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Drive Axle Seal Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Drive Axle Seal Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, pry bar, 13mm, 16mm, 32mm socket, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-13)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-13)

Parts Required:

Drive axle, transmission fluid

Hot Tip:

Replace seal

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty drive axle

Complementary Modification:

Replace transmission fluid

Drive axles transfer power from the differential to the wheels. The differential is integrated into the transmission on MINI R56 models. In case of the front wheels, they also steer the vehicle. The drive axles therefore need to be equipped with flexible joints, which allow a significant amount of bending and flexing by the drive axle. This is accomplished by equipping each drive axle with a constant velocity (or CV) joint at each end. The joint is filled with high temperature grease and sealed with a rubber boot.

The drive axle seal is located behind the drive axle inner joint, protected by a shield. If you have a fluid leak from your transmission, inspect the area around the axle shaft. If this area is wet, replace the axle seal. I will show how to replace the right side axle seal, as it is the harder one. Replacing the left side can be done by skipping the steps specific to the right side.

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.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the drive axle seal on MINI R56 vehicles. The vehicle shown in this tech article is a manual transmission model. Automatic models are similar.

If you have a fluid leak from your transmission, inspect the area around the axle shaft.
Figure 1

If you have a fluid leak from your transmission, inspect the area around the axle shaft. If this area is wet (red arrows), replace the axle seal. Note the dry area under the left side seal on my subject vehicle (yellow arrow).

Remove the 8mm drain plug (yellow arrow) and drain the transmission fluid.
Figure 2

Remove the 8mm drain plug (yellow arrow) and drain the transmission fluid. You can skip this step, but be prepared for fluid to leak out when the axle is removed. You will have to top the fluid up when done. See our tech article on manual or automatic transmission fluid replacing for more info.

Working at the lower ball joint, remove the two 21mm nuts (red arrows).
Figure 3

Working at the lower ball joint, remove the two 21mm nuts (red arrows).

Next, you have to lever the ball joint bracket away from the control arm (red arrow).
Figure 4

Next, you have to lever the ball joint bracket away from the control arm (red arrow).

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 5

This step applies to the right side axle only. Working near the oil pan, remove the 16mm engine strut fastener (red arrow).

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 6

This step applies to the right side axle only. Pull the engine strut down away from the subframe and let it hang.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 7

This step applies to the right side axle only. Working at the right aide axle mount, remove the 13mm fastener (red arrow). This photo shows the mount as viewed from the wheel well housing.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 8

This step applies to the right side axle only. Using a pry bar, lever the transmission forward slightly (red arrow). Then install a block of wood between the transmission and the subframe. This allows access to the lower axle mount fastener.

This step applies to the right side axle only.
Figure 9

This step applies to the right side axle only. Remove the lower 13mm axle mount fastener.

If replacing the left side seal, lever the axle out of the transmission using a pry bar.
Figure 10

If replacing the left side seal, lever the axle out of the transmission using a pry bar. See our tech article on drive axle replacing for more information. With the drive axle still secured in the wheel hub, push the wheel hub outward (red arrow) while guiding the drive axle out of the transmission (yellow arrow).

Let the drive axle rest on the subframe (red arrow) or secure it out of the way using mechanic's wire.
Figure 11

Let the drive axle rest on the subframe (red arrow) or secure it out of the way using mechanic's wire.

Using a seal puller or a small pry bar, lever out the protective shield (yellow arrow).
Figure 12

Using a seal puller or a small pry bar, lever out the protective shield (yellow arrow). Then lever the seal using the same method (red arrow).

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer (inset).
Figure 13

Next, install the new seal with a seal installer (inset). Lightly tap the seal into the transmission (red arrow), periodically checking to confirm it is going in straight.

Install the seal until it bottoms out (red arrow).
Figure 14

Install the seal until it bottoms out (red arrow). Install the drive axle. On the left side, you will hear the snap ring seat. Install the remaining items in the reverse order of removing. Top off or replace the transmission fluid. Drive the vehicle a short distance and confirm that the leak is repaired.


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Comments and Suggestions:
tag1204 Comments: I just did this and all I had was a piece of 2" pvc to install the seal evenly. Just figured I would pass that along in case you are in a pinch or cheap. It worked great for me!
July 20, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Big_Iz Comments: Is the protective shield reusable or intended to be replaced along with the seal? It isn't noted as part of figure 14, but shown as installed in the photo.
June 27, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It is usually part of the seal. Some OE part kits it comes separate.
Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Mudhen Comments: In your list of required tools at the top you might want to include 'seal installer'. Which doesn't seem to be available to purchase or rent anywhere that I've found. And with no room between dust shield and case I'm having real issues figuring out how to get the new ones in...
December 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There are universal seal installer kits available that fit many seal sizes. That is what I use a lot of the time.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help find one for you. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Kevin Comments: Do you have a similar article for r/52/53? I've a leaky seal on passenger side after 6k miles on a new cv axel ... Tiring to determine if this is doable without dropping the trans to get it done.

Thanks!
December 14, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
We don't currently have that tech article. If we get a chance to perform the procedure, we will be sure to document it.

I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799.

All R52 articles are here:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/MINI/MINI_tech_index.htm #basics - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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