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How to Replace a CV Half Shaft Assembly on a Nissan Quest

by Tim Petruccio

Nissan/Datsun Motor Company introduced the Nissan Quest in 1993, and the van continues to be produced as of 2011. The Nissan Quest has been a front wheel drive minivan, equipped with a variation of a V-6 engine in each production year. The Quest is produced with CV shafts, otherwise known as half shafts, stub axles, or CV axles. The CV shaft controls the forward and reverse motion of the vehicle, by directly linking the wheel hub assemblies to the transmission. Replacing a CV shaft should take about two hours per side, even if you have never attempted this type of work before.

Remove the center cap or wheel cover from the Quest. Loosen the spindle nut socket through the center of the wheel, using a 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and spindle nut socket. Loosen the torque from the wheel lug nuts with a tire iron, only until they break loose from the wheel. Do not remove the lug nuts yet. Raise the front of the Quest using a 2-ton jack, or a jack with greater capacity. Place jack stands beneath both front lower frame rails, to support the vehicle for the duration of this project.

Remove the front wheel lug nuts completely from the vehicle, then remove the wheel assembly from the Quest. Remove the caliper mounting bracket bolts from behind the brake rotor, using a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket. Turn the caliper bracket mounting bolts counterclockwise until they are completely removed from the bracket assembly. Remove the caliper and bracket assembly using a small pry bar to assist you if necessary. Hang the caliper and bracket assembly from one of the front coil spring rungs, using a metal clothes hangar or small bendable metal rod.

Remove the brake rotor by hand. When you are finished you will have an open view of the steering knuckle and CV axle end. Remove the spindle nut completely from the CV shaft using a 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and a spindle nut socket. Remove the outer tie rod end nut from the tie rod, using a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket. Hammer the tie rod up and out of the steering knuckle, using a large rubber mallet. Remove the tie rod end from the steering knuckle.

Hammer the end of the CV shaft inward until it pops free from the wheel bearing. Turn the steering knuckle assembly so that it is facing forward on the vehicle, using a pry bar to assist you if necessary. Remove the lower ball joint mounting nut using a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket. Hammer the lower control arm downward with a large rubber mallet, until the lower ball joint and control arm drop free from the steering knuckle.

Lift the steering knuckle up and outward, while simultaneously pulling the CV shaft through to the back wheel hub assembly. Remove the CV shaft from the hub bearing and steering knuckle assembly completely by hand.

Place a pry bar in between the transmission housing and the CV axle bearing, and pry the CV axle free from the transmission gently. This process works only on the driver's or left side of the vehicle. If you are working on the passenger or right side of the vehicle, remove the three CV axle mounting bolts from the axle bearing bracket. The bearing bracket is mounted between the CV shaft and the transaxle. Remove all three mounting bolts, then remove the inner end of the CV shaft from the bearing bracket with a pry bar. Remove the CV shaft.

Install the new CV shaft inner end into the transmission if you are on the driver's side of the vehicle. Push the CV shaft into the transmission, then use a large rubber mallet to pound the axle completely into place. If you are on the passenger side of the Quest, install the inner CV shaft end onto the axle bearing bracket and install the three mounting bolts. Tighten the mounting bolts to 60-foot-pounds of torque, using a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and socket.

Generously coat the outer end of the CV axle with bearing grease or axle grease. Lubricate the inside of the wheel bearing race with grease as well. Adding grease will make installation of the new axle much easier. Install the outer end of the CV axle through the rear wheel bearing race. Push the steering knuckle inward to force the axle completely through the wheel bearing assembly. Install the spindle nut onto the end of the CV shaft and turn it onto the shaft three times by hand.

Place a jack beneath the lower control arm and lift the lower control arm and ball joint upward. Guide the lower ball joint shaft into the bottom mounting hole on the steering knuckle, and continue lifting until the shaft protrudes through the mounting hole. Install the lower ball joint nut onto the shaft. Tighten the lower ball joint nut to 60-foot-pounds of torque, using a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and socket.

Turn the steering knuckle assembly to align the outer tie rod end, with the mounting hole on the knuckle. Push the tie rod end downward and into the knuckle, using a rubber mallet to assist you if necessary. Place the tie rod mounting nut onto the shaft of the tie rod, once the shaft protrudes through the steering knuckle mounting hole. Tighten the tie rod end nut to 50-foot-pounds of torque, using a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and socket.

Tighten the spindle nut to 92-foot-pounds of torque, using the torque wrench and socket. Reinstall the brake rotor by hand. Install the caliper and mounting bracket over the rotor and install the caliper mounting bracket bolts. Use a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and socket, to set the mounting bracket bolts at 70-foot-pounds of torque.

Place the front wheel back onto the Quest, only after you have double checked the torque on your spindle nut and tie rod end. Place the wheel on the vehicle and snug the wheel lug nuts on, using a tire iron. Lift the front of the Quest up with a jack, and remove the jack stands. Lower the Quest to the ground. Immediately tighten the front wheel lug nuts to 95-foot-pounds of torque, using a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and socket.

Tip

  • When replacing a CV shaft, it is recommended that you replace them in pairs. A new CV shaft on one side of the vehicle can weaken the CV shaft and damage the wheel bearing on the second side. Replacing the CV shafts as a pair will maintain a balance in your front drivetrain, and ensure that you have stability in the front end.

Warning

  • Never lift a vehicle on uneven ground or a slope. Raising the vehicle on uneven ground or a slope can cause jacks and jack stands to collapse, along with the vehicle. Failure to adhere to this warning could result in vehicle damage, personal injury, or even death if the vehicle collapses onto you.

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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