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Axle circlips left behind in the diff!!! Is this normal?


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Hey all,

 

I'm sure this has been asked before but I've been browsing the web and have been finding very conflicting information about whether the rear axles are supposed to have circlips on them, or whether the clips stay in the diff.

 

On the weekend I dropped my whole entire rear subframe to replace the diff bushings on my 2006 Legacy GT. This of course included popping the axles out of the rear diff and removing the diff. 

I did the normal method of prying the axles out of the diff and they popped out without too much of a struggle, however I couldn't help but notice that there were no circlips on the ends of either of the axles. After not much investigating I did sure enough find that BOTH circlips have been left behind and are still sitting in the grooves in the diff! (Would like to upload photo but max upload size is only 200kB).

I started getting really worried because axles on a front wheel drive Nissan I once pulled out came out with the circlips.... I read on some random forum that this is normal and that the axles will push back through the middle of the circlips when you reinstall.... I've ALSO read that this is not supposed to happen and that I must somehow fish the clips out, put them back on the axles and install the axles with the clips already on them!

I've read that the rear axles leave the clips in the diff.....and the front axles come out with the clips?

 

 

Can someone who has done this a few times please clear up my confusion and let me know whether ...

 

 

A. Everything is fine, it's normal for the circlips to get left behind in the diff by design. To reinstall the axles they will simply click back in.

 

Or

 

B. Something has gone wrong, the circlips should be in the groove at the end of the axles when you remove it. I will have to somehow fish these clips out of the diff without them falling down the middle. Once I have them out of the diff I have to put them back in their grooves on the axles and then they are ready to be pushed back into the diff.

 

Vehicle is a 2006 EJ20Y turbo legacy with the 6 speed manual.

 

Any advice is greatly appreciated, many thanks for your time🙏.

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There are quite a few different rear diffs on these. Some have circlips on the axle stub, and some have them internal to the diff.

Some have equal length axle stubs, and some have different lengths. Something only one side has a circlip on the axle.

Edited by Loren
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Any idea on how I can confirm whether or not they should be in there? Because they are left behind it would be likely that they are supposed to right?

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1 hour ago, Panda said:

Any idea on how I can confirm whether or not they should be in there? Because they are left behind it would be likely that they are supposed to right?

 

It should be pretty obvious by the depth of the groove. A deep groove on the axle stub will probably mean a circlip is supposed to be present. A shallow groove probably

means the circlip is inside the diff. You can also put your finger in the diff and see if you can feel the circlip... should be easy enough.

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3 minutes ago, Loren said:

 

It should be pretty obvious by the depth of the groove. A deep groove on the axle stub will probably mean a circlip is supposed to be present. A shallow groove probably

means the circlip is inside the diff. You can also put your finger in the diff and see if you can feel the circlip... should be easy enough.

Yea okay that's a good thought. The Clips are MOST DEFINITELY still inside the diff. Looking through one axle hole I can see all the way through to the other side and there is definitely a clip on each side. They are still seated in their grooves.

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7 hours ago, Panda said:

Upon a bit of research I believe I have an R180 diff. Even pulled axles out of these in particular?

 

Yea you will have the r180. Can't actually comment on axle types though. I only ever pulled the front ones on my old one. They are an oddball axle though, r180 sized inner with r160 outer to match the hubs for the rest of the lineup

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On 12/04/2024 at 1:47 PM, Panda said:

Upon a bit of research I believe I have an R180 diff. Even pulled axles out of these in particular?

 

There are different R180s too... I only have direct experience with the GC8 Type R/RA diffs that have clutch packs... the circlips are internal with these.

Some of the later STis have a viscous rear R180...pretty sure the axles are the same though.

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Just thought I'd let you guys know that I have been in touch with 4 Subaru dealer technicians, two qualified mechanics and the Subaru tuning specialist to tunes my car. I have got a variety of different responses, the mechanics think the clips should NOT be left in the diff...the dealership technicians have contradicting opinions, some say they should be left in the diff, some say they shouldn't and one guy reckoned there shouldn't be any at all!?. The Subaru specialist was absolutely adament that the clips are supposed to be left in there (on a R180)  and he had many colourful things to say about the dealership technicians as he thinks they should know better.

 

Another thing I learnt is that the front axles ALWAYS has clips that come out the "normal" traditional way.

 

My research told me that there are varying different varieties of Subaru diffs that use both methods (clips staying in is a bit rare and niche though I believe), therefore I decided that because they were both left in the diff it is more likely to be by design than by something going wrong....and the tuning workshop guy really convinced me as he deals with the older performance Subarus opposed to the dealership mostly doing new stuff.....and the qualified mechanics wouldn't be super familiar with niche Subaru things in particular.

 

So I popped them back in with a tap of the heavy hammer....applied some pressure with a prybar to confirm they were locked in....they were......then I pulled them out and looked at the circlips to make sure they were still in the same position as I first saw them and hadn't sheared off or broken......I put them back in and repeated about 3 times until I felt comfortable about them. 

 

I haven't put oil back in or driven it yet ....but if anything goes wrong I'll be sure to post about it here!

 

 

 

Also when I pryed to make sure they were locked in I noticed there was a bit of side to side play in axel when applying pressure to confirm the axles were locked into the diff.....probably about 2 or 3mm of movement? Is this normal? It made me a bit uneasy as I don't understand how it can have play if the circlips have locked it into the grooves? None the less the axles required quite a lot of pressure to pop them out so I assume they are locked in properly?

 

Has anyone got an opinion about this?

 

 

 

 

 

many thanks to all..... I'll be sure to let you know when I have a whining rear end and grey pastey, sparkly diff oil 😅

 

 

 

 

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Dealer techs aren't going to be the greatest source of what is normal, usually, because as you highlighted, 99% of the cars they see are the "ordinary" ones, whereas obviously a place like ClubSub or some niche Subaru guy is going to have a concentration of "weird" Subarus.

 

As you have clearly discovered there's a pretty enormous list of possible variations of axle+diff centre+diff housing, each possibly having a unique configuration.

 

Don't overthink this one. If you can think of a way your rear axles could come out during normal operation without there first being a catastrophic failure of some suspension component I'm all ears.

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12 minutes ago, boon said:

Dealer techs aren't going to be the greatest source of what is normal, usually, because as you highlighted, 99% of the cars they see are the "ordinary" ones, whereas obviously a place like ClubSub or some niche Subaru guy is going to have a concentration of "weird" Subarus.

 

As you have clearly discovered there's a pretty enormous list of possible variations of axle+diff centre+diff housing, each possibly having a unique configuration.

 

Don't overthink this one. If you can think of a way your rear axles could come out during normal operation without there first being a catastrophic failure of some suspension component I'm all ears.

I don't see how the axles could come out either.....I was more concerned about the unknowns surrounding whether or not the circlips have seated in properly.....or if they have broken or had been pushed through into the centre of the diff ready to go for a ride through the gears.

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]

1 hour ago, Panda said:

I don't see how the axles could come out either.....I was more concerned about the unknowns surrounding whether or not the circlips have seated in properly.....or if they have broken or had been pushed through into the centre of the diff ready to go for a ride through the gears.

 

Don't worry, the gears will grind the circlips into dust in no time.

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8 minutes ago, Loren said:

]

 

Don't worry, the gears will grind the circlips into dust in no time.

Yea well....your right....but I'd prefer to keep my oil non-sparkly😅

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