Cars & Vehicles Auto Parts & Maintenance & Repairs

How to Remove the Gears in the Rear End of a 1998 GM

    • 1). Loosen the lug nuts on the rear wheels with a lug wrench so they are easier to remove with the wheels off the ground. Place the floor jack under the differential and raise the vehicle. Place the jack stands under the axle tubes and lower the vehicle onto the stands. Continue removing the lug nuts from the rear wheels, then remove the rear wheels.

    • 2). Remove the rear brake drums by pulling them off the hub. If they are being difficult, hit the drum with a hammer a few times and it will come off. Disconnect the driveshaft by removing the nuts on the rear universal clamps with a wrench. Push the driveshaft toward the transmission a bit, then lower the rear of the driveshaft and leave it there. There is no need to remove it from the transmission.

    • 3). Place the drain pan under the differential and remove all the 13-mm bolts in the differential cover using a socket. Pry the cover off with the screwdriver and allow all the gear oil to drain. Remove the large pinion nut using an air gun and socket.

    • 4). Rotate the differential carrier by turning one of the axle hubs until the large diameter centering pin with the small locking bolt at the bottom is tilted downward so it can be removed. It must be carefully situated, as it will just barely clear the differential housing when it is extracted. Do not rotate the differential carrier with the pin removed. The pin holds the spider gears in place and when the pin is removed, they will rotate out of position and fall out. This presents a significant problem realigning these if you are not well versed in this procedure.

    • 5). Remove the locking bolt at the end of the center pin using a socket or wrench. Allow the center pin to drop down, grab it and pull it the rest of the way out. Keep all parts removed clean.

    • 6). Push both axles in toward the center of the vehicle as far as possible. The axles will protrude into the center of the differential now that the center pin has been removed. This will expose the C-clips that retain the axles. Use the needle-nose pliers and pull the C-clips off the inside end of each axle.

    • 7). Pull both axles out of the differential and axle tubes. Stand them up on their hubs. Reinstall the center pin in the differential. Install the locking bolt loosely. Now the differential is safe to rotate. Pull the pinion yoke off the pinion shaft. If necessary, tap the back of the yoke with a hammer to give it incentive to come off.

    • 8). Remove the bolts in the differential carrier bearing caps (two in each cap) using an air gun and socket. Remove the differential carrier with the ring gear. Each side bearing will have a race over the bearing and a spacer. Do not lose or mismatch these items. Grab the spacer, bearing race and carrier on both sides as it comes out, then keep them separated. Lower the carrier to the ground on a clean cloth.

    • 9). Stand the differential up on the end with the ring gear bolt heads up. Remove the ring gear bolts with an air gun and socket. The ring gear should just fall down, but if it is being difficult, tap the bolt side of the ring with a hammer. Pull the pinion out of the differential from the inside. Save the crush collar on the pinion bearing.

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