My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan. - Nissan Titan Forum
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#1 (permalink) Old 02-08-2010, 09:31 PM
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My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Just R&R-ed the front differential on my Titan this weekend, and at least from my reading and searches there isn't a lot of info on any Titan forum in reference to this.

#1- If you've been asking yourself "can I really do this", the answer is probably yes. Many probably already know/believe this, but I just wanted to re-assure those who may be doubting themselves. If you do your own brakes pads, coolant flushes, and stuff of that level, then this should be no problem at all.

#2- You don't need much, but you will need:
  • Buddy with an extra set of hands
  • Can of penetrating oil
  • Impact wrench with a swivel attachment
  • Metric short and long sockets up to 19 mm
  • Rubber deadblow hammer
  • Torque wrench with an upper limit that can handle at least 135 ft/lbs (only really needed if you like to get your torque values back to the OEM spec)
  • About 1.5-2 hours of free time, maybe less
  • You DON'T need any 75w90 diff fluid- it comes filled from the factory

#3- Assuming you get the fasteners lubed-up with the penetrating oil in advance, there's really not much to the job:
  • Unbolt/remove the underbody skid plate below the front diff housing.
  • Unbolt the front driveshaft (the one coming from the transfer case) from it's diff flange. You can leave it to hang from the end still attached to the transfer case.
  • Unbolt the left and right driveshafts from their diff flanges. You can also leave these to hang.
  • Unbolt/remove the crossmember towards the rear of the front diff housing. Don't worry, this is a small, lightweight, stamped sheet metal part that is bearing no stress while you do the job.
  • Unbolt the single rear, rubber-isolated housing mount from the truck frame.
  • Place your floor jack under the pumpkin portion of the front diff housing, and elevate the jack pad to support.
  • Unbolt the two front, rubber-isolated housing mounts from the truck frame.
  • Carefully and slowly lower the unit.
  • To re-install, simply reverse the above. There really are no tricks or nuances, it's just that simple. Excluding simple stuff like the skid plate and driveshaft flanges, there's only a total of 7 bolts (3 for the unit, 4 for the crossmember) keeping your diff from dropping straight onto the ground without obstruction.

#4- Like I mentioned earlier, if you like OEM torque specs, here they are (thanks to DodgeDerek for this info):
  • All 3 rubber-isolated frame mounts- 135 ft/lbs
  • L & R driveshaft flanges- 54 ft/lbs
  • Front driveshaft flange- 44 ft/lbs
  • Crossmember- 96 ft/lbs
  • If you don't have a torque wrench, and just want to approximate, then remember that Torque = Force x Length of Lever Arm (in feet, if you're measuring ft/lbs), which can be converted to Force = Torque / Length of Lever Arm. What that means, for example, is that for the 135 ft/lbs spec used on the frame mounts, your actual hand needs to exert 135 lbs of force with a 1 foot wrench, 67.5 lbs of force with a 2 foot wrench, or 270 lbs of force with a 6" wrench, etc.

Sorry, I didn't take any pics because I just wanted to 'get 'er done', but suffice to say it's so simple that me taking pictures of this and making a full DIY would be like doing the same for a tire rotation.

2004 Titan KC LE BT 4X4 - Smoke Paint
295/70/18 Toyo OC AT II's
1.5" PRG Leveling Kit
Bilstein 5100's on Low Perch
'08+ 4WD MOOG Coils
PML Rear Differential Cover
OEM Armada Front Spoiler
Access Literider Tonneau Cover
Amsoil Fluids Throughout

Last edited by ten~39; 02-10-2010 at 02:22 PM.
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#2 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 02:19 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Nice, complete yet concise. How much does the front diff weigh?
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#3 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 05:35 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Excellent "how-to" ten~39.
I purchased the new upgraded NISSAN front differential recently for my Big Tow geared Titan.
I haven't installed mine yet so maybe this will save me some time.
I always do all my mods "single-handed"....well actually with two hands but without a helper.

Some questions?....
How long did it take to R&R?
You didn't mention fluid.........did it come fully loaded with gear oil?

***NOTE*** When ordering a new front differential there's two different units depending on if your Titan is a standard 4x4 or Big Tow (different gears) 4x4 model.

***Big Tow front differential new part#...38500-8S11B***
Big Tow front differential old part#...38500-8S102

***Non Big Tow front differential new part#...38500-8S11A***
Non Big Tow front differential old part#...38500-8S100



Quote:
Originally Posted by bestatchess View Post
How much does the front diff weigh
Total weight on the skid freight label is 138 lbs.
It was heavy/awkward enough that I didn't feel like lifting it out of the back of my Titan.......so I cheated....

May I be the first to add some pics.?
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3-29-05 Born 4/09/05 Adopted SEKC 4 x 4 Off Road with 08 Big Tow-E-Loc, Blizzard Graphite/Titanium Interior, Popular Package, Bench Seat,
Bilstein front/rear shocks, Deaver Mini-Pak Springs, Total Chaos Shackles, Hellwig Anti-Sway Bar, Mag-Hytek Honeypot, HK Rear Axle Vent Mod.
ARE Z shell..OEM bug/rock deflector, Lund AVS Ventvisors, OEM mud gaurds, Bushwhacker- notched-Fender Flares, Stainless Steel Titan Door Sills, Black Vinyl Door Edge Molding on front doors and vertical sides of Tailgate, Spoiler Direct Chrome Tailgate Trim, Utilitrac System, OEM Dual Lower Sliding Trays, OEM under-seat-storganiser, Silver Star Ultra L B, White Night Backup Lights, CT Windshield Sun Reflector, Drawtite Activator II trailer-e-brake control, Super-Z-Winter Traction Cables, Dueler AT REVO Tires-4th set, Frozen Rotors/Hawk Pads, NISSAN I-POD adapter, Bosch Icon blades-2nd set, Optima Red Top battery.

6 x 10' low bed/rails trailer with E-brakes. 108 year old rebuilt 4,000 lb. road roller/packer.
JFK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8dLHZ6jKFc
"We have the Capability & Technology to Eliminate 100% of our needs for Persian Gulf Oil" R.F.K.Jr. 7-07:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG5zckBejK0

Last edited by honeykeeper; 02-09-2010 at 04:32 PM.
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#4 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 08:05 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bestatchess View Post
Nice, complete yet concise. How much does the front diff weigh?
I never did see a weight rating on the wood crate, but I would have guessed about 115. Looks like based on the 138 honeykeeper mentioned, that should be close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeykeeper View Post
I always do all my mods "single-handed"....well actually with two hands but without a helper.
You can give it a try, but it honestly might be a bit of a struggle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeykeeper View Post
How long did it take to R&R?
Sheesh... I knew I'd end up forgetting something basic in my OP.

It took us about 2 hours, but we were in no big rush, and I did take my time re-torquing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeykeeper View Post
You didn't mention fluid.........did it come fully loaded with gear oil?
Another data item I forgot.

Yes, it came filled from Dana. I found this out by accident when I was about to put in my new Amsoil 75w90, as I was making sure the bottom drain bolt was torqued correctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeykeeper View Post
May I be the first to add some pics.?
By all means, go for it.

2004 Titan KC LE BT 4X4 - Smoke Paint
295/70/18 Toyo OC AT II's
1.5" PRG Leveling Kit
Bilstein 5100's on Low Perch
'08+ 4WD MOOG Coils
PML Rear Differential Cover
OEM Armada Front Spoiler
Access Literider Tonneau Cover
Amsoil Fluids Throughout
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#5 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 08:25 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

And the dealerships charge on the average about $400 to $500 labor for this. Thanks for the info.

2004 King cab SE 4X4 White. Mud flaps. Debadged
Iron Cross Nerf Bars. U-Haul Hitch
Lund Bug Deflector - Clear painted White
Line X Bed liner with rubber bed mat
Armada front air dam. Hellwig Traction Springs
Bilsteins 5100 fronts set at 1 inch. 1" rear drop shackles
PML Larger capacity black powder-coated differential cover.
Extang Express Tonneau Cover. Hoppy Tailgate Assist
Wet Okole Front seat covers.
New front differential at 60500 miles. [goodwill fix denied]
Detroit Truetrac at 61000 miles
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#6 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 09:14 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

As an FYI, it is indeed reasonably simple to pluck out the front differential and driveshaft, but to remove everything in order to allow you to keep driving while fixing it is another story. The axleshafts from the differential to the front hubs require you to pull shock/spring assemblies out. To do this you have to disconnect the upper control arm ball joint to let the lower control arm drop enough to easily remove it and then you can get the axleshafts out. Kind of a pain, but now at least I can drive my truck around in permanent 2WD instead of being completely SOL while I see if I can fix my front differential. Luckily I have new tires and TrueTrac (which works phenominally well) so I can still get around in the snow.

HoneyKeeper, I'll try to add a picture tonight of my front diff. so we can see the difference in webbing on the case and see if there is a significant difference.

Derek

Last edited by DodgeDerek; 02-09-2010 at 03:58 PM.
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#7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 11:13 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DodgeDerek View Post
HoneyKeeper, I'll try to add a picture tonight of my front diff. so we can see the difference in webbing on the case and see if there is a significant difference. Derek
Great.........and I'll take side by side pics. of old verses new when I change differentials....when the sun shines....when I have time.......hopefully very soon.


3-29-05 Born 4/09/05 Adopted SEKC 4 x 4 Off Road with 08 Big Tow-E-Loc, Blizzard Graphite/Titanium Interior, Popular Package, Bench Seat,
Bilstein front/rear shocks, Deaver Mini-Pak Springs, Total Chaos Shackles, Hellwig Anti-Sway Bar, Mag-Hytek Honeypot, HK Rear Axle Vent Mod.
ARE Z shell..OEM bug/rock deflector, Lund AVS Ventvisors, OEM mud gaurds, Bushwhacker- notched-Fender Flares, Stainless Steel Titan Door Sills, Black Vinyl Door Edge Molding on front doors and vertical sides of Tailgate, Spoiler Direct Chrome Tailgate Trim, Utilitrac System, OEM Dual Lower Sliding Trays, OEM under-seat-storganiser, Silver Star Ultra L B, White Night Backup Lights, CT Windshield Sun Reflector, Drawtite Activator II trailer-e-brake control, Super-Z-Winter Traction Cables, Dueler AT REVO Tires-4th set, Frozen Rotors/Hawk Pads, NISSAN I-POD adapter, Bosch Icon blades-2nd set, Optima Red Top battery.

6 x 10' low bed/rails trailer with E-brakes. 108 year old rebuilt 4,000 lb. road roller/packer.
JFK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8dLHZ6jKFc
"We have the Capability & Technology to Eliminate 100% of our needs for Persian Gulf Oil" R.F.K.Jr. 7-07:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG5zckBejK0
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#8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 11:20 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Personally, I didn't see a difference between the old and new housings, but I didn't go over them with a fine toothed comb either.

2004 Titan KC LE BT 4X4 - Smoke Paint
295/70/18 Toyo OC AT II's
1.5" PRG Leveling Kit
Bilstein 5100's on Low Perch
'08+ 4WD MOOG Coils
PML Rear Differential Cover
OEM Armada Front Spoiler
Access Literider Tonneau Cover
Amsoil Fluids Throughout
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#9 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 11:33 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ten~39 View Post
Personally, I didn't see a difference between the old and new housings, but I didn't go over them with a fine toothed comb either.
I don't believe that they changed the housing, just a few things on the inside. I'm not really to positive about the new design front diff holding up much better than the old one. I guess only time will tell. If we start seeing the 06, 07, 08, 09 front diffs start to fail, then we are not out of the woods with the" new and improved" front diff.

2004 King cab SE 4X4 White. Mud flaps. Debadged
Iron Cross Nerf Bars. U-Haul Hitch
Lund Bug Deflector - Clear painted White
Line X Bed liner with rubber bed mat
Armada front air dam. Hellwig Traction Springs
Bilsteins 5100 fronts set at 1 inch. 1" rear drop shackles
PML Larger capacity black powder-coated differential cover.
Extang Express Tonneau Cover. Hoppy Tailgate Assist
Wet Okole Front seat covers.
New front differential at 60500 miles. [goodwill fix denied]
Detroit Truetrac at 61000 miles
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#10 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 04:03 PM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Here is a picture from my front diff. I think I see at least a little bit more webbing, but more towards the pinion area. It's tough to tell given the difference in condition though.
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#11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 04:11 PM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DodgeDerek View Post
Here is a picture from my front diff. I think I see at least a little bit more webbing, but more towards the pinion area. It's tough to tell given the difference in condition though.
I think you're right, there's definitely more veins on the updated unit in that area.

2004 Titan KC LE BT 4X4 - Smoke Paint
295/70/18 Toyo OC AT II's
1.5" PRG Leveling Kit
Bilstein 5100's on Low Perch
'08+ 4WD MOOG Coils
PML Rear Differential Cover
OEM Armada Front Spoiler
Access Literider Tonneau Cover
Amsoil Fluids Throughout
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#12 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 04:25 PM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

It does look like there is alittle more ribbibing near the rear where the transfer case drive shaft connects.

2004 King cab SE 4X4 White. Mud flaps. Debadged
Iron Cross Nerf Bars. U-Haul Hitch
Lund Bug Deflector - Clear painted White
Line X Bed liner with rubber bed mat
Armada front air dam. Hellwig Traction Springs
Bilsteins 5100 fronts set at 1 inch. 1" rear drop shackles
PML Larger capacity black powder-coated differential cover.
Extang Express Tonneau Cover. Hoppy Tailgate Assist
Wet Okole Front seat covers.
New front differential at 60500 miles. [goodwill fix denied]
Detroit Truetrac at 61000 miles
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#13 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 05:00 PM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DodgeDerek View Post
Here is a picture from my front diff. I think I see at least a little bit more webbing, but more towards the pinion area. It's tough to tell given the difference in condition though.
Here you go...see anything different?
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3-29-05 Born 4/09/05 Adopted SEKC 4 x 4 Off Road with 08 Big Tow-E-Loc, Blizzard Graphite/Titanium Interior, Popular Package, Bench Seat,
Bilstein front/rear shocks, Deaver Mini-Pak Springs, Total Chaos Shackles, Hellwig Anti-Sway Bar, Mag-Hytek Honeypot, HK Rear Axle Vent Mod.
ARE Z shell..OEM bug/rock deflector, Lund AVS Ventvisors, OEM mud gaurds, Bushwhacker- notched-Fender Flares, Stainless Steel Titan Door Sills, Black Vinyl Door Edge Molding on front doors and vertical sides of Tailgate, Spoiler Direct Chrome Tailgate Trim, Utilitrac System, OEM Dual Lower Sliding Trays, OEM under-seat-storganiser, Silver Star Ultra L B, White Night Backup Lights, CT Windshield Sun Reflector, Drawtite Activator II trailer-e-brake control, Super-Z-Winter Traction Cables, Dueler AT REVO Tires-4th set, Frozen Rotors/Hawk Pads, NISSAN I-POD adapter, Bosch Icon blades-2nd set, Optima Red Top battery.

6 x 10' low bed/rails trailer with E-brakes. 108 year old rebuilt 4,000 lb. road roller/packer.
JFK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8dLHZ6jKFc
"We have the Capability & Technology to Eliminate 100% of our needs for Persian Gulf Oil" R.F.K.Jr. 7-07:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG5zckBejK0
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#14 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 05:36 PM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeykeeper View Post
Here you go...see anything different?
Definitely some difference. I think the pinion webbing is to reinforce against some of the catastrophic failures we have seen. Those I believe were caused when the differential and pinion gears overloaded the case (i.e. someone towing backwards).

Can you get a couple of shots around the driver's side axle? I think that's another area that got beefed up as well.

Derek
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#15 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 10:46 AM
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Re: My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan.

Nice post 10~39. I vote for a sticky on this one. Regardless, I will remember this one.

Essentially Stock 2006 SE 4WD with Bilstein HD's
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