Axle Seal Leaking After Replacement (Solutions, Repairs & Cost)

September 17, 2020

Photos showing how the oil leaked on axle seal.

Not many people are familiar with the term “Axle seal.” But for most drivers, you have heard of the word. An axle is part of a car that connects the driveshaft or CV axle to the rear transmission. An axle is for keeping and maintain oils and other fluids from leaking out. For most four-wheel drives, the axle seal connects to the transfer case unit of the vehicle.

Now that we have a rough idea of an axle seal, most people have always asked questions like, when should I replace an axle seal? Should the axle seal be replaced frequently, and can I replace all the seals at the same time? All these questions are incredibly reasonable, and knowing how to answer each one of them is essential. 

Drivers who often go for long distances always have an issue with their axle seals when they come back. If you have some mechanical knowledge and you happen to get caught in-between your journey with any problem with your vehicle, you might have an idea of what has just happened. Replacing a fixing an axle is always a complex task, and that is why if you are around town and you happen to have a problem with your seal, you should visit the nearest mechanic available.

It is always good that you should visit a mechanic when you come from a long-distance journey with your semi-truck. Even if it is not something to do with the axle seals, a regular checkup of your vehicle can help you realize problems that might have been minor. Most car owners have regular car servicing, and that is where the axle seals need replacement if they are leaking. Axle seals are only replaced when they are leaking.

How do You Know if Your Axle is Leaking?

Most people who have just bought their new cars do not always know how to tell if the axle is leaking. The work of the axle seal is to stop fluid or gear oils from leaking or dropping off. The main task that the seal performs is to prevent water, air, and oil fluids from entering the hub. The early signs that you have a leaking axle are oil dropping on the driveway when you are driving. You will notice a reddish-brown fluid left behind when driving.

When you park your car, and after a few minutes, you will notice a fluid at your car’s rear. That will mean that the driveshaft that connects to your transmission if faulty. The leaking happens while driving most of the time, so it can be hard for you to realize it early enough to fix them. The more the fluid is leaking means that the transmission fluid will start to decrease. The earlier you notice the problem, the better for you.

But in most cases, people do not realize that they have a leaking axle seal, which may cause permanent damage to the transmission. I start noticing a smell coming from the front, rear bottom of your vehicle, that might mean that the seal is damaged or leaking. That is why you should take your car for regular checkups.

A mechanic will be able to detect if your axle seal is leaking from the very first time they check your vehicle. You will always detect oil splashing from the seal. The seal glands are also responsible for preventing corrosion from the moving parts and the vehicle’s rotating elements. During the replacement of the axle seal, the oil lubricant should also be changed to ensure that the gland will function for an extended period.

The moment you realize a leak from the seals, you should visit a mechanic immediately so that they can replace it or repair it if possible. The mechanics will be able to diagnose the vehicle and will determine the leading cause of the leak and will also advise you on how to detect a leak next time you are a driveway.

How to Fix a Leaking Axle Seal

Once you have your axle seal replaced, you should avoid the problem of leaking for some time. But most people usually complain that they are still experiencing a leak even after the replacement. A leak should never happen immediately after the repair. It should at least take a period of 15 to 20 minutes for you to detect if your seal is leaking after replacing. If the leaking starts the other five minutes from the time it was replaced, which will only mean an error during the installation process. Here are some ways you can prevent oil from leaking from your axle seal.

  • Confirm the Position and Angle. Replacing a seal axle is never that hard, but you need to be careful when installing them. You should always check the dimension at which you are installing the seal. Replacing it at the wrong angle will the number one reason your seal will start leaking. You should be kin and make sure that the seal face is loaded correctly. If you are not familiar with how to go about the replacement process, you should always use the service manual guide to install the axle seal. The manual will show you how to fix the radial runout shaft and the axle movement. You should ensure that the indicator reading does not override the OEM specifications, and the axial movement should also not exceed the OEM specifications. The seal housing should be perpendicular to the rotating side of the seal. If they do not match, you will experience leakages.
  • Check the Fluids. Another reason why most people experience leakages is that they do not use the right lubricant or oil. Other people will also use oil that is not clean, which will affect your vehicle’s performance. The seal consists of rotating members, and those parts can experience vibrations, misalignment, cavitation, or wearing off. The seals use springs and axials that need to be lubricated most of the time. So, using the correct lubricant will ensure that these moving parts are properly working during the friction. If the oil is not perfect or right for the seal, it will start to leak in the long run. You should use the lubricants meant for axle seals for a perfect result. If the compartments are not in the right angle, that may cause clogging, and that will mean that the springs cannot move properly and hence the cause of leaking.
  • Protect the Seal Surface. When you are replacing the shaft or sleeve, you should never, at any time, use a sharp object to replace it. You should always ensure that the edges of the seal are nor sharp or has nor sharp objects on it. Those sharp edges and objects are the ones that usually cause the seal to leak during the rotation or movement process. When installing a new axle seal, you should make sure that the O- Ring is intact in all ways. It should be new and should have no defaults at all. The O ring is a very restorative material when it comes to the seal. It would help if you never dropped the axle shaft seal as by dropping it, you will damage it, causing it to leak. The ring should be compatible with the compressor lubricant and the operating conditions.

Common Causes of Axle Seal Oil Leaking 

  • There is a standard error during the replacement process; for example, the mechanic can fail to check the seal position and the dimensions. 
  • Two main things cause an axle seal to leak. A leak from the tranny case to the seal or a leak from the seal to the axle. 
  • Another error that usually occurs is failing to protect the sealing surface. 
  • Contaminated lubricants can also be another reason you will experience leaking after replacing a new seal and using a seal that is not new or old seal in one way or the other. 
  • Placing the axle seal at the wrong angle can also cause leakages.

Can I Drive With A Leaking Axle Seal?

Many people who experience leaking from the seals do not always realize it early. That means that they are still driving even though the seal is leaking. If the leaking is still in the early stages, you can still drive with no problems, but that will cause severe damage in the long run if not fixed. It will all depend on the severity of your axle seal leakage.

If it has started to affect the transmission, you should get it fixed immediately. But if you happen to experience the problem when you are on a long-distance journey, you will have to drive with it as long as it does not affect the transmission levels, But once you get to town, you should have it checked as soon as possible.

Axle Seal Replacement Cost

Replacing an axle seal is not always a do it yourself kind of thing. It would be best if you had some bit of idea as to what you are doing. You can always visit your mechanic and try to find out how much they can fix it for you. But typically, it is never expensive to fix the problem of leaks. For some cars, it should be around $150 to $250. But the amount you will pay will all depend on the level of damage caused. The amount will also vary from one model of vehicle to another.

A Ford Escape, if it happens to leak, will cause the owner approximately $650. But you should always check your transmission and try to figure out if you are facing any problem with your axle seals. If you detect it early, it should not cost you a lot of bucks. 

Most vehicle usually comes with a warranty that will ensure that if you experience any problems with your axle seals, they should fix it for you. So, you should always check with your vehicle company to confirm if they have a warranty. That will save you a lot.