91 Corolla what did I break?

OK, my daughter bought a clunker. Engine compression tested good, and transmission shifted fine so I proceeded to fix the car. Everything went fine until I got to the passenger side axle. I’ve always reused the inboard “tulip”, and have never pulled one. Until today. The boot on the remanufactured shaft would not fit over the old tulip. I rented a slide hammer with a cv remover attachment and removed the old tulip. I then installed the new shaft, using a hammer on the end of the shaft to reseat the new shaft in the transmission. I didn’t hit it hard. Now the car makes a horrible groaning sound when I put it in reverse. When I shift back to park, it sounds like a gear grinding. Also, the car rolls when its in park as if it was in neutral. I’m totally stumped as to what I did wrong. Did I destroy the transmission???

Look again to make sure the inner CV-joint is fully inserted into the transaxle. Sometimes it takes a pretty good smack on the end of the halfshaft to get the circlip to compress enough where the inner CV-joint seats into the transaxle.


Like Tester said, sounds like you don’t have the axle properly seated in the transaxle.

I agree with the others, but I don’t know why you are using a hammer on it. I have always been able to get them to seat by just giving them a hard shove. You have to start with the axle out as far as it will go without completely falling out, then one good hard shove and it slides right into place.

So the concensus is that I didn’t destroy anything by putting the car in reverse with the spline not properly seated?

Another thing to check is to be sure you have the correct year axle for that car. Sometimes manufacturers decide to annoy people by changing spline count midway through a generation, which means the wrong year axle won’t seat properly and will do what you described. I’ve seen this catch out even the pros.

If by tulip, you mean the outer part or the cup of the inner CV joint, and the CV boot didn’t fit, that would make me highly suspicious that you don’t have the right axle. On top of that, its a reman, I don’t trust those, you can get new replacements for about the same price.

Yes, by tulip I mean the outer cup of the inner CV joint. I believe my old Toyota manual for my '84 corolla referred to them using that term.

You didn’t mention whether the car makes any noise when going forward or shifting. Could that be because you only tried it in reverse, then put it immediately back into park and left it there? The reason I ask is that the replacement might be too short.

Toyota uses a three prong fork for the outside CV joint. The prongs are prone to wearing thin and under the right circumstances, pulling out of the joint. They often don’t get rebuilt on reman axles. If you got an axle that was too short, you might have pulled the fork out of the outer joint, which would account for all the symptoms you stated, except that it would make a lot of noise in the forward gears too.

There are new axles on the market that are made in China and use a double offset outboard joint, which is a lot more reliable than the Toyota design, and they sell for about the same price as a reman. I like the ones imported under the EMPI brand and they are usually available at autopartswarehouse.com

Ok, now I’m stumped. I pulled the new axle. The spline that goes into the tranny, both the old and the new one look the same. I counted the splines, both had 23. It took me a good 10 minutes to get the new one out, so I’m sure it was seated properly. I then started the car (front end raised). I can put it through all gears with no noise. BUT, if I put it back into park with the car running, I get that gear grinding sound. I’m 99% certain that was not there before. Looking into the hole, I see a vertical bar and no apparent damage. I couldn’t push the bar in with a screw driver, its stationary. I only drove the car once (to get it to my house), so i only put it in park once. I’m 99% certain it didn’t make that noise, but in retrospect what could that noise be (when I put it back in park with the motor running)? The outboard joint is fairly stiff, no play and no noise when I manipulate it by hand.

Did you start the car and run it through the gears with the axle out? If so, that would account for the grinding sound when you put it back into park. The gears would be spinning. You need the axle in place and the wheels stopped (brakes on) before putting it into park.

I think your noise going into park is just the transmission free spinning. No harm there. For some reason your are getting the new (reman) axle seated properly. Either you need more force, or it is not sized correctly compared to the old one.

I’m fairly certain old and new are identical. They look to be the same size, and both had 23 splines.

You could put the old axle back in if you still have it and if that clears up the new problems, then return the reman for a replacement or return it and see if you can get a new one from where you got this. AFAIC, remans are nothing but junk.

I went and bought another axle. They didn’t have a new one in stock. I could not get the inner axle to lock in the tranny, even though it went in a little ways. The outer spline wouldn’t go in but a very short distance. I returned that axle and will be shopping tomorrow for a new axle, not remanufactured. That said, I’m fairly certain the first remanufactured axle had nothing to do with the noises I heard.


If you had damaged the only inner CV joint, or only any part of the axles, your car would not be making a grinding sound in park, nor would it be rolling in park as if it were in neutral. The CV joints, both inner and outer, only come into play when the car is moving.

I’m afraid you have a tranny problem.

SMB, I have to disagree with you when it comes to Toyota’s because of the outer joint design. I had a reman do just this after a short drive because the fork in the outer joint pulled out of the joint.

It sounds like the first replacement axle might have had a smaller diameter shaft than the original. If you have the capablity, use a vernier capliper or micrometer on the outer diameter of the spline of both and compare.

If there is a difference, the groaning in reverse would have been the internal splines of the spider gear sliding over the external splines of the axle. The racheting you heard going into Park and the lack of hold in Park, is a sign that the differential is free to turn independent of the axles.

In the process of the axle spinning inside the spider gear, the spider gear splines may be monged up. So now the correct diameter axle end will be difficult or imposible to insert. You might be able to visualize the spider gear internal splines. They will be just outside of the bar you saw in the transaxle i.e between the axle seal and that bar.

Hope this helps.