Why Axle Seal Replacements Can Be Tricky

All vehicles today are front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, or all wheel drive. Each vehicle has an axle that provides power transfer to the wheels. Each axle is different in every way and has two to three seals on them.

There are three types of axle seals on rear wheel and four wheel drive front axles:

  • Pinion seal (most common leak)
  • Axle shaft seal
  • Axle cover seal

Axle seals are designed in two categories

A static seal is made to connect two surfaces together without allowing any form of leakage. These two surfaces are non moving at any time. Like on the axle, the static seal will be the axle cover seal.

A dynamic seal is made to seal a cover or housing around a moving part or shaft. The seal performs two jobs, keeps the fluid in and keeps the dirt or contaminants out. Like on the axle, the dynamic seal would be an axle shaft seal or pinion seal.

It can be tricky to replace an axle seal on vehicles. First thing is to know where the leak is coming from. Keep in mind that on transverse (or front wheel drive) vehicles tend to have a valve cover leak from the engine and leak down onto the transmission then out to the axle shaft. Most repairs are replacing the axle shaft seal, but this process is not the correct fix for the situation.

Transverse or front wheel drive

Axle seals on transverse mounted units can be tricky to replace. Some vehicles have an engine guard covering the bottom of the engine and the entire transmission. This can be tricky to remove, but not impossible. Most front wheel drive systems require you to remove the lower control arm and leave the strut hanging, thus leaving enough room to extract the constant velocity shaft from the transmission. Once the constant velocity shafts are removed, it can be quite simple to remove the axle shaft, however, if there is a cross member right under the axle then there may be some difficulty taking out the seal. The best way is to use a seal remover tool that can be used in any direction. This aids in the axle seal removal.

Installing the seal will require some strategy for proper alignment. This can be done with using the proper seal installation tools. Once the new seal is in place, putting the suspension components back together can be troublesome at times but not difficult.

Rear wheel drive

When replacing a seal on a rear wheel drive vehicle, there may be tricky situations where something may be in or near the location of the seal and preventing quick extractions. Example would be a spare tire could be in the way of the axle cover seal making it difficult for removing the mounting hardware.

For the most part, seals can be tricky to gain access to and or remove depending on the type of seal and nature of the seals condition. Each vehicle is different and has many different obstacles to overcome prior to an axle seal replacement. Automotive specialists at YourMechanic would be happy to help you with this service.


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Recent Axle Shaft Seal Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating

(82)

Rating Summary
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5
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Chris

18 years of experience
430 reviews
Chris
18 years of experience
Nissan Murano - Axle Shaft Seal Replacement (Front) - Missouri City, Texas
Chris us very professional & thorough. He answered all my questions & explained everything in detailed. Most definitely would call Chris for all my car work.
Honda Accord - Axle Shaft Seal Replacement (Front) - Houston, Texas
Chris was very patient even though it is difficult to get in and out of my apartment complex. He completed the repairs in a timely manner even though there was a major thunderstorm going on and took time to educate me about my tires. Thank you Chris!

James

31 years of experience
570 reviews
James
31 years of experience
Lincoln Aviator - Axle Shaft Seal Replacement (Front) - Cerritos, California
James was great! He was prompt to the appointment and also communicated in a timely manner if he was running late. Was very honest about the work that needed to be done and was very knowledgeable about the issue that needed to be repaired. Was very thorough with the inspection and kind while explaining the repair and giving recommendations. Answered all of my questions and was very professional from start to end. So far I am very happy with the repair and the YourMechanic.com service. I would definitely have James work on my SUV again and recommend him to family and friends if they need a good mechanic with integrity.

Ben

41 years of experience
1222 reviews
Ben
41 years of experience
Nissan Titan - Axle Shaft Seal Replacement (Rear) - Houston, Texas
Ben was very prompt and efficient. He is a good mechanic. He did correct the original problem that was not repaired by previous mechanic, However, please note that my slip and ABS lights are still on. Ben said they would go off after driving it for about 20 miles. I have driven that and more and the lights are still on. This was not an issue before. Please let me know if someone will come out to fix this problem. Thanks, Arthur Jason (713-703-3274)

Fadi

20 years of experience
85 reviews
Fadi
20 years of experience
Dodge Ram 1500 - Axle Shaft Seal Replacement (Rear) - El Cajon, California
Fadi was honest and motivated right from the start. I took my Dodge Ram to a shop and they said that it needed a rear axel seal and a new radiator. I’m no mechanic but I decided to shop around. I set up an appointment and he was on time and ready to go. He inspected my truck to make sure it needed what I was told from the shop. It needed the axel seal for sure. He swap it and it was ready to go. Next step was the radiator. He inspected it and told me it was fine. I turn it on ran a little and checked out myself. Turns out I didn’t need a radiator. The shop was just trying to get money out of me. He walked me through the whole because I wanted be sure and it was fine. Most shops will not do that because I assume they don’t want to know what you do need and don’t. Once I save more money I’m most definitely going to call again and schedule another appointment for the services he recommended for me to get done on my truck. In all honest opinion I would give Fadi a shot before gambling with a shop that could just be lying to you. I sincerely thank Fadi for his honesty and dedication to job. You can tell he enjoys what he does.

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