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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 Torx socket, seal puller, seal installer, two M10X46 bolts

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 M3 Coupe/Conv (2001-06)
BMW Z4 Convertible (2003-08)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006-08)

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 Z4 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. You will want to remove the muffler for better access. See our tech article on mufflers removing.

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 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please include your vehicle information.

Your first step will be to safely jack up and support the rear of your BMW Z4. Consult our article on this subject should you need assistance in doing this easily, correctly and safely.

The rear drive axle seal is located behind the differential output flange, protected by a shield.
Figure 1

The rear drive axle seal is located behind the 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 (red arrow). 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. You will want to remove the muffler for better access. See our tech article on mufflers removing.

Place a hydraulic jack under the trailing arm.
Figure 2

Place a hydraulic jack under the trailing arm. Inset shows the placement of the jack pad, directly under the trailing arm (red arrow).

Remove rear shock 18mm mounting fastener (red arrow).
Figure 3

Remove rear shock 18mm mounting fastener (red arrow).

Remove rear coil spring (red arrow).
Figure 4

Remove rear coil spring (red arrow). See our tech article on rear coil spring replacement.

Remove the drive axle from the axle stub flange.
Figure 5

Remove the drive axle from the axle stub flange. Loosen all six E12 bolts, then pull the axle 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.

Next, remove the stub flange from the differential (red arrow).
Figure 6

Next, remove the stub flange from the differential (red arrow). If your vehicle has a fastener in the center of the stub flange, remove it.

Thread two M10X46 bolts (blue arrows) into the flange, place a chisel so it rests on the differential bolt heads (red arrow).
Figure 7

Thread two M10X46 bolts (blue arrows) into the flange, place a chisel so it rests on the differential bolt heads (red arrow). Then tighten the fasteners to pop the stub flange out of the differential.

Using a long pry bar and lever the stub flange (red arrow) out of the differential using a fast snapping motion.
Figure 8

Using a long pry bar and lever the stub flange (red arrow) out of the differential using a fast snapping motion. One or two solid snaps 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 (red arrow).
Figure 9

Once loose, remove the stub flange from the differential (red arrow). As you pull it out, twist the flange to remove it.

This photo shows the drive axle seal (inset).
Figure 10

This photo shows the drive axle seal (inset). 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. Use a hook tool to remove the snap ring from the differential (red arrow). While pulling it out, grab the end and pull as you work your way around the ring, freeing it. Placing a magnet in the center of the snap ring will prevent it from getting lost if it goes flying.

Once out, install the new snap ring (blue arrow) by squeezing it together and feeding it into the groove.
Figure 11

Once out, install the new snap ring (blue arrow) by squeezing it together and feeding it into the groove. Use a small flathead screwdriver to push it all the way in. The seal kit should come with a seal and a snap ring (blue arrows). If needed, replace the dust shields (red arrows) on the stub flange. Knock the dust shields off by placing it in a vise, then tapping off with a small chisel. Tap new shields on until bottomed out.be careful not to bend them.

Using a seal puller, lever the seal out of the differential.
Figure 12

Using a seal puller, lever the seal out of the differential. Pop it free, then remove by hand. Be careful not to score the differential housing.

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer or a large socket (red arrow).
Figure 13

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer or a large socket (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, twisting as you install.
Figure 14

Install the stub flange by hand, twisting as you install. Push it in until you feel the splines slide into the differential. 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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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 03:03:47 AM