I wrote this on another forum, but figured it would be useful on here
This is going to be a step by step DIY walkthrough on changing a front axle on a 1997 Subaru Legacy GT, but should be generally the same for any Subaru model. I did this in a gravel driveway with hand tools, so don't say you can't do
Acquire Proper Tools
#1/2 Drive 32mm Socket
#Mallet or Hammer
#1/4" round punch
#GOOD Jack & Jackstands
#PB Blaster (penetrating oil)
#Book of Swears
With the car still on the ground, pull the handbrake and/or block the rear wheels to prevent any accidents. Now is a good time to break the lug nuts loose as well. Pop off any type of center caps to gain access to the axle nut. Lift the car up just enough to take the weight off the wheel. Having someone sit in the vehicle and hold the brake may help to keep the wheel from spinning during this. Take your 32mm socket and a good breaker bar and break loose the axle nut. This is to protect the wheel bearing from any unnecessary strain from being released with weight still on that wheel.
(And yes, I know that’s a torque wrench. It is so far out of calibration that I use that one as a breaker bar. PLEASE do NOT use your torque wrench to break ANY nut/bolt loose!!)
Position your jack underneath the car. Towards the lower control arm is a good jacking location. You only need the car high enough to get the wheel off the ground, but higher would be more accessible. Make sure you put a JACK STAND underneath. Now remove the wheel and set it and the nuts in a safe place for later.
Now we should see something like:
Alright, now get your PB plaster or penetrating oil of choice and lay it to both the ball joint pinch bolt as well as the sway bar link bolts. You may not need it, but it always helps. Let it soak in for a few minutes. Good time for a cold drink, imho.
Next, take a 14mm socket and loosen the upper sway bar link bolt. You will have to hold one side with another 14mm socket/wrench as you loosen it. Arrow below points to the other side you must hold while loosening. (Nut already removed before picture was taken) Remove bolt from sway bar and set it aside.
Now take the same 14mm socket to the pinch bolt holding the lower ball joint in place.
Support the rotor/spindle with a jack to pull tension off of the control arm. Get your mallet or hammer of choice and knock the flattest part of the control arm downward to eject the ball joint from the spindle. If necessary, use a long bar as a long punch against it. Should only take a few good blows and then it should look like this:
Alright, now loosen the axle nut the rest of the way and drive it back through the spindle. Be very careful not to damage the internal splines.
You can now swing the whole upper assembly (spindle, rotor, strut, etc) up and away enough to pull the axle all the way out of the spindle and off to the side.
Now to get remove the axle pin from the transmission side. Find where the roll pin goes through the axle. Its going to be closest the transmission. Take a ¼” punch and hold it against the pin and drive it out with a hammer.
You should now be able to remove the axle from the transmission. A pry bar and a quick jolt may be needed to separate if the axle has seized to the splines.
Now sit back and have another cold beverage and realize you’re only HALF way done!!
The best way to start reinstalling the axle is to drive the new roll pin just a little ways into the new axle to keep it in place. Align it with the hole on the transmission output shaft and drive the pin all the way through until flush. It makes it easier if you do that step first.
Now swing the spindle up again and slide the outer splines into the spindle, careful again not to damage any splines. Once it’s all the way through, put the axle nut on hand tight for now.
You can now align the spindle assembly back up with the lower ball joint. It may take some cussing, but it will align up and pop right back into place. Make sure it seats all the way against the lower spindle and torque the pinch bolt to 28-37 FT-LBS.
Pull the sway bar back into alignment with the link, install the bolt, and tighten the nut. Go back and recheck torque on everything and make sure you don’t have any extra parts. Roll pin back in? Ball joint bolt torque? Sway bar reattached?
Now you can put the wheel back on and hand tighten the lugs. Remove the jackstand and lower the vehicle down until the tire barely touches the ground. Tighten the lug nuts to 60 FT-LBS, and torque the axle nut to 137 FT-LBS. I always like to torque an axle nut, break it loose and then retorque it again to preload the bearings.
Lower the vehicle the rest of the way and you’re done! Test drive the vehicle listening for any kind of noises or play. Retorque bearing once more. Clean up, put your tools away and call it a day.
If I’ve forgotten anything feel free to let me know and I’ll add it back in.
I am in no way a certified mechanic, nor do I work for Subaru. Always use your best judgment. I can’t be to blame for any injury you might incur while using this walkthrough. Always verify torque specs as well, as we all make mistakes.