Axle replacement - 95 Accord

Last weekend a friend and I replaced both axles in my 1995 Accord. The passenger side (smaller) axle came right out with no hassle. The drivers side, however, was so rusted into the hub that we had to take
the whole hub/axle assembly off the car so that we could better pound it with a big 3lb hammer and an air chisel. After a LOT of pounding it finally came out. Is this something that happens frequently with older cars? If so, is there a better way to get those things out? Penetrating oil didn't seem to help much. Even the air chisel didn't do anything until after the big hammer got the thing loose.
Luckily after we got the old axle out the hub was still in good shape and the new axle went right in with no problems. What a pain! This is just another case of the shop manual being soo far off of reality (The book says to remove the axle using a rubber mallet--no way!!).
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Greg wrote:

3lb hammer? unfortunately, you'll now need to replace the bearings shortly.
for future reference, never beat the axle to get it out - use a proper pulling tool that doesn't load the bearings. hammering brinnels the bearings and reduces longevity to almost zero.
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Jim - thanks for your reply. Could you specifically suggest a tool that I should have used--preferably something I could buy online or at a local store? I looked around the web a bit and didn't see anything that I thought would work. I did see some tools for rear axles that use a slide-hammer. To be honest with you, the axle was stuck in there so badly that I really don't think a slide hammer would have gotten it out. Maybe when the axle is rusted in there that badly, you just have to hammer it out like I did and plan on replacing the bearings? I have another honda and if I have to do the same job on it, I'd like to make sure I do it the best way. Thanks again.
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Here in Arizona we don't have that problem - no rust to speak of. A couple taps with a rubber mallet on the back of the steering knuckle is enough. But if we did, I'd probably go for a rag folded over to make a fairly thick pad and then applying a heavy "mallet" (like the end of several feet of 2X4) to the end. What you want is a "dead blow." Brinneling the bearings occurs if the actual impact is so high it can dent the bearing races, while the real work of separating the parts is done by transferring impulse. Similarly, you can try holding the axle and whacking the knuckle (not yours, the car's!) with a mallet on as many different locations as you can reach over and over. As long as you don't lay metal to metal you shouldn't brinnel the bearings. Patience might just pay off.
The proper tool is undoubtedly a press, but that requires complete removal of the steering knuckle. There may be nothing else to hold the bearings in while pressing on the axle, so it is possible the bearings could come out still jammed onto the axle splines. Or the disc may be in the way... dunno about the '95 Accord in that way.
In any case, for you the die has been cast. It would be great if you can provide some follow-up regarding symptoms (noise, pulling toward the side you were working on) and whether you had to replace the bearings as a result.
Mike
"Good judgement comes from experience; experience often comes from bad judgement."
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wrote:

Thanks for your reply, Mike. Your explanation of how the bearings are impacted (!) makes a lot of sense to me. I think that concept applies to lots of other situations as well, so I'll keep it in mind for future reference.
The friend who was helping me actually has a press in his basement, which is why we took out the whole knuckle and axle assembly. The problem that we had was that the attached axle did not fit through the hole on his press. There was no way to secure the assembly in such a way to use the press. Maybe it would have worked on a larger, more industrial-grade press.
I hope I don't have to replace the bearings, and the car seems to be driving normally and smoothly. If something should happen to the bearings on that side I'll definitely update this thread.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

you can't just use a press - not pressing against the knuckle anyway. the "press" needs to be one that loads the axle from against the hub inner so the bearings aren't involved like this:
http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/shop/OTC-7208A.html
for bearing replacement, if you didn't have access to a press, this would be the way to go:
http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/shop/OTC-6537.html
you can sell it on craigslist again afterwards and get most of your money back too!
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Cool links! Thanks, Jim. Although for the bearing I will just take it to a local machine shop that does bearing replacements. Waiting a couple days is easier on me than paying $300 for something I need so rarely.
Mike
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wrote:

Yep, thanks for the links Jim. Hopefully I won't have to replace that front left bearing, but I will definitely consider having that first puller tool around next time I have to remove some axles, especially if I'm doing it myself. Thanks guys--as always, you all are a great resource.
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Michael Pardee wrote:

but if the axle is seized into the hub, that can't happen.

dude, for $32, it's just not worth it. the tool takes care of everything and no risk to the bearings whatsoever.

nope - see response to greg.

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