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How to Remove the Inside Axle Nut on a Ford Focus

by Tim Petruccio

The North American Ford Focus was introduced in the 2000 model year, two years after its International version debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1998. The Ford Focus is now in its second generation as of 2008. The Focus replaced the Ford Escort, Mercury Tracer, Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique. The axle nut, or spindle nut as it is formally known, is the same size from 2000 to present. Removal of the spindle nut is usually done to assist in access to wheel bearings and suspension or steering parts.

Lift the wheel from which you want to remove the axle nut off the ground. Set a jack stand underneath the control arm if it is a front wheel, or the rear axle beam if is on the rear wheel. Remove the wheel from the car. Place a wheel chock in front of the wheel you are not working on, on the same side of the car that you are working on. For example, if you're working on the driver's front tire, put the wheel chock in front of the driver's rear tire. Use extra wheel chocks on the opposite side of vehicle, if available.

Spray PB Blaster penetrating spray onto the center of the hub, or where the hole is in the middle of the brake rotor. If you have drum brakes on the rear, you must dismantle all of the drum brakes and hardware to remove the spindle nut. Use a flat head screwdriver to pry the rear brake hardware springs off and dismantle the rest by hand. Remove the backing plate from the rear spindle using a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket, prior to attempting removal of the spindle nut.

Set a 32-mm spindle socket onto a 1/2-inch drive breaker bar.

Align the spindle nut socket up with the axle nut you wish to remove. Turn the axle nut counterclockwise to remove it from the axle. There may be over 150 foot-pounds of torque on your spindle nut if it is a factory set nut. Do not stand on the breaker bar to apply pressure. Turn your body so that your back faces the front of the car, and use your upper body for the leverage you need to remove the initial torque.

Tips

  • When attempting to remove the axle from the car, it may be also necessary to remove the lower ball joint and outer tie rod end from the steering/suspension assembly. It is always a good idea to replace both the lower ball joint and tie rod end once they are removed, unless they are newer and there is less than 10,000 miles on either part.
  • The 32-mm socket is available at an auto parts store, and some stores loan or rent them out for one-time use.

Warnings

  • Never raise a vehicle on a sloped or uneven surface. Maintain a level, flat surface when raising a vehicle. Ground that is soft or not level can cause both jacks and jack stands to collapse. Failure to adhere to this warning could result in property damage, personal injury or even death if you are under the vehicle when it collapses.
  • Never stand on a breaker bar to act as a leverage device. Standing on a breaker bar can cause the vehicle to roll or rock. Rocking the vehicle can cause jacks or jack stands to collapse. Failure to adhere to this warning could cause property damage, personal injury or loss of limb if a body part slips under the vehicle while it is collapsing.

Items you will need

About the Author

Tim Petruccio is a professional writer and automotive mechanic. His writing combines more than 20 years of mechanical experience in automotive service, service management, automotive education and business ownership. He assisted in the automotive beta, which launched March 2011.

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