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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Replacing Axle Seals
By Mike Bumbeck/autoMedia.com
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Difficult
Estimated Time180 minutes
180 minutes
Circle Makes the Seal
Since the ends of these spinning axles that extend into the transmission must share the same gear oil with the transmission, transaxle, transfer case, or differential, the axle seal has two tasks. One is to keep the gear oil inside the case that contains the gears and the ends of the axles. The other is to keep crud, road grime, and rocks out of the transmission, ruining the whole deal by converting the gears into rock crushers. Since the axles going into the transmission, and the transmission itself are made of metal, the axle seal houses a flexible seal that rides on the axle and keeps gear oil in, and crud out. The flexible seal uses a small amount of the gear oil in conjunction with the seal itself to achieve this task. The flexible seal is housed in a metal carrier, which allows it to be pressed into the transmission or differential semi-permanently.

Axle seals can simply wear out, but the most common cause of failure is improper axle removal or installation. While the metal carrier of the seal is sturdy, the flexible seal is fragile and can be easily torn by a ham-handed installation of an incoming axle. Since installing new axle seals requires removal of the axles, a great time to inspect and replace them is during axle service.
Step 1 - This seal has seen better days. One common way seals fail is when axles are removed, or installed improperly, thus tearing the rubber seal.
Seal Has Seen Better Days
Step 2 - Here is the new seal, ready to install. Note the spring on the back of the flexible seal. Be careful not to drop this into the transmission or differential.
New Seal Ready for Installation
Step 3 - First pry the old seal out of the differential or transmission. A seal removal tool makes this task easy.
Pry Out Old Seal
Step 4 - seal and bearing race installation tool comes with different sized discs. Choose one that fits into the seal mounting point, yet is only slightly smaller then the seal itself.
Choose Installation Tool that Fits Seal Mounting Poing
Step 5 - Next, seat the new seal level into the mount. Tap the seal level into place with the seal tool until the seal is fully seated. Be careful not to deform the seal.
Seat the New Seal
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