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Nuts & Bolts: C-Clip Woes on a 2008 Chevy Tahoe

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on October 19, 2015
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C-Clip Woes
I have a 2008 Chevy Tahoe 4x4 10-bolt rearend. I'm having trouble removing the C-clip so I can pull out the axle to replace a wheel seal. I've removed the carrier pin and retaining screw and don’t have enough spacing to get the C-clip out. I’ve also removed the ABS sensor to gain some clearance, but it's still not enough. I feel like I'm missing something because everyone I know has never had this problem. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Axles retained by C-clips are the enemy of all 4-wheelers, not just because axle failure means the tire parting ways with the vehicle, but also because they can be a real pain to get out for other axle maintenance.

You could be fighting a combination of things. First and foremost, make sure the axle is shoved in far enough to remove the C-clip from its groove in the side gear. This usually means removing the drum or the rotor depending on how the axle is equipped. If the drum or rotor is stuck on the axle flange, it can prevent the axle from sliding in far enough to remove the clip.

If you've already tackled that, then you may be fighting the C-clip itself. Depending on the differential in your truck's axle, the window in the carrier may be very small. The window in the GM Gov-Lok carrier is especially small, and it can be difficult to get the C-clip positioned just right so that it will come out. Try using a strong magnet on a stick (those designed to retrieve loose bolts in hard-to-reach places work well) to grab the C-clip, and be aware that the open end of the C-clip must be exactly opposite of your view when you are looking at the window in the carrier horizontal to the ground. This can be difficult to gauge, so sometimes gravity can help if you rotate the window in the carrier downward and wiggle the axle to let the C-clip fall out.

Hose the C-clip down with brake cleaner to reduce the stick that gear oil might have. Other than these tips, there is no magic solution, just patience and finesse.

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