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Pelican Technical Article:

Drive Axle Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, prybar, 13mm, 16mm, 32mm socket, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-13)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Drive axle, transmission fluid

Hot Tip:

Replace seal

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty drive axle

Complementary Modification:

Replace transmission fluid

Drive axles transfer power from the differential to the wheels. The differential is integrated into the transmission on MINI R56 models. In case of the front wheels, they also steer the vehicle. The drive axles therefore need to be equipped with flexible joints, which allow a significant amount of bending and flexing by the drive axle. This is accomplished by equipping each drive axle with a constant velocity (or CV) joint at each end. The joint is filled with high temperature grease and sealed with a rubber boot.

These axle boots fail over time causing a loss of grease in the CV joint. As a result an axle may become noisy or create a vibration. Removing a drive axle is not a difficult job, but plan to spend about half the day replacing it. Each inner CV joint attaches to the transmission via a splined shaft. The left side stays secure using a circlip, while the right side stays secure with a bearing mount that is bolted to the engine. The outer CV joint includes a stub axle which fits through the wheel-bearing hub and is secured to the hub with a 32mm nut.

You can replace the axle boots and clean and repack the CV joints with high temperature molybdenum grease. However, if the boot has been torn for a while, the damage has been done. At this point you are better off replacing the complete front drive axle.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the drive axle on MINI R56 vehicles. The vehicle shown in this tech article is a manual transmission model. Automatic models are similar.

If you have a fluid leak from your transmission, inspect the area around the axle shaft.
Figure 1

If you have a fluid leak from your transmission, inspect the area around the axle shaft. If this area is wet (red arrow), replace the axle seal. Note the dry area under the left side seal on my subject vehicle (yellow arrow).

Remove the 8mm drain plug (yellow arrow) and drain the transmission fluid.
Figure 2

Remove the 8mm drain plug (yellow arrow) and drain the transmission fluid. You can skip this step, but be prepared for fluid to leak out when the axle is removed. You will have to top the fluid up when done. See our tech article on manual or automatic transmission fluid replacing for more info.

Remove the center cap on the front wheel of the vehicle.
Figure 3

Remove the center cap on the front wheel of the vehicle. Do this on the side of the vehicle you are replacing the axle on. Use a small flathead screwdriver to lever the center cap out of the wheel. Next, you will loosen the drive axle nut through the hole in the wheel. Using a 32mm, six-point socket and a breaker bar, loosen the front axle nut. Lift and support the front of your vehicle. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle and remove the drive wheel. If the nut is stuck, you may have to remove the wheel, then lever the folded portion of the nut away from the axle shaft end (yellow). The photo shows the nut removal with wheel removed (red arrow).

Working at the lower ball joint, remove the two 21mm nuts (red arrows).
Figure 4

Working at the lower ball joint, remove the two 21mm nuts (red arrows).

Next, you have to lever the ball joint bracket away from the control arm (red arrow).
Figure 5

Next, you have to lever the ball joint bracket away from the control arm (red arrow).

Next, remove the drive axle from the wheel hub.
Figure 6

Next, remove the drive axle from the wheel hub. Use a soft-faced hammer to tap it out while pulling the wheel hub away from the vehicle. Pulling the wheel hub out allows room for the axle to slide out. If the axle is stuck, use an axle remover to push the axle out of the wheel bearing.

Pull the drive axle down and away from the wheel hub.
Figure 7

Pull the drive axle down and away from the wheel hub. For the left side axles, skip ahead to step 14.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 8

This step applies to the right side axle only. Working near the oil pan, remove the 16mm engine strut fastener (red arrow).

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 9

This step applies to the right side axle only. Pull the engine strut down and away from the subframe and let it hang.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 10

This step applies to the right side axle only. Working at the right aide axle mount, remove the 13mm fastener (red arrow). This photo shows the mount as viewed from the wheel well housing.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 11

This step applies to the right side axle only. Using a pry bar, lever the transmission forward slightly (red arrow). Then install a block of wood between the transmission and the subframe. This allows access to the lower axle mount fastener.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 12

This step applies to the right side axle only. Remove the lower 13mm axle mount fastener.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 13

This step applies to the right side axle only. Pull the axle out of the transmission. Guide it down to remove it.

To replace the left side axle, use a pry bar and lever the axle out of the transmission (red arrow).
Figure 14

To replace the left side axle, use a pry bar and lever the axle out of the transmission (red arrow). Pull the axle out of the transmission. Carefully guide it down to remove it.

Install the axle in the reverse order of removing.
Figure 15

Install the axle in the reverse order of removing. Install the axle mount bolts and tighten. Reassemble the front suspension. Then install the axle nut and tighten the axle nut. You will complete the final torque of the axle nut with the vehicle wheel on the ground. Then peen over the axle nut to secure it onto the axle shaft. I use a drift and a hammer (inset) to do this. Install the drive wheel and test drive the vehicle to confirm the repair is complete. Tighten the axle nut to 182 Nm.

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Comments and Suggestions:
1988targa Comments: You also need a 21mm socket for the ball joint bolts.
The removal of the seal was difficult. I finally got mine to pop out by prying the metal edge of the old seal with a small screwdriver to relieve some of the side pressure. It was tedious but worked. Getting the new seal in was also tedious. I cut a piece of two inch pvc pipe at a slight angle so I could have a high spot to tap if needed. I could never get a clear flat shot with the two foot pvc so this work well. Take your time and tao with a rubber hammer. I replaced the hub and bearing assembly with with the NSK while I was there since my mini has 150, 000. Also used the Rowe manual transmission fluid. I can't tell any difference in the way it shifts, but mine shifted perfect before.
November 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
1988targa Comments: Is the seal that you mention replacing the output seal? This was not included in the parts list?
October 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The seal mentioned in the procedure is the driveshaft output seal.

Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jen Comments: Thanks Nick. One more question...step 3 says to loosen the axle nut on the rear tire of the side you're working on. We didn't do this step because we are working on the front and weren't sure what this was for. Would this cause the front axle to not come out? It's still stuck I there pretty good. Thanks, Jen
August 12, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That should read front axle, I will have it edited.

if the axle is stuck, you will need a tool to push the axle out through the wheel bearing. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jen Comments: I don't see any info on getting the circlip out to remove the left side....is there something special you need to do? Ours seems stuck. Thanks!
August 11, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: YOu need to break the bond of the circlip by levering the axle out of the trans. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Minimike1 Comments: Might be clearer to use passenger side or driver side instead of right or left. Not sure where the reference point is from standing in front of the vehicle or in driver seat?
May 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Left or right is always as viewed when sitting in the vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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