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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, pry bar, E12 inverted Torx socket, seal puller, seal installer, floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

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 differential on E53 models drives the rear wheels via drive axles. The drive axles are connected to the differential via stub flanges. These flanges are sealed using metal seals with rubber lips. Over time the rubber can dry out, creating a leak. A lot of times only one side will be an issue, however it is a good idea to replace both, as they are usually the same age. If one is leaking, the other one may not be far behind.

The rear drive axle seal on BMW E53 models is located behind an axle stub 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 restriction caused 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. The right side axle seal is much easier as you have plenty of room to get to the fasteners and the axle seal.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve to using similar though different sourced components as the model goes through the years. 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 provide your vehicle information.

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

Remove the drive axle from the axle stub flange. See our tech article on rear drive axle replacing.

The red arrow points to the stub flange and protective cover.
Figure 2

The red arrow points to the stub flange and protective cover. The blue arrow points to the area where you would normally see dirty fluid from a leak. The red arrow area will be covered in clean fluid.

Using a long pry bar (blue arrow) and hammer, knock the stub flange (red arrow) out of the differential.
Figure 3

Using a long pry bar (blue arrow) 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 4

Once loose, remove the stub flange from the differential.

With the stub flange (blue arrow) removed, inspect the protective shield (red arrow).
Figure 5

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

This photo shows the drive axle seal (blue arrow).
Figure 6

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

Thoroughly clean the area the seal mounts in.
Figure 7

Thoroughly clean the area the seal mounts in.

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer (red arrow).
Figure 8

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer (red arrow). Lightly tap the seal into the differential (blue arrow), periodically checking to confirm it is going in straight. Install the seal until it bottoms out. 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 removal. Install the axle bolts on the differential and tighten. Top off or replace the differential fluid. Drive the vehicle a short distance and confirm that the leak is repaired.

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:44:49 AM