E46 Wagon is back together after my replace the axle because of a clicking CV became drilling out a 5" long hardened bolt that pinches the strut into the steering knuckle broke.
Here’s a brief timeline:
8am Get the car in the air and the front left wheel off. Pull off rotor and caliper, ABS sensor, shield, and get that all out of the way.
8:30am Put a socket on the strut pinch bolt, as that’ll allow me to pivot everything out of the way. Promptly snap the head off flush with the knuckle.
8:31-9am Cry, swear, contemplate seppuku. Search on google and get “E46 strut pinc” typed in and it autocompletes “E46 strut pinch bolt broke”.
9am - 9:30am Heat the shit out of everything, try an EZ out and the bolt just laughs at me. None of my bits make a dent in the damn thing. Head to Fastenal.
9:45am - 7:30pm Kill 6 HSS and Cobalt bits drilling through it. Made it through up to 1/4" diameter. The unthreaded side gives up the remains of the bolt. Still have to get it the threaded side drilled the rest of the way.
7:30am Get back from Home Depot with a bunch more bits. I’m not making any more shopping trips.
7:45am - Damn thing is finally drilled out. Good news is it is all clean, and I didn’t widen the hole any so the knuckle didn’t lose any strength. I have a new 10.9 12mm bolt with nut to replace the busted stuff.
8am - Breakfast.
8:30am-9:15am Do the job I actually started all this to accomplish. Old axle comes out, seal replaced in differential, new axle goes in, strut reattached with new pinch bolt. Differential fluid drained and replaced.
9:15am - 10am Cleanup.
Test drove it about 50 miles, no vibes (it was shaking before, that joint was really bad), no clicks. Back on the lift to check my work, no leaks, nothing has moved from where I put it (I mark the bolts etc so I can tell if they move).
So my 1hr job turned into 2 days. Damn it. At least it’s done now and I’ll have some experience when I do the passenger side. I’ve never changed an axle before, not tough at all with the right tools.
So far the verdict on my Cardone Axle is it’s a good piece. Fit great, seems well made. Pretty much every review was that they were good, so I decided to give it a go for $42 vs a new GKN at $300, or rebuilt at $70. We’ll see how it holds up.