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Changing A Diff

Repair Guide Changing A Diff

After some enthusiastic off roading I lost drive to the front axle, assuming it was just the half shaft I didn't anticipate a large job. How wrong I was.

This article assumes you have already removed both half shafts from the axle and drained the oil from the diff. Articles on how to remove front and rear half shafts are available in the articles section.

If you have the road wheels off first of all make sure you have the vehicle properly secured on axle stands and possibly a few blocks of wood as you will be causing a bit of movement whilst removing the diff.

To start you need to remove the prop shaft. Thankfully I have a wide angle prop so can just use a normal socket and spanner, however you can get special prop shaft tools if you have a standard propshaft for around £8.

Undoing the prop shaft bolts

Once the prop is undone from the diff simply tie it up out of the way to prevent the hassle of undoing it at the transfer box end. You will then be able to lie under your landy and see the bolts around the back of the diff holding it in place.

Red arrows showing the bolts holding diff in place

Go around the diff and undo each bolt to near the end of its thread, but dont remove them completely, just yet. Once all the bolts are loose pull down, push up and generally wiggle the diff about to get it free of the axle casing, the bolts will stop you pulling it off completely into your chest.

Now, go have a coffee and recharge cos the next bit is where it gets awkward.

You can do this by hand, but I prefer to use a trolly jack to reduce the risk of injury, diffs are heavy, around 25Kg and will often release suddenly. You should have a gap between the axle casing and the diff, if so raise the trolley jack up to take the weight of the front to the diff and hold the nose level, then proceed to remove the bolts, starting at the bottom.

Once all the bolts are removed you should be able to wiggle the nose back and forth and withdraw the diff from its casing. Lower the diff down onto the jack allowing you to wheel it out for inspection.

Diff resting on the jack

Sorry about the lack of photos here but holding a diff, a spanner and a camera is difficult :)

Once the diff is out inspect the planetary gears, the pinion gear and crown wheel. As you can see in the photo below I have lost some teeth off the crown wheel, the pinion was also stripped. These can be repaired but replacements are plentiful and cheap.

11062009126.jpg 11062009125.jpg
Missing teeth, the result of big air and a V8

If there is damage like this fish about in the bottom of the diff casing and retrieve the metal shards. I used a magnet to get mine out, there was quite a lot in there.


Refitting is pretty much the reversal of above. Clean up the mating surfaces of the diff and axle casing, fit a new diff gasket with a bit of grease on both sides and raise back into place with a trolley jack!

Put the top bolts in first ad then tighten like you would a wheel, working diagonally each time.
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