How To Clean A Used Rzeppa-Style Constant Velocity Axle

Regardless of whether you own an affordable, low-end car or a high-end luxury car, your constant velocity axles will fail after being used for tens of thousands of miles. Unfortunately, brand new constant velocity axles are expensive. Luckily, you've discovered that your vehicle uses a Rzeppa-style axle that's widely available. For this reason, you have chosen to purchase used constant velocity axles from a scrapyard or aftermarket dealer. Before you put your used car parts to work, clean them to ensure that they operate correctly.

Separate The Protective Boot

Your axle has a protective boot that prevents dirt, pebbles, and other road debris from damaging its internal bearings. To thoroughly clean your axle's internals, you'll need to separate the boot by loosening the metal clamps at the inner and outer edges of your boot. Use a pair of pliers to unfold the edges of the clamps and loosen your boot.

Now that your boot is loose, slide it further down your axle shaft to reveal the bearing cage and other internal components. However, before you can further disassemble your axle, you'll need to clean away the copious amount of grease covering your axle with an old rag or shop towels.

Once you've wiped away the majority of the grease around your axle, you'll see a small retainer ring lining the outside of your cylinder. Remove the ring with a flat screwdriver and set it aside.

With the retaining ring removed, you can now pull the cylinder off your axle to isolate your bearing cage.

Disassemble The Bearing Cage

Your bearing cage retains the bearings inside your axle and allows for a significant amount of steering motion. However, during regular use, the bearings inside an axle can sustain substantial damage. For this reason, you'll need to inspect your used axle for signs of damage before installing it in your car.

To remove the bearing cage from your axle, pull the small circlip out of the cylinder end of your bearing cage. With the circlip removed, you can pull your bearing cage off your axle shaft.

Pop the bearings out of your cage by pressing against them with a flat screwdriver. If you're worried that you may further damage the bearings while removing them, place a rag between your screwdriver and bearings while prying them out of your bearing cage.

Clean and Inspect The Axle

With your bearings removed from your cage, you can now clean away every bit of used grease and inspect the internal parts for damage. Look for pitting, cracks, and other signs of wear in your bearings and cage. If you don't see any significant damage, then you're in luck—you can simply clean your axle assembly and install it in your car. However, if your bearings or cage are damaged, you'll need to replace them.

At this point, you can choose whether or not you are going to replace the protective boot over your axle. If your boot is slightly dirty but doesn't show signs of cracking, then you can clean it with brake cleaner and leave it assembled. However, if you see cracking, missing chunks of rubber, or other signs of wear, then replace it.

Axle Reassembly

Now that you know the true condition of your used axle, you can reinstall the bearing cage by sliding it through the axle splines and securing it with your circlip. Slide your cylinder back over your bearing assembly and use a generous amount of grease to thoroughly lubricate the internal bearing cage. Finally, reinstall your cylinder retainer ring and pull your boot back over the joint. Make sure to thoroughly tighten the clamps around both ends of your boot to protect the joint from foreign matter.