Driver's side axle replacement on G20 A/T (LONG)

Ivan Chou
Tue, 22 Jul 2003 14:01:24 -0500

Sorry for the length, but hope it helps someone.

This is a write-up for replacing the left axle on a RE4F03A / RL4F03A
transmission from a 1993.5 G20 automatic without VLSD.  Should be similar
for B13/B14 A/T cars, and much can be applied for manual trannies.  This
is not a step-by-step proc; still need the FSM or Haynes/Chilton manual
for torque specs, etc.  This was supposed to be just a few tips, but ended
up being too long.  Unique tips not found from other write-ups are:

- No need to remove the pass. axle per the FSM; driver's axle can be
  pried out.
- Use the old axle seal to drive the new seal in.

I've replaced axles on my B13 SE-R a few times, and felt the G20 A/T axle
job was significantly different and harder to do.  The A/T seems fairly
recessed compared to the manual.  I also have a greater appreciation for
the G20 as being much more than a re-badged luxury Sentra, as the
misconception goes.  The P10's suspension makes the B13's look like it's

- Have a good collection of tools before starting.  Aside from ratchet
wrenches and hand tools, you should have:

- Torque wrench; breaker bar (I used a 2' one, with a 3' metal pipe slid
  over it to extend it) or a powerful impact wrench
- 36mm deep socket, 10-19 mm sockets, and a 17 or 19 mm combination or
  box-end wrench.
- Long-handled pry bar
- Seal driver or rounded-lip open metal pipe of sufficient diameter (I
  don't have the diameter but it's wider than the outer lip of a 36mm
  socket!) -- I used a Lisle "bearing race/seal driver"
- Molybdenum disulfide grease

- Bought a Raxles ( axle which is rebuilt with new joints
and quality boots.  I'd personally stay away from most other rebuilt axles
unless you trust a certain rebuilder.

- Instead of messing with the tie rod and ball joint, I opted to undo the
two bolts, at the upper control arm and where the bottom of the strut
meets the spindle assy.  Remove the various brake line attachments first
so you don't strain those lines once the assy hangs freely.

- Drain transmission fluid into a container (clean if you want to re-use
your fluid) before starting.  Remove only the 19mm bolt from the flat
bottom of the transmission case.  I managed to drain approximately 5.5
quarts(!) over a 3 day period.  The Haynes manual for the B13 Sentra
claims 2.6 qts for the drain-and-fill capacity of the RL4F03A, so I was
way short.  I used Dexron III fluid (should claim IIe compatibility on the

- It is NOT necessary to remove the passenger side axle as stated in the
FSM. Use a long-handled pry bar to leverage the axle out of the
transmission case.  Wrap the tip of the bar with a cloth or similar to
prevent scratching the shaft.

- New transmission seal Nissan part # 38342-8E000.  I tore through the
inner lip of two new seals on separate days.  Buy two just in case, or
take your chances.  The FSM calls for a special seal removal tool.  You
can use a flat-blade screwdriver or pliers to grab the inside of the old
seal without scratching the metal of the axle opening.  The OEM seal that
came out, was rubber on the outside edge.  The new seal has a copper
mating edge and is more difficult to drive in.  After I broke the second
one and was about to give up, my girlfriend suggested placing the old seal
over the new one and using that as a sort of buffer/driver.  This worked!
I used a larger size seal driver and banged at it until it went in
straight.  I also removed the plastic side splash shield to get better
access in there.

- Remove the strut-spring assy (3 strut-tower bolts (14mm) -- do not undo
the center strut mount nut) to attain a straight path for inserting the
new axle.

- Tips for sliding the new axle in, from the list and forum: Freeze a
small amt of molyb grease in a small container.  When you're ready to
slide the axle in, take the grease out, grease the new circlip, and grease
the circlip's groove on the axle.  Then place the circlip in the groove
and it should sit fairly center due to the cold, viscous grease.  The open
section of the circlip should face downward.  Slide the axle in, taking
care not to disturb the new seal.  Grab the housing and try turning
slightly CW/CCW while pushing until you sense the splines have gone into
the grooves of the transmission.  At this point the only remaining
obstruction will be the circlip inside the tranny -- if you've done
everything correctly up to this point, all you need to do is jiggle while
pushing on the housing prior to the inner joint, with your bare hands.
It will go in eventually.  If it doesn't go in, pull the axle out and make
sure the circlip is still fairly centered in its groove, with the open end
pointing down.  Repeat until you succeed!

- Don't forget to re-fill transmission, check fluid level, and look
underneath the car for at least the next several days to see that the new
axle seal is seated correctly.

Ivan - '93 SE-R, '93.5 G20a, '95 M3