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Hey fellow “Luders” . Just wanted to do a write up on replacing the axles , or cv joints for any would-be do it yourselfer. I’ve done several axle changes on 3rd gen preludes. This was my first time on my 2nd gen 87 Si 5-speed. This was by far the most difficult. Seems like I ran into every problem imaginable. Thought I’d write this to help out any novices that were planning on doing the same.

First order your axles, autozone/napa charges about $70 an axle. If you have about a week or so get them off ebay, I found a vendor that had them rebuilt for $39 each shipped, no taxes. At the same time order your axle oil seals, where the axles slip into the transmission, one for each side. They should run about $10 each and a great website to get them from is www.hondapartscheap.com. They sell O.E. Honda stuff, just about anything you can imagine for less than the dealer charges…though you do pay for shipping.

First, don’t remove both axles at the same time, I hear sometimes when you remove one with the other already out, you may hear a “clunk” and have problems putting it back in….
Once you have your axle(s), and seals. Jack your car up, remove front tires and pop off the wheel center caps, put tires back on, lower the car, and use a 32mm socket and ½” drive breaker bar to remove the axle nuts (located in the center-cap of your wheel. These will more than likely be the tightest nut you’ll be dealing with. Sometimes a socket and breaker bar is enough, but it they don’t budge don’t worry. Either take them to a shop with an air compressor/impact gun, or a friend who has the same. I went to a friend’s, and had to turn the air compressor up to 150psi. Just barely loosen them as to break the torque, so you can drive home and take them the rest of the way off once you get up on jacks again.

Now put the car in “neutral” and remove the front wheels. Now is a good time to deal with the transmission fluid. First thing’s first, find the transmission fluid fill port, when under the passenger side of the car (where the transmission is located you’ll see two oil plugs the lower one is the “drain”, it isn’t a traditional bolt it has a recessed portion made for a 3/8” ratchet end to fit in , don’t take it off until you can locate and remove the “fill” plug. You don’t want to drain the transmission if you can’t get the fill plug off! The fill plug is located about 6” above it and inboard (towards the center of the car). Its huge! Its about 3” in diameter, and accepts a 17mm socket. Loosen and remove the fill plug first. Mine was on super tight! Had to use a 17mm socket, 3/8” uni-wiggle, 8” 3/8 drive extension, 3/8 to 1/2 “ step-up and ½” breaker bar. Insert breaker bar and extensions through the right front wheel well (should be a straight shot to the fill plug and loosen. Have patience if it’s on tight…. Once its off you can loosen the drain plug (described above) and make sure you have a catch-can for about 2qts of oil.

Next, take the brake caliper off (14mm bolt on bottom of brake caliper) after the bolt is out rotate the caliper up and push it inward so as to slide it off the mounting pin/slide, and secure caliper somewhere out of the way for the rest of the job. Don’t let it hang by the brake line.

Time to remove the cotterpins and nuts from the lower ball joint (located underneath the brake rotor) and the outer tie rod end (located behind the brake rotor). Once the nuts are off a lot of people just remove the nut, turn it upside down and put it back on the bolt so as to hit it with a hammer to pop the joint off. If you don’t want to try to track down a new castle nut and or new balljoint/tie rod end, get the tool to remove them. I used a “tie rod end remover” from autozone. Cost $12 and looks like a clamp with a bolt running down the middle….worth every penny, you just position them so the bolt on the tool pushes up the joint’s bolt as you turn it with a 3/8” ratchet. On the lower ball joint the tool just barely slips inbetween the ball joint and brake rotor backing plate, the arms of the clamp rest on the upper side of the steering knuckle and like I said before the bolt on the tool contacts the ball joint/ tie-rod bolt end.

Pull the tie rod end out of the knuckle and move it aside for the remainder of the job. Lift the brake rotor up and out, the lower ball joint will come out of the knuckle and the axle end that slides through the rotor/hub assembly should slide right out. The steering knuckle, brake rotor will move freely now, the best way to make sure the knuckle is out of your way is to tie the knuckle to somewhere secure in the engine compartment with a rope. Tie it up so the knuckle is up and forward in the wheel well.

This next step for me at least was by far the most difficult… as you’re looking at your strut and lower control arm you’ll notice there’s a bolt that runs through both the lower control arm and wishbone its at the bottom of the strut (its shaped like an upside down “y”) That long bolt is running through a rubber bushing in the center of the lower control arm and is often really stuck or seized in there. First take a 17mm socket or wrench and loosen the nut on the bolt, it should come off. The bolt is notorious for being stuck inside the bushing. Try rotating the bolt, or pushing the bolt forward out of the bushing. Most likely it will be stuck. For the axle to slide out it has to go through the wishbone, the fat end of the axle won’t clear the “y” if the bolt isn’t removed. If you can’t rotate it out or tap the bolt out, don’t worry. Use a big screwdriver, and pry the axle out of the transmission (its held in by a c-clamp) and should pop out with a little bit of force. Once it pops out the axle is ready to come out.

If you couldn’t remove the wishbone bolt you can separate the axle into two pieces… The band clamp on the inboard end of the axle keeps the boot attached to the fat end of the axle (looks like a coke can) You can pop the bandclamp off, pull the boot back and the “coke can” will slide off the bearings (there’s 3 of them inside) along with a lot of grease…. If that wishbone bolt won’t come out pop that fat end off, and pull the 3 bearings along with the axle through the wishbone. If you did remove wishbone bolt, just slide it out under the wishbone.

Now with the axle out you can replace the oil seal where the axle slides into the transmission. The way I do it is to pry it out with a screwdriver, there is an actual tool called a seal remover. Never used it but it probably works great! Once the seal pops out, make sure it is identical to your new seal, lube the outside edge with engine oil, clean the surface that it slides into with a rag and line it up straight wih the hole. Push it in as far as you can with your fingers making sure its straight. You can tap it the rest of the way with the plastic end of a screwdriver, or a large socket until its flush with the transmission.

Now that the seal is in you’re ready to pop in your new axle, remember how it popped out? The new axle will pop in. Carefully slide the splined end into the seal and into transmission. It will go in most of the way if the teeth are lined up. Once its in push on the axle firmly inward, it should eventually pop the rest of the way in (about ½”) .
If you couldn’t remove that pesky wishbone bolt and had to disassemble the old axle to get it out, you’ll have to do the same to the new axle to get it in…. Pull the big bandclamp off, be gentle so as not to damage the clamp too much (you may be able to reuse it) Once the clamp is off, pull the boot back, pull the “coke can” off and carefully slide the three bearing end through the wishbone, slide that coke can end onto the bearings once its through the wishbone and either put the original band clamp on, or buy a big bandclamp from the parts store to secure it (as long as there’s enough clearance, since it spins).

Order of reinstallation is just the reverse of disassembly, that being said if you have problems getting the castle nuts tight on either the lower ball joint, or tie rod end (i.e. threaded end just spins) give the joint a tap on the top with a hammer so as to seat it firmly, it should tighten up just fine after that…

Now that everything is reassembled its time to fill up your transmission, lucky for you you’ve already removed the filler plug. Now either use a rubber hose attached to a funnel above the engine compartment with the opposing end inside the filler bolt hole, or use a cheap pump set from the parts store (they usually screw onto an oil bottle, and have a pump). Either way the trans should take 1.9 – 2.3 qts of oil, be it 10W30, 10w40, or “Honda manual transmission fluid” . Whichever you chose should work fine.

Reinstall the filler cap, double check that all disturbed bolts, nuts are tight and cotter pinned if required and take it out on a test drive!

Wow, that was a lot longer than I intended , sorry if I rambled, just wanted to explain it in terms a novice would understand. Let me know if I missed anything or if anyone would like pictures of particular points of interest. Good luck!!!!
 

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Funny story... I had replaced my axels a while back and after installing the drive axle I thought it clicked into place and it didn't. Drove about a mile on the very end of the drive shaft before it ground off and my car couldn't drive anymore. Road side CV install sucks!
 
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