How to Change a 2002 Lexus ES300 Half Shaft

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Toyota introduced the Lexus ES300 in 1992. The 2002 Lexus ES300 was equipped with a 3.0 L V-6 engine capable of producing 210-horsepower and 220 foot-pounds of torque. The 2002 ES300 was fitted with a five-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The transmission propels the CV-axles, or half shafts, which in turn are responsible for making the vehicle move. Half shafts can wear out over time, necessitating their replacement. Replacing a half shaft on a 2002 ES300 can take up to three hours per side if you have never performed this type of work before.

Things You'll Need

  • New half shaft or CV-shaft
  • New spindle or axle nut
  • 1/2 in. drive breaker bar
  • 32 mm 1/2-inch drive spindle nut socket
  • 1/2 in. drive torque wrench and socket set
  • 3/8 in. drive ratchet and socket set
  • Small pry bar
  • Large rubber mallet
  • Hammer or 3 lb. mini sledge
  • 2 ton or greater capacity floor jack
  • 2 ton or greater capacity jack stand
  • Tire iron
  • Metal clothes hanger or thin metal rod
  • Tube of axle grease or white lithium grease

2002 Lexus ES300: Half Shaft or CV-Shaft Removal Instructions

  • Remove the center cap from the wheel, using a small pry bar if necessary. Insert a 32 mm spindle nut socket through the hole in the center of the wheel and onto the axle or spindle nut. Install a 1/2-in. drive breaker bar onto the spindle nut socket. Turn the spindle nut counterclockwise with the vehicle on the ground until you break the nut from its initial torque on the axle. Do not loosen or remove the nut any further, once you have broken the nut free form torque.

  • Remove the initial torque from the front wheel on which you are working using a tire iron. Turn the nuts until the torque is removed from them, but do not loosen or remove the nuts. Raise the front of the ES300 with a 2-ton floor jack or a jack with greater capacity. Place a 2-ton jack stand beneath the front frame rail near the wheel well on the side of the Lexus that you are working upon. Remove the wheel lug nuts completely from the wheel with the tire iron, then remove the wheel from the car.

  • Remove the caliper mounting bolts from the back of the calipers, using a 3/8-in. drive ratchet and socket. Turn the bolts counterclockwise until you can remove them by hand, then pull them free from the caliper. The caliper is the large metal object that wraps around the brake rotor or disc and holds the brake pads onto the rotor. Remove the caliper completely from the brake assembly, using a pry bar to assist you if necessary. Hang the caliper from the front strut spring in the wheel well, using a metal clothes hanger or thin metal rod.

  • Remove the caliper mounting bracket bolts, using a 3/8-in. drive ratchet and socket set. Turn the bolts until they are completely free from the steering knuckle, directly behind the brake rotor. Pull the caliper bracket off by hand. Remove the brake rotor or disc by hand. Unplug the wheel bearing connector that is on the back of the wheel bearing. This is a small electrical plug that extends from the body of the Lexus onto the rear of the wheel bearing. Disconnect the sensor completely from the wheel bearing by using your hand.

  • Turn the spindle nut counterclockwise until the outer face of the nut aligns with the outer end of the axle. Use a 1/2-in. breaker bar and a 32 mm spindle nut socket to turn the axle nut. Do not remove the nut. Strike the out end of the axle and nut with a large rubber mallet, until the axle pops free from the wheel bearing. The axle will jolt inward when it is free from the bearing.

  • Push the axle and nut inward with one hand while you install a 3/8-in. drive ratchet and socket onto the ball joint nut between the lower control arm and the bottom of the axle boot. Pushing the axle back will move the boot so that you can gain direct access to the lower ball joint nut. Remove the nut completely from the ball joint.

  • Strike the front of the lower control arm in a motion that is downward and towards the rear of the Lexus. This hammering motion will cause the ball joint to fall free from the steering knuckle, and the lower control arm will fall downward from the knuckle assembly. Continue hammering until the aforementioned motions involving the ball joint and lower control arm occur.

  • Remove the spindle nut completely from the end of the half shaft. Push the half shaft inward with one hand in front of the steering knuckle, while the other hand grabs the shaft from inside or behind the knuckle. Push the shaft continually from behind the knuckle, while simultaneously pulling the steering knuckle and wheel bearing off outward and away from the axle. These two separating motions will remove the outer end of the half shaft.

  • Place a small pry bar between the transmission and the inner end of the half shaft. Push the pry bar handle inward and underneath the transmission to force the CV-shaft outward. Leave one hand beneath the CV-shaft bearing its weight, so that the shaft does not simply fall out and onto the ground. Remove the half shaft completely from the ES300.

2002 Lexus ES300: Half Shaft or CV-Shaft Installation Instructions

  • Push the inner end of the new axle into the transmission by hand. Use both of your hands to make a very slight gyration of the axle in a pivoting motion. Wiggle the shaft until it is started into the transmission at least 1/2 to 1-in. deep. Push the outer end of the half shaft upward so the axle is straight. Push the shaft inward from the outer end by hand, while hammering the end of the drive shaft with a rubber mallet. Do not use a metal hammer on the end of any axle shaft.

  • Hammer the CV-shaft until the distance between the transmission and inner shaft bulb is only about 1/16-in. apart. Apply axle grease or white lithium grease from a tube, onto the outer end of the CV-shaft. Coat the splines on the end of the shaft thoroughly with grease. Coat the inside of the wheel bearing splines as well with the grease. Hammer the outside face of the steering knuckle with a large rubber mallet. Continue hammering until the axle protrudes through the front face of the wheel bearing.

  • Install a new spindle nut onto the end of the axle. Turn the spindle nut by hand until the outer face of the nut aligns with the outer end of the axle. Turn the spindle knuckle so that the outer end of the axle is facing as far to the front of the car as possible. Place a jack beneath the lower control arm and raise the lower control arm on the jack with one hand. Use your free hand to guide the lower ball joint into the bottom hole in the steering knuckle.

  • Push the lower control arm up and the lower ball joint through the lower steering knuckle, until the ball joint protrudes from the lower knuckle on the other side. Install the lower ball joint nut onto the ball joint and start the nut a couple of turns by hand. Tighten the lower ball joint with a 3/8-in. drive ratchet and socket. Turn the nut clockwise until the ball joint is secured through the lower spindle knuckle and firmly tightened.

  • Insert the pry bar in between the front strut bottom and the back of the steering knuckle. Turn the entire steering assembly so that the axle is pointing perpendicular to the lines of the vehicle, or you can visualize that the wheel would be turned straight if it were installed. Hammer the end of the CV-shaft with a large rubber mallet in order to double check yourself on your inner end insertion into the transmission. This is the last opportunity you will have to work on getting the axle set in far enough.

2002 Lexus ES300: CV-shaft and Front End Parts Final Torque and Specifications

  • Tighten the lower ball joint nut to 90 foot-pounds of torque with a torque wrench and socket. Tighten the spindle nut with a torque wrench and the spindle nut socket to 96 foot-pounds of torque.

  • Install the brake rotor by hand. Install the caliper mounting bracket and mounting bolts, and tighten the bolts to 58 foot-pounds of torque with a torque wrench and socket. Reinstall the brake pads if they fell out of the caliper bracket. The pads can only be inserted one way. Install the caliper by hand over the caliper bracket and rotor. Insert the caliper mounting bolts and tighten the bolts to 25 foot-pounds of torque with a torque wrench and socket.

  • Install the front wheel onto the Lexus. Snug the wheel lug nuts so that the wheel is flush mounted onto the car using a tire iron. Raise the front of the ES300 with a 2 ton jack and remove the jack stand from beneath the car. Lower the car to the ground. Tighten the wheel lug nuts to 75 foot-pounds final torque using a torque wrench and socket. Double-check your torque on the axle nut prior to installing the center cap back on the wheel. The torque again on the axle nut is 90 foot-pounds.

Tips & Warnings

  • Auto parts stores like Autozone offer a "Loan-a-Tool" or similar tool loaning program. This program is great for borrowing tools that you do not use very often or won't likely use again. The spindle nut socket, torque wrench and breaker bar are examples of such tools. See your local auto parts store for details on whether or not they have a tool loaning program, where for a small deposit, you can borrow a tool. Upon return of the tool, you will receive a full refund on your deposit.
  • Never lift a vehicle on uneven ground or a slope. Raising a vehicle on uneven ground can cause jacks and jack stands to collapse. This could result in vehicle damage, personal injury or even death if the vehicle collapses onto you.

References

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