Axle seals serve a dual purpose: to lock in gear oil and to prevent contaminants from entering the transmission or differential system. With these seals in place, the gears and other components are protected against damage. Over time, axle seals may break or become worn out. Seal breaks happen when the axle is removed or replaced incorrectly, causing foul-smelling gear oil to leak out. If you notice a smell similar to rotten eggs coming from underneath your vehicle, then it's time for you to replace your axle seals.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Tools that you'll need:
- Drain pan
- Jack and jack stands
- Wheel chocks
- Lug wrench
- Socket and wrench set
- Seal puller/removal tool
Step 1: Take off the wheel by loosening the lugs holding it in place. Next, jack the wheel up and position jack stands underneath to ensure it is properly supported. You may sit on the removed wheel while doing the replacement.
Step 2: Remove the brake drums to get to the axle. Unbolt it and slide it out. You may have to use a screwdriver to remove the axle if it is held in place by C-clips.
Step 3: Using a seal removal tool, pry out the torn seal from the differential. You can also do this by hand if there's no tool available.
Step 4: Fit a ring into the new seal's mount point. Make sure it is smaller than the seal for a snugger fit. Also, the solid part of the seal must be turned toward you to ensure oil will not leak out.
Step 5: Insert the new seal into the differential and tap it in using a hammer. Don't hit the new seal too hard or it might get deformed. If you're installing a soft rubber seal, you can just press it back using your fingers. Reinstall the differential cover and axle.
Once you've finished the installation, take your car out for a test drive to ensure proper differential movement. Installation can take about an hour or more for an average DIYer.