Is There A Tool For This CV Spider Needle Bearing Retaining Ring?

I had a CV joint inner boot large seal clamp loosen and a lot of grease was lost past the clamp.I want to remove the grease that’s left and clean the whole inner cv joint and regrease it.I have watched several youtube vieos about cv joint troubles. In removing the halfshaft and it’s spider I got as far as getting the inner joint spider off of the shaft. But I don’t know what tool to use on the tiny retaining rings on the needle bearing cups. I attached a picture of this spider and it’s view of what I’m thinking is a small gap in the retaining ring. Yet I can’t picture any type of snap ring removal tool fitting in this tiny gap. If someone wanted to get those needle bearing caps off, how would he do it? I have attached a picture of this gap in the retaining ring on the needle bearing cap

I’m guessing from your photo that the snap ring is actually spring steel that is round like a wire. If so, I would think that a small common screwdriver or a penknife (one that you do not particularly care about…) would easily fit into the “small gap” and lift one side out and then it would simply “snap free”

As Bill Gates has so famously identified in his book on working smart, not hard; he wrote, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

I grew up as a Shade Tree Mechanic and if I did not have the “proper tool,” I did without…

Of course, there is also the option that maybe you are just looking for an excuse to buy a new tool, which I cannot fault you, I’ve done that too. When I rebuilt the engine on my 1967 Opel Kadett, the head bolts were like a “giant version” of a Torx Screw and required a Special Tool to remove and re-install. I had to order the tool from Germany and it took over a month… After using it that one time, it has sat in my toolbox, as a reminder, since 1973, the last time I used it…

Good Luck…

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They sell a tool for removing such retaining rings.

The one I have I ground the end down so it is thin enough to get into the gap of any retaining ring.


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Yeah, that’s a flat (not round) snap ring, use the tool described above by @Tester

I have a regular snap ring tool (for rings with the holes in them) and have used it on those type of retaining rings. Of course the easy way is to pull the axle out and replace the whole thing.

Have you already tried an inexpensive snap ring tool like this?

If that didn’t work I’d try a flat blade screwdriver with a very small & thin tip. Thin enough to pry the ring off. I have one that I’ve filed down for similar purposes. Wear eye protection as those springy things can fly through the air a a fast clip as they spring off.

I thank you that have replied. But the picture I attached did not really show just how tiny this flat retaining ring and it’s tiny gap really is. I zoomed in on the picture when posting so the tiny little gap could be seen. And the worse thing is that this miniature retaining ring sets in a little cupped, or maybe the term is dished, washer which makes me wonder how any type of retaining ring pliers or tiny screwdriver could get into the tiny gap to spread the tiny retaining ring and then to clear the edge of the tiny cupped washer on it’s way out of the ring’s groove in the needle bearing race. The mechanic would need jewelers tools I would say, if they would be strong enough. Then also, a youtube video implied that the grease in a cv joint must be the very exact proper type. My local parts dealer only had 2 greases- one was called, I think, Big Red, the other was called Crimson. And I didn’t want to go on a wild goose chase looking for the proper grease. And for a ring remover that was teeny tiny enough yet strong enough to not snap the tips of the tool off. So I finally gave up and bought a rebuilt for about $70. But as a Maintenance employee, I hate to do away with a unit that only needs a small repair, is just fine everywhere else, and buy a whole new or rebuilt unit. At least I was able to trade in the halfshaft core to the parts store so it can be rebuilt & reused, not just melted down for scrap. My car is a 2000 Buick Century 3.1 L. I’m thinking that GM maybe just put these things together like this not intending that anyone should ever try to disassemble them. Different than ball joint rivets that can be drilled out. Perhaps the GM dealers and independent professionals would order new spider assemblies somewhere, not disassemble, degrease, regrease, reassemble. Bummer for us Saturday and shade tree DIY- ers who would want to service these rather than replace. And now im wondering if anyone has ever been faced with a needle bearing spider EXACTLY like mine, from a 2000 Buick Century 3.1 liter and was in fact able to spread that tiny retainer’s tiny gap in its tiny cupped washer and then pry and lift it out of it’s groove, and would share just how they did it?

Yeah sure. Some of us just like to take stuff apart to see what’s in there for the fun of it. But then practicality takes over. The last coffee pot I replaced, I didn’t even bother taking the old one apart again and just threw it out.

Once though when I was putting in an axle, I had the nice rebuilt one all set to go and ended up extending the inner joint too much and out it came. Turned in the axle for a second one and more careful the second time. $100 for the education.

I’ve never had to do any repair w/inner CV joints, so never took them apart, but I’ve removed, cleaned, and relubed outer CV joints on both my prior Rabbit and my current Corolla. The biggest problem for me was the steel balls would get loose & roll away , taking me an hour to find … lol …

The next model year of my Corolla, the outer CV mechanism was redesigned, making it much harder to remove. It’s not really designed to be removed by a diy’er. On my model year it’s relatively easy to remove, involves just removing an easily accessed snap ring. What I’m saying is that the manufacture of your car perhaps intends this part to be non-serviceable except for those rebuilder having special tooling.

I didn’t bother to look in my repair manual for the 1997
thru 2005 Buick Century repair manual (I’m thinking that Cartalk would not permit me to mention the brand name of the manual) because I didn’t think they would mention anything about disassembling the spider. I was partly wrong but also so very right. I checked anyway and they started to mention it very accurately, about getting it off the axle by removing the relatively large snaprings with common snap ring pliers. Then, they show two pictures of the spiders and you can see these dished washers that contain those tiny little retaining rings, they wisely tell you to wrap tape around the outer bearing races to keep them from falling off during disassembly and reassembly. But here’s where the frustration comes in. They give that advise before saying anything about removing the retaining rings so the outer races CAN be slid off the inner races. So the reader sees those tiny retaining rings and reads on wanting the text to describe how to remove them, what rare tiny tool is needed to remove them. All the text says about that is “disassemble them very carefully”! Good grief, that’s no more help than the fire department dispatcher that came into work hung over one day, and gets a call on the phone shouting out “Help! My house is on fire!” The defunct dispatcher groggily says “Have you tried putting water on it, that’s all we can do” and hangs up!

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I can see putting a piece of tape across the snap ring on the opposite side of the opening to keep the ring from flying off, but I still do not see why a small penknife or a common screwdriver (like the type that comes in the 5-pack for small screws like for glasses and small electronics…) would not work to lift the edge to free the snap ring.

I know, many will say, “You gotta be there…” but I’ve worked with a lot of really, really small snap rings on various computer hard drives and not just the types you have in your PC, but the HDs for Mini and Mainframes… And if you ever built as many RC cars as I did when my son and I raced in 1/12, 1/10, and 1/8 gas and electric classes. Those buggers have a ton of small snap rings on clutches, brakes, shocks, etc…

That jewelers screwdriver tactic sounds very doable to me! Sadly, I won’t know if those little tools would work for me now, it’s an exchange core now that I turned in when I bought a rebuilt. And I guess the common term is now remanufactured rather than rebuilt.