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  1. #1
    Sr. Apprentice
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Forest Grove, Oregon.... for now

    Default Inspecting a used axle

    I'm getting ready to purchase a new (used) 10 bolt front axle for my '89 Suburban 1/2 ton with 3.42 gears. I will be rebuilding it 100% and need to know how to inspect what is to be my core.

    If I do find one with the right gears how do I know they are in good shape? If I can't find the right gear set I will just buy new.

    How do I know if the spider gears and cross shaft are good?

    Are there any issues I need to look at on the axle itself? except for cracks or bends of course. Looking for known trouble areas.

    And last but not least..... is there really a reason to look for a Dana 44 instead of my 10 bolt? if not I want to keep it stock.

    As I said I will be rebuilding it, so I'm not worried about bearings and seals.... balljoints or breaks... you know what I mean..... Thanks!

  2. #2


    44 vs 10 bolt:
    Why are you replacing the existing axle?
    If it's because you've got high mileage stick with the model that got ya all those miles. The 44 is a stronger axle, but if this is to upgrade for towing or off road capabilities your money would be better spent on Dana 60.

    Depending on how deep your gonna tear the axle down prior to purchase (or the seller will let you tear down) heres things I check:
    Give the whole axle an overall look for any visible exterior damage, warpage, or leaks.
    Check the fluid level, leaks or low levels can be a sign of mistreatment which can cause damage to bearings and races, even though your gonna rebuild you could end up with grooves in the inner tubes that make the axle unrebuildable or problematic with leaks later.
    Use a straight edge to check the axle tubes for runout, warpage or bending. On the top, bottom, and sides.
    Check all the attached brackets for security, signs of damage, or repairs.
    Spin the axle shafts from both sides, listen for noise of any kind, watch the pinion and flang for any warpage.
    Drain the oil and check it for particles or chunks.
    Look over the pinion and ring gears for visible damage and correct wear patterns, blurry buffering patterns, patterns wider than the meshing gear on the gear faces, also tooth chipping.
    Spin the axles again and listen for noises.
    Slide the axles out and check for grooves on the axle shafts, nicks, chips, or cracks on the splines, and most important that the splines are perfectly straight.
    Sounds like a lot but a good inspection can be covered in less than an hour if the axle isnt on the truck.

  3. #3
    Sr. Apprentice
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Forest Grove, Oregon.... for now


    I'm changing the front out because it makes a horrible groaning noise when under load. I figure with 163,*** miles it deserves a rebuild.
    I was looking at a couple dana 60's, but they are 3/4 ton axles. Are they all 8 lug? I really don't want to have to change wheels. This is the first vehicle I've ever had with a complete set of custom wheels that I like.
    I don't know if I will need to upgrade for towing. I doubt I will ever use 4wd while towing unless I need to pull a project car out of the weeds. and as far as weight I'll probably only be towing small cars like Hondas and old VW's on tow dollies. Even when I do get a camper trailer it won't be too heavy for this beast.
    I do need to know if I should change the gear ratio, and what to change it to.I have 3.42's in there now. Most of the time I will not be towing. I also usualy stay pretty close to home (within 50 miles).....Fishin for suggestions.
    FYI I also baby my cars/trucks and maintain them meticulously.... I drive them like they were $1,000,000 pieces of glass. So I don't need the biggest and baddest, just what will do the job well and not wear out too fast.
    Thanks again!
    Last edited by; 01-25-2009 at 01:48 PM. Reason: add gear ratio info

  4. #4


    All 60's come 8 lug, you could have them machined for 5 or 6 lug wheels but the cost would probably be to prohibitive.
    For the type driving your doing 3.42's would be best. Anything numerically lower would tax the engine/trans a lot when towing. I dont remember if the bolt pattern on the ring gear will fit, but I do know the pinion gear wont fit properly without some machining. So in the end you'd be better off buying a new ring & pinion. Also the grinding your getting now could be something to do with your present ring & pinion.

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