I had read a previous post on removing the front diff and most said it would take 3 hours. With that in mind I started at about 12:00 noon on Saturday. I finished with the diff on the ground at about 9:00 at night.
What looked like a simple procedure took longer because of some screws in the hubs that would not come out! I had to use a Craftsman screw extractor to remove them. I had 3 screws in all that I had to fight with. These are the screws that hold a lock in place in the hub, they have to come out in order to remove shaft from the knuckle. I also had to make a couple of trips to AutoZone to get loaner tools and to find an elusive allen wrench. I had to remove the speed sensor on the passenger side, but the bolt was an allen type. I tried all my available sizes and could not get one to fit. The 6mm was too big the 5mm was too small and would slip. I bought a 5.5mm and it was also too big. I had to use the locking pliers to remove the bolt.
From 1 to 10 i would consider this an 8. Its not really complicated once you do it once!
In case you need them, here are the steps I followed; this is based on a Gen 2/3 Trooper:
1.Raise truck, support frame with jack stands, remove front tires.
2.Remove brake calipers and bracket that holds the brakes. Both driver and passenger sides.
3.Remove the hubs from both sides
4.Remove the passenger side Knuckle. This will include undoing the steering rod end from the knuckle, the lower ball joint and upper ball joint (if you have done a ball joint flip this part will be easy). If you donâ€™t have the tools, go to AutoZone and rent the tools (loan).
5. Undo the driver side upper ball joint.
6. On the newer Troopers you have to remove the VSV assembly (1) and remove one or two vacuum hoses that connect to the actuator. You also have to remove a breather hose connected to the diff shaft and disconnect one switch connector that comes from the actuator (leave the switches connectors that are on the VSV alone).
7. Remove the front drive shaft (I only removed the bolts that hold the shaft into the front third and left the other side connected).
8. Place a jack to support the front diff.
9. Loosen the 4 bolts on the passenger side that hold the diff to the bracket.
10. Remove the 4 bolts that hold the brackets to the frame. You can do this (on the Trooper) without having to remove the steering components. The rear screws are no problem; the problem comes in the 2 screws in the front. When you remove the passenger side screw you need to move the steering wheel to one side to give you enough clearance to fit the socket in. Do the same with the driver side front screw.
11. At this point the diff should be supported solely by the jack. Finish removing the four bolts that you loosened earlier from the passenger side of the diff.
12. With the diff loose move the passenger side CV (with bracket attached) up and out of the way. You will need to move the diff a little to the driver side to get this accomplished. Some others have removed the lower A-arm to give you more space. I decided to remove as little as I could. It did not take too much effort to get it out of the way.
13. Once the diff clears the passenger side shaft, lower the differential until its close to the ground. Remove the jack and slide the diff to the passenger side. This action will free the driver side CV and the diff will come out with the diff bracket and CV still attached.
(in this picture it shows the driver side knuckle removed, I just undid the upper ball joint to give me some space)
14. Once the diff is outside you can work on removing the third and the driver side CV.