Nothing makes your heart sink faster than a groan from your axle when out enjoying a nice ride in your classic car. Now you’re miles from home and continuing to drive on a bearing that has failed, which can be dangerous and expensive. It’s not uncommon for failed bearings to start spinning in the rear axle housing causing damage or completely coming apart sending metal pieces into your differential gears. Certainly none of us wants to end up replacing their entire rear axle assembly, so the solution is to perform the preventative maintenance long before the axle bearings fail.
Replacing Rear Axle Bearings can be a little more difficult than many classic car maintenance projects as often a press is needed to remove and install the new bearings. If you have a press you are set, although if you don’t there are still options for you to get it done. First check with your friends, one of them may have or know of someone who does have one. If that doesn’t pan out, there are small home shop 12-20 ton presses available for under a couple hundred dollars. Or finally you can take your axle shafts into most automotive machine shops and they’ll press on and off the new bearings for you. Note: Should you do it yourself, take the time to ensure everything is straight and aligned before applying pressure to avoid injury.
The disassembly process is pretty straight forward on a Ford 8-9 inch rear axle as the axle shafts are held in by the retainers on the end of the axle tubes. Many Mopar rear axles are similar to the Ford design, but many GM rear axles also have “C” clips in the differential that must be removed before the axle shafts can be pulled out of the housing.
We join Mark Simpson in the shop to take us step-by-step through the process of replacing the rear axle bearings on a 1967 Ford Mustang with a 8-inch rear axle assembly. Simpson demonstrates how to remove the lock collar, press off the old bearings and install new bearings. While this job takes a little time in the shop, it’s a far better choice than spending time on the side of the road.