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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Axle Shaft Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$500

Talent:

***

Tools:

16mm wrench, 17mm, 21mm wrenches and sockets with ratchets

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz E320 (2004-05)
Mercedes-Benz E500 (2004-06)

Parts Required:

Left and right front axle shafts

Hot Tip:

Break the axle shaft fastener loose by removing the center cap for the wheel while the car is still on the ground

Performance Gain:

Stop clicking noise from worn axle shafts when turning

Complementary Modification:

Change front differential oil at the same time

While you are driving your car your engine is producing power in the form of torque. This torque is applied to your transmission and due to ratio gear changes drops the engine rpm as speed increases. This torque coming out of the transmission is split between the front and rear axles at the transfer case. The front driveshaft applies its torque to the front differential and from there the torque is split between the left and right side axle shaft. Because these axle shafts must flex with both suspension movement and steering movement CV joints are used at both ends of the axle shaft. From all this flexing CV boots can tear and let dirt in the CV joint. This dirt acts as grinding compound and can wear out the internal components of the drive shaft. This will sound like a clicking noise when you turn your vehicle at full lock conditions. In this tech article we will go over all the steps to remove your front axle shafts.

Lift and support front axle of the vehicle. You will have to remove the front tires to perform this job and it does make access much easier since you may not have access to an automotive lift. If you do not have a breaker bar you can also leave the car on the ground and remove the center cap from the wheel. With an extension you can reach the axle shaft fastener and loosen it on the ground. See our tech article on jacking and supporting your vehicle and removing the front tires. Then jack up and support the vehicle.

The procedure to replace the front axle shafts is the same for both the left and right sides. In these pictures we are working on both the left and right sides. Keep in mind all the steps apply to both sides. It is recommended you replace both front axle shafts at the same time to keep your handling neutral.

This picture illustrates the left side wheel well with the tire removed.
Figure 1

This picture illustrates the left side wheel well with the tire removed. If you have a breaker bar and a pry bar you can install two wheel studs in the axle hub and position the breaker bar between the two wheel studs and the ground. This holds the hub still. Using the breaker bar remove the 27mm axle shaft fastener.

This picture illustrates the right side wheel well looking at the lower control arm from the rear.
Figure 2

This picture illustrates the right side wheel well looking at the lower control arm from the rear. Remove the 21mm fastener. You will have to hold still the 21mm fastener on the other side of the control arm with a socket or wrench. Pull both fasteners out completely. The lower control arm may drop a small amount. This is normal. You can use a jack on the lower control arm to lift it up when installing the new shock absorber. You do not need to remove the brake caliper and rotor to do this step but we have done so for photographic purposes.

This picture illustrates the front of the left side wheel well looking at the spindle.
Figure 3

This picture illustrates the front of the left side wheel well looking at the spindle. Remove the 21mm fastener that holds the lower ball joint to the spindle.

Use a ball joint removal tool to force the ball joint out of the spindle.
Figure 4

Use a ball joint removal tool to force the ball joint out of the spindle. If you do not have a ball joint removal tool use a splitting fork to separate the ball joint from the spindle.

Move the spindle out of the way and remove the axle shaft outer CV joint from the spindle.
Figure 5

Move the spindle out of the way and remove the axle shaft outer CV joint from the spindle. You may want to tap the outer axle shaft CV joint out of the spindle before pulling. I pulled the axle shaft out and as you can see the inner axle CV joint pulled the boot off. This can damage the inner boot and the clamp and they will need to be replaced.

This picture illustrates the right side front wheel well with the suspension removed for photographic purposes.
Figure 6

This picture illustrates the right side front wheel well with the suspension removed for photographic purposes. Mercedes Benz has a special tool to wrap around the inner axle CV joint. You can make your own tool with a 3Â" exhaust muffler clamp (green arrow) wrapped around the inner axle CV joint.

Using a long drift tap or pry bar (green arrows) as your special tool, tap the axle shaft out of the front differential.
Figure 7

Using a long drift tap or pry bar (green arrows) as your special tool, tap the axle shaft out of the front differential. Push down on the lower control arm and pull the axle shaft out of the wheel well. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedures. Install the axle shaft over the lower control arm but under the lower shock absorber mount. Fit the axle shaft into its mount either in the transfer case on the right side or the intermediate shaft on the left side. Position the outer CV joint of the axle shaft in the spindle being careful to line up the outer CV joint splines with the splines in the hub of the spindle. You can use a jack to line up a lower control arm with the lower shock absorber mount. Install the lower ball joint in the lower control arm and tighten the fastener. Torque the axle shaft bolt to the proper torque spec and fit the wheel.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Jeff Comments: 2005 e320 4matic
I am having a difficult time getting the new right side front axle to click into place. Any tricks to this?
August 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pull it out an inch or two, then push it in with force. You can also try pushing it in, then pull out a little to expand joint and push back in with force. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Ledfoot Comments: So I am replacing the boots. On the inner boot there is a clamp that doesn't crimp. How does that clamp attach?
July 12, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A special band clamp tool tightens it. You can replace that clamp with a crimp style.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Niblit Comments: It takes a little time to get the muffler clamp into place. There is just enough room to work, but it is a brilliant solution that gets the project back on track.
June 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Andras Comments: On my 2004 E500 4Matic on the passenger side, I was not able to pry out the driveshaft, primarily due to lack of space. I ended up manually disconnecting and pulling out the inner rubber boot with the outer part of the driveshaft, then used locking pliers with a slide hammer to pull the inner cylindrical metal part along with the splined part and circlip.
April 2, 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
 
niblit Comments: axel collar bolt 90nm; ball joint 55nm; lower control arm 110nm; lower shock strut 162nm; upper 25nm; stabilizer bar 95nm.
November 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
mike Comments: The sway bar link had to be unbolted and pried down and out to push the sway bar up and get the lower strut bolt out in my w211.
April 11, 2015
  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
 
Catherine Comments: 2001 E320 4matic
Need axle and boot
some kind of seal for the transmissiont
tie rods
drivedrain
August 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely the axle seal?

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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