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Nissan Maxima Halfshaft Replacement

Got my Maxima on the jack stands last night to begin my ATF change, and noticed the boots at the wheel ends of the halfshafts are ripped. Grease everywhere, what a mess.

Looking around, I noticed for the most part that people suggest replacing the entire axle. I can get them for well under $200 for both sides (closer to $60/side), and for that price, I don’t think I’ll bother to change the boots. Am I too quick to disregard that solution?

My question, though, revolves around a couple special tools I need for the job. When you remove these axles, you also replace the seals into the transaxle case. But then you need a seal protector tool. The Nissan manual calls it a “Differential side oil seal protector” – it basically keeps the seal from being torn apart when you put the new axle in. Naturally, there’s a left one and a right one, and they’re $75 each. I’m pretty sure a garage would charge less than $150 in labor to do the entire job.

Kent-Moore numbers J34296, J34297.

Does anyone know of a substitute for doing it this way? At this point, even though I’m sure I can do this job myself, I’m not sure it’s worth it.

I appreciate your response. Thank you.

You have a couple different alternatives for this issue. I don’t have any seal protectors, and can’t see spending $150 on tools to protect the seals when there are other methods. One method is to be careful. Unless the splines on the halfshaft are razor sharp, being careful should suffice. If you are still worried, wrap the splines in paper before installing. Slip the shaft into the axle past the splines, then slide the paper back on the shaft, out of the axle, and remove it. Seal lips have been protected.

Another concern you should have with this job is the carrier bearing. Some Nissan vehicles have a carrier bearing on one of their halfshafts, and they can be an absolute pain to deal with. Sometimes the shaft will come out of it readily, other times it will not, and the only way to tell is to give it a shot. Some of them I have had in and out in minutes, others I have had to heat and beat for hours to get them out, and on one occasion I had to call the customer and tell them I couldn’t get their car apart and would need to keep it overnight to continue the battle the next day.

Replace the entire halfshafts. You don’t know how much debris got inside the CV-joints with the ripped boots contaminating them.

Usually the transaxle seals aren’t replaced unless they show evidence of leaking.


That’s the direction I’m leaning. One thing the aftermarket halfshafts don’t usually have is the dynamic balancer, and not having it can result in a feeling that one of the wheels is out of balance, even though it’s not. So I’ll try to look for an aftermarket halfshaft that has one of these balancers.

Thanks for the advice.

That harmonic balancer is there for speeds above 100 MPH. How often are you going above that? Get a shaft without the balancer.


The torsional dampers on the halfshafts are there to dampen drive-train vibrations. It’s not there to balance the shaft. They are designed to help at normal driving speeds.

Just a progress report: Got the axle nuts off, the lower strut bolts removed, and am now ready to remove the axles from the transmission end. Instructions say I have to remove the right one first, and I’ll trust that advice.

Anyone have any advice before I proceed? I tell you, I really would like a creeper right about now. I’m a nut case to not have one.

Other than agreeing with everyone else, I would just add that the car should be firmly supported with something other than a jack. (jackstands, etc. and leave the jack in place also)

I would advise just changing one axle at a time rather than removing both of them and then installing 2 halfshafts. You will probably have to pry them out and this can often be done (assuming no special tool is available) with a large screwdriver or prybar and a block of wood. The wood provides leverage and also protection against damaging the transmission case, etc.
Make sure that during the install you feel the lock ring on the halfshaft snap into place when you insert the halfshaft into the transmission.

It’s on jack stands, for sure. I would never get under a car that was supported only with a jack. I sure would like it if it was higher, though.

Can anyone drive over with a hoist? I’d appreciate it.

In case anyone’s wondering why this is taking me so long, well, I have kids, so I’m spending 30 minutes here and an hour there, as I can. Dinner with father-in-law last night, so I knocked off at 4 to clean up, and so forth. Also, changing oil, filter, ATF, plugs, etc, “while I’m up.” Plus, that 36mm nut needed an impact wrench, which I rented and then used for 20 seconds. That’s next on my “wanna have” list, but if I had one, I’d use it once every 4 years, so what’s the point?

I now know what you mean by that carrier bearing. Holy Mackerel (or something).

It’s hard to tell where it’s hanging up, though. Is it at the bearing, or the spline that goes into the transaxle?

I got it to budge about 1/4", and I’m calling it a night. For anyone who has never worked on one of these things, you cannot get that carrier bearing out until the half-shaft is out. It was so tempting to try to remove the entire bearing with the shaft. It cannot be done. Halfshaft first, and that’s fun when the halfshaft won’t move.

Oh, and I “popped” the inner joint. Yay!

But it makes me wonder, since these are going back as core anyway, why not just cut the boot off now and rent/purchase a slide hammer? I’m about to consider it.

Well… I took yesterday off work so I could finish my R&R, because that was the day the axles were supposed to arrive. Had a couple other things planned around the house, but that’s okay, because I have copious amounts of leave time at work right now. Good way to use that time.

UPS lost the axles.

How do you lose a halfshaft? I don’t think anyone put it under their jacket down in San Pablo.

It could take 8 days for UPS to resolve.

So, the heck with it, I ordered new ones. Not rebuilt, but new. $10 more for the left side, $15 more for the right. No core charge (so now what do I do with the old axles?).

The parts are in the store, waiting for me to pick 'em up. Also, as noted, the new ones do not have the dynamic balancer; is that going to be an issue? What’s the experience with this? Is there a way I can add one?

Thanks, everyone.

I replaced my Cv axle on my Impala this weekend. the job went easy, but the new axle outer boot is stretched fully tight when the steering wheel is fully turned to one side, only three billows on the boot. The brand is GS.P, and I would definitely not recommend that brand. IMHO you would be better off with a re-manufactured one.

They do make a tool to pop the axle out, it has a Crows foot that slips between the back of the axle with a built in slide hammer. However I just used a flat steel Crow bar and a wedge.

                             good Luck

Years ago when I did the shafts on my Civic, I took a rough measurement of where the balancer was on the old shaft. I then forcefully removed it and superglued it on the new shaft. The inner joints are easily disassembled. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it don’t, I did and it worked out. NOTE: You will need to buy new boot clamps if you disassemble the inner joint. Also, under NO circumstances should you attempt to disassemble the inner joint.

Got 'em in, the car is now back on the road. Yay!

Except I now have to crank in about 5 degrees of clockwise (to the right) to get the car to go straight. It’s in the alignment shop now. I wonder how many ratchets they’ll find in there; seems like I’ve accumlated plenty of ratchets over the years. Those half-inchers aren’t cheap.

But really, this just leads to a general question: Is an alignment always/usually/seldom needed after new axles?

Oh, I also put in 2 gallons of ATF. Stated capacity is 10 quarts flat, including torque converter. It was overfilled by about 1.5 quarts, so I removed some with the Pela.

Grats on getting it back together. :slight_smile:

If nothing was damaged during the process, then no, you shouldn’t normally need an alignment. The axles slide in and out of the transmission drive, and don’t really affect the steering…or shouldn’t. If something’s binding or incorrect, then it’s possible.

It was .65 degrees toed-out on the left-front, which can easily explain why I had it cranked about 5 degrees to the right to keep it going straight.

Thanks for your words of encouragement.

Now I gotta get rid of the old axles. No core on the new ones. The Kragen guy said he’d take 'em. That’s really a donation, because I know they have value beyond mere scrap.

I am really pleased with the ATF I got for this, too. Amazon had a great price on gallon jugs – about 1/2 the price of buying local. I used some of the Dex III/Mercon multi-vehicle stuff.

Oh, and I also noticed a torn boot on the power steering rack. I’ll get to that when I can; I don’t think that’s a high-priority repair.

The boot is to keep dirt, water and general muck out of the mechanics of the rack. If you don’t repair it, then prepare to replace the rack. It’s your call, of course, but damage is damage.