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Old 12-27-2017, 08:11 PM   #1
Melissa_M
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Default axle seals

A few years ago the shop rotating my tires noted leaking axle seals.
I actually kinda forgot about it, as they didn't mention it on my subsequent trips for oil/tires.
I just checked my transmission fluid the other day, and it's low.
Not sure exactly where the axle seals are, haven't been able to find the leak myself.
I guess I can see something on DS, but not really on PS.

At any rate, if they are leaking, I am seriously considering having a shop do the repair.

What should I be checking on/asking in advance when they do this repair?
I looked at ShawnV's writeup, looks like the repair itself is fairly straightforward, as long as the seal doesn't get damaged on install.
I put Amsoil fluid in the transmission 8 years /15K ago (one of my easiest DIY repairs, lol). Can I reuse the fluid? I'd rather not shell out another $60 if I don't have to.
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1999 SL2 MANUAL ~78K
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: axle seals

I'm not seeing any fluid leak in those photos, but they don't show what I would call the "axle seal" area too well; and aren't you the one that keeps everything squeaky-clean? Maybe signs of leakage have been washed away recently.

As to the cost of replacing the super-duper fluid: I don't think much will be lost in doing the axle seals. Personally, I would just use Dex3 and not worry about re-using old fluid or if there is slight leakage.

Oh, what I call "axle seals" are right at the trans case where the axle comes out of the case; not any of the CV joints. Maybe your shop defines it different...
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:49 PM   #3
Melissa_M
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Default Re: axle seals

well I think they wrote down axle seal/rear main leak, and that may have just been to state that something in the area was leaking without determining what. I am very hazy on my understanding of that part of the car, so just by crawling under it and looking, I don't see anything, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. I'm about to get the tires rotated, so I should be able to get a better look when it's on the lift.

But if I'm low on transmission fluid, and it's not the drain plug...?
I should note that I have always had a small leak from somewhere that leaves transmission fluid on the bellhousing. Dealer suggested quill bearing, but again, didn't actually pinpoint it.
Until now, it's been so small that the fluid loss was insignificant. I've never had a puddle under the car, either.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:10 AM   #4
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Default Re: axle seals

You say "until now", has the leakage suddenly become worse?

Yeah, the "axle seal/rear main" just means they see wetness there; little clue as to where it is coming from.

I would be tempted to check the diff pin for movement. If it moves, it will eventually cause a big leak/puddle; but I expect the first symptom might be a "slight" leak.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: axle seals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
well I think they wrote down axle seal/rear main leak, and that may have just been to state that something in the area was leaking without determining what. I am very hazy on my understanding of that part of the car, so just by crawling under it and looking, I don't see anything, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at. I'm about to get the tires rotated, so I should be able to get a better look when it's on the lift.

But if I'm low on transmission fluid, and it's not the drain plug...?
I should note that I have always had a small leak from somewhere that leaves transmission fluid on the bellhousing. Dealer suggested quill bearing, but again, didn't actually pinpoint it.
Until now, it's been so small that the fluid loss was insignificant. I've never had a puddle under the car, either.
If you do not have either a nylon or rubber seal on the transmission drain bolt it leaks. Over zealous tightening will crack the transaxle case so be warned. If the drain bolt has a recessed face it uses a rubber seal and if it has a flat face then it uses the hard nylon.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: axle seals

The leak never showed as a loss on the dipstick, and now it does.
At the time of my fluid swap I did take the opportunity to check position of the diff pin and it was good at that time. I had a horrible time getting the vss out to see it, so I'm not keen to do it again, but will bear it in mind.

The rubber seal for the drain plug is the same as used for oil drain, correct? I re-used the existing when I did it but would of course put new one on if the seals get done. Pretty sure the leak is higher up on bellhousing, will have to look again.

Again, not being too familiar- is a leaking axle seal easy to assess?
For example, I also have an oil leak, and have gotten diff opinions on if it is the rear main or oil pan, because you couldn't tell where leak originated.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: axle seals

You have to pull the axle out of the transmission to replace the axle seal. The driver side is much much easier to remove than the passenger side...so my bet is it's the passenger seal that's leaking. Neither one is much fun to replace, most often you have to pop the knuckle off the ball joint or the TRE out of the knuckle to be able to pull the axle out of the knuckle...then there's the 30mm axle nut that's torqued to something like 150ft/lbs with a stupid 1-time-use nut (might be able to not mess with the nut if you have 2 people and pop both the ball joint and TRE out, should let the knuckle/strut swing enough to pull the axle out of the transmission and you'll want 2 people for putting it back together this way).


Some people have found that a diagnosed "oil pan leak" was actually oil dripping down from a failed valve cover gasket. If the oil leak is bad enough you can try cleaning it all off, then run the engine for 15-20min and recheck for leaks. You don't want to drive it anywhere as the wind will blow the oil around and mask where it's leaking from.
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Old 12-30-2017, 12:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: axle seals

My rule is if it's not dripping on the floor where I park then it doesn't need fixed.

If it were mine I'd just top it off and then check it often to get an idea how fast it's level is dropping. The axle seals in the transmission case, I think they are actually called output shaft seals, are not fun or easy to replace in the car. Installing the drivers side without the correct tool will almost always result in a damaged seal.

Like other said, remove the axle so you have to split the ball joint. On pass side you also have the intermediate support that has 3 bolts that require an 18mm socket. Personally I think the pass side is a little easier to do just because it's a bit more accessible but that is just IMHO.

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Old 12-30-2017, 12:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: axle seals

The first step is to actually verify it is not the cam cover and then figure out if it is engine oil or ATF. Trans drain plug sealing washer should be replaced no matter what.

Cam cover leak check.
You can not see an oil leak. Clean off the head/cam cover joint with clean paper towels and brake cleaner until spotless. Start engine and allow to sit at idle until the fan is about to come on and then shut it off. Now take a ball of toilet paper and blot all around the head/cam cover joint and check the paper for signs of oil after every blot. If you do not find any oil give the car several hours to sit and cool then repeat toilet paper spot test.
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