Mary – beeing the true Dodge truck she is – developed another leak.
Darn! These are annoying to replace. Everything inside the front axle housing has to take a vacation on the bench.
The FSM says you will need a bunch of special tools for this job but you can do it without them. It just takes longer and hurts more in the end.
The differential gear assembly can be removed pretty easily with a trick so simple you wouldn’t believe it. I didn’t but i gave it a try because i feared i would be in for a fight.
Take a rag, it should be fairly clean (old towel works well), fold it once. Feed the folded rag into the differential carrier so it is guided between the teeth of the pinion and the ring rear until you can’t turn it by hand any more.
Loosen the end caps until they are just barely on. All they have to do is stop the carrier from falling out of the housing unintentionaly.
Then use a tire iron (or something else that’ll fit and is strong enough), stick it next to the u-joint on the drive shaft and continue to turn the carrier and pull the rag into the gears.
Keep on turning. The towel will be compressed between the gears and try to push the carrier away. The only direction it can go is forward, out of the housing.
This may take some time, refolding of the towel but eventually it will come out and it does not need a lot of force or prying.
Eventually i got there. Passenger side knuckle off (because i wanted to change the ball joints on that as well). Passenger and drivers side axles out. The short CAD axle stub pushed into the axle tube.
You could tell someone was in there, the cover gasket was missing.
But the gears look excellent, the bearings look excellent, very very little wear.
Reassembly was pretty easy, except for fumbling the short CAD axle stub shaft back into the carrier.
I finally got it done by grabbing it through the CAD actuator hole on the driver side with one hand and fishing for its other end with a finger stuck into the gear that accepts the shaft.
You will have to lift the shaft a little bit while gently pushing with the other and guide it into the gear. Not fun at all.
It’s done, it took hours, my whole body hurts (ha, the joys of slowly dieing aka. age).
Read you next time.