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Pelican Technical Article:

Axle Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$25 to $2,000

Talent:

***

Tools:

30mm 12 point socket, E10 socket, large breaker bar or impact wrench, triple square XZN sockets

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz 260E (1987-89)
Mercedes-Benz 300CE (1988-93)
Mercedes-Benz 300E (1986-93)
Mercedes-Benz 300TE (1988-92)
Mercedes-Benz E320 (1994-95)

Parts Required:

New axles or CV boots, axle nut, mounting hardware

Hot Tip:

Loosen the 30mm bolt first

Performance Gain:

Eliminate slop in the drive train

Complementary Modification:

Replace ball joints

Your drive axles or drive shafts can wear out over time or get damaged during use. The most common problem for drive axles is the tearing of the CV boot. This will cause the CV grease to be throw out from the CV joint and allow contaminants in. Lack of grease or contaminants in the CV will quickly lead to failure of the joint. This article will not cover replacing or repacking the CV boot (please see one of our articles on repacking your CV joint and replacing the CV boot) but will cover the removal of the axles. Whether you are working on the boots or replacing the axles the drive axles will need to come out of the car.

The most difficult part of the job is breaking loose the 30mm axle nut that holds the drive shaft to the hub. The nut is on under a tremendous amount of torque. The simplest way to do this is to use an impact wrench or gun to break the nut loose. Electric impact guns can be purchased inexpensively now and make a great addition to your tools kit. If you do not have an impact gun, depending on your rims, you can remove the center cap on the wheel, leave the car on the ground and insert the 30mm 12 point socket through the center. Next, place the largest breaker bar you have on the socket and break the bolt loose. I ended up having to put a three foot pipe on the end of the breaker bar to get enough leverage.

Raise and support rear of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove front wheel from side of vehicle you are replacing the drive axle on.

You are going to end up removing the brakes and rotor, but before you do you want to get the 30 mm 12 point nut (red arrow) off the axles.
Figure 1

You are going to end up removing the brakes and rotor, but before you do you want to get the 30 mm 12 point nut (red arrow) off the axles. If you do not have an impact gun and you have the right type of rims, you can remove the center cap on the wheel, leave the car on the ground and insert the 30mm socket through the center (red arrow). Next, place the largest breaker bar you have on the socket and break the bolt loose. I ended up having to put a three foot pipe on the end of the breaker bar to get enough leverage. If you don't have rims that will allow you to do this you will need to put the car in park, put the parking brake on and have a friend apply pressure to the brake pedal. If you do have an impact gun remove the wheel before using the impact gun on the bolt.

The end of the axle shaft that has two cut outs in it (red arrows).
Figure 2

The end of the axle shaft that has two cut outs in it (red arrows). The 30mm nut should be crimped into one of the cut outs on the shaft. You will need to bend the crimp on the nut out from the shaft before you can loosen the bolt.

There are six E10 bolts (red arrow) that hold the CV to the differential.
Figure 3

There are six E10 bolts, or 12 point triple square XZN bolts depending on year (red arrow) that hold the CV to the differential. Use an E10 and have someone hold the axle from turning and remove the bolts. Make sure the socket is well seated in the bolt before attempting to remove them. You do NOT want to strip out one of these bolts! Mercedes-Benz considers all of this hardware to be single use only and must be replaced after every use.

Three of the bolts share a half moon washer (red arrow).
Figure 4

Three of the bolts share a half moon washer (red arrow).

Remove the two washers and give them a good cleaning.
Figure 5

Remove the two washers and give them a good cleaning. Make sure you reinstall this piece when bolting everything back together.

Wiggle and pry the CV end of the drive shaft out from the mount in the differential.
Figure 6

Wiggle and pry the CV end of the drive shaft out from the mount in the differential. This photo illustrates the blue material left over from the factory micro encapsulated bolts (red arrow).

You may be able to push/ pull the axle from the wheel hub.
Figure 7

You may be able to push/ pull the axle from the wheel hub. If the axle is rusted or frozen in place use a three arm puller. Place the center of the puller in the axle shaft (red arrow). Rather than pull the hub off this will walk the axle back out from the hub.

This photo illustrates the rust that was keeping the axle from easily being removed from the hub (red arrow).
Figure 8

This photo illustrates the rust that was keeping the axle from easily being removed from the hub (red arrow).

On the right side the shaft will come right out; on the left side you will need to squeeze the axle (red arrow) between the exhaust and the differential.
Figure 9

On the right side the shaft will come right out; on the left side you will need to squeeze the axle (red arrow) between the exhaust and the differential. You do not need to remove the exhaust to get the shaft out but you may want to remove one of the rubber hangers.

This photo illustrates the axle removed from the vehicle.
Figure 10

This photo illustrates the axle removed from the vehicle. You can now easily inspect both rubber CV boots (red arrows).


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Comments and Suggestions:
MercedesMechanic Comments: This comment is for roadkill.
I'm assuming that you purchased aftermarket Chinese made axles. I have gone through two sets of those as well in the last year they are junk. What it comes down to from my experience is that the axles will fit the application, bolt in, but due to the axles being the improper length overall, the balls inside the CV joints are not riding in the proper place that's leading to the vibration. Also many people, myself included had problems with the bolts backing out of the output flange. Upon closer inspection, you will usually find that the CV unit used on the replacement axles is about 5 mm thicker which prevents the OEM output flange bolts from penetrating through the flange far enough to hold permanently. Usually A few threads will grab and you will think that you have things tightened up properly but you don't. . Throw that junk away or return it if you can, and buck up and buy the OEM axles. They're worth every penny. Or if you can't afford OEM axles, go to a wrecking yard and get a used pair of OEM without torn boots and clean, regrease, and reboot them. FYI there is also a company online that is rebuilding the OEM axles or about half of the price of new OEM. Probably not what do you want to hear, but I hope this helps.
June 17, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Silversleeves Comments: On my 1992 300te 4matic, the cv joint has a flange shape that makes it difficult to use a standard 8mm Allen and socket - can you recommend an appropriate tool? Also, how should i secure the front wheel when applying the 70nM torque required, when on stands the wheel turns as I tighten the Allen bolts?
May 12, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use a longer bit to access the fasteners, that's how I do it. There is a tool to counter-hold the axle while tightening. Or use something to brace it between the fasteners.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
roadkill Comments: HI. My car is a 1995 E320 w124 sedan. It is a Canadian model, but I currently live in Los Angeles USA. I've recently been trying to get this axle thing right with my friendly neighborhood mechanic and it's not happening. All the parts go back in accordingly but the brand new axles FAIL almost immediately to driving the car out of the parking lot. I'm about to try yet another new pair of axles but there must be something missed or not being done correctly when reinstalled. Can you think of any part of the reinstall process that might cause brand new axles to fail virtually the instant they are put into service? At first, I thought it was perhaps due to faulty parts, but I don't think so now. Of note, there is vibration to the drive now, which I attribute to not properly lining up the driveshaft upon reinstallation I did differential mounts at the same time. I will take this for rebalancing as soon as I can get the car back on the road. Also, the wheel bearings are bad. I have the replacement bearings already and originally planned to install them the following night after the axle replacement. It's been pushed until I have this axle thing figured out. But could bad bearings have anything to do with instant axle failure? Could there be a U.S/Canadian compatibility issue? HELP, PLEASE.
February 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What do you mean by failing? Bearings secure the outer ends of the axle and could definitely cause failure of some sort but I'd like to know exactly what you're experiencing to make a more educated decision. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
AtomicCoupe Comments: The axle bolts at the differential look like they are "triple square" XZN bolt heads, not the E10 external torx as listed in the tools.
February 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for catching that. I have updated the file and it will upload soon. - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Mertop7 Comments: On the passenger rear axle on a 92 Mercedes 300te base model Im having difficulty removing axle after all 6 bolts are removed from differential and the hub axle nut due to limited space. Any suggestions?Thanks,Dario
December 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: use a long prybrad, place the tip on the axle, then lightly tap using a soft-faced hammer. This should free it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Tue 11/21/2017 02:43:26 AM