front axle install help, 2011 WRX hatch
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This is a discussion on front axle install help, 2011 WRX hatch within the Transmission & AWD forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I need some help re-installing the driver's side front axle on my 2011 WRX hatch. The car was all stock ...

  1. #1
    Registered User ok2drive's Avatar
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    front axle install help, 2011 WRX hatch

    I need some help re-installing the driver's side front axle on my 2011 WRX hatch. The car was all stock until installing aftermarket springs, struts, and socks. While installing the front struts and springs I pressed on the driver side lower control arm which gave me room to remove the old assembly but also popped out the axle draining gear oil everywhere. The axle shaft basically just unseated... it didn't come all the way out.

    I decided to do it right and replace the differential side oil seal before reinstalling the axle shaft. I got the whole axle shaft out by disconnecting the lower ball joint and swaybar endlink. I also got the old seal out and the new one in.

    My problem is I can't get the axle to snap/click back in. I can get the shaft in so the splines engage and the wheels spin but it's not seated securely, the green housing on the axle ( CV joint?) can slide freely an inch or two away from the transmission housing and back.

    My searches here and elsewhere suggest the axle should click/pop back into place securely. Apparently the circlip should be audible when it seats into place. When the axle came loose it made a pop.

    I suspect the circlip on the axle shaft has slid out of place but I don't know where it should be. When the axle came out the circlip was flush with the baffle that presses against the oil seal and tranny.

    All the pictures I've seen in the service manual and online make me think that the circlip should be near the end of the front axle, on the section where the splines are, there's a channel cut there that could hold the circlip but it would fit quite loosely.

    Also, there is only one circlip on the axle, right?

    Any help would be appreciated, it's my daily driver.

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  3. #2
    Registered User ok2drive's Avatar
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    Ok, just thought I'd update this for anyone else that runs into the same problem I did.
    To get the axle to seat correctly and lock into place in the differential I had to slide the circlip down the axle (inboard towards the splines) so it sat in the groove/channel cut in the splines at the end of the axle.

    I don't know exactly how my circlip ended up at the outboard end of the axle against the baffle plate. It may have happened when I first tried to slide the axle back in after lowering the the control arm caused it to pop out. Maybe the circlip got caught on a lip and when I tried pushing the axle in the clip was forced further down the axle. It just seems so unlikely given how much effort I needed to slide it back to it's proper place.

    This picture shows where the circlip was and where it needs to be in order for the axle to be properly secured in the diff.

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    How exactly did this happen from just doing a spring combo?
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  5. #4
    Registered User ok2drive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blknylw View Post
    How exactly did this happen from just doing a spring combo?
    While installing the front assembly I took a shortcut and held the lower control arm down to create enough room to slide the old strut assembly out and the new one in.

    One end of the front axle connects to the diff. and the other end to the wheel/hub assembly (which is connected to the lower control arm). Pulling down on the lower control arm also lowers the wheel hub assembly which in turn pulls down (and slightly out) on the axle shaft. I guess it was enough force to unseat the end of the axle shaft in the diff. (it didn't come completely out). The short cut seemed to work fine for the passenger side.

    I found a few other threads here and elsewhere that describe similar problems so I guess this is not that uncommon. What does seem weird and uncommon is the circlip shifting out of the channel in the splines and sliding to the opposite end of the axle shaft.

    The proper way to do all this involves undoing the lower bolt of the sway bar endlink from the lower control arm and removing the castle nut and cotter pin from the lower ball joint and separating the lower ball joint from the lower control arm (which can be a PITA). All that said....I ended up doing all that stuff anyway just to correct the situation.

    A couple days on and no leaks form the diff. so all's well that ends well.

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