How to remove and replace a snap ring in a FWD car.
I hit a curb with my car and broke in half the right half-axle, broke a
big chunk out of the RF rim and a piece the size of a tea-cup saucer
from the tire too, cracked my lower suspension arm, and severed the
right ball joint (2000 Toyota Solara, only has a lower ball joint. I'm
not sure how many cars this story covers.
I knew about the snap ring from the shop manual, but the Toyota shop
manuals (Factory Service Manuals some call them) are not great, and
even finding the snap ring was hard.
Moderately hard to remove, and I figured I wouldn't replace it myself,
but I'd take it to a repair shop after I did most of the worlk. I
thought the axle lock bolt would hoid the axle in place, but apparently
all that does is keep the mid-car bearing from spinning
Because when I tightened the big nut on the end of the axle, it sucked
the shaft into the hub and pulled it out of the transmission. I guess
the snap ring is essential. Oh well. Try again.
The snap ring is made of spring steel. The cross section is about 1/8"
square, and the whole thing is shaped like a like a 2 inch circle, with
the part from 8 to 10 o'clock missing. Missing from the circle, but
1/2" at each end, 8 and 10, is bent out at a 90^ angle,
All of the metal but these two end pieces expands into a groove to keep
the axle in place, and the two 1/2" ends are there to grab and move, to
get the ring in or out.
The Toyota shop manual said to use pliers. Maybe water-pump pliers,
would do it but there is no room for pliers. Only room for one finger
at a time.
A web page guy said he used a screwdriver, stuck it in the right angle
at the 8 o'clock end and pushed up .
Imagine my pleasure when I found in my drawer something I'd forgotten I
had, a full-size screwdriver with the middle third of the tip cut back
1/8", perfect for holding the ring in place, I thought.
Shaped like } |__| |
But it didn't work Nor did a plain flat blade screwdriver. It
slipped away and went boing. (Stil surrounding the axle so it couldn't
go far. (Though when I first took it off it took me 5 minutes to find
My finger wasn't strong enough to push up from the bottom and the other
finger wasn't strong enough to push down from the top.
I thought I'd have to have the car towed to a shop. What an
embarrassing defeat that would be.
Instead, I got some wire, turned out to be 16" of 14-gauge stranded
wire. Tied it into a circle wth a square knot. Put the bottom of the
ring in place in the groove and hooked the wire to the top part, the
right angle at 10 o'clock. . The wire turned out to be too long so I
hooked it to vice-grips and wrapped it around the vice-grips and pulled
down and it went in on the first try.
Interesting part has just ended.
I should add that Autozone has lent me 100's of dollars of tools, with
no big rush to return them, for free. They deserve a plug for that.**
Torque wrench up to 300 pounds, 30" socket for axle nut (they have other
sizes); 5-pound slide-hammer, special attachment for pulling on the
tulip that is half-way down the axle (to get the axle out) , tie-rod end
remover (which I didn't need after all)
If you plan to do this and you havent' seen it done, you should get
help first. Watch the video online (the one I saw wasn't so good,
skipped a lot of detail); read instructions, with pictures. The one I
read had torque values. You probably won't have a shop manual.
Chilton's might have a little bit.
And all I really bought from Autozone was the axle, for 52 dollars,
plus a 50 dollar core deposit. That's about the same as online, except
online, you'd have to ship the old axle back. What a pain, plus the
shipping chage. I'd already bought from non-consumer style autoparts
store the ball joint, lower suspension arm. and brake pads. They seem
to have sold me the wrong brake pads, too thick, even though a second
guy checked today and said they were the right ones. I'll have to buy
them at another store and show them what the other store sells.
The refurbished rim I bought online from some hubcap place in the
midwest. I should have called Hubcap City in Baltmore, but I've driven
by there and they're gone. (It turns out they have branches now and
only closed that one.)
Pep Boys online says it has loaner tools but doesn't go into much
detail. Maybe they really do. It appears that if you buy from
autozone any of the tools that they lend, you may get one that's been
lent out more than once and has scratches etc. and you're suppopsed to
accept that. I think that's how it works and I think that's fair. So
there's a list, spread out over 10 or 20 webpages, by category, or you
can look up a tool and in the details it says if it "may be used because
it's used in the tool loan proram." For example, they have at the
stores or at the warehouse about 10 different torque wrenches, but only
two are in the loaner program (the two most people would want to use,
BTW, I had to pay 100 dollars for the torque wrench, but they'll give it
back to me when I return it, maybe tomorrow. There is a time limit,
after which you own it, but it's 30 days or more. There seems to be
no time limit on returning a core (other than the vendor going out of
business, I'm sure),
I also bought from HD a couple 1/2" sockets. I didn't know until I was
almost done that a friend has a set of 1" sockets, although I forgot to
ask if they were metric. Still, he probably has a 1 to 1/2" adapater.
I have a puny set of 3/8" socket wrenches, and some extra deep and
regular sockets from goold old HF.