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A mechanic has found that I have two split CV joint boots on my 2004 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport, and I want to try and replace the axles myself. However, the shop manual for the drivetrain is very confusing to me, so I want to check whether the information I have found online is correct for my car in particular. My favorite YouTube video is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK8QaqltAUc and it looks like a late 90s Legacy. A couple pointed questions.

  1. Should the procedure for this car be same as a 2004 Impreza?
  2. Should the axle nut be loosened before or after lifting the car?
  3. Are the only bolts that need to be removed the ones holing the knuckle to the strut?
  4. Do both strut bolts need to be marked and replaced to ensure proper alignment?
  5. How should I mark the bolts?
  6. What can be used instead of a proper punch to remove the roll pins? How thin must it be?
  7. Any other advice worth noting?

Cheers, Tim

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  1. Should the procedure for this car be same as a 2004 Impreza?

I think I would use this video for direction.

  1. Should the axle nut be loosened before or after lifting the car?

If you are not replacing the wheel bearing, then no. I saw on your video where it says that you can cause damage to the wheel bearing by doing it with the car on the ground. If you don't have the availability of a lift, then put the front end up on jack stands and ensure it is solid on them. Take the tires off (you should have loosened the lug nuts while the car was sitting on the ground). Then have someone get into the driver's seat of the car CAREFULLY and apply the brakes. Then remove the large nut which holds the axle in place.

  1. Are the only bolts that need to be removed the ones holing the knuckle to the strut?

Follow the directions on the video I provided. You'll need a few more bolts removed, but it appears they are all 12mm heads, so easy-peasy.

  1. Do both strut bolts need to be marked and replaced to ensure proper alignment?

Just the top bolt.

  1. How should I mark the bolts?

Use a punch. If that isn't available, use a black permanent marker and do not use any lubricant, or you will remove the marks :D

  1. What can be used instead of a proper punch to remove the roll pins? How thin must it be?

I don't believe you'll need this type of punch with your axle. It should be splined on both ends.

  1. Any other advice worth noting?

Be careful. If you do not have jack stands or a lift to put your front end up on, don't do this job. Block the back tires and put your e-brake on before lifting the front end. You could take both tires off at the same time after you lift the vehicle, but only work on one axle at a time. This will help you not be confused or get parts mixed up.

This is a relatively easy job. It will just take some time. So plan for that eventuality and take your time.

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    Whether it's OE for 2004 Impreza Outbacks I'm not sure, but I did indeed have to remove and install roll pins to hold the axle to the transmission. – tim.farkas Jan 10 '15 at 23:55
  • Okay, so the video you posted should have showed you just fine. I thought the change was in effect on the 04, but I guess not. Still should not have been too tough of a job. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 11 '15 at 1:08
  • @tim.farkas - Oh, and if your answer is better for your vehicle, by all means, select it as the answer, not mine. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 11 '15 at 1:09
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Post-job answers to my own questions. Went very smoothly. About 3 hours for me.

1. Should the procedure for this car be same as a 2004 Impreza Outback Sport?

Yes, but the video in Paulster2 post above is better. But unlike that video, there is a roll pin that holds the axle to the transmission in my car. You need to bang it out with some kind of punch (~5mm). One thing that held me up is that the holes will not line up if you push the transmission spline all the way into the axle. it needs to be pulled out about 3mm or so. Also note that the holes only line up in one orientation (out of 360 degrees): the spline is not perfectly symmetrical.

2.Should the axle nut be loosened before or after lifting the car?

After. You need someone to depress the brake.

3. Are the only bolts that need to be removed the ones holing the knuckle to the strut?

Remove the bolts that hold the brake and ABS lines to the strut. They hold the knuckle back and make it harder to remove/insert the axle.

4. Do both strut bolts need to be marked and replaced to ensure proper alignment?

Just the top.

5. How should I mark the bolts?

I took a picture with a smartphone and used the pre-fab markings on the bolt & strut to preserve the alignment. No need to make physical markings. The pre-fab ones are much more precise.

6. What can be used instead of a proper punch to remove the roll pins? How thin must it be?

A mechanic let me borrow a tool he made out of a cylinder head bolt, but I reckon one could use a 2-inch bolt of the proper diameter. Just buy a punch -- I got a set of punches and chisels for $15.

7. Any other advice?

This is a one-man job, except for loosening the axle nuts.

Have a breaker bar or extending pipe. Axle nuts in particular are on there real good.

You should have a torque wrench up to 200 ft/lbs for the axle nuts. They need to be cranked at about 170. If you don't have a torque wrench, 170 ft/lbs is like, really really a lot of ft/lbs. I am medium-strong man and it's about as hard I can torque.

Apparently you can remove the roll pin for the passenger side from inside the hood, but I didn't bother. You have to remove some other components, and it's not so hard to get at the pin from underneath, although it is definitely more difficult than the driver's side.

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