Procedure to change the axle seals on the front axle on a 2001
1) Remove the outer axle nuts, do this while the wheels are still on the truck and it is
still on the ground. This will take a 1-11/16” ¾” drive socket, a 6” extension, a T-
bar or breaker bar, about 4 feet of cheater bar, and a jack stand. I would not use a
ratchet drive as the force needed to get the nuts loose might break the ratchet.
Use the jack stand to support the out end of the extension. Rotate the socket on
the nut to position the T-bar or breaker bar to the nine o’clock position. Next put
the cheater bar on the handle and stand on the end of the cheater bar, you may
have to bounce a little but it should come loose. See picture for my setup.
2) Jack up the front end of the truck high enough to allow the axle to drop down to
near the end of the shock travel and put jack stands under the frame just behind
the rear lower trailing arm bracket. Remove the tires and block under the axle to
support it until later.
3) Remove the brake caliper and secure it to the upper trailing arm with bailing wire
or other strapping type material. Be careful with the brake pads to not get
grease or oil on them. Once the caliper has been removed take off the caliper
mounting bracket and set it aside.
4) Take a wire brush and clean off the ends of the four bolts that secure the hub
bearing retainer to the knuckle and remove the four bolts.
5) Now comes the hard part, removing the hub/bearing assembles. The way the
shop manual says to remove the hubs is to “loosen the bolts about ¼” and tap the
bolts with a hammer to loosen the hub from the knuckle”. Now this procedure
may work on a new truck right off of the line but on my truck with 120K on it this
would not have worked considering how tight they were. The procedure that I
used was to install a hub puller using four of the wheel studs. Keep the knuckle
straight to the axle and start taking up tension using a racket drive. Add liberal
doses of a good penetrating oil, I like to use Kroil. I thread a pry bar through two
of the arms on the puller and blocked it on a jack stand to keep the hub and puller
from rotating as the puller tightening up. Once the puller has taken up a lot of
tension take a bar of steel, I used a piece of 5/8” round bar about 8” long, and a
big hammer and start hitting on the hub ears like you are trying to rotate the hub
in the knuckle. When it is ready to let loose it will probable pop with a loud bang.
One thing to be careful of is that with the tension on the puller the knuckle it may
start to swing so you might want to set the steering wheel lock. Also remove the
ABS sensor if so equipped before taking the hub off of the knuckle.
6) Once the hubs have been removed, set them aside to be cleaned up later. Then
slide the axles out of the axle housings and set them aside.
7) Remove the CAD if so equipped and remove the sliding collar and the inner axle
8) Remove the track bar and set it aside.
9) Lower the axle down as far as it will go and reset the jack stands to support it in
10) Remove the tie rod end from the driver’s side and let it sit on the ground.
11) Remove the differential cover and drain the oil.
12) Loosen the bearing cap bolts but leave them in a turn or two.
13) Install an axle spreader, I used some strapping to help hold it in place on the axle,
and position a dial indicator.
14) Now start spreading the axle until the dial indicator is showing about .015” of
movement. Check the ring carrier and see if it is loose, if not you can try
spreading to .020” but no more then that.
15) Remove two bearing caps, taking care to remember which side they came off of
(there should be witness marks on the caps and housing), being careful to keep the
ring carrier from falling out. Once the caps are off and set aside lower the ring
carrier out and set it aside.
16) Now take a driver tool with about a 24” long handle through the knuckle and
drive out the old seals. The driver side seal is just out board of the bearing and is
visible from the inside of the differential housing. The passenger side seal is
accessed from the CAD housing. If you do not have a CAD then the seal will be
in the differential housing.
17) The driver side seal is a Chicago Rawhide number 14694 or National Oil Seal
number 49489. The passenger side seal is a Chicago Rawhide number 19208 or
National Oil Seal number 49485. I used a 2.992” oil and seal driver attached to a
24” length of ¾” all thread rod inserted through the out end of the axle to pull the
seals into place. I had a piece of steel across the end of the axle that the all thread
rod passed through and a nut pulled against.
18) Once the seals are installed reinstall the ring carrier and torque the bearing caps.
19) Check the bushing and thrust washer between the intermediate shaft and the outer
shaft on the passenger side. The thrust washer on mine was not what I liked it to
be so I made a new one out of UHMW plastic .060” thick. This also involved
machining down the end of the bushing flush with the end of the shaft.
20) Before the shafts are installed clean up the opening in the knuckle were the hub
mounts and also the hubs. I used a Clean-n-Strip wheel by 3M.
21) Before installing the shafts roll up a piece of heavy paper and insert it in the outer
part of each end of the axle tube up to the seals, leave about 1” sticking out to be
able to remove later. This is to keep the shafts from picking up dirt that is sitting
inside of the axle tube. Now slide the shafts into the axle, when doing the
intermediate shaft is helps to have someone pushing with a piece if pipe or
something while you rotate the shaft through the CAD opening. Before inserting
the outer shaft install the shaft coupler onto the intermediate shaft and after the
outer shaft is in place slide the coupler back onto the outer shaft.
22) After the shafts are installed finish buttoning up the axle by installing the
differential cover and the CAD. Now is also a good time to reinstall the track bar
and tie rod.
23) Before installing the hubs put a good coat of anti-seize on them and the bolts and
then install them into the knuckles, don’t forget to install the dust shields which
go between the knuckles and the hubs. Install the axle nuts finger tight.
24) Reinstall the ABS sensor if so equipped.
25) Reinstall disk rotator, I put a couple of lug nuts on to hold them in place while the
rest of the brake system is installed. Take some lacquer thinner and clean off any
oil that may have been put on the rotators from handling them.
26) Reinstall the rest of the brake system.
27) Reinstall the tires and wheels.
28) Put in about 4 quarts of your favorite axle oil.
29) Once the truck is back on the ground tighten the axle nuts and install the cotter
30) Start the engine and pump the brakes several times to get the brake pads reseated.