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sprinkles08, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep master tech
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 22656
Experience:  ASE Master and Advanced Certified, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep Master Certified, Trans and Hybrid Specialist
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2003 Dodge Ram 1500: differential..the axle bearings..gears

Customer Question

Hello, the rear pinion bearing on my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 4WD differential has gone bad and I plan to replace. The vehicle has 115K miles on it, so I plan to replace the axle bearings, pinion bearings, and differential bearings. The ring and pinion gears still look to be in good shape. I have purchased an e catalog with all instructions for rebuilding the diff. If I am replacing only the bearings, not the gears, should I expect a lot of adjustments to the shims, spacers, tighteners to properly load the bearings and space the gears?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 8 years ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!


If you are just replacing bearings you won't have to worry too much about measuring pinion height, this is for the pinion spacer. You should be able to put your old shim back in. All other measurements will have to be done when you put it back together. You'll have to set the pinion preload when you put the pinion gear back in and crush the new crush sleeve. You'll have to set backlash and side bearing preload when you go back together because you have to remove the carrier to get the pinion gear out.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
OK, that sounds about right. But, do you really have to unload or loosen the bearing adjusters for the differential bearings with that long wrench, through the axle tube? Cant you just leave them set as they are and reinstall with the new bearings? The new bearings will be the same width as the old ones. Can you access the nut on the bearing adjusters from any other way? I dont have that long wrench. Any other concerns in rebuilding the diff?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 8 years ago.

The only way to get the carrier out is to loosen the adjusters. They preload the carrier into the housing. You could pry with a massive prybar and never get the carrier out if you don't loosen the adjusters. The new bearings won't be exactly the same as the old ones due to production tolerances, and you can't get the carrier out any other way, so the preload/backlash has to be set. You can get the tool for the adjusters at


As for as other concerns, make sure you get the housing absolutely clean. Any debris left behind will chew up the gears and the new bearings. Make sure to get the lube channel for the pinion bearings clear, debris likes to hide back there. If you have a limited slip carrier you'll need to use friction modifier additive in the fluid when you go back together or you'll destroy the clutches.

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