COOL TOOLS FOR AXLE SERVICE
By Christian Sturtz, AZFreedom4x4@gmail.com
Photos by Christian Sturtz
Originally published in Issue 23, October/November 2018
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The axles and drivetrain are a big part of your 4×4’s dependability and performance. We are going to show you some cool tools that can help you out on your next axle service or build. The tools we will be using are made by Yukon and GearWrench, two companies that are known for making top quality products at competitive prices.
All of the Yukon tools discussed in this article are covered by a one-year manufacturer defect warranty. These tools have a durable construction that should last you a lifetime. These tools are available at distributors where Yukon Gear and Axle products are sold or at
The first tool is the Yukon carrier bearing puller, which is a tool designed to be used with an impact to safely remove carrier and pinion bearings on most differentials. It is available with the large clamshell (Part #YT P22) or without (Part #YT P20). The large clamshell is typically used for axles that are rated at one ton or larger.
Yukon also makes carrier bearing race drivers, which are designed to safely install bearing races in your differential. Yukon makes around 21 different carrier bearing race drivers that range from Suzuki Samurai size to 2.5 ton Rockwell and everything in between. These drivers are well made and have a great fit/finish with handles that are sturdy and long enough to keep your hands out of harms way. More importantly they allow you to safely install the bearing races in your differential without damaging or gouging them.
Thirdly, the shim drivers by Yukon are a safe way to install shims on axles that require shim placement outboard of the carrier bearings. The multi-shim driver set (Part #YT SD-01) includes 5 different drivers. The benefit to these drivers, over a brass punch or hammer, is that they apply more equal pressure across the entire shim. This is especially important when installing cast iron shims. Nothing will ruin your day like trying to find a specific cast shim after breaking it while trying to install it with a punch. The driver set also works great with the stackable shim kits available for several applications by Yukon.
Lastly, holding the pinion yoke to tighten the nut and/or crush the crush sleeve is always a challenge; especially if you have no way to securely and safely hold it from turning. Yukon makes a holding tool (Part #YT YH-01) that can aid in securely and safely holding the pinion yoke for you. The tool is constructed of heavy gauge steel for durability and strength, plus the handle on the tool allows you to slip a piece of tube on the inside or outside for additional leverage.
All GearWrench measurement equipment are thoroughly checked for accuracy and are covered by 90-day warranty. GearWrench products are available at many nationwide distributors and at
Illumination is important for all automotive repair jobs, because not being able to properly see what you are doing can be both dangerous and costly. So, when working in locations with low visibility I prefer to use the LED lights by GearWrench. The lights have three brightness settings and are available in the 8” size with 150 lumens (Part #83134) or the 12 ½” size with an impressive 500 lumens (Part #83135). Both lights boast an ultra-thin design and flexible head that allows you to get light in hard to reach areas. These lights are also equipped with a magnet and hook for hands-free use as well as a rechargeable battery.
Measurements are critical on differential work. There are several different tools that you need to be familiar with before attempting to tackle a differential on your own. The first is an inch pound torque wrench, like the ¼” GearWrench beam type (part #2955N), which is used to check the pinion bearing pre-load. The pinion bearing pre-load is a measurement of drag or resistance of the pinion bearings. Typical specifications for pinion bearing pre-load are between 10 and 35 inch pounds of drag. It is necessary to have this type of torque wrench because a clicker style torque wrench cannot check drag.
A digital indicator is also handy to have around the shop for measuring all kinds of things. One such as the GearWrench 3756D is capable of measuring both metric and SAE and has a 6” capacity. Digital indicators can be used to check thickness of shims, both carrier and pinion, which will help you dial in the perfect gear pattern.
A dial indicator (Part #3761)with a magnetic base can be used to check the backlash of a gear set. The backlash is the clearance between 0.006 and 0.01 of an inch. This clearance is for both expansion of the gears (due to heat) and for lubrication. Dial indicators can also be used to check roundness, flatness, or trueness of things.
Part Numbers Used:
Yukon Tools Covered
YTP22 (bearing puller) 21 different varieties (race drivers) YT SD-01 (shim drivers) YT YH-01 (yoke holder)
Yukon Gear and Axle
Randy’s Worldwide 10411 Airport Road Everett, WA 98204 1.888.905.5044 www.yukongear.com www.randysworldwide.com
Part Numbers Used:
GearWrench Tools Covered 83135 (12.5” light) 83134 (8” light) 3756D (6” digital caliper) 2955N (1/4” drive beam torque wrench) 3761 (dial indicator)
Apex Tool Group 910 Ridgebrook Road (Ste. 200) Sparks, MD 21152 1.800.688.8949 www.gearwrench.com