Leaky axle seals... again!?!? - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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Leaky axle seals... again!?!?

I tried to research this but couldn't find an answer...

Is there an acceptable amount of leakage from axle seals, or are they supposed to hold all the oil at any angle and all conditions?

I just replaced both my front and rear axle seals 6 weeks ago. Not talking about the aftermarket outer front seals, I mean the front inner seals in the pumpkin and the rear outers by the bearing. Since installing them I had not a trace of leakage before yesterday. This was doing normal trails and normal flexing my suspension, and no mud wheeling the last 2 months.

Yesterday after returning from some really off camber wheeling, like almost tipping over sideways, I saw some Diff Oil leaked on both my front and rear tires that were on the low side that I felt close to rolling over. I cleaned everything up yesterday and driving on the street today I'm seeing no new leakage today.

Do I need to replace these damned seals again?

Do the Mopar Dana 60's, Dynatrac axles, and Super Duty swaps leak as much as these Dana 44's?

Seems like it's never a question of if the factory axles leak, they always leak and you would think by 2017 there would be a good sealing solution. Part of me wants to just sell these damned 44's and get some 60's if only to not have to swap seals again and again.
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Last edited by Biginboca; 04-03-2017 at 12:40 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 12:45 PM
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could have been residual oil left over from when you fixed it (disregard of you cleaned it really well) and perhaps you are over filling the pumpkin and/or the vent is plugged.
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadmt View Post
could have been residual oil left over from when you fixed it (disregard of you cleaned it really well) and perhaps you are over filling the pumpkin and/or the vent is plugged.
Thanks for the reply. The seal areas were definitely clean with no residual after the install. I even ran rags down the tubes to clean them out while I had everything apart, so I'm confident it wasn't residual.

The vent plugs are relocated and protected behind the taillight and on top of the firewall. I'm confident it's not a vent issue like I said I don't wheel in mud and they are protected areas.

I did slightly overfill the diffs but I would like to know your reasoning behind suspecting that. I used 1.75qt front instead of 1.5 and 2.75qt rear instead of 2.5. I don't see how a slight overfill would matter? My thinking is that either a seal holds fluid back or it doesn't. The way I see it the seal has no way of knowing if there is .25qt more or .75qt less fluid behind it but maybe it's flawed logic.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 02:19 PM
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i overfill my diff all the time and it always comes out of my vent tubes, never my axle seals.

its possible your axle is bent, thats a symptom i see on bent housings
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chknkatsu View Post
i overfill my diff all the time and it always comes out of my vent tubes, never my axle seals.

its possible your axle is bent, thats a symptom i see on bent housings
So reading between the lines of your post... any amount of leakage/seepage is not acceptable and the cause should be investigated, correct?
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biginboca View Post
So reading between the lines of your post... any amount of leakage/seepage is not acceptable and the cause should be investigated, correct?


correct

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post #7 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biginboca View Post
So reading between the lines of your post... any amount of leakage/seepage is not acceptable and the cause should be investigated, correct?
That is the way I look at it.
I keep my differentials over filled just enough to keep the seals wet. My theory is it prevents the seals from wearing out on (or wearing a groove in) a dry axle shaft. It seems to be working for me. It also ensures the bearings are well lubricated.

It's very common for the front seals to leak from being damaged by the shafts when they are pushed through the seals. The alignment discs on the shafts are supposed prevent damage, but people often don't use them.
Grease applied to the splines helps, too.

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post #8 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ronjenx View Post
That is the way I look at it.
I keep my differentials over filled just enough to keep the seals wet. My theory is it prevents the seals from wearing out on (or wearing a groove in) a dry axle shaft. It seems to be working for me. It also ensures the bearings are well lubricated.

It's very common for the front seals to leak from being damaged by the shafts when they are pushed through the seals. The alignment discs on the shafts are supposed prevent damage, but people often don't use them.
Grease applied to the splines helps, too.
So that's what I don't get, and why I'm wondering if some leakage at extreme angles is normal.

When I installed the seals I greased the seal and the shafts. I used brand new plastic shaft guides and installed the shafts to just past the seals before putting the carrier back in. This way I could carefullly guide the shaft through the seal from inside the Diff and make sure they went through the seal and didn't damage them.

Then like I said I slightly overfilled each Diff.

On both the front and back seals I used RTV around the outside of the seals to prevent leaks around the seals outer mounting surface.

And I spent the extra $$ for all genuine Mopar seals.

Front and back seals only 2 months old and I don't think there's any way hey could have been more carefully or better installed.

I'm so tired of replacing seals lol!

Last edited by Biginboca; 04-03-2017 at 08:04 PM.
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biginboca View Post
So that's what I don't get, and why I'm wondering if some leakage at extreme angles is normal.

When I installed the seals I greased the seal and the shafts. I used brand new plastic shaft guides and installed the shafts to just past the seals before putting the carrier back in. This way I could carefullly guide the shaft through the seal from inside the Diff and make sure they went through the seal and didn't damage them.

Then like I said I slightly overfilled each Diff.

On both the front and back seals I used RTV around the outside of the seals to prevent leaks around the seals outer mounting surface.

And I spent the extra $$ for all genuine Mopar seals.

Front and back seals only 2 months old and I don't think there's any way hey could have been more carefully or better installed.

I'm so tired of replacing seals lol!
Well, it looks like you have applied the same care and thought I have applied with these tasks.

I'll be pulling my front shafts again, this time for u-joints. I guess it's just a matter of chance if the seals will leak after, or not.

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post #10 of 14 Old 04-03-2017, 08:25 PM
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How many miles on the shafts? What was the condition of the sealing surface on the shafts? Was there ANY grooving at all? Did you polish the sealing area at all?

The times I have had this happen, I replaced the shaft to solve the issue. My 2004 Nissan Titan was eating rear seals like candy. The shafts looked good, but they weren't. I replaced the shafts, one side at a time (slow learner) and that solved the issue. Both sides "looked" ok, but the micro grooves in the shafts were eating the seals in short order.
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post #11 of 14 Old 04-04-2017, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nucleophile View Post
How many miles on the shafts? What was the condition of the sealing surface on the shafts? Was there ANY grooving at all? Did you polish the sealing area at all?

The times I have had this happen, I replaced the shaft to solve the issue. My 2004 Nissan Titan was eating rear seals like candy. The shafts looked good, but they weren't. I replaced the shafts, one side at a time (slow learner) and that solved the issue. Both sides "looked" ok, but the micro grooves in the shafts were eating the seals in short order.
I think you nailed it. There was a slight groove on the front shaft. Enough of a groove that I could feel it when I dragged my finger across the sealing area. So it sounds like I'll need to replace that shaft. Worst part, it's a RCV shaft lol

Once again I'm left thinking there must be a better way. I don't see any way that over time there would not be some grooving when a seal is dragging over the same area of the shaft for thousands of miles.

I wonder if I could reuse the shaft I have if I didn't drive the seal all the way in. Like didn't Press it the last 1/16" to fully seat it. Then it would ride on an ungrooved section of the shaft.
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post #12 of 14 Old 04-04-2017, 06:28 AM
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I'm unsure if it is possible for this application but i would imagine it would work if the cost was low enough. We have a place near by that rebuilds electric motors, mostly out dated ones. When a bearing or something fails and grooves the shaft for the motor they use a spray welding procedure (i can't remember the name) on the shaft to build it up and then machine it back to spec.


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post #13 of 14 Old 04-04-2017, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biginboca View Post
I don't see any way that over time there would not be some grooving when a seal is dragging over the same area of the shaft for thousands of miles.
I had my front shafts out at 76,000 miles for ball joints. No grooves, and no leaks upon reassembly.
I'll be pulling them again soon for u-joints. 139,000 miles and still no leaks. I'll look for grooves and post what I find.
I'm hoping my theory about having a little higher oil level to keep the seals wet will have prevented the cutting of grooves.

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post #14 of 14 Old 04-04-2017, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biginboca View Post
I think you nailed it. There was a slight groove on the front shaft. Enough of a groove that I could feel it when I dragged my finger across the sealing area. So it sounds like I'll need to replace that shaft. Worst part, it's a RCV shaft lol

Once again I'm left thinking there must be a better way. I don't see any way that over time there would not be some grooving when a seal is dragging over the same area of the shaft for thousands of miles.

I wonder if I could reuse the shaft I have if I didn't drive the seal all the way in. Like didn't Press it the last 1/16" to fully seat it. Then it would ride on an ungrooved section of the shaft.
You can buy just the inner shaft, either from RCV directly or thru any RCV dealer. I think the short side is about $200, long side about $400. Good time to throw a rebuild joint kit on as well if the joint is at all suspect.

Leaving the seal out a little bit might work, what do you have to lose? Seals are fairly cheap. It might be nice to have some sort of spacer behind the seal that you can drive it against.

It sucks having to replace an axle shaft for some tiny groove that you can barely catch a finger nail on.
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