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Old 12-05-2010, 05:17 PM   #1
PoorDad
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Default How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

After recently doing this to my wifes car, I thought it might be helpful for others. I decided to do this step-by-step tutorial for people who might be thinking about a DIY axle swap, but maybe were hesitant to try it due to lack of experience.

It's pretty easy with a few shade tree tools.

I'm going to assume you have the parts already and that you have basic tools in your box.

Chock at least one back wheel in front and back to prevent the vehicle from rolling. I think it's obvious - this should be done on a flat driveway or in your garage with a flat floor.

You should only remove ONE drive axle at a time. I was informed that if you remove both of them at the same time, the gears inside the differential can slide around and become misaligned. I don't know enough about the inner workings of this particular transmission and differential to tell you if thats correct or not. But I figured somebody pulled both axles out at the same time once and then things came out of alignment. It was probably a disaster.

So do what you want. I took the advice that I read online and decided to only work on one side at a time. All I need is for the pinion gear or the ring gears to slide out of place inside my transmission and then I end up removing the whole transmission and paying somebody $1000 to split the case and realign the gears for me.

Loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels. DO NOT take them all the way off yet. 19mm socket

Raise the front of the vehicle and support with jack stands.

The car I was working on has an automatic transmission, so I drained the fluid by removing the drain plug. It is simple to remove with a 3/8 ratchet. The plug is located on the passenger side of the vehicle - near the front. It's just behind the radiator. Usually, you'll get about 2.5 quarts of fluid out when you pull the plug. Drain pan is required, obviously.

Wipe the plug off and remove any metal shavings. Honda recommends you install a new seal washer, but I did not. Re-install the plug and torque it to about 35-40lbs.

Now go ahead and take both front wheels off. 19mm

Remove the tie rod cotter pin and nut. 17mm

Remove EITHER the lower ball joint cotter pin and nut OR the upper A-arm cotter pin and nut. On my vehicle, we tried to remove the lower ball joint, but it was stuck in there good and I did not want to risk damaging the rubber seal by using a ball joint splitter tool. I reassembled the lower ball joint finger tight. I then took the cotter pin and nut off the upper A-Arm and it dropped right out. Both are 17mm

Remove the long bolt on the wishbone piece at the bottom of the strut. This wishbone connects to the lower A-arm. The axle shaft runs through it, so it's gotta come off. You need a 17mm socket on one side and a 17mm box end wrench on the other side to prevent the bolt from turning. Use a drive pin or flat head screw driver to GENTLY hammer out the bolt. There's a little bit of pressure on it from the strut, but not enough to hurt you. Maybe 10 or 15 pounds of pressure is all.

Take the axle nut off. Mine was 1.25 inches. I don't know what size that is in metric numbers. Thats the socket we had in the shop and it fits perfect. No slop. There's about 120 - 140 lbs of torque on the nut.

Swing the spindle off to the side and use a hammer and drive pin to GENTLY hit the end of the axle. You want to push/drive the splined part of the axle out of the spindle assembly. It takes some fiddling, but if done right, you can easily swing the spindle out and drive the axle shaft completely out.

Now get under the vehicle and use a big flat head screw driver or a small pry bar and slip it between the axle cup and the transmission housing. A sharp twist should easily pop the axle out of the transmission. This is where draining the fluid came in handy. If you hadn't drained the fluid, you'd have a face full of it right now.

Pull down on the lower A-arm and get some space between the wish bone part of the strut and the lower A-arm. The axle should slide right out between the slack space between the wish bone and the A-arm.

RE-install.

Guide the new axle up in there. Pull down on the lower A-arm and get some slack space in there. Slip the axle in between the 2 arms of the wish bone.

The transmission side of the axle has a simple snap ring. They are easy to install. You just gotta line it up and push it SLOWLY into the transmission. It will slip and slide a bit. Rotate it just a bit if it seams hung up.

The axle will stop about 1/2 inch from the transmission. But you need to get it all the way in. It goes in with a distinctive POP. It's great if you have an assistant for this part of the project. Your wife or 12yr old kid can do this. While you support the side of the axle in the transmission, have your assistant push in on the spindle end of the axle. 20-30lbs of force should be enough to make that snap ring POP into the transmission. You'll know it when the ring seats into place. There should be no more than 1/8 inch gap between the axle cup and the transmission housing.

Now swing the spindle out of the way and work the end of the axle into the splines.

Once you have the splines lined up just a bit try and get the new nut started at least a couple threads. Mine was difficult because the lower A-arm was hanging down so low. It helps to put a floor jack under the wheel hub and gently jack up the lower A-arm. Guide the top of the spindle arm into the upper A-arm. Get the upper ball joint into the top of the spindle arm and get a nut on it.

If you were able to get your lower ball joint off and didn't need to remove the top one, simply line up the shaft and push the lower A-arm up. Get a nut on it.

Now you should be able to run the axle nut on quite a bit. Get it hand tight.

Tighten your ball joint and install a new cotter pin.

Tighten your tie rod end and install a new cotter pin.

Connect the strut wishbone to the lower A-arm. Tighten the bolt and nut.

Put the wheel on and torque the lug nuts to about 10lbs. Just a little past hand tight. Leave the wheel covers off for now.

At this point, you should have all the bolts and nuts installed and torqued. You should have the cotter pins installed and the wheel should be bolted on just a teeny bit past hand tight. You'll see why we don't torque the wheel lug nuts in a minute

Now go do the same thing the other side of the vehicle.

Okay - got all your nuts tight? Got the cotter pins installed?

Set the vehicle on the ground.

Use a torque wrench and your 1.25 inch socket to torque the axle shaft nuts. I called my local dealer and was told to set the torque wrench to 134ft. lbs. If I was you, I'd confirm that from a professional and NOT use the torque numbers that I'm posting here. It's your life/wife/kids in the car, so confirm the axle torque specs from the dealer instead of taking my word for gospel.

Torque both axle nuts.

Raise one side of the vehicle with your floor jack and remove the lug nuts. Install the wheel cover and torque the lug nuts to 10-15lbs.

Lower that side completely and torque the lug nuts to specs.

Now do the other side.

Raise the vehicle with a floor jack. Remove the lug nuts. Install the wheel cover and torque loosely. Set the vehicle down and torque the lug nuts to spec.

Fill the transmission with fluid. My manual says to check the fluid with the transmission in PARK and the vehicle at operating temperature. I knew that I drained about 2.5 quarts. I decided to fill it up with 2 quarts and take if for a GENTLE test drive. This was mainly to check the install on the axles and to get the vehicle up to operating temp.

Park the car and turn it off. Check and adjust your transmission fluid.

I'd drive it for a day or two and then check all the bolts and nuts. If you did it right and installed new cotter pins, there shouldn't be anything out of place.

Good luck.
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

Very nice write-upp. Thanks.
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

The socket for the axle nut in metric is 32mm. I would also after putting your axle nut back on make a dent on the axle nut where the axle is missing a little bit of metal, its for added security just incase the nut backs itself off. Also check your transmission fluid with the vehicle in park at operating temp. and it running, you will get a false reading if not.

Good write up though
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

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Originally Posted by habib View Post
The socket for the axle nut in metric is 32mm. I would also after putting your axle nut back on make a dent on the axle nut where the axle is missing a little bit of metal, its for added security just incase the nut backs itself off. Also check your transmission fluid with the vehicle in park at operating temp. and it running, you will get a false reading if not.

Good write up though
Thats NOT correct on the 1998 Civic LX.

I'm no expert with Hondas. But I DO KNOW FOR CERTAIN that you check the transmission fluid on the 1998 Civic LX with the engine at operating temp and the car turned OFF. Read the manual.

If you still don't believe me - try it your way. With the engine running, the dipstick looks like the transmission is 15 quarts over full. This had me baffled for 10 minutes the first time I changed the fluid in the car. I grew up working on old Ford and Chevy cars. You ALWAYS check those transmissions with the car running and the transmission in Park.

On a 1998 Civic LX with the engine running you can shine a light down in the dipstick hole and see the fluid sloshing around in there like a washing machine. It's no wonder the dipstick has fluid all over it, from top to bottom.

The car must be at operating temp and the transmission must be in park and the engine must be OFF if you want to get an accurate reading on this particular car.

Again, I don't know the procedure for ANY other Honda. But I know for a fact that on the 98 Civic LX you have to do it the way I described.
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

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Originally Posted by PoorDad View Post
Thats NOT correct on the 1998 Civic LX.

I'm no expert with Hondas. But I DO KNOW FOR CERTAIN that you check the transmission fluid on the 1998 Civic LX with the engine at operating temp and the car turned OFF. Read the manual.

If you still don't believe me - try it your way. With the engine running, the dipstick looks like the transmission is 15 quarts over full. This had me baffled for 10 minutes the first time I changed the fluid in the car. I grew up working on old Ford and Chevy cars. You ALWAYS check those transmissions with the car running and the transmission in Park.

On a 1998 Civic LX with the engine running you can shine a light down in the dipstick hole and see the fluid sloshing around in there like a washing machine. It's no wonder the dipstick has fluid all over it, from top to bottom.

The car must be at operating temp and the transmission must be in park and the engine must be OFF if you want to get an accurate reading on this particular car.

Again, I don't know the procedure for ANY other Honda. But I know for a fact that on the 98 Civic LX you have to do it the way I described.
Yep. Its the same for pretty much any honda. I can't think of any right off that are different. Honda automatics are weird. They look like a manual tranny with clutch packs instead of sychros and sleeves.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

The axle nut is NOT 32mm. Its 36mm. Civics are 32mm.

Im surprised OP did not mention the drivers side axle removal because theres an intermediate shaft between the axle itself and the transmission.

Here's my question.

Do you pry the intermediate shaft from the transmission with the axle still attached to it or are you suppose to pry the axle from the intermediate shaft and leave the shaft connected to the transmission?

Im doing mine now so im just wondering because the axle doesn't want to come out of the intermediate shaft.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

You remove the axle from the intermediate shaft with a BFH. Cake.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

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You remove the axle from the intermediate shaft with a BFH. Cake.
Civic axle nut is 32MM, Accord is 36MM. The Civics don't use an intermediate shaft that's why he didn't mention it. Are you sure you are doing a Civic or an Accord?
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

Civic is 100% a 32mm bolt, I pulled an axle last night, and used a 32mm bolt


the write up should go more into depth on getting the darn axle nut off, lol. what a nightmare they are.
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Old 12-20-2012, 02:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

I need help. I cannot put my new cv axle in the tranny. It's not popping in. It's like halfway in and now stuck there.
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:42 AM   #11
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Default Re: How To: Replace CV Axles 1998 Honda Civic LX

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I need help. I cannot put my new cv axle in the tranny. It's not popping in. It's like halfway in and now stuck there.
You'll find a link to an outstanding DIY axle thread in the FAQs sticky. There's lots of troubleshooting info in the many posts in that thread.
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