And The Hard Way
Words: Kyle Callen
Photos: Brandon Bunch
As the UTV industry grows, there are more and more of you that are working on your rig in the garage, or out in the driveway. I’m not just talking about easy stuff like bolting on some shiny accessories, but getting dirty doing full services, playing with clutches and building more power. The thought of this excites me, as I hope the younger generations are in the garage learning how to work on things too. One thing that is commonly overlooked but quite easy to work on is the axle. It’s not the most prestigious job in the world, as a matter of fact once you touch CV grease, you will wonder why you decided to go the DIY route. But, the end result will be more knowledge of how your junk works, saving money and having a better end result.
Whether you have a torn CV boot, broken axle shaft, or shattered cage, the parts to fix this are readily available. Instead of throwing a complete axle assembly at it, consider taking the time to repair what you have. We had 2 axles that we needed to build with new shafts. These would become a front and rear spare for the Polaris RZR PRO XP 4 that we have outfitted with a Lonestar Racing long travel setup. Starting with brand new axles makes life a bit easier, but the process is the same. We were also fortunate enough to be in the neighborhood of All German Motorsports. Bryan (from AGM) has been playing with axles and CVs for more than two decades, so we figured he may be able to teach us a thing or two.
There are 2 different ways to tear these things apart, one is the easy way and the other… well it involves a cut-off wheel. The easy way involves the AGM Axle Jaws (Part Number AGM-ASJ-2126). I am not sure if it’s for ease of manufacturing, the cost, or just the engineers enjoying sitting back and laughing, but the clamps used to hold the CV boots in place are not the easiest to deal with. Using a pair of diagonal cutters, nip at the end of the clamp until it springs free. Once you have the clamps off, do yourself a favor and put them straight into the trash. Having new clamps for re-installation will guarantee a tight and secure fit. Once the CV boot is loose and slid to one side, clamp the axle shaft in the vise jaws. Don’t clamp them tight, but leave enough wiggle room to slide the shaft back and forth. Then slide the axle so the CV star is making solid contact with the steel ears of the AGM jaws. You essentially have a big slide hammer in your hands now. A few quick and stern pulls, and the CV joint will fall off in your hands without damaging any parts. This will give you access to all the parts to perform any maintenance or repairs.
Once everything is clean and repaired, going back together is just as easy. Use the jaws to secure the splined end. Push the axle into the star until the retaining clip is in its home, fill with grease and button it up. Then, clean up the mess you probably made with the CV grease.
What happens when you have an axle that refuses to pop out with the slide hammer method? Well, this is rare, but the cut-off wheel becomes your friend. Remove the boot just like you did in the first scenario. Once the boot is slid back, firmly clamp the axle in the AGM jaws, leaving enough room to get your cut-off wheel as close to the CV star as possible without hitting it. Now you can go to town cutting your axle shaft off. This nets you the ability to flex the CV around the cup getting all the balls out. Once your balls are laying on the table, rotate the cage and star until you can get it out of the cup. Now you’ll want to clean and inspect everything very thoroughly. It all goes back together just like scenario A.
Replacing a broken axle shaft, star or cage is pretty easy and can save you a substantial amount of money. If you have a high mileage UTV, or a car that has lived a “rough” life, it’s also good to pull your axles apart, clean and inspect them. Packing in a 50/50 mix of Swepco 101 Molly and Bel-Ray Grease. This will insure that your high mileage axles will live on for a lot longer. Ten thousand plus miles can be fully expected out of these machines, no matter how hard you drive them. Preventative maintenance is the difference between a throw-away car and a ten thousand mile car.