Help with Rear Axle Leak

Discussion in '95+ Gen Toyota Trucks' started by JaimeEvans, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. JaimeEvans

    JaimeEvans

    Messages:
    1
    Hey everyone,
    I just moved to Austin Texas and I took my 97 4runner in to get the front brakes repaired. The manager of Brake Checks showed me my Rear right Axle which is leaking. He quoted me 650 for labor alone, told me it would be a 1 1/2 day project and that I should drive my truck at all until i can get it fixed. About 900 out the door. Is this overally exspensive? I hope someone on here can help me. Thanks jaime
  2. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136
    That is pretty high price, but not entirely unreasonable depending on what's going on.

    Rear axle leak = rear wheel bearing. They can be a real bitch to do. They are pressed on and take a LOT of force to press off. I've read in the range of 40 tons being required in some cases to press off the ABS ring. Most places will not re-use the ABS ring. Also if it's really on there, it may require cutting it out. I had one bearing on my 1984 pickup (same basic design) that the Toyota factory press would not budge. This was at the dealership. We had to cut the bearing apart with a die grinder and use heat to get the parts out.

    Anyway, you're looking at rear bearing, new axle seals, and a total tear down of the axle to do it right. You may also need to pull the diff and fully clean it as well. Often times the metal shavings from the failing bearing will make their way into the gear lube and can cause problems later. That depends on how badly gone your bearing is. On that 84 I drove it quite a bit while leaking so I probably did most of that additional damage myself.

    You're also going to need new brake shoes. Ones that have been saturated in gear lube are toast.

    Anyway, to sum up, it can be a time consuming expensive repair. You can build your own press using a spare rear toyota axle housing. You'll have to search for writeups. You probably can do it yourself and probably can re-use the ABS ring. It's just a clocking signal. You could glue it onto the shaft if you did it right and ti would work fine. If it's cheap enough I'd just replace it.

    Hope that helps.

    Good luck.
  3. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136
    Oh, and the other side is going to fail soon. In my experiences, if one side fails, the other is usually ready to fail soon as well. I'd go ahead and replace both at once. My 4runner has 193k on it. When one of them goes, I'll be building a press to do them myself this time and just do both together.
  4. Sam Stewart

    Sam Stewart Kicking Boxes Supporting Vendor

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    What all are they replacing? The axle seal is pretty straightforward. You pull the axle and the seal is right there. Is he charging you to replace the bearings, brakes, and everything too? I'm confused because this seems like an awful lot of money if all he's doing is the seals.
  5. Sam Stewart

    Sam Stewart Kicking Boxes Supporting Vendor

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    Wait... Is that just for ONE side?? That's absolutely crazy if it is. I think we only charge about $450 for BOTH sides! That doesn't include the brakes but that's only like $200 more. Also, I would definitely say that you need to get it fixed but as far as not driving the truck I think that's just a scare tactic.
  6. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136
    $450 for both sides wheel bearings and seals? That's a good price.

    I'm sure the "dont drive" recommendation is a liability issue. Likely 1 rear brake is not functioning properly, and if the bearing fails entirely the axle will just fall out. Nothing else is there to hold it in. That's really unlikely... until some idiot drives it for another 50k miles and crashes then blames the mechanic for not telling him about it. I'm sure you've had that type of customer...
  7. fsusteve

    fsusteve

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    3,813
  8. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136
    Every one I've seen has had gear lube from the axle leaking through the brake drum from the inside of the drum. If that's the case, it means that a fluid had to have traveled through the wheel bearings. The wheel bearings are sealed (or should be). So now you've breached the sealed wheel bearing by pushing gear lube through it. That means that the original wheel bearing grease is no longer intact. Best case scenario is that you've got relatively clean but thinned lube in your wheel bearing.

    Either way, the bearing is $70. The abs/skid control ring and two retainers are about $70 per side. Since the wheel bearings on these are not known for being super durable, I'd replace them. And You're going to ruin whatever new brakes you put on if the bearing is bad and you have to replace it.
  9. Jeremy9A

    Jeremy9A

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    Location:
    New Lenox, IL
    I had to do mine a few years ago. The bearing came with a new retainer. It only calls for 1.9 hours to do.
    They must really suck at what they do to take 1.5 days labor for that job.
  10. fsusteve

    fsusteve

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    3,813
    there's another seal wheel side, it fills up the cavity and pushes thru by centrifugal force, go back to chat, there's no one left there to pick on you.
  11. Jeremy9A

    Jeremy9A

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    630
    Location:
    New Lenox, IL
    By the way- Make sure your breather is not seized.

    The cap was stuck on mine and I'll bet that's what caused the gear oil to go out the seals.

  12. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136

    I'm confused by your description of what's happening internally. Possibly you could explain further?

    How exactly are you suggesting that the gear lube is getting past the bearing to the inside of the brake drum? There are only 5 ways I can think of that this is possible based on the design.
    1 It's going around the outer bearing race that's pressed into the retainer pocket (bearing pocket).
    2. It's passing between the inner race and the axle shaft.
    3. It's passing through one of the 4 studs that bolt the bearing retainer pocket to the axle housing (which would allow it to go past the backing plate as well).
    4. It's passing through the metal of the bearing retainer cup.
    5. It's passing through the seals on the bearing its self, and going through the sealed bearing.

    1-4 seem extremely unlikely due to the fact that 1-3 are all very tight pressed in connections.

    In my experience that would leave option 5 - which means the bearing should be replaced.

    Properly repairing an axle with gear lube leaking inside the drum = wheel bearing replacement. (Sure you can try to see how long a bearing lasts lubricated by gear lube rather than bearing grease, maybe a long time? I have no idea. I'd spend the extra $ to do a proper repair rather than repair it twice.)

    There is a seal on the WMS side of the bearing, but I believe its purpose is to prevent intrusion of primarily water from entering the void in the bearing retainer pocket. It's purpose was not to seal in the gear lube. It should never be be in contact with gear lube. I suppose it's possible in some foreign models that they run that bearing wet in regular gear lube, but I've never heard of that being done.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  13. Dini

    Dini

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    I just did my rear brakes because of the same reason...oil soaked shoes. Most often the cause of this is due to the wheel seals (axle shaft seals). However, there can be other reasons for leaks at the end of your axle. You need to ask them (whoever quoted you on the repair) specifically what is leaking and what they planned on replacing for the amount they quoted you. The quote sounds high to me. Are they using factory Toyota parts?

    I like how none of you asked if he had an abs equipped vehicle or not, and how all of you missed the other "oil seal" on the axle. There are three seals in total per side. One wheel seal/axle seal, one o ring at the bearing pocket and one oil seal at the very back of the axle flange. I'm not counting the gasket behind the heads of the lug studs. Here is a link to what your axle looks like on the inside. Scroll to your year range.

    | Repair Guides | Rear Drive Axle | Axle Shaft, Bearing And Seal | AutoZone.com

    If it is in fact only the wheel seal, you can get a seal puller tool and a manual and do it yourself with a basic set of metric hand tools. I bought a seal puller from Sears (Craftsman brand, you should be able to get them at K-Mart also if you have either of those in your state). I wouldn't replace your brake shoes just yet if you decide you are up to doing that job yourself. I would replace the seal(s) and spray it all down with brake clean so there aren't any drips and then drive the vehicle to make sure the leaks stopped. If you have no more leaks, tackle the brakes. Doing drum brakes is easier with the special tools used to do so, but can be done with basic tools. Have fun and good luck!
  14. Dini

    Dini

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    177
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    You might have been talking about the seal I was referring to, but it looks like everyone else missed it.
  15. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136
    I also mentioned this seal. It's on the WMS (wheel mounting surface) side of the bearing. It's worth replacing to do a proper repair. If you've ever taken one apart it's clear that the gear lube cannot leak into the brake drum (past this exterior seal) without first going through the bearing. By the time it gets there, it's passed 4 wiper seals - 2 of which are the bearing its self.

    The bearing is a "sealed" bearing with bearing grease in it. You can't re-pack it. If the bearing has gear lube pass through it, its compromised. It should be replaced - if you want to do a complete repair. Any legitimate shop would have a very hard time replacing the seals along knowing that the bearing has been breached with the incorrect lubrication.

    And even if the bearing would run OK in gear lube, the two bearing seals have also failed, so there's a good chance that whatever gear lube is in the bearing will eventually work its way out.

    I did look up the specs and apparently you actually could get a 1997 4runner in a base model 4cyl without ABS. I wasn't aware that there was a non-abs 1997. I think we all assumed ABS as it was standard on almost every model. Non ABS makes it a lot easier, and about $100 per side cheaper in parts and a good amount less work.
  16. Dini

    Dini

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    Portland Oregon


    That is why I mentioned it. Some oddities exist. I am wondering what the OP was quoted for as far as replacement parts and if they are OE or not.

    I ended up doing a rear disc conversion on mine, which turned out to be a PITA. However, if the wheel seals ever leak again, I will only be out a set of disc brake pads and a minimal amount of time to fix the problem. Aside from new wheel seals, of course.
  17. Jeremy9A

    Jeremy9A

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    Location:
    New Lenox, IL

    If you would read the entire thread, you would see that the "other" elusive seal was mentioned. We are clearly not working on the vehicle, and are only trying to offer advice.

    Didn't realize how many disclaimers should have been mentioned before each helpful piece of advice.
  18. Dini

    Dini

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    Portland Oregon
    I did read the entire thread. Multiple times. Did you? YOU didn't mention the seal, but a lot of seals were mentioned. There aren't that many on the rear axle.

    Yeah I get it, this is a vehicle forum where we *attempt* to help and/or diagnose problems with forum member's vehicles. We need less "My brother's cousin's dad replaced the ______ and it fixed the ________" and more input from people who have actually performed the repair correctly. Apparently you didn't when you "did yours a few years ago".

    You need another disclaimer? PM me, I've got a disclaimer for you...
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  19. Jeremy9A

    Jeremy9A

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    Location:
    New Lenox, IL
    Ahem DOUCHE ahem ahem.

    Doesn't Porltand fly a lot of rainbow flags?
  20. Jetboy

    Jetboy

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    1,136

    Almost every poster mentioned both seals. It's unfortunate that your reading comprehension is worse than your mechanical knowledge.

    Based on your comments it would appear that you've never actually pressed one of these apart and you don't really understand what a sealed bearing is or why they would be damaged when the seals leak.

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