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Rear Drive Axle Seal Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Drive Axle Seal Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, prybar, E12 inverted Torx socket, seal puller, seal installer, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Rear drive axle seal, differential fluid

Hot Tip:

Replace axle bolts

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty drive axle seal

Complementary Modification:

Replace differential fluid

The rear driveshaft on BMW E60 models transfers the rotation of the transmission (or transfer case) output shaft to the input shaft of the rear differential. Inside the differential the axis of rotation is turned 90 degrees. Using specially designed planetary gears, the differential also splits the power in order to accommodate cornering: the two rear wheels must be allowed to rotate at different speeds in a turn. The drive axles, which power the rear wheels, are bolted to the differential output flanges.

The rear drive axle seal is located behind differential output flange, protected by a shield. If you have a fluid leak from your rear differential, inspect the area around the axle shaft stub flange. If this area is wet, replace the axle seal. The left side axle seal is a bit harder to remove due to obstruction by the exhaust system. If you are having trouble removing the left side axle seal, you may want to remove or lower the exhaust for better access. See our tech article on exhaust system removing. The right side axle seal is much easier, as you have plenty of room to get to the fasteners and axle seal.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Your first step will be to safely jack up and support the rear of your BMW E60. Consult our article on this subject should you need assistance in doing this easily, correctly and safely.

Remove the drive axle from the axle stub flange.
Figure 1

Remove the drive axle from the axle stub flange. Loosen all six E12 bolts. Then pull the axle (red arrow) away from the stub flange and lay it aside. You do not have to remove the axle from the vehicle. There is room to work once you move it aside. For more information on removing the axle, see our tech article on rear drive axle replacing.

Using a long pry bar and hammer, knock the stub flange (red arrow) out of the differential.
Figure 2

Using a long pry bar and hammer, knock the stub flange (red arrow) out of the differential. One or two solid taps should knock it out. Do not hit it too hard. It could go flying out, damaging the splines on the flange shaft.

Once loose, remove the stub flange from the differential.
Figure 3

Once loose, remove the stub flange from the differential.

With the stub flange removed, inspect the shield (red arrow).
Figure 4

With the stub flange removed, inspect the shield (red arrow). If the shield is damaged, replace it.

This photo shows the drive axle seal (red arrow).
Figure 5

This photo shows the drive axle seal (red arrow). You can lever it out with a large flathead screwdriver or a seal puller. I prefer to use a seal puller. Clean the area surrounding the seal before removing it.

Using a seal puller, lever the seal out of the differential.
Figure 6

Using a seal puller, lever the seal out of the differential.

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer (red arrow).
Figure 7

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer (red arrow). Lightly tap the seal into the differential (green arrow), periodically checking to confirm it is going in straight. Install the seal until it bottoms out.

Install the stub flange by hand.
Figure 8

Install the stub flange by hand. Then tap it into the differential using a soft-faced hammer until it snaps into place. You will hear the snap ring seat. Install the axle in the reverse order of removing. Install the axle bolts on the differential and tighten them. Top off or replace the differential fluid. Drive the vehicle a short distance and confirm that the leak is repaired.

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Comments and Suggestions:
SMB Comments: Hi, is this the same process for the front seal? On main drive shaft
June 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, for manual trans models, that article is here:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/BMW-E60/129-TRANS-Manual_Transmission_Output_Shaft_Seal_Replacement/129-TRANS-Manual_Transmission_Output_Shaft_Seal_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
carrot Comments: Hi is it possible to install the new seal too deeply? I used a socket as I didn't have the correct tool and the seal is leaking. Thanks
July 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think the seal would bottom out first. If it is bent, that is probably why it is leaking. That is a common error. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:43:58 AM