Tool Advice

So I am basically a learn as you go shade tree guy who occasionally decides to “graduate” to new car repair tasks.

I have decided that my next new task will be FWD axle/halfshaft replacement. Its too late to talk me out of it because I have already decided that I am going to do my own from now on.

What I want is tool advice as I have not really done front end work other than brakes and am not very familiar with all of the different tools & options. I have a reasonable assortment of basic tools (sockets & such) including a decent air impact and torque wrenches. But I will need some “special” tools which is where I hope you guys come in.

My two current vehicles are a '97 Escort & a 2000 Olds Silhouette, and I do have repair manuals for each. When possible I obviously like to avoid single purpose/vehicle tools so that I can use them on whatever I have next. Here are items I should need & some Qs:

- Ball-joint separator? How closely are these tied to make/model or vehicle class? Are they mostly “general purpose” types that work well enough for most vehicles? Is this something I can do without or is the price of the tool well worth avoiding the aggravation or potential damage?

- the Olds procedure specifies a puller for getting the outer shaft out of the hub. I know there are various kinds of pullers (I actually own a steering wheel puller from way back when), but what kind of puller does one buy that will work on as many other kinds of things as possible? If any?

- Halfshaft removal tool? All of the instructions I’ve seen just say - pry the inner shaft out with a prybar. But I’ve also heard that this part can really give a headache and I’ve seen things like this: http://sto…t-836.html But I haven’t got any idea how it even works or if it is worth it (assume I might do one of these per year on average). What would you do?

- Axle seal replacement - just in case. I’ve seen that there are special seal installers, or that you can just use an appropriately sized large socket - or any other correctly sized cylindrical thing that won’t mar the new seal. Any advice there?

Anything else?

I know its a lot - thanks for your patience if you made it this far.

What I wouldn’t do for an auto tools store with knowledgeable staff.

Describe the ball joint,is it the type retained by a horizontial bolt? much easier to work with. Correct socket for shaft nut is essintial. I would always (after seperating lower control arm fron knuckle,drive the CV haft in with a air hammer (blunt tip) while pulling the strut/rotor/hub towards me. I used my big screwdriver/pry bar(cost $80.00) to pop the CV shaft out of the diff. (you need to find a good place to pry)The seal came out with the same tool,I had a seal intaller/race installer tool to install seals.

The Escort has the horizontal bolt-type ball joint, so I won’t need the separator - I can’t remember the set up on the Olds. I guess if it is similar I can put that question off for another vehicle.

It sounds like you’re saying that the only specialty tool you’ve used for this is the axle nut socket (will get one) & seal installer. I just have these nightmares left over from various episodes in the past where simple jobs turn stupid for lack of the right tools.

Thanks for passing along you experience oldschool.

On the Ford you might need this puller set to remove/install the halfshaft out of/into the hub.

On some transaxles, there’s no provision to pry the halfshaft out of the transaxle. So you might need one of these.

To remove the ball joint from the steering knuckle without damage, this works well. Check the LT-680


Thanks Tester.

That hub puller set ( is probably pricey (I haven’t found prices there yet), but it also looks like it would work on most any vehicle that needs one (i.e. not just Ford). If so its the kind of thing I would consider.

That CV puller ( also looks pricey - anyone suppose things like that would fall under a “loaner tool” program at one of the auto parts houses? It looks more closely tied to Ford issues in particular.