Changing out an ATV axle is a pretty routine job. All ATVs will need this done at some point in its life. With the rough terrain most riders take their quads on, there’s bound to be a bent axle problem sooner or later.
Sometimes you need to change the axle out because it got bent, sometimes people want to get a longer axle installed to widen the stance of their quad. Either way, the process is the same.
These steps are universal for any ATV cv joint axle change, but each quad is a little different. If you’re ever in doubt about one of the steps, it’s best to check your users manual. But first, lets go over the warning signs that your axle is actually bad and needs replacement.
How To Tell If Your ATV Axle Is Bad
The first thing to watch out for is a clicking or popping noise that you can hear while riding. This noise is most likely heard during tight corners or taking tight turns. This is a fairly common noise to hear if your cv joint axle is wearing out and needs to be replaced.
Physically get done and look at the axle itself. If it looks bent or dinged up enough that you can see a curve in the axle, it probably needs to be replaced. Check the boots and cv joints for wear or breaks as well.
If you feel a vibration or shaking when riding, it could be your axle is bent. There are a number of other issues that would cause a shaky feeling though. If a shaking or wobbling while riding is your only warning sign and the axle doesn’t look bent, I would check out my Common Reasons An ATV Will Shake article before swapping out the axle.
Now lets look at the tools you need and the steps to take to change out your ATV axle.
- Sturdy Jack Or Jack Stands
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Socket Wrench Set
- Rubber Hammer
You will also want to wear safety glasses and gloves when working on your ATV. You may need a new cotter pin for the axle castle nut and penetrating oil and cleaner if the axle is stuck on there.
Steps To Replace An ATV Axle
1. Lift The ATV
Lift the quad off the ground and place on jack stands or something very sturdy. You will be pulling on the lifted machine in later steps and don’t want it to tip.
2. Remove The Wheel
Get the lug nuts off and remove the wheel. It is easier to loosen the lug nuts before jacking up the quad. You can put the lug nuts back on the hub after the wheel is off if you’re worried about loosing them.
3. Remove Castle Nut On Axle
You might have a plastic cap covering the castle nut that you will need to remove first. Take the cotter pin out of the castle nut and remove the castle nut. It’s ok if you have some one hold the brake down to prevent the axle from rotating while you take off the castle nut.
4. Remove Brake Caliper
The brake caliper is usually held on by two bolts, remove those and pull the caliper off the rotor. You don’t need to take the caliper apart any further than this. Simply zip tie it up out of the way and avoid letting it hang or putting strain on the brake line.
5. Remove The Hub
This is a good stage to check if you need to replace your wheel hub bearings. You will need to remove all the same parts and get to this point to do that job anyway, so why not if it needs it do it now.
If you try to rotate the hub bearing assembly and notice it wobbles or is grinding, check out my ATV Wheel Hub Bearing Replacement article to get more info about that. Now remove the hub.
6. Remove The Bottom Shock Bolt
This will allow you to move the A-Arms when you get to that step. Just remove the cotter pin if you have one and remove the bolt holding on the bottom of the shock. This is only required if you need to remove the bottom A-Arm bolt to move it out of the way, usually only need on front axle changes if you have to remove the tie rod ends from the steering knuckle.
7. Remove A-Arm Bolt And Tie Rod End
To remove the bottom A-Arm bolt, simply take out the cotter pin if you have one and remove the nut holding it in place. You need to pull the bottom ball joint out of the steering knuckle in order to get the axle out.
To remove the steering tie rod end the same steps apply. Remove the cotter pin if there is one and remove the bolt. You may not need to do this step depending on your machine, and this is also only required on a front axle change.
The main goal here is to get the steering knuckle or rear knuckle off the axle.
8. Remove Axle
To remove the axle from the differential you will need to play with it a bit. A lot of times these axles can stuck on there and you may need to use some penetrating oil to make it easier.
Just give it a swift quick jerk on the axle to pull it out. This step is easiest done when you lower the bottom A-Arm and raise the top A-Arm and steering knuckle out of the way. Now it’s time to install the new axle.
9. Install New Axle
Get the new axle and line up the splines with the differential before pushing the new axle into place. It’s a good idea to grease up the splines on the the new axles before installing. Anti-seize grease will work just as well.
You may need to hit the end of the axle with a rubber hammer a couple times to get it seated in all the way properly. You should hear and feel it click into place nicely. You can give it a little tug to make sure it seated the right way.
This step is pretty straight forward, you want reinstall everything in the reverse order you took it apart. Get the steering knuckle or rear knuckle back on the axle, bolt the tie rod ends and A-Arms back together, and bolt put the lower shock bolt back on.
Now put the hub back on with the washer if there was one and the castle nut with a new cotter pin. Put the wheel back on and take the machine off the jack or jack stands.
11. Do An Alignment
With any maintenance efforts that involve removing the tie rod ends or anything to do with the steering, it’s a good idea to do an alignment afterwards. Especially if you were installing a longer axle to widen the stance of your ATV.
An alignment may not so crucial if you really only ride at lower speeds, but not getting one done can cause your tires to wear unevenly and cause extra wear to other parts of your machine.
To do an ATV alignment check out my How To Do An ATV Alignment article for the step by step process on how to get it done the right way.
That’s it! Those are the steps to replace the axle on your ATV. If you don’t know where to start the search for the replacement axle, I would try your local ATV parts store or Look At ATV Axles on Amazon. You can usually find the parts cheaper online, just make sure you get the right part for your make and model.