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By doubletrouble, January 2, 2008 in Pre-1997 Toyota Corolla and Geo Prizm

I had searched other forums before i tackled this job and many were incomplete. this might help someone save a few dollars. I bought a 1995 geo prism "tuner" car.i also own a 1993 corolla. it has been lowered ,205-40-17 tires , motegi r-7 tires, extreme dimensions drifter kit, wing on trunk, and a kenwood stereo. unfortunitly i bought it at night and didn,t realize that the car had been ragged on and my $1200 investment was going to cost a lot more to put in the road. I knew it needed a few hundred just to make safe ,but it needed far more. luckily i have a garage to put it in and decided to make it a learning experience for my 15 year old twins .

After a lengthy assessment of what was needed i have a partial list. front left axle ,maybe left hub bearing ,tie rods,ball joints, possible steering rack ,rotors, pads , possible a-arm bushings, and thats just the front end.

the car also needed a new window crank, handle, inside door handle , and window handle on the drivers door. the interior was missing 10 pieces of various trim and some was painted bright blue like the trim around the automatic shifter.. the door lock posts were lime green like the exterior .. the radio was just lying in the hole with no trim kit. the rear wing was loose. the rear seat belts are jammed.Both doors were missing the bolt that holds it open. the battery hold down is missing. the loud exhaust is held up by wires and one hanger. it needs a couple belts . the front right tire had a puncture on the inside sidewall with a plug and a large amount of slime. the left rim has a slight bend. the body kit is held on by drywall screws and is falling off on the left rear. the sunroof is wasted because the power crank cable is stripped.

after almost giving up on this project I decided that it was worthwhile just to see if i could get it on the road. i am almost there. I started calling around and found a tire for $55 shipped from Florida. $8 to mount at wal-mart. I discovered that in my area there are 3 large u pull it junkyards. I took several trips and got many bolts ,nuts, trim parts , and accessories for $36.50. The tie rods and rotors came from M.A.C. auto in new york for $27.50. of course it needed an oil change and filter. with the axle so far I have about $210 in parts .

now to the good stuff. The passenger side brake caliper sliders were jammed and a bolt broke off the carrier. the tie rod was wasted. I went to the yard and salvaged a carrier and new bolts with decent pads and rotor. On another trip I got the whole left front suspension .this was a 1997 corolla that was in great shape until the drivers door was hit hard. there was still body fluids in the car ,but its winter here and its frozen. its easier to remove the 2 strut bolts ,tie rod bolt, 3 ball joint bolts from the a-arm and pop the whole assembly off. I found a tire iron in the yard to pop the axle out.

works good.

The whole assemble cost me $78 with a $12 core charge to be refunded. I was a bit worried when the differential started leaking from the salvage car because these cars are supposed to be drained and i was worried about my car doing the same thing . Its a bit hard to get to the fill hole and pump trans fluid in (dextron 3). I took half a day to repair the passenger carrier ,brakes ,and tie rod because of poor tools and having my son help.Remember that tie rods need to be replaced the same threads they came off. back up the nut just a little. take the old rod off. spin the new one on until it faces down .pop it thru the hole and tighten the nut. I took lots of time to explain each move. Buy either some p.b. blaster or zepserve for getting rusty bolts loose. you will thank me. spray it on a day in advance and again when you start the job.

now to the hard stuff. the drivers axle is not hard with the whole assembly. Remember to get an a.b.s. axle if you car has a.b.s. can use an a.b.s. axle on a non a.b.s. car like I am doing. Jack up the whole front end .but make the side you are replacing much higher or you will spill a quart of trans fluid You do not need the 30 mm socket to get the axle loose. I took the same bolts off.Start with the caliper and brake carrier .2, 17 mm bolts. hang the caliper out of the way with wire . Make sure your caliper sliders move in and out or pop them out and take a drill with a brush and clean the holes out with brake clean or de-greaser. Clean the sliders and re-grease them. Take the rotor off if possible. Now take the 2 strut bolts , the speed sensor on a.b.s. cars if you have one , the cotter pin and tie rod bolt , the 3 lower ball joint bolts. Now the axle and spindle with the hub will be loose. Take your jack handle or pry bar and slip it between the flange on the axle and the differential. do the bottom first or start where the flange is the largest. work your way around or if the whole car is on jack stands, rotate the assembly until you see the larger part of the flange. the axle will pop when the c-clip on its end lets loose. you still have to work it out another inch or so until you can pull it out.

When you set the new assembly in place, make sure the c-clip on the differential end of the shaft is tight . take a pliers and squeeze it if unsure. make sure the open end of this clip faces down .this coincides with the way the factory installed them and it will go in much easier. pick the whole axle, spindle ,ball joint,and hub to set it in place. pull the strut out of the way . line up the strut mount on the newer assembly facing up to match up with the strut and the axle clip facing down. push the assembly into the differential hole and wiggle it a bit.It will be about an inch or less from being fully seated. you can either tap the axle end or steadily push the spindle in and when the c-clip seats you will hear it pop in place. now you need to check because sometimes its not all the way in. another half inch and you're all set. have the strut bolts close by because you're going to have to hold this heavy assembly up while you put the bolt back in. if you lost trans fluid the remove the upper differential bolt on the rear of the differential and get a pump bottle like you use for outboard lower units to fill it

Whew ,the hard part is done. reverse what you did before.tighten the 2 Strut bolts, 2 ball joint nuts and one bolt, tie rod nut and cotter pin, put the rotor on ,mount the carries ,put the pads in , put the slider bolts back in. I am a freak and use anti-seize on almost every bolt. it makes it much easier for the next (if ever) repair. put the tire on and lower the car. put steady pressure on your brake pedal a couple times to push fluid back in so you have brakes. I still have lots to do on this car ,but a couple more days and I should have it road worthy. I will give a progress report when i am back on the road. this is the last time I buy a first car for my kids. I hope they don't smash it too soon.


Sounds like you (and kids) gained some good mechanical repair experience.

I have done similar projects. One list had 42 items for a car that needed repair/replace.

I am on my seventh 7th generation Corolla repair.

I have changed engines and transaxles as well as most power train and front end parts.

Check some of my previous posts and some even have pictures.

I was at the local junkyard yesterday looking for Corolla parts and found a Prizm for a donor.

I took the motor mounts and would have taken the ignition neutral safety switch, but the transaxle was different.

My garage is usually where I work on my cars and my son (now 18) has a Corolla as well.

DIY auto repair is becoming a dying art with all the new high-tech components and it is good to learn while we are still able.

Good luck with your cars and keep us posted on any developments.

I bought one of these recently.

It's a great tool. You can also look at live data like O2 sensors etc. Interfaces with CAN as well as OBDII.

If you're doing the work and saving the money it's easy to justify to the wife. default_biggrin

Jay in MA

...........DIY auto repair is becoming a dying art with all the new high-tech components and it is good to learn while we are still able.


I bought one of these recently.

It's a great tool. You can also look at live data like O2 sensors etc. Interfaces with CAN as well as OBDII.

If you're doing the work and saving the money it's easy to justify to the wife. default_biggrin

Jay in MA

...........DIY auto repair is becoming a dying art with all the new high-tech components and it is good to learn while we are still able.

It is a good tool for post-1996 cars.



Thanks for the info DoubleT. I would like to add the following. It really isn't described very well in any of the over the counter manuals that I've seen as to how far these axles are to be installed.

I replaced the right side yesterday and took notice of where everything was situated before disassembly because I really haven't had a lot of experience with transaxles to speak of.

What I noticed when inserting my finger and a probe into the diff output was:

1- there appear to be two grooves that could be mistaken as the home position for the C clip.

2- I made a couple of measurements and the axle should be inserted all the way, past the grooves to the visible steel section of the internal carrier at which point the clip will fall off the "cliff" and be fully installed.

3- a quick check after insertion should show the large mass at the inner CV joint to be almost in contact with the diff. If you can see any of the shiny output shaft seal surface, it's not in all the way yet.

Am I correct guys? Has anyone anything to add?


Jay in MA


I put both axles in today on my project car and the passenger's side (long drive shaft) seemed like it went on fine.

The driver's side (short drive shaft) was difficult to tell if it was in all the way.

About the only way to tell for sure, is to fill the differential with ATF and see if it leaks out.

If there is a leak, I will attempt to re-insert the short drive shaft.

finally got the guts to take the little project out. My dad dremt that I was driving it today so who can argue.went around my cul-de-sac twice. big squeal on hard left turns. only sometimes. who knows?could be tire rubbing . brakes are much better .no front end shake .axle noise almost gone.

then went for the big highway test. got 2 miles from home. got it up to 60 then trouble .loud thumping noise from left axle area. limped home.barely made it.

got out pressure washer and the deck cleaner i use for my power washing duties.Mr mikes powerwashing solution. 5 gallon bucket is $50 but i can wash

5-10 decks, siding ,almost anything. dilute down 10-1 use a garden sprayer .let it sit on about 10 minutes. it works wonderful for aluminum wheels , engine compartments, undercarriage. the car was a mess ,but cleaned up. I needed to see through all the grease to see what failed. pulled it in , jacked it up and found that i didn't tighten a wheel tight enough and 3 lugs fell off. i'm the idiot today . at least the axle and hub is o.k. I need 3 tuner lugs. for motegi wheels .12 m.m. got some?

Ebay will be the easiest place to find them - Gorilla and McGard make aftermarket lugs to fit most alloy wheels, though they probably will not match the design of the orginals. If it was my car (assuming that it didn't already come with locking lugs - I'd take one lug off of each wheel to replace the lost ones and get a locking set for the missing lug. That way you have three matching lugs per wheel + a locker and have a spare lug leftover. Otherwise, you would have to buy a whole new repalcement set to get them to match.

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