Automotive DIY: Replacing Steering Knuckle Seal
How often do you replace your steering knuckle seals? If the need comes earlier than expected, it is either due to a faulty installation or incorrect seal for a particular application, given the fact that these two are the most common reasons why the seal becomes problematic or damaged. To get the right replacement steering knuckle seal, use the number on the old seal as identification. But how would you be able to correctly install the new steering knuckle seal, supposing the vehicle is already set for its installation? It can be done even without having to remove the knuckle.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- Box wrench
- Jack stand
- New steering knuckle seal
Step 1: Make sure that there is enough clearance by raising the affected part securely supported on jack-stands. If you are working with front steering knuckle, make sure to block the rear wheels before putting the vehicle on jacks. The parking brakes will also help ensure that the vehicle is stable.
Step 2: Find the retaining bolts from the inboard side of the joint. These are the bolts that hold the steel retaining plates, which in turn, retain the knuckle oil seal in place. There may be eight bolts to remove using a box wrench. Unbolt them through a crisscross pattern.
Step 3: Remove the retaining steel retaining plates in order to gain access to the oil seal cover and felt packing. Steering knuckle seals have upper and lower retaining plates that both must be removed. Set them aside first for cleaning later.
Step 4: Slide the oil seal cover as well as the felt packing inward the drive axle housing so that you can reach the steering knuckle seal already.
Step 5: Reach and cut the old seal in half so that you can easily remove it from the joint. Worn and damage seal could already be loose so taking them off will be easier. If it is still attached quite tightly, pry with a screwdriver, cut it, and then discard the old seal.
Step 6: There is no way for the steering knuckle oil seal to be installed into the assembly without having it cut. And so, using a pair of scissors cut the new knuckle seal in one spot, and put it around the axle.
Step 7: Water can find its way into the joint, so it is vital to apply grease to the inside portion of the seal and sealing compound to the mating surface around the seal as well as the retaining plate. This should block any entry point.
Step 8: Fit the oil seal by pressing it into the back of the knuckle support. Remember to position the cut upwards. Some applications would need a seal driver tool in order to securely install the new knuckle seal.
Step 9: Press the felt packing and the oil seal cover against the steering knuckle seal.
Step 10: Secure the oil seal with the upper and lower steel retaining plates by installing the bolts back. Finger-tight first, and then snug fit with a box wrench in a crisscross pattern. Do not over torque.
Disassembling and installing can be difficult and time consuming. Some even end up getting metal to metal grinding noise after installation. Hence, other car owners leave the task to professional mechanics.