with a two-or-three jaw inside puller attachment to remove them - measure their depth in the axle tube first, so you know how far in to set the new ones) and axle seals.... cheap enough, and you're likely to trash the axle seals with the adjuster tool, anyway.
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Is that all??? I think I'll go out and change a light bulb this weekend in the dash. Again.
FMB (North Mexico)
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