How to Change the Drive Axle on a 2002 PT Cruiser

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In front wheel drive vehicles like the 2002 PT Cruiser torque from the engine is transmitted by the transmission to the front wheels through the drive axles. On each end of the drive axles, constant velocity (CV) joints allow the torque to be applied to the wheel without binding. When the CV joints are damaged or worn out the cheapest and easiest way to fix them is to replace them. This is an afternoon project well suited for the experienced home mechanic.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheel chocks
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Lug wrench
  • Wire cutter
  • Axle nut sockets
  • Breaker bar
  • Wrench set
  • Socket set
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Large punch
  • Raise and support the front wheels using wheel chocks on the rear wheels and a floor jack positioned under the front sub-frame. Place jack stands under each side of the front sub-frame and secure the vehicle by lowering the jack until the PT Cruiser is resting on the stands.

  • Remove the front wheel using the lug wrench and lay it aside. Remove the brake caliper bracket bolts using a 15mm socket and ratchet. Lift the caliper off the rotor and slide the brake rotor off the hub assembly.

  • Remove the lower ball joint nut using a 17mm wrench. Hit the steering knuckle near the ball joint's stud to loosen the stud from the knuckle. Pry down on the lower control arm using a pry bar and slip the ball joint out of the steering knuckle.

  • Remove the cotter pin and castellated spacer from the axle using a pair of wire cutters. Remove the axle nut using a 35mm axle nut socket and breaker bar. Place the punch in the dimple found on the end of the axle to avoid damaging the threads of the axle. Drive the axle into the hub with the punch and hammer to loosen it from the hub splines.

  • Pull and hold the steering knuckle away from the wheel opening and slide the drive axle out through the back of the hub. Place a drain pan under the inner CV joint of the axle. Pry the drive axle out of the transmission using a pry-bar and lay it aside.

  • Screw the axle nut onto the axle until it is flush with the end of the new drive axle to protect the axle threads. Push the inner CV joint of the drive axle into the transmission until you feel it engage the splines inside the transmission. Tap the end of the outer CV joint of the drive axle with the hammer until the inner joint seats into the transmission.

  • Remove the axle nut. Slip the drive axle into the back of the hub and push it through. Pry down on the lower control arm and slip the lower ball joint stud into the steering knuckle. Install and tighten securely the lower ball joint nut.

  • Install the axle nut and tighten it securely. Torque the axle nut to 180 lb.-feet using a torque wrench. Reinstall the brake rotor and caliper. Reinstall the wheel and torque the lug nuts to 100 lb.-feet using the torque wrench.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear safety glasses and work gloves to prevent serious injuries.
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