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Installing rear axle shafts

66793 Views 69 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  MUD707
Replacing the Jeep Wrangler JK rear axle shafts with the Superior Evolution Rear Axle Kit is a relatively simple task. The kit comes complete with both axle shafts, bearings seals, collars, and wheel studs. There are different kits for the Rubicon Dana 44 (32 spline) and non Rubicon Dana 44 (30 spline).

If you are not going to re-use the factory retaining plates and ABS tone rings, then you will to purchase these seperately. It makes sense to do this, as you will then be able to leave the factory shafts intact and ready to be used as spares. You will also need to replace the four torque bolts on each retaining plate, as they should not be re-used.

  • Retaining Plate - Mopar 68008523AA (2 required)
  • Retaining Plate Nut - Mopar 68003275AA (8 required)
  • ABS Tone Ring - Currie CE-11320 (2 required)

Superior Axle shaft compared to factory shaft. They look very similar, the difference is in what they are made of and the cold-formed rolled spline process that produces axle splines that are up to 35% stronger than traditional cut splines. The way the bearings are fitted also differs slightly.

First thing you will need to do is press on the ABS tone rings. These need to clear the shaft collar by approx 1/8"-1/4", do not go further than 3/8" or they will no longer line up with the ABS sensors. The opening of the tone ring should be facing outwards towards the hub end of the shaft.

Apply grease to the axle seal and place the retainer plate axle seal on to the shaft, followed by the bearing and collar. The inner bearing surface is chamfered on one side, which indicates the way it goes on the shaft, chamfered side towards outboard end of shaft. Then press the bearing and collar on to the shaft, until the bearing seats on the lip on the shaft. Every time you have built up pressure with the press, it is a good idea to release the pressure and rotate the shaft in the press 90°, this insures that bearing and collar are being pressed on evenly.

Installing the shafts is simple, exlcuding the lug nuts there are just seven bolts/nuts that need to be undone for each shaft. First, remove the caliper and rotor, then undo the four retaining plate nuts.

Remove the bolt on the ABS sensor and pull the sensor back so it is out of the way, there is no need to remove it.

The bearings are lubricated by the differntial fluid, so it is a good idea to tilt the axle up slightly so as not to spill diff fluid when you remove the shaft.

The shaft should just pull out, very slight force with a pry bar will help it un-seat if it is stuck.

Looking inside the housing you can see the diff fluid (showing the reflection of the bearing).

Bolt in the Superior lug nuts, some blue Loctite will ensure they do not move. Grease the bearing with suitable wheel bearing grease, in this case Mobil 1 Synthetic Grease, wipe any excess grease off the bearing mounting surface.
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Place the new shaft back into the axle, there is no need to force it, once you have the splines lined up it will easily just slide in. Use new torque nuts for the retaining plate and torque to 45 ft/lbs.

Before installing the rotor and caliper, replace the ABS sensor and ensure that it is over the ABS tone ring. Then install the rotor and caliper and torque the caliper bolts to 75 ft/lbs.

Replace the wheel and re-check all the bolts/nuts. Check all nut/bolts again after 500 miles.

The factory shafts can be cleaned, greased and kept as spares. Wrapping the bearing/seal/etc in masking tape will help keep them clean. Doing the same for the splines will help protect them.

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Does this look right to you? Why does your superior axle have fewer bolt holes than mine?
I believe Superior now ship the shafts with both 5x5 and 5x5.5 bolt patterns.

The dealer wants like $4.80 PER retainer plate nut, can I use something else?
You can re-use the nuts. You are not supposed to and the FSM clearly states not to, but plenty of people do.

WARNING: Never reuse axle retainer nuts. Used torque nuts can loosen up. Failure to follow these instruction may result in personal injury.
I bet just about everyone who had new gears installed re-used the nuts, I know mine were re-used and I put 40k miles on them with no problems.

You can get them on-line for a little less, but by the time you've paid shipping it would be about the same. You could try a local specialty bolt company and see if they have them, I believe they are 12 x 1.5mm torque nuts.

I shelled out for new ones, as the cost was just a small part of the overall job, and I'd rather do it right and not have to worry about them. If you do re-use them, a splash of Loctite wouldn't do any harm, and then just check them every so often.
Have you done a write-up on the fronts yet?
Haven't installed them yet, but will be soon. The fronts should be just as easy though, if not easier.
just wondering why you decided to go with these, vs some chromoly shafts??
Mainly because when I bought them, which was some time ago, there were no chromoly shafts available. I've no real concerns about the Superior shafts, they are stronger than stock and will do the job just fine. They made their front ones out of chromoly as it was more needed there.
How and the heck do you get the bearings and retaining plate off I need to reuse my stock tone ring and I'm having no luck
In the past I've drilled the collar with a 1/2" bit, making sure you don't drill into the shaft, then used a chisel and hammer to finish it off. I've never found an easier way of removing the collar.

The bearings usually come off easily once you have the collar removed.

The tone ring should just come off by gently going around it with a pry bar, otherwise just use a press.
It looks like the bearings are lubricated by the gear oil and don't need greased.
They are, but I always grease them anyway, just so they start life greased okay. I know it will get washed off by the lube, but I'd just rather make sure that they are adequately lubed to start with.
Hey PhilD..I just replaced my left rear axle inside an hour.. Really easy thanks for the info.:beer:
Glad it was useful :)
Good additional info :) I never remember to make note of socket/wrench sizes.
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