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GR-RRR!
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm in the process of pulling the differential out of the pumpkin. It has never been out, so 14-15 years. No real corrosion on the car, I got it in 2010 and it's only seen rain twice in that time and certainly no Winters. Not sure how much weather it saw in the first four years (27k when I bought it) but given how clean it is underneath it couldn't have been much.

Anyway, as I was working on this project in my unheated garage, I got everything loose or out of the way except for the bolts holding the differential to the car and the axle bolts. Though my toes were turning numb, I thought I'd try breaking loose at least one half shaft bolt at the inner stubs just to see what I was in for. It didn't budge and I was hesitant to try harder for fear of stripping out the hex hole. The holes in the stubs are blind, so I can't imagine they are corroded inside but I'd sure like to get them out without breaking any or stripping the heads.

Any tips for successful removal of these bolts? I expect the bolts that hold the differential to the subframe to be stubborn, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Hand tools or impact? I have an electric impact that has always removed anything I threw it at, but again, I'd be afraid of stripping the heads but maybe the shock and vibration of the impact would help?

I guess I should also ask for tips on breaking loose the bolts holding the differential to subframe. My plan is to take the Harrop cover mount loose at the rear (real easy) and let the subframe sag down a bit allowing access to the bolt at the subframe, but those bolts are in there with a lot of torque so I suspect they will be a bitch especially given the cramped working spaces. The car is supported by the body so the subframe should be able to drop down a bit.
 

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Worthless reject member
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The only times i've had an issue with one of the socket heads rounding off is if the allen socket wasn't seated all the way.

Just use a 3/8ths breaker bar.

The differential to subframe bolts are a PITA but if yoi have some long combo wrenches you can link them together for extra leverage and bust them loose.
 

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It's only cosmetic...
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508 Posts
No real special tricks for breaking the half shaft bolts loose, just take your time. Rotate the half shaft so that the bolt can be accessed without any interference. The socket head bolts are less likely to strip out if the tool is seated fully in bolt head. Spray penetrating oil and let it soak.

You can use a pry bar or put the wheel back on to get better leverage for holding still half shaft still while you break bolts loose instead of engaging and releasing the park brake.

Factory bolts need blue thread locker and get torqued to 60 lb-ft.

Edit: grammar
 

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203 Posts
Use some heat. Go get a Bernzomatic from HD or Lowes and heat up the bolts. Broken record but, make sure the hex bit is fully engaged and the sockets/wrenches have a full bite!
 

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The Entenmann's Shim-Sham
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12,354 Posts
I second the heat. Use MAP gas.

Use it sparingly so you don't burn the CV boots. Make sure the socket has a good bite, and you should be able to work them loose with a breaker bar.
 

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As far as heating:
While heating the bolt does help break down any loctite retaining the bolt, heating the bolt also expands it making it harder to remove.
Ideally you want to heat the object the bolt is threaded into. The hole will expand freeing up the bolt. Heating up the object the bolt is threaded into also breaks down the loctite.

Good luck.
 

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2006 Pontiac GTO
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438 Posts
Did you try PB Blaster? That seems to work wonders. I have not had issues loosening those before. Use the parking brake to hold them from turning as you apply torque on them. Unless you took the brakes off already.
 

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GR-RRR!
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6,254 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I got one axle loose without any problems, no heat, just muscle. I guess what surprised me was the force required to get the bolts to move. I mean, I KNOW they are drivetrain bolts holding the axle to the differential and all, but GEEZ. I thought my hex drive tool was going to break before they came loose and then when they did it wasn't a snap, it was a slow push due to all the loctite on the bolts.

Anyway, not any kind of a problem and the bolts are really clean so the other side shouldn't be a problem either. Only problem was it was so cold out there my toes were beginning to hurt a bit as I got the one axle loose. I'll get the other one loose another day, no real hurry here. I ordered a 17mm flex head wrench for the diff-to-frame bolts which doesn't arrive until Monday so I can't finish the job yet anyway. I'll get the other axle loose maybe tomorrow when the temps actually get above freezing for part of the day. Then all I have left is to drop the differential from the frame.
 

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What kind of temps are you working in? I’m ready for winter to be over but winters here in Cali aren’t too bad, even when wrenching outside. I’m sure you’ll love working in 45-50 temps. It takes me a while to get out but once moving I’m good.
 

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GR-RRR!
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Discussion Starter #14
What kind of temps are you working in? I’m ready for winter to be over but winters here in Cali aren’t too bad, even when wrenching outside. I’m sure you’ll love working in 45-50 temps. It takes me a while to get out but once moving I’m good.
When I did the one axle it was in the 20s. It got above freezing so I did the other axle. No problems. Both are supported and not hanging loose.

When I took the bolts loose from the bracket on the Harrop cover the cradle dropped down far enough to give me access with a socket to the rear differential bolts so I got them out too. For the front differential bolts I'll still have to wait for the flex head wrench I ordered to show up.

One problem. I unbolted the driveshaft from the pinion and got it loose from the donut. I took the center support bearing bracket loose but I was not able to push the driveshaft forward far enough to get the driveshaft off the locating pin on the pinion. Is there some trick to this? I know I've done it before but I still need the driveshaft to move forward about another 3/4" to one inch and it doesn't seem to want to move further with firm hand pressure. The yoke in the transmission is clean so there isn't built up muck keeping it from sliding into the seal. I mean, I can disconnect the pin from the pinion support on the driveshaft when I drop the differential, but it sure would be easier to get at those front differential bolts with the driveshaft out of the way.
 

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Worthless reject member
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Unbolt the trans xmember and drop it a little to get the driveshaft out.

You can squeeze the bushing nub thingy in between the space on the guibo.
 

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Good idea Huber.
Rich, he’s saying lower the trans by unbolting the trans cross member, supported by a jack of course. I suppose this will give you the space you need to get the DS out the guibo.
What I’ve done, which is probably not right, is force it between the webs/gaps/grooves on the DS guibo to pull it out. Very hard to do and if you have dummy strength you can probly break something.
 

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GR-RRR!
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6,254 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Well, I have the guibo completely loose from both the driveshaft and the pinion so that's not what is holding up the show. What is holding up the show is the sleeve on the end of the driveshaft flange that fits over the pin sticking out of the pinion. I can't get that sleeve to clear the pin to allow the driveshaft to drop down.
 

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2006 Pontiac GTO
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438 Posts
Hmm.. interesting. I haven't had that issue, and surprised you're having such a problem considering you've done it before as well. I'm assuming you tried to bend the driveshaft as much as possible in the center to shorten it as well?
 
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