How to replace axle seals

What Is A Rear Axle Seal?

Image Credit: YotaTech
Image Credit: YotaTech

Axles have three seals:

  1. One pinion seal located at the front of the differential
  2. Two rear axle seals

In this post, we’ll focus on the rear axle seals. Rear axle seals keep the differential fluid inside the axle. When the seals are doing their job:

  • Differential fluid can’t leak out the axle tube
  • Contaminants can’t enter the axle tube

There is one rear axle seal on each outboard end of an axle. The differential fluid needs to stay within the axle and differential. If a rear axle seal fails, differential fluid leaks out. That means the differential isn’t lubricated or cooled well. This can lead to a failed differential, which is an expensive repair. Replacing an axle seal is a very inexpensive repair.


Part 7 of 9: Installing differential cover

Materials Needed

  • 1/2” torque wrench
  • Brake cleaner
  • Metal scraper
  • RTV silicone

Step 1: Scrape off old silicone. Start by taking a scraper and scraping off any old silicone on the cover and the differential housing.

You want to get the surface free of any debris or old silicone. Take your brake cleaner and spray off any debris, and wipe the mating surfaces of the differential cover and the axle housing.

Step 2: Apply new silicone. Put about a quarter in

Step 2: Apply new silicone. Put about a quarter inch bead of RTV silicone on the differential cover.

The bead of silicone should run along the center of the mating surface. Swoop towards inside cover around the mounting holes.

Step 3: Reinstall differential cover. Having your mounting bolts ready and easy to reach, put your differential cover on to the axle housing.

Hold the cover in one hand thread the bolts with the other.

Step 4: Torque mounting bolts. Follow the recommended manufacturer’s torque specifications for your vehicle.

Part 3 of 9: Draining the differential

Materials Needed

  • 1/2” Torque wrench
  • Drain pan
  • Hammer
  • Metal scraper

Step 1: Remove mounting bolts. To drain the differ

Step 1: Remove mounting bolts. To drain the differential, remove all the mounting bolts except one for one at the top of the differential cover.

Step 2: Get drain pan ready. Place your drain pan underneath the differential.

Step 3: Drain the fluid. Take your scraper and place it in between the differential cover and the axle house.

With the scraper in that position, slightly tap the scraper handle, increasing the force as needed to cut through the silicone seal. This will release differential fluid, so be sure the drain pan is placed in the correct position to catch the fluid that is leaking.

Step 4: Remove the differential cover. Remove the remaining bolt and set the cover aside with the mounting bolts.

Rear Axle Seal Replacement Cost

The average cost for a rear axle shaft seal replacement is between $150 and $450. The majority portion of this cost is represented by the labor, which is estimated to come out between $100 and $400. The axle seals themselves are relatively cheaper parts, priced at $50. This range does not include taxes and fees and does not factor in your specific vehicle or unique location. Related repairs may also be needed.

The seal can be replaced by a mechanic or do-it-yourselfer with basic automotive knowledge. However, it is important to note that if the axle seal is not installed correctly, it can cause serious damage to the vehicle. Therefore, it is always best to consult with a professional before attempting this repair.

Replacing The Rear Axle Seal On A 14 Bolt Axle

To replace the seal, take the following steps:

To replace the seal, take the following steps:

  1. Jack up one side of your truck to take the weight off the wheel.
  2. Remove the wheel.
  3. Remove the axle shaft.
  4. Remove the hub retaining hardware.
  5. Slide off the hub and drum as a unit. If you’ve got a 14 bolt with disc brakes, you’ll have to remove the caliper first. (Be careful not to drop the outside bearing.)
  6. Replace the seal behind the hub.
  7. Put everything back together in the reverse order of removal.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

Keep in mind:

  • It is important to fix an axle shaft seal as soon as possible as the fluid can damage brake components.
  • Fluid leaks can cause problems not just with the adjacent component – they can compound and affect other components in your car.

Our recommendation:

The front axle shaft seal does not require maintenance, though it can fail unexpectedly. If there is a problem with your front axle shaft seal or any other part of your drive train, have it diagnosed and corrected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drive with a leaking axle seal? How long?

Depending on the severity of the leak, you may be able to drive for a short period of time, but it is not advisable to do so for an extended period of time. Doing so could further damage your vehicle and may even cause it to break down completely.

A leaking axle seal can cause serious damage to your vehicle if left unchecked. It is important to have a mechanic check your vehicle as soon as possible if you notice any fluid leaking from the area around your axle.

What is the average lifespan of a rear axle seal?

The average lifespan of a rear axle seal is approximately 30,000 miles. However, this can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle as well as driving habits. Proper maintenance of the rear axle seals can help extend their lifespan.

How many rear axle seals are present in a car?

There are usually two rear axle seals in a car, one on each side of the differential. These seals keep oil from leaking out of the differential and prevent dirt and debris from getting into the gears.

How long does it take to fix a leaking axle seal?

It depends on the severity of the leak and the make and model of your vehicle, but it typically takes around two hours to fix a leaking axle seal. Should both axle seals need to be replaced it may take even more time.

In any case, it’s always best to consult with a professional mechanic to get an accurate estimate of how long it will take to fix your specific issue.

Are rear axle seals covered under warranty?

A rear axle seal is typically covered under a powertrain warranty. Most powertrain warranties last for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Some manufacturers may offer extended powertrain warranties for an additional cost.

However, it is important to check with your specific vehicle’s manufacturer to be sure. If you are having difficulty with your rear axle seal, it is best to consult with a qualified mechanic or dealership for assistance.

What common types of seals are present in a car’s suspension?

There are several types of seals that may be found in a car’s transmission, including:

Oil Seals: These seals are responsible for keeping transmission fluid in and preventing it from leaking out. They are typically made of rubber and are located between the transmission case and the shafts or gears.

Axle Seals: Axle seals are located at the end of the axle and prevent transmission fluid from leaking out of the axle assembly.

Pump Seals: Pump seals are located in the transmission pump and prevent transmission fluid from leaking out of the pump.

Gear Seals: Gear seals are located between the gears and shafts in the transmission and prevent transmission fluid from leaking out of the gear assembly.

Can you replace an axle seal yourself?

The answer to this question depends on your level of automotive expertise and comfort in working on your car. If you are confident in your abilities and have the necessary tools, then replacing an axle seal is a relatively simple task. However, if you are not comfortable working on your car or do not have the right tools, it is best to leave this repair to a professional.

What is the material of an axle seal?

The material of an axle seal is typically made of metal, such as steel or aluminum. However, there are also some seals that are made of composite materials, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber. These materials are chosen for their strength and durability and their resistance to wear and tear.


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