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Can a transmission be run with a CV axel removed

While doing some maintenance on my Altima’s front suspension (struts, control arms, sway bar links, tie rod ends), I noticed the axel would not stop spinning to allow for removal of axel nut (this was because I had both wheels removed), but before I found this out, I put the car into drive with both wheels removed to see if my transmission was working properly. I discovered an awful clunking sound that occurred while in drive coming from directly inside the transmission where the passenger side CV axel enters. I noticed that this CV axel is slightly bent, or something inside is causing the axel to oscillate slightly? I ordered a new axel, but I would like to see how the transmission performs independent of the damaged axel. The vibrations caused by this clunking are so intense it can be felt throughout the vehicle, but before I started these repairs, the vehicle was not doing this? I’m very confused. The vehicle has however (since I purchased it 3000 miles ago) had a delayed engagement from park to drive. Could the lack of resistance be exacerbating this issue? Thanks for feedback.

The transmission in your vehicle has an open differential.

That means the CV-axle retains one the side gears in the differential.

If the transmission is operated with the axle removed, the side gear can fall out of position and make one hell of a noise.

Some Ford transmissions require special service tools to remove the axles and hold the side gears in place so that they don’t fall out of position. Otherwise, you have to disassemble the transmission to put the side gears back in place.


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The diagram is helpful, thank you. I can see the importance of both axels being present in the system. Although i did not run the vehicle without both axels present, it sounds like the side gear is in fact perturbed. And this issue only became evident after the wheels had been removed and the vehicle run while suspended.

Anyway, I will refrain from running trans without axel, and post back on Tuesday after new axel is installed. Thanks tester