1996 – 2004 Ford Mustang 8.8 inch Carrier Swap

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Ford Mustang Rear AxleFor those of you who want to (or in some unfortunate cases, need to) do any work inside the rear axle housing of your Ford Mustang, we’ve got a good dose of tech here for you.  Our very own premier StangNet.com member stangman gives us a great guideline as to how it’s done.  Step inside and take a look for an illustrated technical article.

First off, this will work for other years of Ford Mustangs but since I’ve
only worked on modular motor equipped rear ends I place emphasis on it.  There may
be minute differences in other years, but the same principles can be
applied.  Every image inside this article is linked to a larger version, to show more detail of the photo.


Tools needed
– Oil change pan
– 1/4 ratchet
– 3/8 ratchet
– 3/8 breaker bar
– 3/8 extension
– 1/2 ratchet
– 1/2 breaker bar
– 8mm socket (1/4 drive)
– 1/4 socket (1/4 drive)
– 13mm socket (3/8 drive)
– 16mm socket (3/8 drive)
– 13/16 socket (1/2 drive)
– 3/4 socket (1/2 drive)
– Long flathead screwdriver
– Razor blade
– Black RTV sealant
– Brake parts cleaner
– 2.2 qts of rear end oil. (I used royal purple)
– Friction modifier if you don’t use synthetic
– Fluid pump (trust me–you’ll be glad you got it)
– Plenty of work rags & shop towels

– Take rear wheels off – 13/16 socket

– Loosen the carrier bolts – 13mm socket

– Take out the bottom carrier bolts, leave the top bolt in, but loose

– Place oil pan below axle housing

– Pry bottom part of housing cover loose & allow housing to drain into oil pan – flathead screwdriver

– Take the ABS sensor out – 1/4 socket

– Take the caliper bracket off – 2 / 16mm bolts

– Take the race caps off. The race caps are directly to the side, on
each side, of the carrier. DO NOT mix these up & make sure that the
arrows face the EXACT same way as to when you take the off. If you do
not do this correctly the axles will not turn when done – 3/4 socket

– With the Race caps off, move on to the carrier pin. Remove the bolt holding the pin in (shown below) – 8mm

– After the bolt is out, you will be able to slide the carrier pin out
– Shown 1" left of the carrier bolt in the picture above. In order to
slide the carrier pin out you will need to rotate the carrier
approximately 90 degrees downward. It also may be necessary to reach on
the backside of the carrier & push it out of the pin hole to get it
to move initially.

– Now onto the C-clip. You will need to move the C-clip off the axle in
order to pull the axle out. Take a long object, I used a thin flathead,
to get it off the axle – long flathead screwdriver

– Pull axles out of the axle tubes.

– At this point you will take the carrier out of the housing. Be careful, it is very heavy.


– With the carrier out of the housing take a piece of cardboard &
scrape the rest of the gear oil out of the bottom of the housing.

– Spray the rest of the housing out with brake parts cleaner

– Place Races to the side


– Now to you will need to take the ring gear off of the carrier. If you
have air tools, use those. If you do not, take a long breaker bar
extension & put it through the carrier. Then break loose all of the
bolts in a basic star pattern while putting all your weight on the
extension for leverage – 3/4 socket, 1/2 breaker bar, 1/2 extension

– After all bolts are taken out of the ring gear you will need to tap
the ring gear lightly with a hammer to unlodge it from the carrier – rubber hammer preferred

– If you are replacing with another unit, such as an Eaton or Auburn,
just bolt the ring gear onto the new unit. Ring gear bolts will need a
dab of anti-seize and torqued to 65 ft lbs. Also when putting the ring
gear on the new carrier just get the bolts started & then let the
bolts draw the ring gear onto the carrier & let that seat the
carrier to the ring gear.

– If you are rebuilding the t-lock you will need to take the Spring
clip out by tapping on it with a hammer, then take the spider gears
out, then also the clutches & spacers. In order to take the spider
gears out you will have to ‘rotate’ them out by spinning them out. If
you are wanting to "double clutch" the rear end, you will need to add
one clutch per side of the carrier. The stock order goes clutch,
spacer, spacer, clutch, spacer, spacer, clutch. If you want to do
"Double clutch" it you will need to follow this order; clutch, spacer,
clutch, spacer, clutch, spacer, clutch.


– When putting the spider gears back in, it may take a few tries to
rotate them into the correct spot. Please note, that if the spacing is
off, the Spring clip will not go back in & you can damage the
spider gears potentially if you try to beat it into place between the
spider gears. Again, torque ring gear bolts to 65 ft lbs.

– Take a straight razor & scrape off all excess RTV sealant from
the housing & also housing cover. This will ensure a good seal when
you go to re-RTV when everything is back in place.

– Now you will need to put the carrier back into the housing. Now if
you are using a different carrier, like a Ford 31 spline t-lock etc.,
you may have to re-shim the inside of the housing. In my case, I used a
31 spline T-lock out of an explorer & Moser 31 spline axles. I
ended up having to completely take out one of the side shims to make it
line up correctly.


– Sometimes the shims & spacer want to fall out of place. If you
take some grease & put it on the side of the shims it will help
them stay in place.

– You will need to put the races over the bearings & slide the carrier into the housing

– After you get the carrier in, put the race caps back on & tighten
to 65 ft lbs. Again be sure to put them on EXACTLY how you took them
off – 3/4 socket

– Now you will need to slide the axles in & place the C-clips on
the axle end. Place the C-clips into the space on the axle, shown below.


– Once the C-clips are in place pull the axles outward to get the end
of the axle out of the way, in order to put the carrier pin back in.

– Slide carrier pin back in, indented side down. This will allow the
indented side to line up with the carrier bolt. Be sure to line the
bolt up with the indented spot on the pin

– Once lined up, tighten the carrier bolt down & don’t forget the
lok-tite. You don’t want this coming loose. BAD things can happen if
it does – 8mm bolt

– Take cleaned housing cover & place a decent sized bead of RTV
sealant all the way around the cover. Place cover back on & begin
to put all bolts back in. Torque all bolts to 65ft lbs – 13mm

– Let it sit for a little while to give the RTV time to dry. I let it sit for about an hour.

– Now it’s time to put the gear oil back in. The plug is located on the back of the housing.

– Take a 3/8 ratchet & extension to loosen the plug & take it out.

– When you take out the plug be sure to put lok-tite on the end so it doens’t come out again.

– Set up your fluid pump & fill up the housing. I fill the housing until it starts to come out just a little.

– Put friction modifier in if you do not use synthethic

– Re-attatch the ABS sensor – 1/4 socket

– Re-attatch the rear calipers – 16mm

– Put rear tires back on – 13/16th socket

– Done.  Go get something to eat & drink, & while you’re out pick up some air freshener. The rear end dope STINKS!

Categories: Mustang Tech

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