Trucks, Jeeps

1990s Axle Shaft Repair for Jeep Cherokees with the Dana 30: Step by Step, With Photos

For this project, I will only cover removal and installation of the axle shafts on an XJ Jeep Cheorkee with the Dana 30 axle. The U-joints can be changed using a vise, big hammer, or a press, but that is best suited for video as it is difficult to explain. (The video is at the end of the page.

remove wheels and tires from Jeep XJ


Drain pan
1/2" Drive 19mm Socket (Lug Nuts) with ratchet and breaker bar
1/2" Drive 36mm Socket (axle nut)
3/8" Drive 1/2" 6pt socket (Differential cover bolts) with ratchet
3/8 Drive 13mm" 12pt Socket (Bearing/hub bolts)
3/8" drive 13mm 6pt socket (Caliper pin bolts)
Torque wrenches
Extensions in both sizes, 3 to 12 inches long, for working around the tie rod when removing the differential cover.
Allen wrench, if you have Allen head brake caliper bolts instead of 1/2” bolts.
Pliers and vise-grips
Dead blow hammer
Punch or screwdriver

As for supplies, you will need new U-joints and a differential cover gasket; a quart or two of 85W90 gear lube; penetrating oil, silicone gasket sealer; and new cotter pins.

Step by step

1) Break loose, but do not remove, the lug nuts, using the 19mm socket

2) Raise and safely support the vehicle, as shown in the picture below.

cherokee safely raised

3) Slide the drain pan under the differential. Loosen the differential cover fill plug using a 3/8" drive, ratchet, and extension. Remove the differential pan bolts, leaving one at the top loosened, but not removed. If the pan drops, it’s a huge mess, and one bolt holding the pan up makes the mess easier to contain. Using the dead-blow hammer, being careful not to dent the cover, break the silicone gasket seal and allow the fluid to drain. I used a chisel to break mine loose. This is not recommended, because if the cover gets bent, it will never seal correctly and will leak. The dead-blow hammer wasn't working for me.

4) While the differential is draining, remove the wheels and tires (see introductory photo!)

5) Using the 13mm, 6 point socket, remove the caliper pin bolts. Lift the caliper off the mounting bracket and hand it using a bungee cord. Never let the caliper hang by the hose!

brake caliper

6) Remove the cotter pin and lock nut from the axle shaft. Watch out for the wave washer under the lock nut, it prevents the lock nut from rattling when installed. Slide a screwdriver or punch through the vents in the rotor lock it in place against the caliper mounting bracket.

7) Remove the axle nut using the 36mm socket and breaker bar. If you’re lucky enough to have a impact wrench, now is the time to break to the bad boy out and have some fun... errr.... wake up the neighbors at 8am like I did.

8) Remove the three twelve-point bolts that mount the bearing/hub assembly to the steering knuckle. If it's not too rusted on, the hub assembly may just fall off in your hand. If it is rusty, use the dead-blow hammer on the wheel stud flange to help dislodge it.

9) After the bearing/hub is off, slide the axle shaft out of the axle housing. Reverse this procedure to reinstall.

10) Fun times begin.


Long Side all perty and new! This side didn't have the carnage....

axle shaft in vise

Short side apart.

short side of axle apart


All buttoned up!


Torque specs

Caliper mounting bolts - 11 foot-pounds
Hub/bearing unit - 75 foot-pounds
Axle nut- 175 foot-pounds
Differential cover bolts - 30 foot-pounds
Differential fill plug - 25 foot-pounds
Lug nuts - 85-115 foot-pounds

Test drive says it’s a fix! No more squeaks, clicks, clunks, or vibration from the front end. (I did straighten the flanges on the dust shields.)

The U-joint video

Courtesy of Matt at bleepinjeep.


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