Pinion Seal: Keeping the Lube in the Tube
All parts that spin or rotate need lubrication, or else they tend to heat up very quickly. The downside to lubrication is that if you put liquid on anything spinning, it tends to fly off in all directions-and nobody wants a mess. A pinion seal keeps that mess at bay, all the while keeping your pinion gear fully lubricated. If you have to change yours out, and staunch the leak that is messing up your garage and getting the missus angry, read on.
Shape, size, and form
When it comes to choosing a pinion seal for your ride, the most important thing to note is that it is closely tied with the specific specifications of your pinion gear. In particular, you need to look at the bore, the width, the shaft, and the outer diameter. Too "off" a set of measurements could mean that it might not fit or-even if it does fit-it won't be effective at providing a secure seal.
Two methods to matching
There are two ways to match that you can turn to that helps determine sureness fit:
- Look for the part number or manufacturer's number for your seal. You can find this information in the owner's manual or, sometimes, the part itself. It helps you to find a perfect match because you can give this number to a dealer or use it when you search online.
- Speaking of "online", the second option is to shop online. A lot of the sites up and out there have very specialized search software that lets you specify your vehicle's exact year, make, and model-it will then only give you results that are specific to your needs.
*Caution* Sometimes, results from searches aren't as specific as we want them to be. It always pays to be a smart shopper. Verify all that data that you get from an online retailer against what you need. This kind of double-checking helps to minimize the chances that you end up getting the wrong product!
The final word
There are two final things that you cannot overlook. The first is location. Are you trying to replace the front or rear pinion seal? These are very different from one another, so make sure you check. The second thing is price. A good-quality pinion seal will set you back between $10-15 on average-any more is overspending, any less might be of questionable quality.
Suspension 101: Replacing a Rear Pinion Seal
So you want to replace your rear pinion seal. Why not undertake the task yourself? It's a bit of a doozy, but all you need is a couple of tools, some patience, and our carefully made step-by-step guide to get you doing-it-yourself. It not only gets your rear suspension clean and free of lubricant cast-off, but also saves you a couple of dollars on labor costs!
Difficulty level: Difficult
Things you will need:
- New pinion seal
- Drain pan
- Jack stands
- Gear oil
- Brake Cleaner
Step 1: Carefully raise the rear of your vehicle with a jack, and secure it with jack stands before disengaging the jack.
*Note* Make sure that your ride is well-mounted on the stands-you might suffer a terrible injury if it isn't.
Step 2: Check the rear differential housing for the possibility of any oil leaks.
Step 3: Take out the gear oil fill plug, and set it aside.
Step 4: Slowly disconnect the u-joint from the pinion flange it's connected to.
Step 5: Remove the nut securing the pinion shaft.
Step 6: Place a drain pan under the pinion flange, then remove the flange.
Step 7: Remove the pinion seal.
*Note* Jostle the seal a bit to determine how tightly it is fit-you might be able to take it out with just your hands. If it's too tight, use a flathead screwdriver to pry it out-just be gentle about it.
Step 8: Wipe down the housing with a clean rag, and put in the new pinion seal-lubricate it with oil.
Step 9: Reinstall the pinion flange, the securing nut and its washer, then torque it to the manufacturer's specifications based on your owner's manual.
Step 10: Reconnect the driveshaft to the pinion flange, and torque its restraining bolts-again, refer to your manual.
Step 11: Re-fill the differential housing with oil.
Step 12: Tighten the drain plug to approximately 25 ft. lbs. of torque.
Step 13: Carefully lower your vehicle to the ground.
You're done! Test drive the vehicle, and check for leaks after to verify the correctness of the installation.
- Always be very careful when working under the vehicle. Position the stands so they do not interfere with movement.
- Use, at least, the minimum in safety gear: goggles protect the eyes from contaminants, while gloves keep the hands safe from sharp metals under the vehicle.