You may have broken one, you may have sheared splines, you may have bent it. Whatever the reason, here’s how to change your driveshafts on your front-wheel-drive car…
Your engine and gearbox are the dream team, but if all their good work can’t get to the wheels, it’s all in vain. That’s why your driveshafts are very important indeed. But, as they’re charged with the task of handling the power, they can fail over time. You might snap one, or shear the splines off one, or you may even bend one if you hit something particularly unforgiving.
If any of that happens, you needn’t panic too much. Changing your driveshafts is actually a simple task that a home mechanic can undertake without too much trepidation. It’s just a case of being thorough, being safe, and of course, having your trusty Haynes Manual to hand.
How to change your driveshaft
1) Crack the hubs
While there is weight on the car, remove the split pin from the hub nut, then crack the hub nut off so that it’s loose. Don’t take it all the way off though. It will be a big nut, approximately 30mm, so you’ll need the right socket. And you’ll need a lot of effort because they can be torqued to over 250Nm.
2) Jack the car up
You’re not doing anything with the car on the floor, so get it jacked up and on axle stands. The stands are not only for safety reasons here, you also need the wheels to be in the air - ramps won’t be any use here.
3) Wheels and brakes
Take the wheels off, put them under the car for safety and then start on the brakes. You’re going to need to remove the caliper, but you won’t need to disconnect the brake line. Use some sturdy cable ties or metal wire to suspend the caliper so there is no weight/tension on the brake hose
Now you can free off and remove the hub nut completely. At this stage, you may also want to remove the brake disk – you don’t always have to, but it takes 20 seconds and makes for better access.
5) Lower ball joint
Undo the nut onto the lower ball joint and then with the aid of a ball joint splitter, break the hub assembly and the lower arm apart. You should now be able to pull the hub away from the driveshaft, freeing the outer most end. In some cases (and this is where your Haynes Manual comes in) you may need to remove the anti-roll bar.
6) Gearbox end
The end of the shaft of the goes into the gearbox will either slide right out, or it will need some gentle persuasion due it being held in by a circlip. Consult your manual before yanking it too much and breaking it.
7) Now go in reverse
To fit the new driveshaft, just follow the above steps in reverse. Job done! Just please, please make sure you tighten the hub nuts up to the manufacturer's specified torque.