Wes Duenkel
February 16, 2018

The old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” So, unless your Mustang’s rear axle has been complaining, it’s easy to take it for granted. Aside from receiving stronger shafts or a steeper gear set, most rear axles execute their duties without drama.

But if your rear axle has rolled over 100,000 miles, it probably needs attention. The rearend in our 1995 Mustang GT wasn’t making any noise, but it passed the 100K milestone long ago. So, we looked to the capable experts at Latemodel Restoration (LMR) for the parts we needed to refresh our Mustang’s rear axle for another tour of duty.

LMR is a one-stop-shop for everything our SN95 Mustang would need. We ordered a new set of axles, a Traction-Lok rebuild kit, new outer axle bearings, seals, C-clips, ABS tone rings, and fresh gear oil.

Why new axles? The outer axle bearings ride directly on the shafts, so the axles and bearings should be replaced together. We upgraded our Traction-Lok to the same specs as the 2003-2004 Cobra and later GTs with extreme-duty carbon fiber friction discs. The kit includes the proper shims for a drop-in installation on all 8.8 rear axles.

Follow along as we give our SN95 axle some much-needed attention.

Parts list
M4700C: Traction Lock rebuild
LRS-2189A: Tone Rings (2)
LRS-4N237K: C-clips
LRS-4234BK: Axles
M1225B: Bearings/seals
RP-01301K: Gear oil and friction modifier

1. Latemodel Restoration supplied us with everything we needed to give our tired SN95 rear axle a new lease on life. Our parts list included a new set of axles, a Traction-Lok rebuild kit, new outer axle bearings and seals, C-clips, ABS tone rings, and fresh gear oil.

2. We began the disassembly process by removing the rear brake calipers and rotors.

3. Then, we removed the ABS sensors so we had enough clearance to remove the rear axle C-clips in a later step.

4. Next, we cracked open the rear differential cover and drained the fluid. Yeah, it smelled bad.

5. Next, we removed the differential pinion shaft lock bolt and pinion shaft.

6. With the pinion shaft (and ABS sensors) removed, we then pushed the axle shafts inward so we could remove the rear axle C-clips.

7. Then, we removed each axle shaft.

8. 100,000 miles had taken their toll on our OEM axle shafts. The area where the outer axle bearing rode was rough and pitted, signaling that these axles were worn out.

9. Using a axle bearing puller borrowed from a local auto parts store, we removed the rear axle bearings and seals.

10. Our rear differential clutch pack was also worn out. We removed the differential clutch spring with a locking pliers.

11. Using one of the old axles, we “walked” the pinion gears out of the differential housing.

12. With the pinion gears removed, we could remove the differential side gears.

13. Next, we plucked the differential clutch pack from the differential case. We made sure to remove all of the plates as well as the shims, which have a tendency to stick inside the housing.

14. The Traction-Lok rebuild kit included six carbon fiber faced friction plates and eight splined plates. Per the instructions, we installed them in the order shown. (Note there are two splined plates together on each side, and the shims are installed inside the differential first.)

15. We soaked the clutch plates in differential fluid (which included friction modifier) for 30 minutes.

16. Then, we installed the shims and clutch pack on each side of the differential case.

17. Installing the differential clutch spring can sometimes be frustrating, so we pre-compressed the spring in a vice and held it with a needle-nose locking pliers.

18. Inserting the spring needle-nose first, we then drove the spring home with the handle of a plastic hammer.

19. Now, we were ready for the new axles. We installed the supplied wheel studs with the help of a roller bearing stud installer tool.

20. Next, we pressed the ABS exciter rings onto the axles. Because the exciter rings are delicate, we used with a metal sleeve we had lying around as an installer tool.

21. To ensure proper ABS operation, we pressed the ABS rings onto the axles to the same depth as their OEM counterparts.

22. Next we drove the new axle bearings and seals into place with a tool set we borrowed from our local auto parts store.

23. Being careful not to nick the seals with the splines, we installed the new axle shafts.

24. With the axles in place, we retained them with new C-clips.

25. Next, we reinstalled the pinion shaft and lock bolt.

26. After thoroughly cleaning the gasket surfaces, we ran a fresh bead of silicone around the face of the differential cover. (Note that our bead runs to the inside of the bolt holes.)

27. Finally, we filled the differential with fresh synthetic gear oil. (Our supplied Royal Purple fluid contained the necessary limited slip additive to keep our clutch pack from chattering around corners.)