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Help with blown axle seal

6443 Views 54 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  VManganese
Hi friends!

Inspecting tires for an upcoming trip, noticed mucho "oil" had sprayed onto the inner side of one of the rear tires - figured it was a blown brake cylinder, since I had to slam on the brakes for a pickup and horsetrailer that pulled right in front of the 95 Caprice wagon. But upon investigation, and sniffing, realized it was 90weight or whatever the pumpkin oil is, all over everything and the axle seal leaking like crazy.

Never done this job before (have done the distributor remove, clean, replace, heater core flush, spark plugs, water pump, etc.) so would appreciate inside info to help me with this job. What a mess! Brake shoes, drum, everything coated in 90wt. Luckily I have new brake shoes already. Got the new seals, and figure once I do one side, I might as well do the other, before I forget how to do it.


Veronica (and of course this happens as winter approaches in Eastern Oregon, and me without even a concrete slab to work on)
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You can do this - they're not too bad, but it's a bit of a messy job.

It's probably good to get a set of axle bearings and maybe speedy sleeves on hand as well since you're one step from having them out when you replace the seals.

Remove Wheels & Brake Drums
Lots of brake clean/power washer to clean everything
Remove differential cover
Rotate differential until you find the 5/16" (8mm) hex head bolt going left/right through the end of the center pin - Remove this bolt
Rotate differential until the pin will slide out - slide the pin out
Do not rotate differential with the pin or axles removed
Go out to the end of one axle and push it toward the center of the car - it will slide in about 1/2 inch
Go to the differential - axle will have moved in to where the pin was and "C" clip should be visible
Use magnet to grab c-clip and remove
Go out to the end of the axle and pull out - you should be able to slide it out easily
Remove seal & bearing - Bearing typically requires a slide hammer puller, can be rented at most parts stores if you don't have one
Inspect axle shaft for damage/grooves at both bearing and seal locations - any grooves that catch a fingernail need to be addressed
Install bearing - tap in (gently) with a large socket and hammer, can put in freezer to shrink
Install seal - similar to bearing - gently
Install axle all the way in
Install c-clip, rotate so open side is down
Pull axle out to retain c-clip
Repeat above on other side
Replace big center pin
Replace 5/16" (8mm) cross bolt in pin
Clean and re-assemble differential cover
Re-fill with fluid (don't forget to add additive if you have a Posi trac)
Re-assemble brakes & wheels
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What are everyone's thoughts about this solution - should the axle be damaged?

Repair bearing?
No good thoughts.

They put the axle load out into the seal area of the tube, they are more prone the leaking in my experience
Most kits warn you not to use them if the axle has a step worn in it.
Who else would be using them????????

Think that is their "out" for when the shaft snaps at the worn step.

Right from timkens instructions
" Warning: Do not reuse any axles that are distorted or bent, discolored, have surface cracks or have noticeable wear at the original bearing path"
Simple. Just say NO to repair bearings, sleeves and any other generic band aid.

They just lead to bigger and more expensive repairs

Nice when I'm on the clock at work, not so much when I'm footing the bill in my driveway.
Got it - Never seen them before so glad I asked!
Wow, thanks! Never even thought about the need to replace the axle. This car as 340,000 miles on it. Probably time.

Rotate the differential to get the hex bolt out: can I do this with one wheel on the ground? I figured I needed both off the ground.

Where's the best place to support things - can I put stands under the axle housing/tube whatever it's called?

I actually don't have a problem squirming around on the ground: I keep large pieces of cardboard, and I have a yoga mat. Sometimes I nap under the car, in the summer, when my husband thinks I'm working. Usually the only way I can take a break...LOL The biggest problem is that I don't have a good level place to put jacks and jackstands, so I have to be uber careful not to endanger myself or the car by unsafe supports.

Yes I don't like the smell of 90wt and now the inside of the wagon reeks of it because I threw the brake drum in there before cleaning it.

I have new brake shoes so was going to replace them, since the old ones, though they have a lot of lining left, are soaked, totally soaked, with oil.. Yuck! Once I get everything cleaned I will feel a lot better about the job.

Gonna keep reading now. Y'all are a girl's best friend! Too bad we can't get together for a beer afterwards.

It's possible that the axle is just fine and the seal has failed - 340k miles does not mean that it's good or bad. It's a time vs money thing - if you don't have much time, you better have a couple new axles there just in case they're bad, but it will cost you more money if you end up not needing them (return shipping, etc). If you have the time, pull everything apart, inspect, replace what's needed, but will cost you more time to go get more parts if you need them.

You'll need/want both wheels off the ground. Support the car by the frame is easiest that way the whole rear end hangs down and you're not working up in the hole by the gas tank. You can spin the differential by just grabbing the big ring gear assembly that you'll see when you pull the differential cover off.

The 90w smell lingers a long time - so does the posi additive. I spilled a teaspoon of the additive on my t-shirt once and every time I washed it and pulled it out of the dryer, the whole dryer smelled like 90w. This stayed that way for over 5 years!

Roll up your sleeves and dig in - you'll be dirty, oily, smelly - not much way around it other than to embrace it :).

This video is pretty good - walks through a lot of the basic steps (that we didn't cover above :)). He does it on jackstands too. Nevermind the Amsoil sales pitch, but the rest of it is good.

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This video from 2:45 to 3:45 shows exactly what to do for removing the bolt/pin/c-clips/axles - the small bolt is NOT left hand thread (sorry for the confusion above - edited for clarity).

10:25-11:05 shows axle bearing removal and tool

This one?

Or maybe this one?

If you pull the knob off, can you use a small straight blade screwdriver or similar to turn the shaft inside?
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