New Trans Pan / Things that can go wrong during front axle job . . .

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Jul 16, 2007
Spokane, WA
I started into my front axle job on Saturday. I plan to do the front axle, tie rod/drag link/steering stabilizer, and install new bilstein shocks. The front axle job was prompted by an intermittent "woo woo woo" sound which I assume is a dry spindle bushing from reading other threads. The TREs are completely shot and the Bilsteins were on a good sale.

I was hoping to get everything torn apart on Saturday, but I am a little behind schedule now.

The front axle is about as intimidating to me as going to the moon. I am definitely a novice (oil changes, air filter replacement, etc). I bought this truck with goal of getting more familiar around a vehicle. I have been doing a lot of research, but translating that into the motivation/patience to actually tear complicated things apart is daunting.

Everything went well until I tried loosening the flange nuts -- the axle just kept spinning and I couldn't get any leverage. I went from calmly taking my time through each step to panicking because something must be wrong and I would never get this job done . . . etc, etc. I knew I could probably get someone to hold the disc for me, but I had a feeling that I must have missed a step somewhere. Honestly, I think I got a bad case of adrenaline/testosterone poisoning and lost all rationality because what I did next was REALLY stupid.

I know people mention locking the front axle, which I didn't do, but I started thinking that I should have locked the CDL. I knew this was a very bad idea as I was doing it -- I thought I might be able to just get in and lock the CDL -- what would be the harm in trying? As I got in, I kept telling myself -- just don't put it in drive, don't put it in drive. Then I went into autopilot trying to get the CDL light to come on . . . and I put it in drive! I just slowly lurched off the jackstands and went crunch.

It looks like the main damage was to my transmission oil pan, which happened to land on my jack. Other than that, I was already planning to replace the discs and it looks like the dust shields will be easy to bend back into shape. I managed to break the bucket of nasty old differential fluid that was sitting under the axle so now our entire neighborhood smells like differential fluid. I am hoping that is the extent of the damage.

I dropped the ATM pan and it looks like there wasn't any damage underneath. I am hoping I didn't crack the transmission or something crazy, but that thing looks pretty stout. I need to locate a new trans pan.

I assume my options are:
1) Call CruiserDan
2) Find one from a junkyard
3) ?Take it to a shop and have them press it back into shape?

The good news is . . . it was very easy to quickly loosen those flange nuts while the LC was laying on the ground like a beached whale :meh:.
And I got to actually use my new hi-lift jack for once :censor:.
Best news: I didn't kill/maim myself or anyone else, which I know was a definite possibility when exhibiting this level of stupidity.

Well, please don't beat me up too bad :flipoff2:
Any suggestions on the oil pan would be appreciated.
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Glad you're OK. Take your time man!

Personally, I'd probably replace the pan with a new or used one. If you really wanted to avoid spending the $ I bet you could get the old one pretty close to straight with either a rubber mallet or a hammer and block of wood.
s**t happens, just learn from it and move on.
Glad you are ok. The front axle is very intimedating. If it wasn't for the Gateway Cruisers here in STL I would probably still be working on mine. Hang in there. It will work out.

I feel for least you have a sense of humor (your best alie under these conditions) keep your chin up.

If the pan does not leak or interfear with the filter and its ability to pick up fluid I would put it back on until you find a replacement (I would send you the one I have on a spare trany but its the wrong one, 93)

I am sure that after a member with a donor pans reads this thread you will have one on the way.

Good luck Marcus.:cheers:
I put the old pan back on for the time being just to keep everything clean. I am going to focus on getting the front axle done so I can get her off the jackstands. . . I think I will definitely replace the pan -- I think it will be hard to re-shape the pan without warping it.
Next time, jam a screw driver in the vents of your front rotor and use your 'other' hand to keep the thing from turning on you.

(that's what I do anyway).
Sorry to hear about your incident but you will soon be fixed up.

I just cut a piece of wood to the required length and place on end under one of the wheel studsand the other on the ground. As you try to loosen the bolt the wheel will turn but the piece of wood will block it. It works fine when tightening as well- just put the wood on the other side.

Good luck.
Its a right of passage, and I did not believe that until I did it, and 16 hours later, I was reborn (front axle job)....

Best of luck!!

Next time, jam a screw driver in the vents of your front rotor and use your 'other' hand to keep the thing from turning on you.

(that's what I do anyway).

x2 - worked so far twice replacing the front disc rotors on two cruisers...Another trick I've employed at times like this is a quick jerk on the socket handle. This usually happens when I forget to loosen the lugnuts before raising the vehicle and I need the tires off :rolleyes:

As for the pan...I'd just replace it. I'm replacing mine because I haven't yet learned how to properly using a torque wrench and have managed to stip the threads in the pan...I'm gradually learning tighter doesn't always mean better :hmm: :hillbilly:

Is your pan cracked? Was it leaking fluid after the incident? If not, I'd just leave it alone. A new pan is like $90 I think. Cruiserdan?
Anyway, no need to spend the money if it's just a cosmetic issue. Unless I am missing something, if it holds fluid, and everything works ok, why replace it?

As far as the axle job is concerned, don't sweat it. We have all made mistakes. I just recently went in and reset the pre-load on my bearings, installed new hub-nuts just to ensure they wouldn't back off again (the P.O. had used a screw driver on the originals and buggered them all up). Anyway, after one too many step 6's:beer:, I realized I had her all buttoned up and failed to bend the tabs on the lock washers.:bang:

Anyone here ever changed their oil with expensive synthetic, then fired up the rig w/o installing the new filter?:bang:

I have. Eight quarts of Mobil 1 all over the garage floor and a lot of cat litter to clean it up.

Look at it this way, you've got a funny story to tell that others can learn from.:)
Sorry for what you have to go through. Lesson is to be learned - not just for you, but for all of us.

I am about to do my axle job soon. Come to think about what I read regarding to locking the front wheel (some said do, other don't). I am wondering whether locking the front wheel is to prevent axle from spinning. I have an impact wrench, so I probably don't have to worry about that. Though I would like to know - What is the real benefit to have the front locked while doing the axle job?
Don't sweat the brake rotors. This is how tough they are. Once in prototype testing of the 93 80 one of the vehicles lost a front wheel. The tire/wheel lofted the front off the ground as it went under the body and the truck came down hard on the bare rotor. The driver locked up the...well... the rotor, and slid into and over a curb like that (nice sparks). We put the wheel back on after prying the dust shield away from the rotor and drove on home. So your rotors are likely fine.

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