How to Remove a Chevrolet Limited Slip Differential

by Don Bowman

A Chevrolet limited slip differential is removed in the same manner as open differentials. Removing the differential and re-installing it requires a fair amount of technical ability and certain special tools. The differential in any vehicle must be set up for minimal clearances using a calipers and dial indicator for accuracy.

Step 1

Raise the rear of the vehicle and support it on the jack stands. Remove the rear wheels using the ½-inch air gun.

Step 2

Remove the driveshaft using an 11mm wrench on late-model vehicles, or a 7/16 wrench on early-model vehicles. Remove the nuts on the U-clamps. If the driveshaft wants to turn while the nuts are being removed, stick a common screwdriver between the universal to limit its movement.

Step 3

Place the drip pan under the differential housing. Using the 13mm socket and a ratchet, remove the bolts in the differential cover. Remove the differential cover by prying it loose with a screwdriver. Allow the fluid to drain into the drip pan. Use a piece of cardboard or a wadded up piece of newspaper to remove the rest of the fluid on the bottom of the differential. This is advisable to keep it from leaking while it is being worked on.

Step 4

Remove the pinion nut from the yoke using the ½-inch air gun. Once removed, take the yoke off by tapping it gently toward the front with a hammer.

Step 5

Remove the center pin in the differential--it is held in on one end by a small 8mm bolt. The pin is approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter and the same length of the differential case. Its purpose is to support the spider gears to give them a pivotal point and keep them at a 180-degree separation. It also keeps them in constant contact with the side gears. The center pin prevents the axles from moving inward.

Observe the spider gears in the upper and lower hemisphere of the center of the differential. The side gears on either side are meshed with the spider gears. The side gears have splines in the center where the axles slide into them, and are held in place by their splines. The clutch packs on both sides are the limited slip side of the differential.

As the drive shaft turns the pinion, it meshes with the ring gear and turns the entire differential. As the differential turns and the vehicle moves straight ahead, the spider gears do not turn or move from position. The gears just turn in an elliptical pattern. In this situation, both axles are moving at the same speed. As the vehicle turns, the inside axle slows causing the spider gears to rotate allowing the inside axle to turn more slowly while still maintaining power.

Keeping this in mind, the removal of the center pin is going to release the spider gears allowing them to rotate out of position. To prevent this, the differential housing must not be turned with the pin out.

Rotate the differential by turning an axle. Rotate the differential until the pin with the retaining bolt is as close to the bottom of the housing as possible, still allowing the removal of the bolt and pin. Remove the retaining bolt with a small wrench and allow the pin to slide out.

Step 6

Remove the brake drums by pulling them off. Push both axles in as far as they will go.

Step 7

Remove the C-clips from the inner ends of the axles. They can be seen through the space created by the removal of the center pin. These are the retainers that hold the axles in. When the clips are in place and the center pin in installed, it pushes the axles outward where the clips move into a recess where they cannot come off.

Step 8

Pull both axles out of the axle tube about half way. Distance isn't critical, but they should be pulled out enough so that the ends of the axles are free of the side gears.

Step 9

Push the center pin back into the spider gears and loosely install the retaining bolt. Remove the two side braces holding the differential to the case using the ½-inch air gun. Usually the differential will stay in and need to be pried out, however, sometimes it is loose and will fall out. The differential is heavy so take precautions to hold it in until you are ready to lift out.

Step 10

Remove the differential, being careful to keep the side pacers separated. These spacers are of different sizes and need to go in the same side or the differential will need to be reset.

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