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Discussion Starter #1
This is my first post for help on here, so I hope I'm in the right forum.
I'll try to be brief because it could become a long story.
2002 Focus ZX3 automatic 4 speed. Had to remove driver's side CV axle to take it over to the press and remove from hub so I could replace a noisy bearing. It was that jammed, I couldn't get it off with a puller.
So I get the bearing changed and get ready to put it all back in and the axle won't click in. I've done this before on a couple of other cars and don't remember how hard it was. So I keep trying, turning and pushing, and finally it feels pretty secure. So now is where I made an assumption that was a mistake. I assumed that it was tight enough, even though I wasn't convinced it clicked in. I thought that once I got it back in the hub and everything was put together, the tension would keep it in place. That was an incorrect assumption. I test drove the car down my street. Bearing was quiet, hooray! I got about a block from home, and the car went out of gear. Next I heard a horrible grinding sound. I should have shut it off right then, but I needed the power steering while I pushed the car and made a 3-point turn to get it back home. Actually my wife helped push it up the slight incline. But we got it back in the garage. I jacked it back up and the axle is spinning free. I took everything back off and pulled the axle and the end of the splines (the narrow part past the circlip) were chewed off. I took off the circlip and tried putting the axle back in the transmission to see if it would engage, and nope it just spins. My first thought is that this can't be happening, surely some of that nice long spline is engaging to a gear somewhere, not just that narrow part? But then I wondered how that could be, because wouldn't the circlip hit the transmission gear if it went in farther? I have been unable to find the answer to this.
So, on to part two. Got another CV axle. Before I put it in, I tried to look at the output gear in the trans. and sure enough the outer edge was chipped/rounded, I guess from grinding off the end of the other axle. But when I shoved in this axle, I can feel that it's meshing with the gear somehow because it doesn't turn freely. I had to fight with this one to get the clip to latch in but I am sure it latched because finally after several attempts to rotate and shove, something clicked. I tried very hard to pull it back out by hand and it's not coming. I got everything back together and now I think I'd better drain all the fluid and replace the filter. Surely there's metal in it by now from these gears being ground off. So I will do that tonight. But I am afraid because I don' understand how far onto the gear the axle splines go. The leading edge of the gear is rounded off. The axle feels snug but how much spline is really engaging to the gear? I cannot believe it wooorks just on that narrow strip that extends beyond the circlip. But I am puzzled as to how the splines can engage farther into the gear, because it seems that the circlip would have to ride against the gear splines, which seems like a bad thing.
So sorry to make the story so long. But can someone tell me how far into the output gear the axle spline meshes? I have lost the outer edge of the gear and I'm worried about tearing up another CV shaft and further damaging the gear.
Thanks,
Littlejohn
 

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Should be OK now that the replacement axle is 'clicked" in place.

Old axle was shot once the ends that hold the circlip were no longer functional.

Axle sticks though gear, and circlip expands past it to hold the inner CV joint in place (driver's side). The spring clip compresses when being pushed through in either direction, expanding to hold it in place once past the splines.

Outer edge is a small fraction of the total gear width (splined) so theree should be plenty of undamaged spline length left. (spun when just in contact at the edge)
 

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Uh man I feel for OP. Makes me wonder how bad my cv axle job could have gone. *cringe*
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Feeling a little better now...

Based on what Sailor said, I am more confident that I won't be pushing the car home again! It makes perfect sense. I was being fooled by the slight detent down in the transmission just before the gear, thinking that was where the clip would latch. And for all I know, that's where the clip latched on the first CV axle. But I hadn't thought that the clip will ride right through the gear and latch on the other side. I'll know soon enough... But tonight is a drain and filter replacement before driving. It's a good excuse to do it anyway. I already had the new filter but was putting it off. Don't know when (or if) it was changed last, and we're at 113K miles now.
The big message here is, make darn sure your axle is good and latched. I never dreamed that it would cause that much damage and so quickly!
I'll post again after the test drive. Thanks for helping out, Sailor.
 

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If the clip clicked into place then axle is held by differential splines by about 1 to 1 1/4 inch long of end of axle. Not just the spline from clip groove to end of axle.

Some clips go in so tight (that's good, harder for them to come loose) that many novices assume axle is all the way in when it's not. You GOTTA have that clip click into place or you'll be walkin' home there..............
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hello amc49. I'm one of those novices; I didn't understand where that clip needed to go in order to lock in. Believe me, I Googled it for some time with no good answers.
This forum had the answer, as usual. So you live and learn. Never too old to learn from your mistakes, huh? By the way, I lived in Fort Worth for 23 years, mostly in Haltom City.
I did a brief test drive today, doing some tight turns in both directions, since that seems to be what would pull out the axle if it wasn't engaged. So far so good. I will drive the car to work tomorrow, a 40 mile round trip. I think it will be fine. I looked at the axle from underneath while I was changing the transmission filter. There's barely enough room between the axle joint and the transmission housing to slip a screwdriver blade.
 

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All set now, it's WAY in before it's clicked in place as you learned.

That clip is all that holds the inner portion in position, it's not attached to the rest of the axle except by the rubber boot as a couple learned recently by pulling the outer section right out when tugging on them for removal.
 

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They used to install a snap ring to stop that as well but some doofus made his bonus for the year by noting the axle is trapped once installed and no need for that extra clip. Before that you could yank on the outer and pop them out that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It works!

Well, I am still here, not stranded somewhere on the road. Everything seems to be working fine. Bearing noise is gone, CV axle is staying in, and transmission got a new filter and fluid in the process. I never found any noticeable metal chips in the transmission pan, just lots of small metal pieces stuck to the magnet. I don't know if those were from the damaged shaft or where those pieces went. Maybe there are other magnets in the system. Thanks for all your tips and encouragement.
-Littlejohn
 
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