Properly setting preload with side adjusters
There are several types of rear ends that use a threaded side adjuster be it a single adjuster or one on both sides of carrier. The most commonly known rears with this type of carrier adjustment are the Chrysler 7.25-8.25-8.75-9.25, Ford 9”, GM 8.25” IFS, Suzuki Samurai, & Toyota. The GM 9.5” is a little different than most as one side uses shims but the other side is the threaded adjuster. Randy’s has tools that work with a 1/2” drive ratchet or breaker bar that work much better than beating the heck out of the adjuster with a punch & hammer. These side adjuster tools are priced starting at $29.00. Most people are reluctant to really crank on these adjusters to preload the carrier bearings. It is perfectly normal to have 150-200 ft lbs of torque on the side adjusters. It is very important to obtain good preload to avoid damage to your differential. At Randy’s, our service shop uses a 1/2” breaker bar, as shown in illustration 1A. The reason we do this is because as you accelerate, the pinion wants to make the ring gear deflect. The more power, the more it will tend deflect. Housings always flex, some more than others, depending on whether it’s stock or an aftermarket nodular. If you put a lot of preload on the carrier bearings it also preloads the housing. Since the housing is already flexed, it is not likely to flex even more causing the ring gear to move away from the pinion resulting in broken teeth.