Am I being a bit of a wimp? I am removing the drive axles from my
1998 Altima, a task I have never undertaken before. Removing the
passenger side axle posed no problem, but I am unable to remove the
driver side axle. The Haynes manual says either pry the inner CV
joint out at the transaxle, or to insert a screwdriver through the
differential side gears and knock the left side shaft free. I pried
and pried, to no avail, and I hammered on the screwdriver until I
became nervous I would damage something, but the axle remained solidly
in place. Any particular tricks to removing this, or should I get
past my nervousness and hammer away? Thanks in advance for any
The axles are held in by a strong circlip on the shaft. At work I use a rather
thick 3-foot long prybar, and even then I sometimes have to pry in one spot,
rotate the axle, pry a bit more, rotate, pry, rotate, pry... eventually it comes
If you're trying to use the same screwdriver you use to install a new knob on
your bathroom door, then forget it. You need something BIG. If you're trying to
punch it out through the differential from the passenger side, I'd suggest a
large diameter flat-ended punch (even a cut-off chunk of broom handle as
long as it isn't bigger than the axle stub) and a big hammer or "personal size"
sledge (2-3 pound). Line up the punch, then haul off and whack that mother!
You need a pry bar NOT a screwdriver. Two are even better. Put one on
each side of the inner CV joint between the pot and the housing. Then
use a sharp motion to pop the retainer ring free so the half shaft comes
free from the stub shaft.
And unless things are RADICALLY different on that axle from 99% of front
wheel drives the second method (inserting a screwdriver through the side
gears to knock the left side) half shaft free is physically impossible.
Now if your removing the stub shafts that connect to the half shafts
then you can go inside the differential, but i would bet that is NOT
what you are doing.
Yeah, my mind went blank, and I forgot about the pinion shaft (3rd picture)...
That's why Haynes says use a screwdriver, to get around the shaft.
Art may have missed the driveshaft, and is banging on the side gear?
Anyway, big prybars are still the best.
Typically I use a prybar about 12 inches total length when I do this
job. Insert the angled tip between the transaxle side cover and the
inboard edge of the CV axle, and then pry gently to take all of the
play out. I.E. hold the prybar in place with one hand on the metal
portion, pushing slightly to take any play out between the axle and
the differential side gear.
Then you hit the plastic handle portion of the prybar sharply with the
palm of your other hand. Works every time for me, takes the axles
right out without a fight.
I don't know if the altima has self-supporting differential gears, but
a lot of cars DO NOT, meaning if you pull both axles at the same time
the differential side gears can fall down into the transaxle case,
necessitating removal and disassembly of the entire transaxle to fix.
Don't risk it, stick a wooden dowel or similar into the hole left by
the axle you remove first if you intend to have both axles removed at
the same time.
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