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Axle Shaft play

Suspension

Vehicle Information: Year: 2001; Engine (type, size, modifications): 3.2; Total Mileage: 46000; Transmission: Manual;

I was doing a general "familiarization" inspection under the car (as I've only had it 3 months)as part of replacing a busted up rear belly cover. I noticed when I grab either axle half shaft it has quite a bit of lateral movement; at least a half inch. I'm assuming there needs to be some movement (probably along a splined section?)but is this excessive as it seems? At either end travel it hits the trnasmission or hub with a definite metal to metal smack. This also doesn't seem normal. Could you please advise me on this. Thanks!

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