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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2004 Titan with 125,000 rounds on it, it now has a driver side axle that is pulled out of the front diff. I scoured the forums here and elsewhere, seems like a very common problem, after doing some research I still have a couple questions of you experts out there. For the record, I'm fairly good with a wrench, good enough to get myself in trouble at times anyway.

1) There's been mention of some folks 'just putting the axle back into the diff'. How does one go about this? Just force it back in with front end off the ground? Remove c clip (if still there), push back in and replace clip from inside diff? I do have a new oem clip for what it is worth.

2) It is my understanding that I can covert this rig to two wheel by just removing the half axles by removing the axle nuts and decoupling the joints. And maybe removing the front drive shaft too. Is this accurate? I'm fairly broke right now and just need to buy some time (and save some dollars).

3) If the diff is shot, how hard is it to replace with the new updated one? It looks pretty straight forward to me, I just want to be sure there's no surprises. Do I need to replace axles too? Or does the new diff just have tighter tolerances?

I think I caught this fairly quickly, I was aware of this being an issue with these trucks, first hiccup and she got parked. I'm hoping that hiccup was not the c clip going around the ring and pinion, but not too confident that is the case either. I have some time off work this week, my plan was to either pop the axle back into place or remove axles altogether, I plan to pull the diff plug too to see what's on the magnet. Wish me luck.

Thanks in advance if you're able to shed some light on my questions, I really appreciate it.
 

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You just push the axle halfshaft back into the differential. One important note. on the end of the splined stub is a groove that the spring clip sits in. this spring clip compresses while you push the stub back into the diff and "pops" back to a normal size once it seats fully into the differential. Did this clip come out with the shaft? if not, it could possibly be still inside the housing. You'll have to go fishing for it.
I don't recommend running this rig in a modified 2wd mode. i've seen some unit wheel bearings come apart under use because the squeezing action of the shaft and hub nut help keep the bearing internals in the right place. Without it, sometimes the bearing will come apart under use because it's built differently from dedicated 2wd hub bearings.
a poor-man's fix could be to find a larger circlip for the end of the stub shaft. one that either has a slightly larger uncompressed diameter or had a higher spring force to keep it inside the side gear better. use these new circlips and put the thing back together.
 

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I don't recommend running this rig in a modified 2wd mode. i've seen some unit wheel bearings come apart under use because the squeezing action of the shaft and hub nut help keep the bearing internals in the right place. Without it, sometimes the bearing will come apart under use because it's built differently from dedicated 2wd hub bearings.
Are you sure about this? While Nissan has two different part numbers for the hubs for 4x2 and 4x2, Timken has a single part number for both 4x2 and 4x4 for models through 04/2007, and specifically says it fits both. Other brands have only a single part number but don't call out that it is for 4x2 and 4x4 so the assumption is that it fits both.
 

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Are you sure about this? While Nissan has two different part numbers for the hubs for 4x2 and 4x2, Timken has a single part number for both 4x2 and 4x4 for models through 04/2007, and specifically says it fits both. Other brands have only a single part number but don't call out that it is for 4x2 and 4x4 so the assumption is that it fits both.
my 2013 is a 2wd and has the splined Hubs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it. I did take a look yesterday, drained the diff, nothing more exciting than some fuzz on the plug (nothing large). I did try to reseat the axel but not sure if it was totally made up or not, it was hard to see and I need to look again with more time and better light. I can't believe there's not a better fix for this issue other than a new diff, doesn't someone make bigger clips or can't the axels be better secured from inside the diff? I know it is some work, but $1500 buys a lot of labor in my house. Also, I don't see how running this rig without front axels would cause bearing issues, the front hubs are independent from what I can see? Thanks again!
 

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Also you may damage the transfer case if you drive the truck without front axles in the long run
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I just found a thread by user ten~39 from 02-08-2010 "My experience DIY-ing the front differential in a Titan" that answers most of my questions, not sure why previous searches did not turn this one up. Apologies to all for the redundancy, thanks again for the replies!
 

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I have had the same problem with the front drivers axle popping out. It first started when I had my blisteins on the high setting giving it a small front end lift. This must of changed the angle of the axle making it more susceptible to fail. It would pop out over normal use. I would just pop it back into place.

For about two months did do the poor mans 2wd thinking my front diff was toast. It drove just fine and not problems still to this day. Probably wouldn't recommend it but gotta do what you gotta do when your broke.

I ended up going back to stock height and putting the same diff in. Bought a new Cir Clip and expanding it as much as I could before I put it back into place. The diff lube I change out every year. Little bit of silver surfer stuff but its been working just fine for the last 40k miles. Just going to drive it till it fails and buy an updated one.

Dropping the diff was fairly easy to remove. You can probably replace one in 5 or so hours with basic mechanical knowledge. Just make sure to have a solid jack underneath the diff when you unbolt it.

FYI There are dudes who have spot welded the axel into place with success.
 

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I just skipped all the comments (sorry guys).
So if the axle came out there is only 2 possibilities.
A: the cir clip failed
B: the carrier is stripped

So, first remove the axle all the way. The open area of the cir clip. make it flush on the axle. Minimum there should be 1.67 mm of difference from the hi spot of the spline of the axle and the cir clip high point.

if its flat, replace axle (why take a chance)
If it is in spec, you carrier is stripped and the channel where the clip locks and will need a new carrier for confirmed fix.

good luck!
 
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