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Old 08-08-2010, 07:23 PM   #1
ShawnV
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Default How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Here is a how-to for replacing the axle seal on a Saturn S-Series. I researched how to do this and found many others who had lots of trouble. I almost went and got some transmission stop leak, but I knew that was suicide. I decided to tackle the job and found it much easier than I had expected. I recently acquired a 2002 SL2 with many, many problems, including a leaking axle seal:



I performed this repair on the passenger side only using information from others who have struggled before me.
First, loosen the lug nuts and jack the car up high and securely on jack stands.

Drain the tranny fluid and reinstall the drain plug, making sure to retighten it.

Remove the axle nut (30mm deep), tie rod end (18mm), and strut to knuckle bolts (21mm). Remove the CV axle by pulling down on the steering knuckle while pushing in on the axle and it will barely clear.



Next, remove the CV axle from the intermediate shaft. You can place your largest pry bar in there or tap it out with a block of wood.



The intermediate shaft comes out next and is secured with three 15mm bolts.



Once the intermediate shaft is out you can really see the seal youíre dealing with.



Youíll need to remove the inspection cover, which requires removing the engine to tranny stiffener bracket (six 13mm) and exhaust down pipe (three 13mm nuts then two 10mm bolts). Also slide the rubber exhaust hangers off so the exhaust is nice and free.



With the stiffener bracket out of the way you can remove the inspection cover by removing three 8mm bolts





Now itís time to pry the old seal out. For this I just shoved a medium pry bar in and it popped right out.


The new seal needs to be pounded in very evenly and Saturn makes a special tool for this. I instead used a muffler adapter (see below) to achieve the same results.





Clean up the around where the seal will go in and gently pound it in with your BFH, being sure to hit one edge then cross over to the other edge, thus evenly seating the seal.



Run your fingernail around the seal to make sure all sides are properly seated.

Reinstall the inspection cover, stiffener bracket, exhaust, intermediate shaft, CV axle, tie rod end, strut to knuckle bolts, etc and youíre finished. Go for a test drive and then come back and let the car sit then check for leaks.

Some notes:

This repair took me about 1.5 hours, but I had previously completed everything except the actual seal removal and installation.

The seal was a part number 4614n from advance auto and rock auto. The part does not look like the picture. The exhaust piece I used was a part number 548514 from advance auto. There was no magic with choosing this particular adapter, I just carried the seal over to the shelf and grabbed the piece that fit it best.

I spent about $12 on parts and another $20 on tranny fluid and a new tranny filter (automatic only).

The FSM calls for some sealant to be installed on the seal before you pound it in, but other have gone without and so did I.
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Last edited by ShawnV; 08-08-2010 at 07:30 PM..

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Old 08-08-2010, 07:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Nice write up! It looks the original seal was missing the exterior metal cage to protect it from being damaged which probably happened during prior service on the axle.

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Old 08-08-2010, 08:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Another good one Shawn! The only thing I see missing is a pic of the stiffener bracket maybe? Other than that, ask Charlie to send it right to the how-to!

And, ditch the Fram!!

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Old 08-08-2010, 08:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackeagle1 View Post
Nice write up! It looks the original seal was missing the exterior metal cage to protect it from being damaged which probably happened during prior service on the axle.
I'd say that was exactly what happened. That seal was trashed. I suspected something was up because the car had new tranny fluid in it, but an old filter. The guy sold it to me as we lost the keys, but there's nothing wrong with it. It had a jug of coolant in the back seat, too. Turns out, it needed a new alternator, new TCC solenoid, new engine cradle, new radiator, plugs, and that transmission seal. I probably shouldn't have bought it...


Quote:
Originally Posted by off-track View Post
Another good one Shawn! The only thing I see missing is a pic of the stiffener bracket maybe? Other than that, ask Charlie to send it right to the how-to!

And, ditch the Fram!!
Thanks. You can kinda see the stiffener in the one pic (look for the blue bolt loosened). The fram is GONE (never to return) haha.

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Old 08-09-2010, 07:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

The one thing I would do differently is that I would split the hub at the ball joint instead of at the strut.

Splitting the hub at the strut will require a front end alignment...

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Old 08-09-2010, 12:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Very nice!
A personal decision on my part would also be to split the lower ball joint instead of strut to knuckle and avoid alignment issues as well.
Also, seeing that small lip of splash shield around the seal now would make me want to just cut it off! A dremel tool, die grinder, or even bent with pliers and cut with snips would work. Save undoing the stiffener, down pipe, etc. etc.

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Old 08-09-2010, 03:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackeagle1 View Post
Nice write up! It looks the original seal was missing the exterior metal cage to protect it from being damaged which probably happened during prior service on the axle.

There is a design change in the middle of the 2001 model year. The original right hand seal has the metal protector and the 2001 1/2+ redesigned seal does not have the shield. The shield is part of the upgraded intermediate shaft. This is why Shawn mentioned that the picture was of a different seal than the seal he installed.

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Old 08-09-2010, 03:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Highmile View Post
The one thing I would do differently is that I would split the hub at the ball joint instead of at the strut.

Splitting the hub at the strut will require a front end alignment...
That was my first thought also.
Other than that, you made it look easy
Took me forever to find something even enough to hit in my seals without effing them up. Eventually I did (some PVC)

Nice job Shawn. Sorry about how much work the car needed though !!

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Old 08-09-2010, 04:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

If you mark the strut/knuckle joint with a scribe before removing the bolts you can put it back close enough that you do not need an alignment.

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Old 08-09-2010, 06:51 PM   #10
ShawnV
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Yea, I prefer to take the strut to knuckle bolts out. I have trouble with the ball joint castle nut.

So the CV axle can come out with the strut still attached? I don't see how, but I've never tried it.

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Old 08-09-2010, 06:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnV View Post
Yea, I prefer to take the strut to knuckle bolts out. I have trouble with the ball joint castle nut.

So the CV axle can come out with the strut still attached? I don't see how, but I've never tried it.
When you remove the tie rod, you can get some major rotation on the knuckle, apparently it's enough that you can remove the axle from the knuckle.

I've heard of it being done that way... Never tried it (never had to) but will in the future try that method if I need to.

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Old 08-09-2010, 07:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Low Saturn says that it works. And it should. Just pop the tie rod and turn the wheel all the way it will turn towards the opposite side of the car and it will just clear. That is how it works on other cars, have not had to try it on a Saturn yet.

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Old 08-09-2010, 08:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Low Saturn says that it works. And it should. Just pop the tie rod and turn the wheel all the way it will turn towards the opposite side of the car and it will just clear. That is how it works on other cars, have not had to try it on a Saturn yet.
I did my left side axle this way a few years ago. Undo tie rod and turn the knuckle, lugs toward the front. Push the axle out of the knuckle toward the rear of the car. You may think your flexing the joint too much but it will go and be fine.
Edit: I still think it's a bit easier if you undo the castle nut on the ball joint, a good open end wrench will turn it, even with a rusty cotter pin still in it.

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Old 08-09-2010, 09:52 PM   #14
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Highmile View Post
The one thing I would do differently is that I would split the hub at the ball joint instead of at the strut.

Splitting the hub at the strut will require a front end alignment...
Definitely. There's almost always enough play in the top strut mount to allow you to swing the strut + spindle out of the way without messing with the bolts between the strut and the spindle.

Great write-up nonetheless.

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Old 10-15-2010, 10:01 PM   #15
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

instead of unbolting everything
unbolt the lower control arm ball joint and just push the shock/brake/ bearing assembly out of the way

that way you dont have to get your car re alligned

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Old 10-16-2010, 06:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Nice. Was always curious about those.

And what a sloppy oil mess.

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Old 10-16-2010, 07:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Knuckle. (There's no shock, BTW.) And yeah, any time you avoid removing the strut-to-knuckle bolts, or the top mount stud nuts, you save money.

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Old 10-16-2010, 07:43 PM   #18
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Thank you very much for the write up. Hopefully I won't be replacing the seal in my tranny, but the pics and instructions are the clearest I've seen (along with some of the replies) on replacing a half shaft.

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Old 01-29-2011, 05:40 PM   #19
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

Thanks for the nice write up, especially the prying out the old seal. I just switched a motor in a 96 SC2 (old one ran low on oil and tossed a rod through BOTH sides of the block), and when I reinstalled and started to refill the manual tranny, I heard this dripping sound... Must have roached the seal when I pulled the drive axle?

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Old 01-30-2011, 12:14 PM   #20
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Default Re: How-To: axle seal replacement w/ pictures

The only thing I would add to the writeup is to smear some tranny fluid on the rubber part of the seal before reinstalling the cv shaft. You don't really want to put it together dry.

I always replace the CV shaft seals when I do an engine rebuild. It is amazingly easy when the tranny is sitting on the garage floor

I like your seal installer. A big socket works well also.

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