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1999 Jeep WJ RCV Performance Axle Install

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on August 16, 2016
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If you own a Jeep WJ Grand Cherokee with a Dana 30 up front and are running, or would eventually like to run, 33-inch or larger tires, you will definitely need to upgrade your factory axleshafts to accommodate the increased stress. On our ’99 WJ, we had been running 34-inch tires for a while and have already gone through two left side ’shafts. The left side seems to self-destruct more easily, primarily due to it’s shorter length (than the right side axleshaft), which means less flexibility in the ’shaft.

Having already replaced the left ’shaft once before, the second break made it an easy decision to go ahead with an upgrade on both sides of the Dana 30. An order was place for RCV Performance Products Ultimate CV Axles in order to end this annoying problem once and for all! The installation of the new axles is fairly easy. If you can change your brakes, you can install a set of RCV axles. The included instructions are well detailed and take you through the entire process from beginning to end. Here’s an overview of the install.

We began by safely jacking up the vehicle, securing it with jack stands, and removing the wheels to allow easier access to the axles. It’s never a bad idea to place the wheels under the vehicle as an added safety precaution.

Next, we pulled the cotter pins and removed the large 36mm axle nuts. If you don’t have an impact gun, then keep the brake calipers on and have someone hold the brakes while you loosen the nut by hand. After that, we removed the calipers, rested them on the tires to ensure there was no tension on the brake lines that might cause air to enter the system, and then removed the rotors. Then, we used a 12-point 13mm socket to remove the three hub bearing bolts on each side. Set the hub/unit bearings aside. It’s advisable to swap out the old bearings for new if they are original; they are not overly expensive, and if you’re already into your rig this far, you may as well do that too. All that’s left to do now is slide out the old axles (in our case, a broken one too) and set them aside. We find factory axles make good wall art (in the garage, that is).

The RCV axle kit came complete with ’shafts (that just so happen to be greaseable on the ends), new axle nuts, grease, low-shoulder hub/unit bearing bolts for more clearance, as well as the famous RCV “orange seals.” As for installation, we initially noticed that the orange seal was a larger diameter than the opening through the knuckle, so as the instructions note, we placed the seal inside the knuckle and then slid the axle through.

Once all that was in place, we found seating the ’shaft in the seal was difficult, so after about 30 minutes of fussing with it, we took a deep breath, assessed the situation, and quickly realized it wasn’t seating due to air pressure being trapped in the assembly. We used a dull flathead screwdriver to gently pry up the lip of the seal, releasing the trapped air, and then the ’shaft seated easily with just a good push. Whew!

Be sure to spin the axle to ensure there aren’t any clearance issues before buttoning everything up. In certain situations you may need to remove the knuckle and grind down the hub/unit bearing attachment points to maximize clearance for the new oversized seal.

Here‘s what is supplied with The RCV Performance Products Ultimate CV Axles. It comes complete with everything you need to do the job.
Side-by-side comparison of the factory and RCV axleshafts.
The RCV axles are easily greaseable through the centershaft using a needle fitting on your grease gun.
Seen here is the right side of the Dana 30 and its 36mm axle nut and cotter pin prior to removal.
When removing the axleshaft, be sure you don’t damage the ABS tone ring or sensor, which is attached to the knuckle.
With everything disassembled and the axleshaft removed, now is a great time to do a quick onceover and inspect your brake lines and ball joints.
Place the RCV orange seal in the knuckle first before inserting the shaft through the knuckle as the seal has a larger diameter than the knuckle opening and will not fit through it.
Here is how it should look with the axle installed and pressed into the seal. Be sure to spin the axle and turn the knuckle to ensure there aren’t any clearance issues.
With everything buttoned up, this is how it should look. We are ready to rock again!
PhotosView Slideshow

Sources

RCV Performance
Loves Park, IL
815-877-7473
RCVperformance.com

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