If you’ve got either a dirt toy or a band with an Axle in it, sooner or later you’re going to have problems. Just ask Slash and the other guys from Guns-N-Roses. Recently, when we came limping back to the shop with our Can-Am Commander, we had a dysfunctional axle of our own. Luckily for us, our axle problems were much easier to solve than those of Slash and the boys, and the only therapy needed was a little help from the guys at Gorilla Axle.
Welcome to the Jungle
Properly testing any vehicle means far more than a couple laps around the track and a few photo setups to us, and it’s very common to log more than 1000 miles on our test fleet. We want you to know everything we find, so when it’s time to lay down your money, you know what to expect. Whether it’s a Polaris, Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, or Kymco, we’ll ride it, wrench on it, and write about it. For the past year, we’ve been living with a CAN-AM Commander on everything from the dunes, to mud, to tight trails and as much as we love it, it’s still a mechanical device and we expect to work on it now and then. That’s no problem.
Typically, axle problems appear first at the rear of the vehicle since that end is constantly feeding power from the engine to the rear wheels while the front end rides along, relatively free except when in 4wd. On our Commander just the opposite was the case. It was our left, front CV joint that came apart, and we’re not even sure where all the parts went.
We’ve maintained our Commander as specified in the manual, and we are extremely careful to note any mechanical concerns every time we give it a bath, but our CV joint failure was unexpected. A hole in the boot is a very common cause of CV joint failure, but we had never seen a rip or tear. Nevertheless, the exploded joint, grease, and bearing shrapnel meant it was time for a replacement.
Rather than bolting on another stock part and hoping for the best, we wanted the best axle and CV joints we could get. Gorilla Axle has built a stellar reputation for building axles that last, and when the top of the line unit costs the same as stock axle, it’s a no-brainer which part to choose. Gorilla offers replacement axles for most ATVs and Side x Sides and even a couple different options to choose from, and we went with the heavy duty unit. A couple days after our call, the new axle showed up at our door, a sure sign of trail riding joy ahead.
Now You're Messin with a... Socket Wrench
1. Get the Broken Side Off the Ground. Slip a floor jack under the frame or front frame members and lift the Commander high enough to free the wheel. Before you put your hands or any other body part under the vehicle, slide safety blocks under the frame. If the jack fails, this will keep the machine off you. Remember, this is not a sport ATV you could maneuver out of. Be safe!
2. Remove the Front Wheel. This gives you better access to the work.
3.Remove the Bottom Shock Bolt. You’ll need it unbolted to move the A-arms.
4. Remove the Brake Caliper and Bottom A-Arm Bolt at the Steering Knuckle. Pulling the bottom ball joint out of the steering knuckle gives you the free play needed to slide the axle out.
5. Remove Drive Axle Nut and brake Rotor. You can’t slide the axle out if it’s still bolted in place
6. Lower the Bottom A-Arm and Raise the Steering Knuckle and Top A-Arm.
7. Remove the Axle from the Differential. It takes a quick jerk on the axle, but it will slide right out of the differential. Thanks to the internal seal, it won’t even make an oily mess on the floor!
8. Install the New Gorilla Axle. When installing the new Gorilla axle, make sure that the circlip is on the driveshaft. (A spare is included with new axle.) It is also very important to make sure all mating parts are clean at the wheel end CV joint before you slide it into place. The new Gorilla axle has a cone style end and puts more pressure on the inner spindle seal. You don’t want dirt trapped inside by installing new parts into a dirty housing.
9. Reassemble in Reverse Order.
10. Double Check All Nuts and Bolts to be sure they are Tight. Refer to Clymer’s manual or owner’s manual for correct torque specs.
Down to Paradise City
We didn’t expect any change in handling, but shortly after we hit the trails, we noticed our Commander was pulling to the opposite side of the trail. It didn’t take us long to determine the beefier Gorilla axle and its new CV joints, still tight and just breaking in, were causing light drag. We simply drove back to the shop and installed the other joint as well. Problem solved, and you may want to consider changing axles in pairs as well.
We really like the premium quality of the Gorilla axle. They’re noticeably stouter in nearly every way, with high quality, precision machine work. At the wheel end of the Gorilla axle, the cone shaped CV joint is larger as well, and tolerance between the axle and the steering knuckle are definitely tighter. We also really like the noticeably thicker rubber boots which should do an excellent job of protecting the vital CV joints.
Sweet Child of Mine!
Our beloved Commander is once again ready to hit the trails -thanks to the crew at Gorilla Axle. Our new axle is definitely stronger, and will no doubt be a whole lot more reliable than the stock unit, or for that matter, the egomaniac guy from the band. Hey, Gorilla Axle, YOU GUYS ROCK!
1289 Hwy 594
Monroe, LA 71203