VR6 axle swap 'How To'

Wingnut

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Joined
Oct 10, 2002
Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
I threw in my VR6 axles today, so I thought i would snap some pics for those of you who are interested. First things first....The disclaimer:

This thread is for informational purposes only. I do not recommend that anyone do this mod. If you do, you do so at your own risk.

Ok, now the details.

First thing you need to do is get the parts. I bought a pair of VR6 axles from a local wrecking yard for $75 each. In order to bolt them to the gearbox, you need bigger flanges. The ones that come with the TDI are 100mm and the VR6 ones are 108mm. Its hard to find used flanges at the wreckers because they won't take them off any transmissions to sell seperately, unless you can find a broken transmision somewhere. I got mine on The Vortex in the transmission classifieds for $70 shipped (Thanks Adam). Apparently, if someone with a MKIII car wants to put an 02J transmission in their car from a MKIV car, they buy an 02J VR6 tranny & take off the 108mm flanges and put on 100mm flanges so that they can use their original 100mm axles. Thats how I got mine. You also need a few items from the dealer to finish the job, like new bolts (unless you can get those with the flanges), new seals (might as well replace them while you have the flanges off), and new axle lock nuts (not pictured) Here are the parts:







The part numbers you will require for these parts are as follows:

2 x 084 409 189 B - Flange seal (~$20 each)
2 x 02A 409 355 G - 108mm Flange (~ $200 each), but you can get them from the vortex for around $75
2 x N 905 876 02 - Axle lock nut (not pictured) ~$5 each))
12 x N 105 316 01 - Axle to flange bolts - M10x23mm (~$2 each)

As for the axle part numbers, you can see them in the pic, but I couldn't find these numbers in ETKA, so there could be many variations of these axles that will work???

Now, the first thing you need to do is jack up the car, secure it on Jack stands for safety & remove the wheels. I'm sure you don't need pics for that part. Then, drain the fluid out of the transmission. It is not absolutely necessary to do this, but it will save a big mess as there will be spillage when you remove the flanges. And you might as well do a fluid change while you are doing this as you will have to top up the tranny anyway.

Here is the drain plug (that rusty thing in the middle next to the dogbone mount):



Once the gear oil is drained, you can start pulling things apart. start by removing the axle lock nuts. For this, you need a 30mm 12 point socket. If you have an impact gun, great. It will be easy to remove them. If not, get someone to step on the brakes while you loosen them with a breaker bar (sorry, no pic for this part)

Then, using an 8mm 12 point bit, remove the 6 bolts that hold the axle to the flange:



In order to hold the axle from spinning while you loosen these bolts, you can get someone to step on the brakes for you again. Or, if you have drilled rotors, stick a screwdriver in one of the holes to hold it :) :



Once all 6 bolts have been removed, you can wiggle the axle out. Its tricky, but can be done. On the drivers side, Just move the transmission side of the axle up into the engine bay area as you slide the splined part of the outer axle out of the hub. Then manouver it out from the bottom. If you have trouble, then you could remove the 3 lower ball joint bolts to allow the spindle to swing away from the car, leaving lots of room to get the axle out. But if you do this, you will have to mark the 3 bolts with some visible spray paint so you can put them back in the same spot. Otherwise, you will need an alignment afterwards.

On the passenger side, turn the wheel all the way to one side so that the axle is as far out as possible. You can then wiggle the axle away from the flange. Once it is separated, you need to jack up the lower control arm to get enough clearance to remove the axle:



As I said, its tricky, but can be done without undoing the lower ball joints.

Now, once you have the axles out, there will be a nice greasy mess in the flange:



Clean out the grease with old rags and you will see the bolt that holds the flange in place. It is held in with a 6mm allen head:



It shouldn't take too much force to remove this bolt. It is only tightened to 18 ft/lbs. Put the trans in gear to hold it from spinning. Once the bolt is out, the flange should just slide out nice & smooth.
 
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Wingnut

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Joined
Oct 10, 2002
Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
Page 2

Here are some side by sides of the 2 flanges:



And the 108mm flange:



The spring you see on the old flange on the left just slides off and can be transfered onto the new flange. there are 3 pieces in total to move. A spring, a sleeve and a clip. :



Now that the flange is out, you can remove & replace the flange seal. I have a seal puller, but you may be able to pry it out with a prybar or long flathead screwdriver. Just be carefull not to nick the soft aluminum around the seal. If you do, you may get leaks after you put in the new seal.



To put the new seal in, just apply a bit of grease around the outside edge and lightly tap it into place with a hammer. If you don't have a seal driver (I didn't) just use the hammer, rotating around the edge as you go so that it goes in straight. Remember, light taps in a circular motion.

Once the new seal is in, you can start reinstalling everything. Slide the new flange in (with the spring & stuff transfered from the old flange). In order to get the flange bolt started, you need to pry the flange in a bit. The threads won't engage because of the spring on the flange. Gently pry it in and then you can tighten the bolt.

Here is the pry point for the drivers side:



And here is the pry point for the passenger side. I used a flathead screwdriver slid through the hole in the block:



These bolts get torqued down to 18 ft/lbs according to the Bently.

Once the flange is in, you can install the axle. Instalation is the opposite of removal. The new bolts are bigger, so you will need a 12mm 12 point bit to tighten them down. When torquing down the new flange bolts, tighten them down to 30 ft/lbs according to the Bentey. Again, get someone to step on the brake for this one.

Now you're almost done. You just need to refill the gearbox and make sure everything is fastened down properly. To fill the gearbox, remove the fill plug located at the front of the transmission. I don't have a 17mm allen bit, so I used an old wheel bolt I had lying around and a 17mm wrench. If you don't have one either, you can do the same as me just using a 17mm wrench and one of your own wheel bolts:



Then insert a 3/4" tube into the hole and route it up into the engine bay:



From the top, you can now fill the gearbox using a funnel and the hose. As luck would have it, the ID of the hose is a tight fit on the OD of the bottle of MT90 I used, so I cut off the bottom & used it as a funnel:



Now, you are done, congrats. Total time was about 3 hours, but that included stopping to take pics.
 
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Wingnut

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Joined
Oct 10, 2002
Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
Page 3

Here are some more pice for interest sake:
Side by side of the axles:



Side by side of the flange bolts. Notice how much beefier the new ones are:



And finally, the assortment of tools i used:



Not all the tools pictured are required. But the ones that you will need are:

30mm 12 point socket to remove the axle lock nuts
8mm 12 point bit to remove the flange bolts
12mm 12 point bit to install the new flange bolts (30 ft/lbs)
6mm allen bit to remove & replace the center flange bolt (18 ft/lbs)
And the rest should be the usual common household wrenches, ratchets & extensions. A torque wrench wouldn't be a bad idea either.

I'm sure this is not going to be the most popular how to I have ever done as it is limited to those who may have monster power upgrades. But I hope it helps those of you whe were thinking of undertaking this project.

Good luck :)
 

jasonTDI

TDI GURU Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Apr 26, 2001
Location
Oregon, WI
TDI
12' RAM 2500 QC,LB. 2019 Cherokee 2.0T
Nice writeup.

I've been planning on doing this with the T.B. Diff I'm getting soon.

Thanks as always!
 

leicaman

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Joined
Dec 24, 2004
Location
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
TDI
2015 Golf TDI SE, 2005 TDI GLS, RIP
I assume that this mod is to install more stout parts, right, or is there a performance reason here? I am just plain curious. :)
 

Wingnut

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Joined
Oct 10, 2002
Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
Yes, they are more stout. When you are pushing almost 170hp & almost 300 lbs/ft of torque, the OEM parts don't seem to do well. As you can see from the bolt sizes, these axles are more durable under the extra stress imposed on them by the increased power :D
 

BleachedBora

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Oct 16, 2003
Location
Gresham, Oregon
TDI
'81 DMC-12, '15 GL350 CDI 275 hp/448 tq - '81 Caddy ALH, '05 E320 CDI 250hp/450 tq
Nice! I just replaced an axle, almost makes me wish that I had done this--I briefly looked into it but when I found the sizes were different I figured I'd stick with OEM...
Oh well, thanks for the writeup!
-BB
 

kwong7

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2004
Location
Southern Caifornia
TDI
2001 Golf GLS TDI / White
I’m planning on upgrading to a set of GLI front and rear brakes. If I use the GLI spindles, I’m told I will need to upgrade to the axles and 108mm flanges. I have a brand new clutch/flywheel kit, LSD, and taller 5th gear set ready to install which I was thinking I should do at the same time as the axles. I’m not making monster-power. I just have a VNT15, RC Euro stage 2/3, and Bosio Sprint .216mm. When the turbo fails, I’ll upgrade to the VNT17, but is that enough to necessitate to the VR6 upgrade? Then again, with 130K miles on the car, replacing the axles, wheel bearings, and hubs might not be a bad idea. What do you guys think?
 

Wingnut

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Location
Toronto & Whitby
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Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
I might be wrong on this, but I don't think you NEED to change the axles to put on the GLI brakes? The spindles will be different, but I think the hub is the same, so the spline on your axles should fit in the hub of the GLI?

But if you are doing everything else anyway, why not upgrade while you have it all apart.
 

KROUT

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Aug 26, 2005
Location
JAX FL
The hub is the same as far as spline size. You can keep your stock axels with the bigger brakes.
 

kwong7

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Mar 25, 2004
Location
Southern Caifornia
TDI
2001 Golf GLS TDI / White
Well, I could also just use the 1.8T or VR6 spindles. I think the GLI spindles are not compatible with the TDI axles.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2003
Location
Stafford Virginia 22556
TDI
96 glx variant tdi
Nice write up... if you dont have an impact wrench to remove the axle lock nuts, leave the car on the ground when you put the 3 foot pipe on the breaker bar. Better to be safe than sorry.
 

KROUT

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Aug 26, 2005
Location
JAX FL
kwong7 said:
Well, I could also just use the 1.8T or VR6 spindles. I think the GLI spindles are not compatible with the TDI axles.
Dude the axels ends that go into the spindle ARE THE SAME.
I took my stock axels out and installed a six speed with the same larger axels listed above and never changed my spindles they are the same. The only thing different is where the brake caliper mounts.
 

clove911

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Apr 27, 2004
Location
Harford County, Maryland
TDI
2001 Golf, blue
awesome writeup, just found a guy on vortex to sell me a set for $70 shipped. have the performance axles from driveshaftshop.com I'll post up when its done with some pics.
 

BoosTDIt

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Jan 14, 2003
Location
DC area - Fairfax,VA
TDI
The Last NA 2dr 5sp
Hey guys, Wingnut...do you think theese flanges will work on a manual car to perform an upgrade


this is a 1.8t GLI Tiptronic tranny
i see the bolts are the thick ones but i don't see the lip on the edge. Pic was forwarded to me from my favorite dismantler...maybe i can ask him to go measure them.
 

kwong7

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2004
Location
Southern Caifornia
TDI
2001 Golf GLS TDI / White
I have almost everything needed for the axle swap, except the axles. Where would you recommend the source for the axles? I've seen some relatively cheap axles at local salvage yards, but I'm not sure if that's a good place to get them. Raxles.com is quite a bit more. Any ideas?
 

Wingnut

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Joined
Oct 10, 2002
Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
You shouldn't have a problem with a used set from a wreckers. For the most part, gas cars have much lower mileage than TDI's, so you should easily be able to get a low mileage set. Try www.car-parts.com
 

Biodezl

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Aug 8, 2002
Location
Davis, CA
TDI
Passat, 2005, Teal; Golf, 1999, Metalic Green, Auto
Thanks for the write-up! I presume this is specific to the manual tranny. What about the Automatic 0M1?
 

DanEboy

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Joined
Mar 26, 2003
Location
Commack, NY (Long Island)
TDI
Jetta GLS 2000 Auto
I too have an auto and am curious to know:
1. Are the auto's axles the same as on manual trans?
2. Do stock axles fail catastrophically or just wear out CV joints?
3. At what HP/Torque level is the upgrade required?
 

Slave2school

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Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Angus, Ontario
TDI
99.5 used to at least...
DanEboy., one day while turing left I heard a slight "pop" noise. Shortly there after I felt a nice vibration between 1500 2500rpm (only while under load). My passenger side inner CV had almost 1/4" of play in it. What I noticed on the install of my axle is that mine looks like it has the same gold covers on the end of the CV joint that you see on the VR6 axle. The passenger side on mine looks like it is the same size as the VR6 axle, and the driver side looks larger than the stock 5spd one, but not as big as the VR6 axle. Maybe someone can confirm this observation with somre real numbers. The flanges I think are 100mm still since the peolquin kit I just installed works properly and requires the 100mm flange. Also looking at the pictures here (lots sorry) http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=131615 it looks as if my flanges have the fat bolts? They definatly weren't long and skinny when I was holding them.
 
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cbp_special_k

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Location
Albany Oregon
TDI
2003 Golf TDi GL 4dr
That little trick with the different sized axles is to help counter tourqe steering since it's a fwd car. It Does seem to work well but i'm sure you've noticed on occasion it still tries to pull to one side from a start. I'm not sure exacticly, I haven't done all of my homework but I think that is also the power side (being the cars have oppen differentials from the factory) and why it has a larger axle.
 
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stilill

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Aug 25, 2005
Location
virginia
TDI
Golf,2005,Black,GLS
hey wingnut, this is probably a dumb question, but here goes, the gooey grease you cleaned out of the old flange, does that need to be replaced when you put the new one on, or will it accumulate in time after refilling the gearbox with MT90?, i may be attempting this shortly and just wanted to be sure, thanks in advance for the how-to, great photos too
 

Wingnut

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Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
stilill said:
hey wingnut, this is probably a dumb question, but here goes, the gooey grease you cleaned out of the old flange, does that need to be replaced when you put the new one on, or will it accumulate in time after refilling the gearbox with MT90?, i may be attempting this shortly and just wanted to be sure, thanks in advance for the how-to, great photos too
That goopy grease is CV joint grease. The TDI & 2.0L CV shafts are not sealed on the end and that is the grease from the joints. The VR6 & 1.8T axles have caps on the end as in the picture, so are sealed units. Just clean the grease off the old flanges and when you install the new flanges, leave them dry.

You can see the difference in this picture. The one on the left is the old TDI axle with the grease exposed. The ones on the right are the sealed VR6 axles:
 
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Justler

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2003
If you have grease there after installing vr6 axles, you have big problems ;).

They are sealed and when I installed my DRW, I looked at the flange kind of funny, then looked at my new axles and realized what was up =).
 

DbLog

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2006
Location
Royal Oak, MI
TDI
2011 335d
Did the swap today!! Thanks for the write up Wingnut. Put in solid axles from diveshaft.com and have a small vibration at 1800 rpm and it's worse between 3400-3800. Another post

http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=173650

mentions solid axles might not be the best idea. Has anyone else come across problems using solid axles? I'm pretty damn sure they were installed correctly.
 
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