How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals - Chevrolet Colorado & GMC Canyon Forum
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:22 PM   #1
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How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

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The community here at 355nation.net urges you to please use caution and seek professional assistance when performing modifications to your vehicle. Before attempting any modification it is advised that you refer to your Colorado or Canyon service manual or contact a certified mechanic as not all GMT355 trucks are the same. The staff and the associated members are in no way responsible for any damages, injuries or other harm inflicted to your vehicle or yourself which may result in attempting these modifications. The posts and content presented on this site reflect in no way the views of 355nation.net or it’s ownership.




A 355nation How To presented by
Andrew

Project Name
How To Replace Rear Axle Seals

Project Description
Removal and Installation of Rear Axle Seals

Skill Level
Easy-Moderate

Project Vehicle
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Colorado
Year: 2004
Engine: 3.5L
Power windows: No
Sun Roof: No

Tools Needed
13mm socket - differential cover bolts
19mm socket - wheel nuts
Pry bar (slotted screwdriver will do) & small hammer
1/2 drive ratchet - Diff fill plug

8mm wrench
Small magnetic pen or fine dental pick, - removing c-clips
Block of wood - To install seals
Rags
Container to catch oil


Project Time
1 hour or less in ideal working conditions, (lift, air tools)

Project Cost
Axle seals - $8 x2
Gear oil - $13 x2
Total = $42


Symptoms
Grease on inside of rims, rear braking may be effected especially emergency brake.

Procedure

I started by first reading this how-to change your diff fluid by burns. It covers 50% of what you are about to do. How To: Change your rear dif fluid - Chevrolet Colorado & GMC Canyon Forum



I then went out and purchased 2 containers of 75/90 gear oil and 2 rear axle seals. Only one of my seals needed replacing but this is one of those things if you are there, do them both.




Start off by jacking up your truck and if you are like me and doing it in a driveway make sure you chalk your front wheels. Loosen your lugs when the tires are still just touching the ground and then jack the truck up fully. Make sure you support your truck with jack stands and aren't relying fully on your jack. The truck can take the fall from that height but you can't if you're underneath it.



Remove your brake drums, they should simply just slide off, if there very worn and rusted you may have to persuade them off with a soft mallet. make sure to keep them on the side of the truck they came off of.


Inspect seals, my passenger side was leaking the smallest amount but enough to fail a safety test,



Use your 13mm socket and remove the diff cover bolts, make sure you catch pan is in place




Once the majority of the oil has drained out spin the axles until you can see the pinion shaft and pinion shaft lock screw, You have to put the truck in neutral to spin the axles,




To remove the pinion shaft lock screw use your 8mm wrench and another small one so that you can get some leverage if needed,



You can't fully remove the pinion shaft lock screw but you can slide it out enough that you can remove the pinion shaft,



Once the pinion shaft is out just simply push in on the axles. Just for clarification to push in on axles go to the side of your truck and literally push the axle in towards the differential, they will slide roughly 1/2". This will expose the c-clip, you see pictured here on the left side



You may have to spin the c-clip around in order to pull it out.



This is where a pen magnet comes in real handy,



Once the c-clips are removed just simply pull the axle out. Again make sure to keep them on the respective side of the vehicle. I like to do one side at a time so that the same parts always go back on the same side.



Now use your pry-bar and hammer and knock the old seal out,



Make sure you have a rag handy as a bit of gear oil will come out,



Once it is removed then clean the area and remove any access grease. Grab your seal, hammer and piece of wood and tap it into place. Just be careful that it's going in evenly,



I like to pre-lube the seal with some gear oil, almost like you would with an oil filter



Once you've done both sides everything gets cleaned and put back together. Slide the axles back in, but be careful not to let them rest on the seal or tear the seal. Reinstall the c-clips, then give the axles a small tug to hide the C-Clips again so that you can slide the pinion shaft back into place.


Inspect your pinion shaft, if it looks like this you may want to consider replacing it. If it does have wear like this also inspect your spider gears.




One thing I was disappointed to see with this differential is you can't fully remove the pinion shaft lock screw easily.
Which is unfortunate as it's a good idea to inspect your pinion shaft lock screw. With 7.5 diffs it just simply slides out but it's a bit more involved to remove it on these larger diffs. If this screw breaks when you are trying to remove it you are in for a lot more work then you anticipated. If it looks like this replace it


So pinion shaft and lock screw reinstalled, I believe the torque on the lock screw is only 20 ft-lbs, believe me you don't want to break this screw,



Clean your gasket surfaces,



Inspect your magnetic pick up,




Clean your gasket, photo courtesy of burns. If your gasket is ruined you can use rtv instead.





Cover bolted back on,



Fill it back up with gear oil, for those that don't know just keep pouring it in until it starts to come out. Once this is done check for leaks.



Reinstall drums. I like to put anti-seize on the mating surface and lugs. Chances are I will have them off again so why not make it easier for yourself.



Wheels backs on and torqued, then down the road you go,




Just remember take your time and do it right.

Hope this helps a few people out there.

Andrew

Last edited by Andrew_S; 03-25-2012 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 03-23-2012, 02:28 PM   #2
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Nice how to! Thanks for contributing.
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Old 03-23-2012, 02:41 PM   #3
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

That is awsome I have to do this as well. Also the bearings I think I can hear some bearing whinning in the rear. Thanks though you make it look easy!
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:03 PM   #4
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Nice, now what about the seal at the ujoint? Mine has been leaking for quite some time.
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Old 03-23-2012, 03:34 PM   #5
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

That was a good write-up, you covered step-by-step really well.
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Old 03-23-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Nice write-up!

At what mileage? or do you just replace if axle starts to leak?

Same with bearings? what mileage do you replace them?
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:43 PM   #7
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Nice write up! Very detailed. Also great quality pictures. Very easy to identify the parts you are talking about.

The only things I would consider adding are a reminder to use caution when inserting the axle back into the housing. The splines are sharp and could tear the new seal if you aren't cautious. I may be a little crazy too, but purchasing 1 extra seal will save some cursing, just in case something goes bad during the installation. Then you have a spare on hand.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:50 PM   #8
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Quote:
Originally Posted by 08Canyon View Post
I may be a little crazy too, but purchasing 1 extra seal will save some cursing, just in case something goes bad during the installation. Then you have a spare on hand.
Cant tell you how many times thats happended! Hate having to make multiple trips to the parts house for the same part I fed up lol
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:48 PM   #9
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Thank guys, I hope it comes in handy for a few. It's always nice to see how the job is done before getting started.


NUFSAIDnh, I could of swore I read a great pinion seal how-to on here not long ago but for the life of me I can't find it now. Here is a good youtube tutorial. It's for a fullsize but the steps and procedure are almost identical. Doing the pinion seal is a real nice and easy job.



nickbaldwin86, I've always replaced the seals when they start to leak. It's a seal so if it's still sealing it's fine imo. If you are going on a real long road trip with a truck with 150k+ miles well it might be a good idea to do, but that's your call.

Thanks for the suggestion 08Canyon, I edited it.

Andrew



edit*

I mentioned a few times about the pinion shaft lock screw, and not breaking it. I thought I would show a couple quick pictures of what happens if it is or does break. warning, The steps below only apply if you break or discover your pinion shaft lock screw is broken,

A couple years ago I helped my dad do his '83 s10 and when we pulled the diff cover we found this laying on the magnet,


what it's suppose to look like,



So now your pinion shaft cannot come unlocked, there is no easy way to do this.


You've got a couple of options at this point. You can try and use some sort of easy out, but space is very tight in this area. We tried to spin the remainder of the threads out with a dentist pick but it was far to tight to budge it. So the solution was the dremel.





Once you've uncovered the lock screw you can carefully punch the shaft out,


Then we had to spin out the remainder of the lock screw with some pliers,


Now you have steel shavings everywhere, so you have you spread the center section, and remove the carrier for cleaning. While doing this you have to be extremely careful to keep the shims on the respective sides.




you also have to buy a replacement pinion shaft,


and then put everything back together,

I wouldn't wish the above on anyone,

Last edited by Andrew_S; 03-25-2012 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:36 AM   #10
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Thanks I am at 128k and these are the things I am starting to think of replacing... great writeups man
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:55 PM   #11
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Unhappy Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

help!!!!! i cant get the pinon shaft lock bolt out and i rounded the head i can get a new one but i gotta get the old one out 06 gmc canyon 2.8 2 wheel drive
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:00 PM   #12
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

well i got my axle seals done was a simple job but the only thing is i rounded the head of the pinon lock bolt. i ordered a new bolt then got the rounded one loose. pulled the pin and did the first seal things got turned and one of the side gears (one of the two the pinon shaft goes thru) fell out. managed to get it lined back up. did the second seal and now i have it back together with the original rounded pinon bolt. i was able to get it tightened should i just leave it because it seems to be hard to get that little bugger out. i did order a new one just trying to figure out if its worth the work
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Old 05-01-2013, 04:51 PM   #13
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

If the bolt is tight, having it rounded off will not make it magically loosen up. If you plan to never work on it again it sounds like you just made it somebody elses problem.

If you want to work on it, you'll have to find a way to either add flats or cut a groove in it so you can get a screwdriver on it. If you can do that, an impact screwdriver may back the bolt off.

Then, purchase a 6-pt socket set.

If you have the know how I would suggest fixing it. How would you feel if you planned to do the work to a used vehicle, only to find out that the 'idiot' before you assembled it this way. Or...if that person takes it to a shop for a simple repair job then gets charged more labor because the mechanic had to spend time removing the bolt. Just sayin'..... Sometimes Karma is a bad thing.

Last edited by 08Canyon; 05-01-2013 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:34 PM   #14
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

I agree with 08. Better to take care of this now while it's convenient as opposed to the unknown future.
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Old 05-02-2013, 03:27 PM   #15
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Thanx for the replies guys. I got the bolt replaced,loosened one of the bearing caps to get it out. I've come across to many used cars that have been worked on by idiots. anyways got the tourqe specs off allata at my brother's shop its all done and back together more importantly its done right. I was taught better then to leave that bolt only do.the job if your willing to put your name on it

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Old 05-02-2013, 04:26 PM   #16
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Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Awesome. The next owner will love you.
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Old 07-13-2013, 10:37 AM   #17
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Question Re: How To: Replace Rear Axle Seals

Andrew, what's the purpose of the "fixture" with the turnbuckle at the bottom in pix 8 & 9? Looks like some sort of spreader, but what exactly is it spreading? I'm about to do the seal replacement on my truck, and I want to be prepared just in case my locking screw breaks
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