My mother ordered herself a new car earlier this summer. It arrived this week and she offered to give us her old car, a 2008 Subaru Outback base model that she had also bought new here in Colorado. Of course we accepted and were then told that the 150,000 mile service was due. While changing the oil as the first step I looked the car over and quickly realized that both front inner CV (Constant Velocity) joint boots were not just cracked but in two pieces. Hmm, it seems this gift horse was already spitting its teeth out at me.
Now, my mom may be pushing 75 years of age but uses her cars to the fullest to get to her favorite hikes. This car usually has seen off-road use three to four times a week since she bought it, either traversing to distant trailheads up in the Rockies, along fire roads or just up the steep, rocky, and barely improved path to her friend’s remote cabin. It’s been in a few ditches during heavy snowfalls when it’s not clear where the road goes but never any real accidents beyond kissing a guardrail with the front bumper in an icy spin, gets its oil changed every 3,000 miles without fail and apparently has a service binder a few inches thick (that I have not received yet but look forward to perusing). In short, it gets used properly and everything in the car gets a workout.
Mom decided on a new Crosstrek Sport exactly like the one I reviewed here last year. She decided that the extra power in the Sport’s larger 2.5liter engine would come in useful at our elevation and the smaller cargo area would mean that not all of her friends’ dogs could join them when she drives them (that’s now a feature, not a bug, Archie was a good hiker but a big shedder). Here she is having the finer points of its engine explained to her by the very patient man at the dealership at time of delivery on Monday morning.
She’ll be very happy with it I think. Especially once she gets used to all of the features she never had previously.
But back to the Outback; as I said the inner boots were trashed on both sides. This often means that the innards of the CV joint are ruined as well as the boot is what keeps dust, dirt, water and whatever else out and the grease in. I wasn’t looking forward to either replacing or even removing the axles as a similar one had pretty much kicked my arse over the winter in the Jaguar (but I did prevail there, I hasten to add, said story to come eventually). If the axle nut is at all rusty pulling the axle is better avoided if not necessary as often the shaft fuses with the knuckle and things can start to cascade from there. Ask me know I know. Actually, don’t.
As with many things these days, I looked to YouTube for guidance and found my salvation in an excellent video that showed the exact way to replace the inner boots without taking all and sundry off of the car, as a bonus it was done on an identical car to this one and showed the exact part I needed to purchase. So off to Napa Auto Parts I went, picked up two kits and headed back home. The beauty of having a Subaru in Colorado is that it almost seems that even 7-11 carries Subaru parts, whatever one may need is usually in stock somewhere nearby.
Wednesday morning came and the car got pulled into the garage. I had to do both sides, the driver side is easier as the exhaust pipe is not in the way and was the side that was in the video so I started with that one. It went surprisingly well without any need to go back to the store so here I will chronicle the repair on the passenger side for which removing the airbox in the engine compartment allows remarkably good access from above for a couple of fiddly situations where the exhaust makes things a little more difficult (but still not impossible) from below. A lift is not needed either.
A decent tool selection is handy but not essential. Above is everything I used that would be needed. A Sharpie marker in your favorite color, two 19mm sockets (conveniently the same as the lugnuts use), my impact driver (although a long cheater bar would work fine), a 12mm ratchet and/or wrench, a small pry bar, a screwdriver, snap ring pliers (my one extra purchase for $5.99 while at Napa), torque wrench, and a set of crimping pliers I didn’t think I would need to have but luckily found my PEX crimper when I needed it for the first side. Some gloves, rags and lots of paper towels are handy as grease seems to get everywhere.
First of course jack the car up and chock the rear wheel(s), securely set it on jackstands while leaving the floor jack in place as an extra measure, and remove the front wheels. Set those aside after noticing the interesting rust pattern on the steel wheels after fourteen years of driving year round with hubcaps and just swapping the tires every other season.
The brakes are attached to the steering knuckle which is attached to the strut, and the axle shaft’s outer CV joint is slotted into the middle of all of it. You can see the shaft disappearing under the car towards the inner CV joint’s boot. That’s the target today.
A 12mm wrench takes care of the brake line fastener and an equivalent one on the other side holding the ABS wiring. Remove those, let the hose and wire dangle (still attached at both ends, just not supported in the middle) and the bolts can be reinserted so they don’t get lost.
The two larger bolts and nuts are all 19mm and are what holds the knuckle to the strut. Or the strut to the knuckle?
The upper bolt is an eccentric one, meaning it isn’t round like a normal bolt. This is where the camber adjustment is done on the car. An eccentric bolt is one that is sort of oblong in cross-section, as it is turned it moves the relative position of what it is affixing. In order to preserve the camber setting, the Sharpie marker comes in handy to delineate the exact positioning. An alignment is probably still a good idea but if care is taken, this can get it quite close to perfect (enough).
Loosening these bolts is best done with two large wrenches, sockets, or an impact wrench makes short work of it and makes you sound like a serious professional to the neighbors walking by with their dogs. Both bolts will stay in place at this point though, they just need to be loosened.
Reaching in from below with the small prybar lets the fastener of the boot be loosened by first prying up the two little tabs and then unfolding the strap part. This relieves all of the pressure and the fastener can be slid off the boot towards the knuckle to possibly be reused later. Since this damaged boot is actually split in two it is also possible to slide this portion of the boot down the shaft for now. If it were still intact it can either be torn the rest of the way or just left until the next step.
Which is to do the same thing to the larger ring on the other end of the boot. On this side of the car it was far easier to reach over through the back of the engine bay (as in this picture) and loosen it from above, although it’s reachable from below as well. As I recall it was possible to grasp the boot and slide it around the cup (that cup-looking thing at the end of this shaft) in order to get the clamp mechanism in the correct position to take it apart. Both the clamp and what’s left of the boot can now also slide down the shaft.
Now we can look into the cup at the joint mechanism. This one looks quite dirty, far worse than the other side did earlier, however there is absolutely no grease caked on the exhaust below, which it usually would sling itself onto and then bake into a solid mass. There is some on a shield on the other side though and clearly very little grease is left in the cup. When CV joints go bad usually you can hear a “clicking” sound, this one was completely quiet so there was hope going into this.
There is no danger of it all falling out as long as the retaining clip is installed, here in the middle of removal. The prior picture shows it in place, there is a groove just inside the cup that it rides in and then it can be compressed a bit to pull it out. It’s about the thickness of a large paperclip.
Now it is time to return to the knuckle and strut in order to remove the two big bolts. Above is the eccentric one, if it is rotated it moves the position of the knuckle relative to the strut and leans (adjusts the camber of) the wheel and tire one way or another (in or out). By removing both of these the whole knuckle is held in by the lower ball joint and can pivot on that, which gives plenty of room to easily pull the CV joint and axle shaft out of the inner cup while still being completely attached at this end.
By pulling it out, resting it on the exhaust in this case, and reinserting one of the big bolts so it rides a little further up everything is relatively easy to work on. And as you can see, there is all kinds of nastiness visible here.
But first we have to take this joint apart. The three little wheel-looking bearings are easy, they literally just fall off their mounts, nothing holds them in place once unconstrained by the cup.
All the way at the far end of the shaft is a small circlip. Using the new pliers allows it to be spread open and carefully removed from the groove it sits in at the end of the splined shaft. Then the three-pointed yoke that holds the three bearings just slides off.
Here is that piece cleaned up and in my hand with my gloved finger in the splined center section. There are three protrusions, and on this piece they all exhibit some wear from the bearings riding around without much if any grease. The one on the other side of the car had no such markings. Still there was no noise and while there was a little play in the whole thing, it didn’t seem excessively bad. Or not excessively bad enough to replace it entirely, if later issues develop that is possible to do then now that I know what exactly is going on in here.
Here is everything removed at this point and cleaned up. The larger clip is from the cup to hold the whole thing in place, the smaller circlip was at the end of the shaft and held the joint in place. The three bearings just ride on the three points of the yoke and all is normally coated in grease.
Now it’s also easy to remove the boot remnants by just pulling them off the end of the shaft. Sure, they could have just been cut off earlier as well but that would entail getting another tool dirty. Normally this would all be one piece of course but then I’d be looking for something else to do instead of writing this.
Here’s the shaft after everything is removed and the cup of course.
Cleaning these pieces is essential as there’s probably all kinds of grit and other stuff in there and on the shaft. A can of brake cleaner or whatever solvent you prefer works wonders along with a few rags to wipe it all off and then let it dry.
Here are the contents of the kit, same for each side. One boot, two clamps and a new circlip along with instructions. While this was a Napa branded part it turns out it is actually manufactured by/for EMPI, the VW parts people that we all likely remember. $25.88 apiece seemed pretty good for what seem to be well made parts.
Oh, and a bag of grease is included as well, apparently the correct amount to use per unit. I have no idea what grease this actually is and would probably obsess over it if this were a much newer car, but at 151,000 miles it’ll work well enough without me spending hours at Bob Is The Oil Guy .com or watching a dozen more videos.
So the new boot slides on and down the shaft a bit, then the yoke goes on and the fiddly little circlip holds it in place. The yoke appears to be tapered a bit as it was difficult to get it to glide on until I rotated it back to front it, then it slid right on. The positioning of it is somewhat important as when the bearings are on it, they will only slide into the cup if positioned correctly, as you can see the cup is tapered in three places for the bearings.
If off a lot it just won’t go in, if off a little and able to be forced in it creates pressure on the other end (I think? Perhaps not, it might spin a little to compensate when fully assembled), but putting it in what seemed the sensible orientation and test-fitting via not very critically eyeballing it made it slide in easily and seemed to avoid any binding. This was done from above rather than below. On the driver side it was done from below as you can get right under the shaft here, obviously here the exhaust is in the way.
The cup gets the contents of the grease bag squeezed into it. It may have had a little more, I can’t recall if I took the picture before or after squeezing everything out of the bag. Care should be taken as it and the old grease can get everywhere. The boot and shaft can be seen just at the left. The exhaust is a handy rest for it but I don’t remember not having a handy rest spot being a problem on the driver side.
You may recall that the three bearings were not in place as of two pictures ago. This is the trickiest part but not difficult. Working from below (well, in the wheelwell) the three bearings get slotted over the yoke, then that whole assembly needs one hand to hold it together like you’re carrying a six-pack of loose beer bottles without a cardboard carrier. At the same time it needs to be positioned to go into the cup, and to hold it in place the knuckle with the brake disk and caliper need to be rotated up into the strut mounting area. Once that is up the CV joint will stay in the cup so the two bolts needs to be inserted to hold it in place. Two hands and a knee worked well enough, it sounds far more difficult than it actually is.
Once those bolts are in it all sits there by itself, it won’t go anywhere. The boot could be slid down the shaft a little more if desired but I didn’t want to stretch it at this point, although it’s a pretty thick and sturdy rubber or rubber-like material.
At this point the clip that holds the joint in the cup needs to be reinserted and slotted into the groove. This picture shows it in place, visible at the right. The assembly has pushed the grease further into the cup, it’ll end up coating everything with a few rotations as well as the heat softening it up further.
Next the boot needs to be drawn up over the cup. In this case the cup was painted green where the boot would be covering it making for a handy reference. Or maybe it was all green and just worn off where it was uncovered over the last decade plus? Either way it works. The boot is molded with sort of tabs that help it line up with the scalloped shape of the cup so it’s an odd shape just inside but round on the outside. Going back a picture makes it kind of obvious how it would be shaped internally. The smaller end of the boot is not in the correct position yet, it needs to ride in that groove.
Reusing the original clip did not work, it would not fold back to its clamped shape and ended up breaking apart. The kit came with these universal crimp clamps, so one gets folded around the large portion and hooked into the tabs.
I don’t own crimping pliers but realized I do own a PEX crimper from the plumbing work I do during my remodels, a little experimenting showed that it worked the same for these. After several attempts it became evident that coming in from above was the ticket, and standing on the removed wheel gave me the leverage to dive into the engine bay, hold a wiring loom aside and operate the rather bulky and somewhat unwieldy PEX crimper until it was tight.
A little futzing with the small end of the boot eventually got it into its groove and the original clamp worked for this end. Place it, fold the main portion over, then push the little tabs into place and this part is done. Now is a good time to use some brake cleaner or whatever to get any grease off the exhaust or other parts of the car.
Lining up the eccentric bolt with the marks made at the beginning, torqueing that and the other large bolt to the correct setting, and then reattaching the brake hose and ABS wire supports buttons it up. More brake cleaner was useful on the brakes as the disk became the hand hold several times and had greasy fingerprints on it. Reattach wheel, lower the car off the jackstands, final torque the wheel and then a test drive which revealed no new strange noises or odd behaviors.
Here are the remnants of the inner boots from both sides. I wonder how long they’ve been this way, but am glad I noticed it now. While the work in the video I referenced took about fifteen minutes with no obvious time edits that I could see, it took me about 75 minutes for the first side and two hours and fifteen minutes for the passenger side working at a quite leisurely pace. Doing it again on this same exact car would shave maybe 30 minutes off each side for me now that I know how to do it. It was far easier doing it than I imagined it would be, the video helped tremendously. Not as simple as an oil change but much easier than swapping out a suspension. Now the car just needs a few more items along with an Italian Tune Up on my favorite ersatz Alpine Handling Course up by the lake!
Oh, another quick, albeit completely unrelated car-care tip: If it feels like your AC isn’t keeping up with the temperatures we are experiencing lately and/or the max airflow feels weaker than it should, check to see if there is a cabin air filter that perhaps has never been changed. The owner’s manual strongly implied that there is not one on the base level Outback, yet after another YouTube video and some glovebox disassembly I found this one…The new one is next to it which improved things tremendously once installed!
Nice work! Glad to see Subaru has upheld the tradition of inner CV joint boot failure. Never ending problem on my ’83 and my brothers ’84. And always will be with the exhaust below them. Inspect them often, especially if you smell burning oil fumes. Personally I would have removed the whole shaft and replaced both. I’m sure the outers could use fresh grease too.
I’m shocked you got any airflow at all with that filter!
+1 on the nice work. I don’t think I would have attempted this repair myself, although since your cost was only fifty bucks and my preferred local garage is now a cannabis dispensary I may well consider it if it comes up. The $950 dollars saved could buy an impact driver and a PEX crimper.
Good on your Mom for her hiking ways, although from the condition of the cabin filter I wonder if Archie is the same chain smoking, shedding dog that owned our 2013 Focus.
I am impressed. And I love the chance to see the inside of a CV joint. While sitting in a comfortable chair in an air conditioned office makes it all the sweeter.
Those fused hubs/axle shafts are no joke. Kia covered a failing CV joint under my 100k powertrain warranty and I got a bunch of other parts replaced too because the tech couldn’t get them apart.
At least your cabin air filter didn’t give way and fill your blower with walnuts.
And what a great new car for the family!
I have to confess that the last front axle shaft replacement I needed was done by a local shop, on my 4wd Toyota T100. I asked them what brand axles they’d use, and was surprised to hear the name Empi, as I figured that had gone away decades ago. The much younger service writer was equally surprised that I had heard of them, and knew nothing of their VW heritage. Our daughter visited recently with her, formerly our, now 21 year old New Beetle. I did a quick once-over including removing the rear wheels to check the rear pads, which have never been touched in 120K miles, and still had lots of material left. I glanced at belts and hoses underhood but I probably should have looked at the CV boots.
The boots on my ’05 xB are still fine.
Nice work and excellent write-up. If I ever have to do this, I’ll come back to it.
When the inner (only) boots split on my swing-axles VW, I put on a split boot, that had a bunch of little screws to tighten the two ends together. Seemed to work fine; I think they were very common as it was a lot easier than pulling the axle. It was probably made by EMPI too. 🙂
I wonder why they don’t still make them? But then you couldn’t clean and re-grease the joint if they did. The VW unit wasn’t a CV joint, and was lubed internally by the transaxle fluid.
Here’s a picture. Empi still makes them: $18.95 for a set of two.
Someone used to make those for CV axles. One might work on inner joints, but on the outer joint they didn’t work very well. The higher angles meant that the bolted together seam wouldn’t stay sealed and the bolts would wear through the rubber before too long.
Back in the late 80s I did get a split boot kit for a VW Scirocco, at the time I had a choice of a kite with screws and a kit that used super glue. I used the screw type and it held up for another year or so until the strut towers rotted. Later on I did the full job with my Jetta, buying a used axle and swapping over the CV joint and boot I needed.
The split boot fell out of favor because it was prone to fail and the trend is to sell complete axles. It’s faster fo rthe shop tech to swap assemblies, just as brake lathes have disappeared because of both the time required to turn a rotor or drum.
“If I ever have to do this, I’ll come back to it.”
I’m not sure what style CV joint your Xb uses, but your TSX uses a different style with 6 balls in a cage rather than three yoke bearings. The service procedure is quite different as the joint uses an internal lock ring and the internal parts stay in place.
I’d say the job is about the same level of difficulty, but you’d need to find a YouTube video specific to your car.
European cars have differences as well, as their inner CV joints are often bolted in place rather than held in with locking rings.
Nice write up, and the car is a nice addition to your fleet.
When I bought my ’02 Silverado last year, I decided to check the CAF, even though, as an ex-USFWS truck, it had been very well maintained.
Getting at the CAF in a ’99-’02 Silverado (it was eliminated for ’03-06?? WTG, GM.) is more difficult than most other cars I’ve done that job on. Better have a 5.5mm or 7/32″ socket!
And I’m glad I checked it. I don’t think it had been changed in 19 years since new. Lots of crud fell out, thank goodness for rubber floors – sweeping is easier than vacuuming. And before I buttoned it up, I converted the 5.5mm head screw into a thumbscrew with some JB Weld.
Makes me appreciate that I live somewhere that undercarriage rust is not a big problem. I’ve pulled apart so many axles and never had a problem getting the nut off of the shaft out of the hub. But I’ve seen some pretty nasty looking things on JRITS that at one point were a nut and axle stub.
Replacing boots used to be big business, then reman shafts came on the market and eventually their price dropped so low that it made zero sense to even consider replacing boots. Then most mfgs figured out the right rubber that boot and axle shaft replacement became a rarity instead of a frequently done job.
What are JRITS? 🙂
The problem with reman shafts is half of them the splines are beat up so bad they won’t slide into the transaxle unless you persuade them gently with a hammer and something like a block of wood as the only surface that can be pushed on is covered by the boot. These shafts were from NAPA which was disappointing.
Getting the other end out of the wheel hub bearing assembly required a stout puller and sometimes a bit of heat, then a bit of never-seize on reassembly.
You would think the Subbies would have used a higher quality boot with the exhaust cats right there.
New aftermarket axles are the (only) way to go today.
In my experience, and those of others according to reviews, OEM units are best for these vehicles. New ones are very expensive. The remanufactured OEMs are what Subaru dealers use, and sell.
The other way, of course, is to clean out and re-grease your originals as the author did. The original axles are very stout. If the splines on the shafts are clean and the bearings are good, it seems that they can be re-booted quite a few times. The direct financial outlay is about $30 for the kit and $6 for the axle nut, which is far less than aftermarket axles, and gives you vibration-free OEM axles.
There are *quality* aftermarket axle brands — do your “due diligence” on quality and price. Enough said.
Those clamps are called Oetikers and better plumbing or pool supply houses stock them.
Instead of potentially messing up the alignment by loosen the cam bolt, why not just pop the lower ball joint out of the knuckle?
The way you mentioned is what is recommended by Subaru. The ball joint is held into the knuckle by a bolt that rusts into place where roads are salted. Removal can entail heating, drilling, cursing,…
Unless you need to replace the ball joint it’s better, in my opinion, to chisel reference marks on the camber bolt and strut bracket and position the bolt carefully when re-assembling. If rust is not an issue, the factory method may work.
Thanks, Jim, for putting this out there. I know that this isn’t a car repair site, but it’s nice to see a repair article once in a while.
My daily driver is a 2007 Outback with about 330,000 miles on it, so I’ve done a few of these, for myself and for friends. On the Outbacks, the passenger side axle, whose inner boot is above the catalytic converter, tends to go more often than the driver side one. In my experience it’s almost always the inner boot. I have yet to see a rear boot break.
Over the years I’ve tried a few different options. The first time or three I bought remanufactured ones from the Subaru dealer. They were nice, durable, with a smooth action (clean splines), but expensive.
At one point, looking to save money, I got a new unit from NAPA. It cost much less than the Subaru ones and worked well at first, but eventually caused vibration and was replaced by a remanufactured OEM unit. So much for saving money. The non-OEM units tend to get poor reviews, so if I was going to buy an axle I would spend the money on a remanufactured OEM from the dealer.
Somehow I stumbled upon the NAPA repair kits used by the author, and it changed my life. Axle repairs (at least for the inner boot that goes most often) now cost about $30 plus the cost of the axle nut and the one-time purchase of the crimping tool. For those who prefer OEM, Subaru sells the parts, though separately rather than in the convenient kit. The NAPA kits have proven themselves durable in my experience.
To make it even easier, I keep an old axle in the garage. When I know an axle job is coming I buy a kit, rebuild the one from my stock, swap it into the car, and put the one from the car on the shelf for next time. It enables me to get the car back on the road faster and do the rebuild, which can be messy, at a time of my choosing rather than when the car is disabled. A nice thing about the Subarus is that the left and right axles are the same because the differential is in the center of the vehicle.
I hadn’t considered leaving the cups in the transmission for in situ rebuilding. That’s certainly creative, though it’s not relevant to the way I do the repair now. It seems to carry the potential for bathing in cleaning solvent, and I think I’d prefer to do the job on the workbench rather than on my back under the car. Now, if I had a lift in my garage…
One thing that also needs periodic attention is the seals between the axle and the differential. It looks as though the passenger side one may be weeping on the author’s car. They are only available as OEM but are not very expensive, about $8 each if memory serves, and the job is best done during an axle job.
The author’s method of unbolting the strut from the knuckle is the most practical way for home mechanics, and maintains alignment if the camber bolt is put in just right. I chiseled in alignment marks on the bolt head and strut bracket, and have never noticed front end problems. The “official” way from the factory service manual, which doesn’t disturb the alignment, is to remove the pinch bolt that holds the ball joint in the knuckle and separate the knuckle from the lower control arm. For those of us in areas where road salt is used this is extremely impractical, and often involves much hardship.
Thanks for the thorough input, the spare axle on the shelf idea is a good one, around here the junkyards are littered with Subarus of all vintages and getting ahold of an OEM axle would be easy, often they are already laying on the ground after the engine has been removed…
So far the alignment seems fine, I may get one anyway as I doubt my mom ever had one done. As I was buttoning up the job I was wondering why I didn’t just mark the bolt itself (as you did) to make it completely almost foolproof. That’s probably better (and easier when reassembling) than marking how I did.
And yes, for me at least if there is any way to do the job and avoid pulling more parts then that’s the way to do it. The way I did it involved a total of four bolts and two clamps. Especially when there is plenty of scope for a simple boot replacement to potentially end up with a search for a new knuckle, entire shaft, basically doing a brake job at a minimum and then certainly the need for an alignment. The Subaru has a very surprising amount of room to work in from underneath, the side, and above. FAR better than another car I could name in my stable…
Excellent timing: was just about to do this on an ’02. But hey, don’t they still use non-reusable locknuts on those two strut bolts?
According to Subaru the axle nuts are not supposed to be re-used. One typically comes with an axle if you buy the whole unit, and they are also available individually from Subaru and aftermarket suppliers.
The 2002 is a little different than the 2008. The 2002 has a pin on the transmission end that must be driven out with a punch in order to remove the axle. Though it is not obvious (or wasn’t to me back then), the pin only fits in one way. If it resists, spin the shaft 180 degrees.
Ah yes CV joints and gaiters been there done that, the last time was on a cheap Toyota Corona diesel I bought, lots of fun getting the outer CV off it had seized inside so had to go the steering was greatly improved with a new CV, the inners were the easy part,
I had to replace rack end gaiters on my Xsara and the generic split type wont fit, OEM were cheap enough though and come in left and right just to be difficult, similar job just to get access.
Way to get in there and get it done, Jim! Considering the inconsistent quality of new/remanufactured parts, I think you made the right choice by just doing the boots.
Thanks, I think your posts sort of helped inspire me…and I’m perhaps kinda cheap!
Nice work! Reman axles are a crapshoot. I’ve had good luck with a new NAPA axle when the inner joint split and the axle started vibrating under load above 60mph on my Sienna. The PITA on Siennas & Camrys is the two piece axle with a carrier bearing. The bearing fuses to the carrier, even in dry CO. I ended up cutting the axle in two places with a reciprocating saw and a Diablo carbide metal blade, removing the carrier, and pounding the bearing out of the carrier with a small sledge hammer.
@145K the original owner I bought the van from also religiously changed the oil every 5K but did no other maintenance. The HVAC didn’t flow well and I found the filter was original with probably four ounces of accumulated dirt.
Great overview/tutorial…as the Japanese say; “O-tsukarisama-deshita”….congratulations on a difficult job done well…
Great work JIm. Like Paul, you have the rare and admirable gift of being very technically smart, and equally having exceptional creativity. Strong, using both the left and right side!
Fun job, huh? In some cases, such as this, it can be a bit time consuming since you have never done one. Yet the experience gained, plus a relatively easy car, means you could go even faster a second time God forbid. I’ve pulled axles twice on a 90 626 and 98 Sable. Not hard with hub puller and typical lack of rust due to Bay Area climate. Both cars had replacements available but I tend to be a all the way stock guy so I rebuilt and I do have all day. Oh, and split boots were available but something inside me questioned how they stayed together so best to avoid. You did a nice job for what I assume is the first time ever.
My ’07 LGT wagon has only needed one boot thus far – by some miracle. And only 1 wheel bearing. Of course, I am jinxing myself and I’ll see the mountain of grease next time I do an oil change, I’m sure.
I am endlessly jealous of the 08-09 cabin air filter replacement process. My wife had an ’09 LGT and it took about 2 minutes to change it from start to finish. Replacement of my ’07 is a half day affair since you have to take the entire passenger side dash apart to get it out (without destroying it like I did last time I tried to do the shortcut).
You really went to town on that. The first time I did my 2007 Outback I removed more stuff than was necessary, but not that much. Though I’ve gotten much better at it over the years, because I typically replace it once a year (enough time to not quite remember the best way), I need to make sure I stop, take a breath, and remember to work smarter rather than harder.
My current car (’00 Golf) is going on 22 years, and I’ve not yet had to do this job on it…it’s predecessor (’86 GTi) had to be done pretty often, maybe every 2-3 years. It had manual instead of power steering, don’t know if that makes any difference, probably not, but since the cars are from the same manufacturer but separated by years, maybe they just specified better quality ones. I live in the sunbelt, so rubber/plastic parts tend to deteriorate pretty quickly here normally. Off topic a bit, but I’m similarly impressed with the exhaust, which is stainless steel on the ’00 vs aluminized on the ’86, which I likewise had to replace every 3-4 years, but haven’t had to do so on the ’00 (knocks on wood).
I found a place that would rebuild the halfshafts for me, just had to get them out of the car and transport them there and back. It took a fair amount of torque to get the axle nuts off (expected)…I don’t have an impact wrench but had a long breaker bar which did the trick…think they were 19mm. Also, the CV joint mount to the transaxle uses unique “splined” fasteners, had to get a special tool to remove and reinstall them. Came in handy when I had to redo the clutch on the GTi…another thing that’s lasted longer on the Golf which I haven’t done yet…but the GTi’s was fluid fouled, rather than losing the friction material itself. Fortunately never had the “self machining” problem that the close ratio GTi transaxle was infamous for.
I had both cars a long time, and what seems to go wrong with them has been completely different despite the similarity in model and make, The GTi had alternator issues and problems with alignments….the Golf has had power steering rack go, the shift cables (another plastic/rubber part deterioration issue) and the ignition cylinder problem, plus known issues with coil pack and plastic in the window regulators, as well as infamous issue with power locks due to bad solder (too bad they never offered A4 without power locks) but more nuisance issue than mobility problem.
My Dad had a Subaru he bought new, but that was so long ago, that they still offered FWD models (which his was) and only had one model that was AWD back then (’76), didn’t do any work on it so I’m not familiar with them.