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15yearsaturnguy, Saturn master tech
Category: Saturn
Satisfied Customers: 1918
Experience:  25 years automotive experience, 15 years with Saturn
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Saturn LW300: HI, I replaced the CV drive axles on my 2001

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HI, I replaced the CV drive axles on my 2001 Saturn L300W, but the passenger side still has a lot of lateral play at the trans-axle end. I bought a oil seal replacement kit from my dealership which includes the inner stub-shaft sleeve/seal, 2 retaining rings, and an outer oil seal. The play is in the stub shaft not the drive axle. I removed the outer oil seal OK but cannot pull out the stub shaft or pull the sleeve from it and am afraid to use too much force in case I break something. This sleeve/seal turns with the stub shaft and fits over the end of the drive-axle while its outer surface runs on the outer oil seal. It doesn't appear to affect the amount of play in the stub shaft, though replacing the outer seal may tighten things up a bit. There must be a bearing or bushing in the trans axle, but the guy at the dealership didn't know about this. Is there a fix for this problem without replacing the trans axle, and if so how do I remove the stub shaft and or sleeve. If not, would having the drive shaft balanced help [it was a cheap rebuilt unit] at 60 MPH the car shakes badly, wheel balance didn't help.

15yearsaturnguy :

Hello and thank you for your post. I am a master certified GM tech. If I can help you solve this today then I will, lets begin

15yearsaturnguy :

the axle you bought might just be bad or wrong?

15yearsaturnguy :

that stub shaft has to be removed using a special tool that you install in the groove where the c-clip sits, you pop it out using a slide hammer, then install new c-clips and pop it into the new axle and then install the axle

15yearsaturnguy :

if the stub shaft stayed in the trans, leave it be

15yearsaturnguy :

the new axle just pops in like the old one

15yearsaturnguy :

there is a normalamount of lateral play, any more than normal will cause a leak

15yearsaturnguy :

so if the axle seal isn't leaking, you are probably normal

15yearsaturnguy :

there is no replaceable bearing in there without disassembling the entire trans and replacing the differential (final drive unit)

15yearsaturnguy :

does the vibration go away when you let off the gas (instantly) if yes then one of the axles are binding (inner cv joint not sliding in and out properly)

15yearsaturnguy :

otherwise I would look elsewhere for the vibration unless it wasn't there with the old axles but is there with the new ones

15yearsaturnguy :

there was an updated lower control arm bushing and steering rack pressure dampener spring released for the 2000 and 2001 L-series cars that would help reduce vibrations

15yearsaturnguy :

here is the info on the bulletin for the vibration (and it covers 2000-2005 saturns, thats new, used to go just to 2001

15yearsaturnguy :

Some customers may comment regarding a steering wheel shake or vibration felt when driving vehicle at highway speeds. This condition is most noticeable on smooth road surfaces at vehicle speeds above 65 mph (105 km/h).


This condition may be caused by vehicle sensitivity to out-of-balance tire/wheel assemblies.


Balance all four tire/wheel assemblies and evaluate. (Regardless of VIN.)

Replace steering gear preload adjuster spring. (On vehicles built before and including VIN 2Y525531.)

Replace front lower control arm rear bushings. (On vehicles built before and including VIN YY697118.)

Service Procedure:


1.Check and set cold tire pressure to 207 kPa (30 psi).

2.Inspect for damaged tires, unusually worn tires, bent wheels, or debris build up on tires, wheels, or wheel covers and correct as necessary.

3.Test drive vehicle at highway speed to verify steering wheel shake or vibration condition.

4.Mark each tire with its current location on vehicle.


5.Raise vehicle.

6.Remove tire/wheel assemblies from vehicle and remove all wheel weights from tire/wheel assemblies.

7.Balance tire/wheel assemblies to 2.8 g (0.1 ounces) or less of imbalance on inner and outer flange.

Use an off-vehicle two plane dynamic balancer that:

- has been calibrated; and

- is capable of providing repeatable balance readings.

Select finest balance mode to achieve a “perfect balance” of tire/wheel assembly.

Use back cone mounting method because wheel center pilot hole is the primary locator for balancing.

Important: For balancer calibration information, refer to Tire Balancer Manufacturer Recommendations.

8.To check and verify the repeatability of the balancer, perform the following:

Balance a tire/wheel assembly and record balance readings.

Loosen balancer attachment nut and disengage tire/wheel assembly from balancer mounting cone.

Rotate tire/wheel assembly 90° on balancer mounting shaft and tighten.

Obtain reading from the new location and compare to the first set of readings.

If the two sets of readings are 2.8 g (0.1 ounces) or more apart, check the following:

- Balancer cone for wear. (Both on the inside diameter and tapered area of cone.) Replace balancer as necessary.

- Mating surfaces on balancer attachment hardware for damage or debris. Clean mating surfaces as necessary.

If repeatable balance cannot be achieved, contact balance equipment manufacturer for further calibration assistance.

Important: Do not replace the front bushings of the front lower control arms, only the rear bushings of the front lower control arms are to be replaced. Also, do not replace the bushing on only one side of the vehicle. The bushings must be installed on both sides of the vehicle.

9.On vehicles built before and including VIN YY697118, check service history to determine if the control arm bushings have been replaced. If the control arm bushings have not been replaced, replace rear bushing of the front lower control arm.

On vehicles built before and including VIN 2Y525531, install new 110 lb. steering gear preload spring. (Refer to Steering Gear Preload Spring Replacement procedure in this bulletin.)

10.Install tire/wheel assemblies on vehicle location from which they were removed.

10.1Hand tighten all five wheel bolts.

10.2Use torque wrench to tighten wheel bolts using a star pattern.

Tighten Wheel Bolts (Initial Torque) to 63 N·m (46 ft-lbs).

10.3Use a torque wrench to final tighten wheel bolts using a star pattern.

Tighten Wheel Bolts (Final Torque) to 125 N·m (92 ft-lbs).

11.Test drive vehicle at highway speed to evaluate steering wheel shake and/or vibration.

If condition has been eliminated, no further repair is necessary.

If condition has not been eliminated, perform the following:

- Rotate tire/wheel assemblies from front to rear.

- Torque wheel bolts using torque sequence previously shown.

12.Test drive vehicle at highway speed to verify proper repair.


15yearsaturnguy :

here, I'll just attach the entire thing...

15yearsaturnguy :

click here

15yearsaturnguy :

hope this helps

15yearsaturnguy and 4 other Saturn Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for your reply,

here's the extra info you asked for.

I don't think the replacement axle was bad because it was shaking before.

The seal has not been leaking, but there is much more play than on the drivers side [about 1/4' as opposed to less than 1/8"]

The vibration is not affected by gas pedal but is worse at 30 or 60-65MPH and is felt more by the passenger than driver. Also if when accelerating from rest, I suddenly let off the gas below around 30MPH, a heavy thump is felt like a sloppy diff but with no metallic sound. I think this is due to bad engine mounts though. The axle is definitely not binding , it slides easily both ends.

Though the vibration can be felt through the steering wheel, the wheel itself does not shake, the whole car vibrates.

Thanks for the info re control arm bushings, my vehicle vin is pre upgrade so I could try this though the bushings feel OK.

I still want to replace the inner oil seal sleeve on the stub shaft, do I have to remove the shaft to get it off? If I leave the old one on is there any possibility oil could leak inside this sleeve? It appears to only hold grease on the splines, while the oil flows around it and is held in by the outer seal, is this correct?

If oil isn't leaking then I would highly reccomend not touching that sleeve. It only keeps fluid from leaking past the seal and messing with it makes replacing it very hard. You need special tools to press the new sleeve onto the stub shaft and getting it back in the trans is really hard. As for the play, 1/4" seems ok. And the new bushings are designed to absorb vibrations, not fix looseness. Hope this helps. Good luck!
15yearsaturnguy and 4 other Saturn Specialists are ready to help you
thank you for your positive rating. If I can help you in any way, please let me know.
good luck