Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Mazda axle stuck in transmission

Any insights about this? My mechanic told me that something was wrong with the driver’s side front axle of my 1990 Mazda 323, which has been a dream car for 21 years. He got a new axle to put in but could not get the old one out. Now it is at another mechanic’s, and he also can’t remove the old axle. He says there is a pin on the end and it is stuck inside the transmission (a 5-speed manual transmission). He has broken the axle trying to remove it, and now it cannot be driven.

The only insight I can offer you at the moment is that there is no pin that holds the halfshaft in there. Its just springy circular clip. It squishes enough to slide into the differential and then pops outward into its slot when the axle is fully seated. When you need to get it out you just pry to pop the clip back out of its slot. I have not experienced this, but I have been told that if the halfshaft is not inserted carefully and you don’t pay attention, that circlip can roll out of its spot and basically wedge itself in there amidst the axle/differential splines. This can cause the assembly to be stuck - but it can only happen from sheer carelessness. Maybe by a “pin” that’s what they mean.

How long has that halfshaft been in there and do you know who installed it?

That’s a lot of insight, actually.
I’ve never had any work done on the axle or transmission (not intentionally anyway), so to the best of my knowledge it was built that way.
Is there somewhere I can see a picture of this? A book I can look at or a picture online?
Is there a way to un-stick it without removing the transmission? I’m very attached to my little car, but I only have so much money.

Go to Autozone’s website. Register an email address and plug in your car’s info. Then Vehicle Repair Guides in the “Repair Info” section. Find the Drive line or Drive train section or something like that. There will probably be a manual transmission section and in there is probably a section on the half shafts. It should have the procedure for removal/replacement and often has photos and or schematic diagrams.

Okay, I will try that. Thank you!

Okay, I did as you suggested and downloaded that section of the repair manual, read through it, and looked at the diagrams and photos. So, that all seems pretty clear, although it doesn’t mention, as in your first insight, that the circlip could get wedged among the splines. And it definitely doesn’t say how to un-wedge it. -sigh!-

Joke. Where else would you stick an axle?

I assume by broken the axle you mean the outer joint and shaft came apart from the inner joint which is still stuck in the transmission. There should be no pin involved, only a circlip.

Since I can only theorize on this let me pose the following. When removing halfshafts many often use a big screwdriver or prybar. Often this works; sometimes it does not.
The options are a draw hammer with a hooked flat adaper that is designed to grip the joint on both sides and pull it out evenly and the other option is to force the shaft out by prying evenly on both sides with 2 prybars and wooden blocks, etc.

Sometimes with age/miles the splines get burrs due to wear and these tiny burrs can wedge a halfshaft solid because the person trying to remove it is not pulling it straight out. They’re canting it a bit due to their method of prying and this wedges it even tighter into place.

I suggest either finding that tool if they do not have it or taking a deep breath and try it again with a pair of wooden blocks and a pair of prybars.

Hmm. I never heard of a draw hammer with a hooked flat adapter. Where would one purchase such a thing? Or rent?

If you also remove the passenger side axle, you can drive the stuck axle out with a drift pin inserted through the transaxle. It’s good practice to replace both axles instead of just one.

Oh, thanks–I didn’t think of that!

P.S. What is a drift pin?

FIRST make sure that this cars transmission will actually let the axle out SOme trannys DONT…Saabs for example… But I do think your does use a snap ring to hold it in there…If you cant get it out using traditional methods…You CAN remove the other axle…and then use a drift to pop the stuck axle out from the other side…Been there done that b4

Those clips are usually very loose on the end of the shaft…I ALWAYS remove them and tighten up their radius and then reinstall them before I put the axle in…they dont poke out the sides much at that point…when you dont do this…the have too much slack and can wedge themselves in by being sloppy this will prevent you from getting it out… Like I said you have to remove the other one and go thru the hole to either pry the clip down or use a drift to help push it out.

Google is your friend …

I have my own tools for this so I am not certain if parts houses such as AutoZone have them as part of their free loaner tool program or not.

They make these tools in various styles."CV+Joint%2C+Axle+and+Hub+Tools"&go=Search&pg=2

(Scroll down to Figure 7 on the latter.)

This gives you a general idea anyway.

Ha, ha, thanks. I got lazy because I had no luck googling “draw hammer with a hooked flat adapter.” Thanks for reminding me not to be lazy!

Okay, thanks.

Great, thanks!

Look up “slide hammer”.

Hopefully, the circlip, which has expanded and will now not pop back into its grove but is locking the axle in place will shear off before you break the transmission case…Another trick…Rotate the axle as you attempt to pull it out…Sometimes the clip will move a little allowing it to squeeze back into its groove…Trying to drive it out from the other side with a drift may work, but take care not to damage the transaxle…use a brass drift so you don’t damage the axle. If you can look in through the transaxle and see the offending clip, MAYBE you can reach in and pop it off the end of the axle with a long hooked tool.