Rear axle seal leak - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
SooparJeep
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Rear axle seal leak

I'm seeing a small stream of gear oil seeping down from the back of the wheel hub from my passenger side rear axle housing. My rear end is a Dana 44 (with the aluminum pumpkin).

I looked up some DIY videos and I am wondering if anyone has done the job completely by themselves and how difficult it was? I am looking to replace the wheel bearing, retainer etc but I'm probably looking to keep the axle shaft since they get expensive.

Pressing the new hardware onto the shaft is what worries me most. I have a mig welder and an old 2 tonne bottle jack. I had the idea to weld up a square tubing make-shift press and attempt to press the bearing on myself but I don't know how much "Oomph" these things need to be pressed on.

Looks like I'm not asking a question here, just opening up some discussion on replacing axle seals to see what other people's experiences have been and how they went about fixing things.


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post #2 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 12:10 PM
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Both sides of my D35 were leaking, and the parking brake wouldn't hold worth a crap. I was going to do it myself, along with the front hubs and axle shafts, in my driveway. My buddy has a shop and told me to come over and he would help, and I'm glad I did. Getting the axles out wasn't a big deal. We used a cutting wheel and air chisel to get the old stuff off. Just be careful and don't hit the tube. The press was nice, and made assembly a breeze. I think he had a 20 ton press.

Not a bad job, but for a guy like me it could have turned into a longer process than needed. It's nice to have a working parking brake! I replaced all the parts for it.
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post #3 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 02:11 PM
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You'll probably need an axle puller which is basically a bracket and a slide hammer. I think it can be found as an auto parts store loan-a-tool or you can buy a kit which can be useful for other purposes as well.
You can cut off the bearing retainer with an angle grinder cut-off wheel. There are some good vids on You-Tube. You must work **slowly** to keep from cutting into the axle itself. In fact, just before you've cut completely through the retainer, to be safe, stop and finish the job with a hammer and chisel.
You really need access to a proper shop press to press the new retainer on.
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post #4 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Great replies so far thanks for the information! I'm going to do more looking into it tonight. It seems like I can get away with installing the rotor on backward and using it as a puller if I go lightly with a dead blow hammer but with my luck I might warp the rotor haha. The pressing part is really annoying me. Was hoping to make this a one day repair in my garage and double it up with my transmission pan leak fix. I guess it makes sense that even if I manage to press it on, if I damage the bearing while doing so, I'll be back in there in no time....

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post #5 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 04:44 PM
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You can buy a decent 20 ton shop press at Harbor Freight for well under $200 (if you have room and think you'll use it). I would have bought one, but I don't have spare room in the garage. When we get the new house and shop built, I will start accumulating more larger shop tools. And I'll have a lift! That makes a huge difference.
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post #6 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 08:56 PM
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I'll put in a vote for my cheap way of redoing my axle seal. I went to the local pick n pull junkyard and pulled the the axle, which of course included the bearing and seal from a vehicle which clearly hadn't been leaking. Worked out perfect and I've been driving it for a year since with no problems. Total cost was $15, because I rented the axle puller from Auto zone, so that was free. I still have my original axle if the used on should start leaking, and I can carry it to a shop and have a new bearing pressed on if needed.
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post #7 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 09:01 PM
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If you're having a little trouble removing the axle after you remove the four retainer nuts, follow this procedure. No need to rent a slide hammer.

Flip your rotor around and reinstall it on the wheel studs. Thread three lugnuts halfway onto three studs. Commence to jerking on rotor until the axle pops free. It's usually two to three good hard jerks.
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post #8 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 09:09 PM
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Also, I have the 12 ton press from HF and have to push it to it's limit to press rear WJ axle bearings. I should have spent the extra $$ for the 20 ton press.

I have used it to press at least six different sets of bearings on three different D35s, so it's paid for itself. BUT, like I said, I should have bought the 20 ton.

You can do it, just be cautious, tedious, and have attention to detail. Work slowly and don't attempt your first press job when you only have a couple hours to get the whole job done. The first, second, and maybe the third time you do it, you're in learning mode. After that, you can do it with confidence that you'll have time later to fix your wife's taillight after you do your axle bearings.

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post #9 of 17 Old 04-11-2019, 09:21 PM
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the 12t Hb one at least for me not only is at its max on a d44 but its not tall enough for long side on mine. I had to make it a bit taller. still it has paid for its self fast. bent the frame the other day, must have been over 12t on it.
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-12-2019, 12:32 AM
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I don't blame you for wanting to do this whole job yourself SooparJeep. Heck I remember the good ole days 20 years ago and the local NAPA would remove an old bearing while pressing on a new bearing on an axle shaft for me for only about $10/each!

Now every single parts store near me got rid of all their larger tools for doing shop work. So you're stuck going to a shop itself paying rip-off prices or buy the larger tools yourself. I would have bought the HF 20-ton press but don't have room for it in my basement which triples as a shop along with garage under the house. I can't even park a vehicle in it there's so much other stuff.

I just did the same job you're about to and it was easy to cut the locking-ring along with bearing off of my 44a axle shafts with a dremel metal cutting wheel. I had even called around for shop prices on installing the seal retainer, new seal, bearing and locking-ring on each axle shaft.

I'm embarrassed to say I paid $100 for 1 hour labor at a shop and know darn well this shouldn't have taken them more than 20 minutes for both axles! That's more expensive than all the parts I bought including new Mopar seal retainers! And I had to drop the axle shafts off then pick them up the next day. I'm sure they didn't want me waiting on them since then I'd know it didn't take a whole hour to install these parts on the shafts. There's probably no such thing as fractions of an hour under 1 hour for these shops.

At least they did a half-decent job on installing the new parts and below is a photo of one of the axle shafts.
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post #11 of 17 Old 04-12-2019, 04:29 AM
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You may find that the axle will pull out using the reverse rotor method but I tried that and it was a no go. So then I used the axle puller and it still took 3 or 4 pretty good slide hammer whacks on one side to pull it free. The other side came out a little easier.
This was before I bought that H. Freight 20 ton press and so I cut the old bearing retainer off myself and made the axle ready then took the parts to a brake shop and they pressed on the new bearing and seal for, I think, about $20 or $25. I kept a straight face but needless to say I was elated.
Luckily, I found a deal on a Spicer axle assembly for the other side.
I'm getting ready to do all of this again on my other WJ. This time it will be all me. No shop assistance. No buying complete assemblies. I'm a little apprehensive about pressing on the new bearing/retainers but with a steely, sober resolve, I have vowed to prevail!
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post #12 of 17 Old 04-12-2019, 04:42 AM
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Don't buy cheap Crown retainer plates get the proper Mopar ones, the crown ones, the studs will just spin in the back plate when you try tightening them up, I had to strip all the parking brakes out on one side as 3 of them just spun when I tried undoing the nuts so I could get hold of them with vice grips.
Oh and make sure you double/triple check the bearing is on the right way as shown in Uniblub's picture.
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post #13 of 17 Old 04-12-2019, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniblurb View Post
I don't blame you for wanting to do this whole job yourself SooparJeep. Heck I remember the good ole days 20 years ago and the local NAPA would remove an old bearing while pressing on a new bearing on an axle shaft for me for only about $10/each!

Now every single parts store near me got rid of all their larger tools for doing shop work. So you're stuck going to a shop itself paying rip-off prices or buy the larger tools yourself. I would have bought the HF 20-ton press but don't have room for it in my basement which triples as a shop along with garage under the house. I can't even park a vehicle in it there's so much other stuff.

I just did the same job you're about to and it was easy to cut the locking-ring along with bearing off of my 44a axle shafts with a dremel metal cutting wheel. I had even called around for shop prices on installing the seal retainer, new seal, bearing and locking-ring on each axle shaft.

I'm embarrassed to say I paid $100 for 1 hour labor at a shop and know darn well this shouldn't have taken them more than 20 minutes for both axles! That's more expensive than all the parts I bought including new Mopar seal retainers! And I had to drop the axle shafts off then pick them up the next day. I'm sure they didn't want me waiting on them since then I'd know it didn't take a whole hour to install these parts on the shafts. There's probably no such thing as fractions of an hour under 1 hour for these shops.

At least they did a half-decent job on installing the new parts and below is a photo of one of the axle shafts.
You hit the nail on the head with me wanting to do it all myself. My DIY story starts with THREE VW dealership visits to address a bad waterpump where new hardware would leak due to an improperly installed gasket. Might check local ads for a used 20ton, I see a "princess auto" (Canadian HF) brand one that might sell cheap if someone sells it used.

PJ03WJ, A complete assembly from the wreckers might be a good alternative too, thanks.

CarlJH, Thanks for the info I think I have one of those retainers in my shopping cart and the thought of the studs spinning free crossed my mind.

222Doc, oh man, looks like 20ton might be the way to go if I opt for a press. I definitely do not have space, but I think I can get by with breaking it down, the HF style presses look like they unbolt into a compact-ish footprint.

Awesome information, this is why I love forums! For now, I will be looking for a used press or calling up a few local shops to see if what they would charge. Definitely leaning toward buying a press considering how much a new axle assembly will cost +shipping

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post #14 of 17 Old 04-12-2019, 10:34 AM
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The only issue I can remember is having to buy a 14mm box wrench with a steep offset to get to those damn bolts holding the axle on.

I used a dremel to cut the old bearing off and was able to use a press at work to press the new bearing on.

The bearing and seal were very inexpensive at rock auto.
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post #15 of 17 Old 04-12-2019, 10:45 AM
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I bought the HF 20 ton press just for this job then did DS u joints a little while later so it's worth having it around and already paid for itself. Only issue I ran into was there is a crossmember at the bottom the shaft would bottom out on as you're pressing it into the bearing. I had to rig a way to raise bracket just a bit but not a big deal just took a little while longer. As far as a puller I just put my heavy wheel and tire back on with two lugs on loosely and used it as the slide hammer. Popped right out no problem.
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