Toyota Front Axle Rebuild

Axle Rebuild

For those of you out there with solid front axle Toyota 4x4's who would like to tear down and rebuild your axle
instead of taking it to the shop and getting charged your first born for the work.
Then here's how you to do it.


NOTE: Some set may have some of the same items as others so if you're not replacing everythng make sure to check what each set has.

NOTE: Throughout this article the parts are listed (when first mentioned) in red, blue, or green with a number after them in { }. This number indicates the parts in the photos and the exploded views of the each section. If it's in red it coordinates with the exploded view of the Free Wheel Hub. If it's in blue it coordinates with the exploded view of the Hub. If it's in green it coordinates with the exploded view of the Knuckle.

The first step is to lift the front tires off the ground and support them up with jack stands under the axle. Then remove the tires.


Removing The Free Wheel Hub:
To do this, remove the six 10mm bolts to the Free Wheel Hub Cover (hub cover) {1} and remove it from the Free Wheel Hub Body (hub body) {2}. Now remove the six 12mm nuts, washers, and Cone Washers {3}, and to the hub body. There's also a Snapring {22} that goes around the end of the axle that is inside the hub body that needs to be removed.

Free Wheel Hub Removing Cone Washers
    For the cone washers, this is the best way that I found to remove them if they don't slide right off.
  1. Tap the hub body with a mallet to break it free from the Hub {18}.
  2. Use a flathead screwdriver and slip the end of it into the slot of the cone washer facing the bolt.
  3. Light tap on the handle of the screwdriver. You can just use the palm of your hand to do this.
  4. Slide the cone washer off.
Now you can remove the hub body.

Tearing Down The Hub Cover:
There's not much to this. It's just a matter of turning the Clutch {4} about a 1/4 turn clockwise until it stops, push down some, and then turn a little more. The Spring {5} and clutch will now be free. There is no need to remove the Pawl {6} and Spring {7} from the clutch. Next is removing the Snapring {8} that holds the hub cover and the Control Handle {9} together. You want to pull these apart slowly and watch for the Steel Ball {10} and Spring {11}. They should be at the same point as the arrow on the control handle. Remove the Seal {12} from the control handle.

Hub Cover Parts Steel Ball and Spring

Tearing Down The Hub Body:
Remove the large Snapring {13} on the back of the hub body that holds the inner hub assembly. Remove the inner hub assembly and remove the Snapring {14} from the Inner Hub {15}. The Spacer {16}, and Free Wheel Hub Ring {17} can now be removed.

Hub Body Parts Hub Body Parts
Exploded Veiw - Free Wheel Hub
Exploded Veiw of Free Wheel Hub

Inspecting The Hub Body And Hub Cover:
Thoroughly clean and dry all parts, and look for any visible damage or wear. Check that all the parts that move against each other (clutch in the hub body) move smoothly. Using a micrometer measure the clearance between the inner hub and the free wheel hub. Inside distance of the free wheel hub minus the outside distance of the inner hub = clearance (0.3 mm or 0.012 in).

Reassemble both the hub cover and the hub body assemblies in the reverse order applying grease to all moving surfaces. With the hub cover in the free poison, temporarily install it to the hub body and check that the inner hub turns freely.

THE HUB (Part 1):

Removing The Hub:
Lock Washer On the end of the Spindle {19} (also see Exploded View Of Knuckle) just inside the hub are two Spindle Nuts {20} with a Lock Washer {21} between them. In order to remove the first nut you need to clean some of the grease out of the way and find the tab(s) from the lock washer that fold over the slide of the nut. Next use a flathead screwdriver and place the end it so that it will go between the tab and the nut when you tap it with the mullet. Work the tab up so it's straight up and then remove the nut. Then remove the lock washer and the other nut.

Unbolt the Caliper {23} and move and tie it up out of the way. You may need to remove the brake line clip in order to move it without bending up the hard brake line. The hub and rotor assembly can now be removed. Pull it forward some and then push it back to remove the Thrust Washer {24} and Outer Bearing {25}. This can all be set to the side until your ready to do the bearings.

NOTE:I cut a slot in the bracket that holds the brake line in place so that the caliper can be fully removed from the Dust Cover {27} and placed out of the way.

If replacing the rotors then see the Vented Rotors article to see how to remove them from the hub.

Exploded View of Hub
Exploded View of Hub


Removing The Knuckle:
Remove the 8 bolts that hold the Dust Seal {26}, Dust Cover {27}, and Spindle {19} to the Knuckle {28}. Remove the dust seal and dust cover. To remove the spindle, use a mallet to tap the end of it down and releasing it from the knuckle. Spin the axle shaft assembly so that the flat parts of the Outer Shaft {29} are at the top and bottom and pull the axle shaft assembly out.

Next remove the Oil Seal Retainer {30} on the back of the knuckle. There's also an Oil Seal Set {31} (felt dust seal, steel ring, and rubber wipers) there too that can just hang on the axle.

Removing Cone Washers Remove the tie rod and/or drag link from the Steering Arm {32}. Loosen the nuts to the Bearing Cap {34} and remove the nuts and washers to the steering arm. There are also Cone Washers {33} for the steering arm that need to be removed. Similar to doing the ones on the hub body, if needed, use a small screwdriver and tap it into the break in the cone washer with a mallet. Make sure to knock the steering arm loose first so that the break in the cone washers is not tight or fully closed.

After removing the steering arm and Shim(s) {35}, remove the knuckle by siding the top of it out and over the end of the axle housing. Remove the Knuckle (Trunion) Bearings {36} (one on top of the axle housing, one inside the knuckle) and the bearing cap and shim(s). Thoroughly clean and dry the end of the axle housing and knuckle of old grease.

NOTE: Mark or tag the shims for their location for reassembling. If reusing the knuckle bearings then do the same with them too. Never use new bearings with old races.

Remove and replace the Axle Seal {37}. Marlin makes a great heavy duty seal that you can't go wrong with. Even if your seals are good it would be worth it to replace them with Marlin's HD seals. Make sure to coat the ID of the seal with a little grease before installing.

Thoroughly clean, dry, and inspect the knuckle bearings for damage and wear. Replace as needed. If replacing the bearing you'll need to remove the Bearing Races {38}, using a punch through the opposite side of the race (top to bottom or bottom to top) on the axle housing. Towards the front and the back of the race is a notch in the seat for the punch to drive the race out. Make sure to not hit down on just one side of the race. Switch back and forth between the two sides so that it will come out evenly and doesn't bind up. Carefully drive in new races with a race driver or something flat that will cover the whole race without damaging it. Brass works well.


Pack the bearings by placing a glob of grease in your (clean) hand and hold the bearing with the wider side of it down. Keep dipping the bearing into the grease until the grease flows out the other side. Spin the bearing and start dipping again. Continue this until you've completely gone all the way around the bearing. I recommend buying a bearing packer, they're quicker and cleaner to use. Put a little smear of grease on the outside of the bearing and insert it into the race.

    A few good rules to follow:
  1. Use clean solvent and brushes and dry thoroughly with clean air.
  2. Never spin-dry bearings; this causes scratching of the polished surface and may result in premature failure.
  3. Do not pack the bearing unless it is perfectly dry.
  4. Good practice calls for a thorough inspection after cleaning and before reinstallation. Bearings are often hammered or pulled without respect for such precision made assemblies. Re-assembly of a damaged bearing results in short component life.
  5. Pack the bearing immediately following cleaning, drying and inspection.
  6. Do not use an excessive amount of grease - be sure it is worked into every bearing space, but do not fill the hub with grease.
  7. Keep bearings clean, work on a clean bench and do not handle bearings with dirty or moist hands.
  8. When re-assembling check the bearing for proper seating.
  9. Check adjustments carefully. Most vehicle manufacturers nominate a torsion wrench setting for bearing assemblies. Use a torque wrench and do not exceed the manufacturer's recommendation.
  10. Check brake shoe clearance, the dragging tip of a brake shoe or pad can create very high wheel temperatures in a short run.
  11. Keep grease containers completely covered when not in use to avoid contamination. (Replace the lid immediately sufficient grease has been removed from the container).
  12. Do not mix different types of grease. Under no circumstances must lithium based multi-purpose grease be mixed with soda base wheel bearing grease or an adverse chemical reaction will occur.
  13. Carefully avoid contact of the packed bearing with dirt, dust, water or dirty hands.
  14. Use the correct grade of grease for the job. Do not at any time use chassis grease. If the vehicle is used in very arduous service or under unusual conditions of load and speed, check with the manufacturer for correct grease recommendation.

Check here for information on Wheel Bearing Failure.

Reassembling The Knuckle:
If replacing the oil seal set from the back of the knuckle then this would be a good time to be so.

Install the bearing cap and shim(s) on the bottom of the knuckle and pack the knuckle bearings with grease and insert one in the top of the axle housing and one inside the knuckle on the bearing cap. With clean hands fill the sides inside of axle housing (making sure not to get it past the seal) and the knuckle. This will make it easier for packing them later. Put the bottom of the knuckle under the axle housing so that the lower bearing will go into the race as you slide the upper half of the knuckle up over the top of the axle housing. Install the steering arm with some anti-siege on the cone washers. Torque down the bearing cap and steering arm to 71 ft-lbs. Some hy-steer setups mention to torque the steering arm down to about 80 ft-lbs, so check with what the specs on them if you have one. With a pull scale, check the preload. This should be 7-13 lbs.

Bolt the oil seal set and oil retainer to the back of the knuckle. Make sure that the rubber wiper and the steel ring stay in place as you bolt on the felt dust seal and the oil retainer. I find it easier to work from the bottom up.

Exploded View of Knuckle


Inspecting The Axle Shaft Assembly:
Place the inner shaft horizontally in a vise and using a brass bar punch against the Inner Race {41}, drive the outer shaft off the inner shaft.

Removing Ball Bearings Tilt the inner race and Cage {42} to remove the Bearing Balls {43} one at a time. There are two large openings on the cage, if you start with one of these and end on the other you can leave the last two bearing balls in the inner race and cage assembly and remove them after the assembly has been removed. The two large openings in the cage need to be empty cuz you'll need to fit them against the protruding parts of the outer shaft in order to remove the inner race and cage assembly.

Removing Inner Race Remove the inner race through the large openings in the cage. Thoroughly clean, dry, and inspect parts for damage and wear.

Inner Race and Cage Reassembly in the reverse order applying grease to all parts. When inserting the inner race into the cage make sure to have the protruding side of the inner race facing the wider side of the cage. These two sides should also be facing out the end of the outer shaft. When it's all assembled then pack the outer shaft with grease.

To insert the inner shaft, place the outer shaft vertically in a vise. Put the inner shaft onto the outer shaft and lightly push down on the inner shaft while you compress the snap ring on the end of the shaft with a screwdriver. Make sure that the entire snap ring is in place and then tap the end of the inner shaft with a mallet to drive it in.

Greased Up Install the axle assembly into the axle housing. If it doesn't slide right in then you may need to spin the driveline or the other axle some to line up the splines. Finish packing the inside of the knuckle with grease (about 3/4 of the knuckle volume). Install the spindle with a new gasket, line up the holes and use two bolts on opposite sides to pull the spindle into place. Remove the bolts and bolt the dust cover and dust seal into place. Torque the bolts to 38 ft-lbs and apply a little grease to the ID of the seal.

Caliper Tip One thing I use to do (before cutting the slot mentioned above) to make it easier to install the dust cover was putting the caliper in place with the top bolt in just far enough to hold it in place. This made it easier to line up the holes for the seal, dust cover, and the spindle without having to hold the caliper still too.

THE HUB (Part 2):

To remove the Inner Bearing {39} and Seal {40} you can use a wood dowel or equivalent through the center of the hub and tap on the center of the bearing so that the bearing will push the seal out. Thoroughly clean, dry, and inspect the bearings for damage and wear. If they need replacing then use a punch to tap out the two bearing races. Make sure to not hit down on just one area of the race. Switch back and forth between two sides so that it will come out evenly and doesn't bind up. Clean and dry the hub of any old grease and drive in new races. Pack the inner bearing with grease and insert it into the race. Drive in a new seal and coat the ID of it with a little grease.

Pack the outer bearing and install the hub on the spindle, followed by the outer bearing, thrust washer, and one of the spindle nuts. Torque to 43 ft-lbs and turn the hub left and right 2-3 turns each to fully seat the bearings, then loosen the nut until it can be turned by hand. With a pull scale check the preload and retighten the nut (torque about 18 ft-lbs) for a preload of 7-12 lbs. Install the lock washer and the other spindle nut and torque to 33 ft-lbs. Recheck the preload. Then secure the nuts by bending one of the tabs on the lock washer inward and one outward so that they sit all the way down on the side of the nuts. Next install the hub body, putting anti-seize on the cone washers, and torque to 18 ft-lbs. Install the hub cover being carefully not to over torque the bolts, they break easy. They're usually pretty easy to get back out if broken, but it's sometime the last bolt that breaks. I upgraded mine to some grade 5 allen head bolts that I had. Torque to about 10 ft-lbs.

Install the caliper and torque down to 65 ft-lbs.
Install the tie rod and drag link (if not done yet) and torque down to 67 ft-lbs.
Install tires, put it back on the ground and go for a cruise.


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 Always wear your seatbelt, drive safely, and keep your wheels down.