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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
You might be looking at this thread because you've got gear oil all over your back brake. You're gonna have to replace the seal. Before you get started with that if you've never touched the breather on your axle it's potentially clogged. The first thing you'll want to do is pull the breather on top of the axle on the passenger side with a 14mm deep well socket and clean it out. If it's clogged the axle can't vent when it builds up heat and the air expands. Eventually the pressure can push oil and crud past the axle seal, eventually ruining it. Either clean out the breather or do the rear diff breather mod.




It's also possible you're here because you've got a bad axle bearing. This is what mine sounded like when I had one go bad.


Next, do you have a M226 on your X? If you've got an OffRoad, a Pro4X or a manual transmission in any model it came from the factory with a M226 axle.

You're going to need to pull the axle shaft to replace the seal. Pull off the wheel, the caliper, rotor and the e-brake shoes. Clean everything off with mineral spirits if you have it. If not soap and water will work. When the axle shaft is put back in you'll want to spray everything down with brake parts cleaner, I highly recommend the flammable stuff. Buy two cans of the cheap auto parts store brand, it's good stuff, but keep it off your skin if you can help it. The pads are reusable in my opinion. I reused everything after cleaning off the huge mess and suffered no problems because of it, it's been two years now...



Next, loosen the 4 nuts that hold on the axle bearing cage, part 43081 in this picture.





You can see the 3 of the 4 bolts the nuts are on in this picture. The axle cage is the only thing that holds your axle shaft in. Pretty freaky when you look at it and say that's not so very thick metal, but apparently it works so who am I to judge?



Leave the nut just threaded onto the end of the bolt. Take a punch, preferably brass, aluminum, wood, something soft, and tap on the end of the bolt. You're leaving the nut on so the threads don't get messed up. You're tapping the bolt out because pulling the axle shaft with the axle bearing cage bolts still on presents two problems. First, it makes pulling the axle shaft 2000% harder if you don't pull the cage because you'll probably be bending the crap out of the cage while you're trying to pull the axle shaft, ask me how I know. Second, with the bearing cage free/loose your axle shaft will come out without you having to worry about hitting the ABS sensor with the axle shaft. There's no reason to touch the ABS sensor using this method, leave it where it is. Those bolts, maybe they should be called studs, have a straight knurl on them. They press out easy, they press in easy, they don't spin because of the straight knurl. They are a very good design by Nissan. Pull the nuts off the bolts and then remove the bolts from the axle bearing cage.

Now you're going to need an axle puller/slide hammer. You can probably rent one at your local auto parts store for the price of a deposit, meaning you give them a deposit, they give you the slide hammer with the correct flange for an Xterra, you give it back when you're done and they give you back your deposit, good deal. Nothing is holding the axle shaft in. It might feel like there is if you're banging away with that slide hammer, but believe me, there's nothing, no clip, nothing internal holding the axle shaft in.



Now you need to decide if you want to keep going forward or have a machine shop or garage pull off the old hardware and put the new on so the axle shaft can be put back in. Pulling off the old and putting on the new is mostly intellegently applied brute force with fairly simple tools. If you don't feel comfortable doing that stuff you can still save yourself money pulling and reinstalling the axle shaft yourself.

If you're going to pull the old hardware off yourself you'll need a set of snap ring pliers. Pull the snap ring. If it didn't break and isn't bent it's absolutely fine to reuse.

The next few photos are a Dana 44 axle shaft off a Jeep. The M226 is a variant of the D44, same basic idea but not the exact same parts. Pay attention to the part we're working on, not the rest of the axle shaft in the photo because your axle shaft won't look exactly like it.


Now it's time to get the bearing retainer off. This thing is on extremely tight. You don't want to try pressing it off even if you've got a torch and a press. It just doesn't want to move. The good news is it's easy to get off. Take a drill and drill most of the way down without actually drilling into the axle shaft. In case you're new to this sort of thing I'll mention you want to center punch the bearing retainer before you start to drill. The dot left from center punching gives the drill a place to bite into so it doesn't walk off the bearing retainer and slide across the axle shaft pissing you off greatly. If your first center punch didn't hit the middle of the the bearing retainer move a little bit and try again, you're tossing this part afterwards anyhow.

After the hole is drilled take a cold chisel and give it a whack. It'll probably split in one hit. Slide it off.



Now you need to get the old bearing off. The outer race probably came off when you pulled the axle shaft. If you haven't seen it it's still in your axle, go pull it out. To get to the inner race you'll need to cut through the part that holds the rollers on the race. A dremel works good but it can throw stuff, eye protection time, seriously put on some glasses for this.

I'll pass on this hard learned lesson, when something gets stuck in your eye go directly to an ophthalmologist. A hospital won't touch it after they confirm something is in your eye. An optometrist won't touch it after they confirm something is in your eye. They will both send you to an ophthalmologist to pull something out of your eye.





Now slot the inner race with the dremel and split it with your cold chisel. If the chisel sticks in it and keeps it spread all the better, slide it off.



Now pull off the old seal, paying attention which way it faces.


Look at where the axle seal rides on the axle shaft. You want that to be nice and smooth for the new seal. If the old seal got crud under it and ran long enough it can cut a groove into the axle shaft. You can't put a new seal on and expect it to last riding in a groove. You've got two choices I'm aware of. You can get a new axle shaft, more money, or you can sleeve your current axle shaft, less money. Read up on the SKF Speedi-Sleeve or the Timken Redi-Sleeve.

If you've only got a light ring that can be polished out I'd suggest taking something like 180 grit sandpaper and polish the axle shaft until the ring disappears from sight. This is just a very light polishing that is taking almost nothing off the OD of the axle shaft. You want the axle shaft to stay round so polish evenly and use when the ring disappears as a guide to remove a uniform amount around the axle shaft. Then take something like 400 grit sandpaper and make it even smoother. Pretty and shiny doesn't matter, smooth does. Dragging your fingernail across where you've polished will tell you if it's smooth.

Now it's time to put the new parts on, but first you'll have to buy them, won't you? I bought mine through a local NAPA, but you can use the same part numbers, BR10 and 45600, on Rockauto and save yourself some money. The bearing and bearing retainer come in the same box.



Make sure to put on the axle bearing cage first, you likely set it to the side when you polished where the axle seal rides. The bolts should be tapped back into their holes. Put on your new seal, facing the correct direction. Put some grease on its lips so it doesn't burn up.

Now it's time to press on the bearing. If you have access to a hydraulic press I'm going to assume you either know how to press on a bearing or your buddy with the press does. If you don't have a press (they're pretty cheap at HF by the way...) you're going to need a piece of pipe and a hand sledge. The ID of the bearing is 1.563", or 1 9/16" or 39.7mm depending on how you look at these things. Your pipe ID is going to need to be slightly bigger than that, I'd suggest 1 5/8". From the pressed on bearing to the end of the shaft is 27 1/2" so the pipe would need to be longer than that.



So, put some lube on the axle shaft, you don't want to do this dry. Oil, grease, WD40, something... Now press the bearing on. The important part is, #1, press it on until it touches the shoulder on the axle shaft, #2, only touch the inner race with the pipe, and #3, make sure it's facing the right direction. You don't want the pipe to be banging into the outer race. You don't want to be banging into any other part of the bearing, you want this part to last, yes? Only hit the inner race.

Now it's time to press on the bearing retainer. This is much tighter than the bearing was. It's also a simple part, make life easy on yourself, put the bearing retainer in the oven at 500f for 1/2 an hour and let it grow with heat. It will go on easier and shrink to it's normal size when it cools. No damage, easier, big win.

Now if everything is pressed on far enough you'll be able to put the old snap ring back on. You're ready to reverse the process and put it all back together. Clean everything up really well with that brake parts cleaner and you should be able to forget about this part of your X for a long time :)


Here's the tools I used.





Credit where it is due:


Originally I read this thread on Club Frontier when I replaced my axle seals. The pictures have since disappreared on that thread so I wrote this one because I'm tired of not having a thread to point people to. I stole pictures and ideas from the web making this writeup. I know I've got a @Surf and Snow picture in there, he helped me two years ago when I was doing this to my X. I also stole from Stu Olson's writeup long after I did my install so I could provide pictures and make sure I was getting everything in the right order. I ain't making any money on this and we're all in this together so forgive me if I stole your picture and didn't mention you, I'll still respect you in the morning :grin:
 

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I remember doing this back in the day. I did get lazy and have the old bearing race pressed off, the new stuff pressed on - mostly because I didn't have a working Dremel to use.
 

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Awesome write up! Really could have used this when I did mine, found enough info here and there but this is a lot more thorough.

I had a lot more trouble getting my axle to come out. I actually damaged my slide hammer. I can't remember if I got the cage loose first, I think I did because I remember not removing the ABS sensor. The bearing had more or less sealed itself in because of rust. Ultimately took using a pry bar to sort of help focus pressure to one side. Once it barely budged and broke the rust seal, it tapped right out with the slide hammer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I remember doing this back in the day. I did get lazy and have the old bearing race pressed off, the new stuff pressed on - mostly because I didn't have a working Dremel to use.
When I did the first side I pressed off the bearing and the bearing retainer at the same time. I figured I've got a torch and a press, drilling and slotting is for suckers. I was wrong. I spend a lot of time getting it off, totally wasn't worth it. That bearing retainer is on there tight! On the second side I drilled and slotted, hugely easier. I would expect pressing off just the bearing wouldn't be too bad if you didn't have a dremel, the bearing is a lot looser of a fit than the bearing retainer.

Awesome write up! Really could have used this when I did mine, found enough info here and there but this is a lot more thorough.

I had a lot more trouble getting my axle to come out. I actually damaged my slide hammer. I can't remember if I got the cage loose first, I think I did because I remember not removing the ABS sensor. The bearing had more or less sealed itself in because of rust. Ultimately took using a pry bar to sort of help focus pressure to one side. Once it barely budged and broke the rust seal, it tapped right out with the slide hammer.

Thanks!

When I pulled the first axle the wimpy little auto body slide hammer I modified to pull the axle wasn't doing anything. Then I cobbled together the slide hammer in the photo below (I didn't know about renting one for free at the auto parts store at the time). I banged and I banged and I looked at it and I banged some more. It took forever but it finally came out. When I looked at how bent the axle bearing cage was I realized what all that banging force was doing. On the second side I pulled the cage and the axle all but fell out comparatively. I'm sure it's all going to depend on your specific axle. The axle can be pulled with the cage bolts still in and clear the ABS sensor, but there's not a lot of room and the sensor is expensive to replace so I sweated hitting it on the first axle.

 

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Okay @Longboardr Just a quick question or two for some clarification. In between pictures 5 and 6, when you're talking about removing the axle shaft from the housing, you mention leaving the nuts on the flange studs to tap the axle out and then using a slide hammer. Did you mean start removing the axle by applying force(brass hammer) to the flange studs and then remove the nuts and finish the removal with a slide hammer so the end result looks like picture 5?

I just wanted to clarify that. Also some helpful information I've been able to find is the rear diff fluid capacity.

According to the Amsoil website the M226 rear axle takes 4.4 pints (2.2 quarts) of 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil.

Finally I am planning on doing this to my wife's Xterra next week are there any more pictures you or anyone else think could be useful to add to or replace in this How-To? This site has been a life saver and I would love to try and give back in some way shape or form if possible!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Okay @Longboardr Just a quick question or two for some clarification. In between pictures 5 and 6, when you're talking about removing the axle shaft from the housing, you mention leaving the nuts on the flange studs to tap the axle out and then using a slide hammer. Did you mean start removing the axle by applying force(brass hammer) to the flange studs and then remove the nuts and finish the removal with a slide hammer so the end result looks like picture 5?

I just wanted to clarify that. Also some helpful information I've been able to find is the rear diff fluid capacity.

According to the Amsoil website the M226 rear axle takes 4.4 pints (2.2 quarts) of 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil.

Finally I am planning on doing this to my wife's Xterra next week are there any more pictures you or anyone else think could be useful to add to or replace in this How-To? This site has been a life saver and I would love to try and give back in some way shape or form if possible!
I'm saying remove those bolts before you do anything with the slide hammer.
 

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...

I just wanted to clarify that. Also some helpful information I've been able to find is the rear diff fluid capacity.

According to the Amsoil website the M226 rear axle takes 4.4 pints (2.2 quarts) of 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil.
I think Nissan started with recommending 75w-140, then switched for a few years to 75w-90, then switched back to 75w-140.

FWIW I am doing, or having someone do, this axle seal job too (thanks @Longboardr for the writeup) and I use 75w-140 in my '06.
 

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Okay @Longboardr Just a quick question or two for some clarification. In between pictures 5 and 6, when you're talking about removing the axle shaft from the housing, you mention leaving the nuts on the flange studs to tap the axle out and then using a slide hammer. Did you mean start removing the axle by applying force(brass hammer) to the flange studs and then remove the nuts and finish the removal with a slide hammer so the end result looks like picture 5?

I just wanted to clarify that. Also some helpful information I've been able to find is the rear diff fluid capacity.

According to the Amsoil website the M226 rear axle takes 4.4 pints (2.2 quarts) of 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil.

Finally I am planning on doing this to my wife's Xterra next week are there any more pictures you or anyone else think could be useful to add to or replace in this How-To? This site has been a life saver and I would love to try and give back in some way shape or form if possible!
I think Nissan started with recommending 75w-140, then switched for a few years to 75w-90, then switched back to 75w-140.

FWIW I am doing, or having someone do, this axle seal job too (thanks @Longboardr for the writeup) and I use 75w-140 in my '06.
I just put in info for my '15 and it recommended 75W-140. I'd base this off your owner's manual, though, and not what AMSOIL says.
 

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Amsoil's site recommends 75w-140 for 2005, 2006 and 2007. Then 75w-90 for 2008 through 2011. Then back to 75w-140 for 2012 through 2015.

See also this thread:
https://www.thenewx.org/forum/11-powertrain-driveline/48221-m226-gear-oil-different-2009-2011-a.html

Watching the videos and reading this writeup on the axle seal job make me think, yeah, I can do this no problem. Then I read about things being stuck, and damaged ABS sensors, and start worrying about damaging the axle.

Still not sure about tackling this job, but the writeup definitely will help if I do.
 

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Still not sure about tackling this job, but the writeup definitely will help if I do.
I didn't want to do mine but I coulden't find a mechanic that would touch it....by the time I went and bought a slide hammer and a pipe, I was time and money ahead over the shop anyway, only thing the shops did for me was waste my time and gas.
 

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The fluid changes by axle. Also, if you've got an ARB back there, you don't want synthetic. It let's the air out too easily and your compressor cycles on constantly.
 

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The fluid changes by axle. Also, if you've got an ARB back there, you don't want synthetic. It let's the air out too easily and your compressor cycles on constantly.
Huh? Sounds like you have other issues. Gear oil doesn’t keep the air in. The seals in the carrier air fitting do. Not sure what you are talking about. And for the record I have an ARB in my M226 and run synthetic gear oil.
 

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Huh? Sounds like you have other issues. Gear oil doesn’t keep the air in. The seals in the carrier air fitting do. Not sure what you are talking about. And for the record I have an ARB in my M226 and run synthetic gear oil.
X2. I run synthetic with my arb lockers. My compressor rarely cycles.

I suspect Ron as a bad o ring in the bulk head fitting.
@ronaprhys, I have a ton of spares, send me your address and I’ll throw some in an envelope for you.
 

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Odd - I've heard, from many folks, that it's better to run natural gear oil for the ARBs.

Josh - which o-ring? From what I can see, the fittings going into the actual pumpkin are pipe threads and wouldn't have o-rings.
 

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Odd - I've heard, from many folks, that it's better to run natural gear oil for the ARBs.

Josh - which o-ring? From what I can see, the fittings going into the actual pumpkin are pipe threads and wouldn't have o-rings.
there are o rings inside the bulkhead fitting that seal the air line. Not talking about the threaded part.

The o ring in this diagram:


If that is bad, your compressor will kick on/off a lot up to constantly, depending on how bad it is.

I needed to replace mine, and bought a box of 100 from mcmaster for something like $5. I don't mind sending you some.
 

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That could be it - I did replace something down there (I think I upgraded the inbound line) and it got a bit better. My issue seems to be that it comes slightly loose and tightening it solves the problem.

I'll check on this in a bit and let you know if I need one. Thanks for the offer and potential solution, though. Greatly appreciate it.
 

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That could be it - I did replace something down there (I think I upgraded the inbound line) and it got a bit better. My issue seems to be that it comes slightly loose and tightening it solves the problem.

I'll check on this in a bit and let you know if I need one. Thanks for the offer and potential solution, though. Greatly appreciate it.
you will likely have to take your diff cover off to really see. That o ring seals the internal copper air line to that fitting where your hose attaches. Be careful when you take it apart if you don't take your cover off, it is really easy to push the copper air line back into the diff. At that point you are committed. If there are any marks at all on the o ring, it needs replaced imo.
 

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I just had the diff cover off, too. Dammitalltohell.
 
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