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Old 02-15-2010, 09:20 PM   #1
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How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

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A 355nation How To presented by
ssgjurista

Project Name
How To Replace Front Differential Seal

Project Description
Replace the output seal where the cv halfshaft mates to the differential.





Skill Level
Moderate

Project Vehicle
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Colorado
Year: 2005
Engine: 3.5L
Power windows: No
Sun Roof: No

Tools Needed

Drain Pan
Prybar
Hammer
Small Flat Tip Screwdriver
Large Flat Tip Screwdriver
Needlenose Pliers
Breaker Bar, Ratchet, 10mm, 15mm, 18mm, 19mm, 21mm Metric Sockets, Extensions
21mm Combination or Box End Wrench
6mm Allen Wrench
Torque Wrench
21mm Crows Foot
Compressed Air
Rags or Shop Towels
Latex Gloves
Jack
Jackstands


Parts Needed
Differential Seal, GM Part Number 15286593, NAPA Part Number 15691
1-2 Quarts (.94 - 1.89 Liters) Synthetic 75W-90 Gear Lube
Brake Cleaner
Dielectric Grease
Blue Loc-Tite or equivalent


Project Time

4 hours or less

Project Cost
$17.50 USD +

NOTES:
A. Work safely at all times.
B. Before starting, apply the parking brake or securely chock the rear wheels.
C. The halfshaft, steering knuckle, hub, and rotor were removed as one assembly, eliminating the possibility of damage to the ABS sensor and/or harness.
D. The steps listed below are for the driver's side. The procedures are the same for the passenger side.



Change Front Diff Output Seal
1. Loosen the wheel nuts.

2. Jack up the driver's side and place a jack stand under the rear corner of the lower control arm.

3. Remove the tire and wheel.

4. Remove the driver's side inner splash shield.



5. Locate the two retainers for the ABS harness connector on the lower rear edge of the inner fender.



6. Squeeze the tabs on each retainer and push them thru the fender towards the engine. Pull the harness connector out from behind the fender and turn it over.





7. Squeeze the release tab and seperate the two harnesses. The lower harness stays attached to the plastic mounting bracket.

8. Follow the lower ABS harness down the control arm and remove it from the plastic retainers. These open with a small flat tip screwdriver. Stop once you reach the steering knuckle. DO NOT REMOVE THE METAL RETAINER AND HARNESS FROM THE KNUCKLE. Carefully remove the harness from the upper arm and let it hang over the front of the rotor out of the way.





9. Remove the two bolts holding the brake caliper and bracket to the steering knuckle. Then zip tie the caliper assembly out of the way. DO NOT LET THE CALIPER HANG BY THE HOSE.







10. Remove the nut on the bottom of the upper ball joint. Hold the stud with the Allen wrench to keep it from turning.



11. Once the nut is off, rap the knuckle around the upper ball joint several times with a hammer to pop the ball joint loose.



12. Lift the upper control arm and free the ball joint stud from the knuckle.



13. Remove the nut holding the tie rod end to the knuckle.





14. Once the nut is off, rap the top of the tie rod stud and knuckle with a hammer to pop the tie rod loose. Pull back on the knuckle enough to remove the tie rod end.

15. To release the halfshaft from the differential, slide a large flat tip screwdriver or prybar between the inner joint and the diff bracket. Apply a quick prying motion to pop the shaft loose.



16. Remove the nuts from the four bolts holding the bottom ball joint to the lower control arm.

17. Support the halfshaft/knuckle/hub/rotor assembly with one hand and remove the four lower ball joint bolts (You may want a friend to help at this point). Carefully pull the assembly from the truck. Place a block of wood under the inner cv joint.









18. Carefully place a lint free rag inside the old seal. Then clean the area around the seal with brake cleaner and an old toothbrush or paintbrush. Remove the rag when finished cleaning.

19. Directly behind the seal is a roller bearing. Carefully insert a large flat tip screwdriver or small prybar behind the seal and in front of the bearing. With the screwdriver resting against the diff bracket, use a quick pushing motion to work the seal loose. A slide hammer with small jaws also works well.



20. With the seal removed wipe the area with a clean rag and make sure it is spotless.



21. Apply a thin film of dielectric (silicone) grease to the outer edge of the seal. Then orient the seal so the air side (black rubber) is facing out.





22. Several methods are available for installing the new seal.
A. You may use a seal installer (pictured below) where the round end sets againt the seal and you hammer on the shaft. These are often available in different sizes in a kit from autoparts stores or tool suppliers.



B. Another option is to use a socket. Pick a size so the socket is just slightly smaller than the outside diameter of the seal. You would then hammer the socket to push the seal into place.

C. I used the old seal to help drive the new one into place. The backside of the old seal has a metal lip. I placed the new seal into position, then placed the old seal against it. I then placed a block of aluminum over the old seal and hammered on it.

The key is to install the seal straight and not cocked at an angle. Which ever method you use, after the first few hammer blows stop and inspect the seal. If it is going in at an angle, place a block of wood or aluminum over the part of the seal angled out and lightly tap it back into alignment.

23. Install the new seal flush with the bore of the differential and not the differential bracket. The front edge of the seal should be approximately 1/16"-3/32" past the bracket.

24. Throughly clean the inner cv joint and shaft end with brake cleaner and brush to remove all traces of dirt. Inspect the unsplined area of the shaft where the seal rides for rust. You may clean this portion of the shaft with some very fine emory cloth or steel wool.



25. Once the inner cv joint and shaft are clean and dry, apply a thin film of synthetic 75W-90 gear lube to the shaft. Also apply gear lube to the lip of the new seal.

26. Install the halfshaft/knuckle/hub/rotor assembly by guiding the splines of the shaft thru the seal and into the internal splines of the diff. At the same time guide the lower ball joint under the lower control arm.

27. While supporting the assembly place the bolts thru the lower control arm and ball joint. Start the nuts by hand.

28. With a quick motion, push the hub and knuckle towards the engine. The inner end of the halfshaft will snap into place into the differential.

29. Tighten the lower ball joint nuts to 47 ft lbs.

30. Place a jack under the lower ball joint and raise the arm and knuckle until you can put the tie rod thru the knuckle. Start the nut by hand and then using the crows foot, torque to 43 ft lbs.

31. Raise/lower the lower control arm as needed to install the upper ball joint stud thru the knuckle and start the nut by hand. Hold the stud with the Allen wrench and snug the nut. Using the crows foot, torque to 55 ft lbs.



32. Apply a drop of Loc-Tite to the threads in the brake caliper and bracket assembly and place the assembly on the steering knuckle. Install the bolts and torque to 30 ft lbs.

33. Route the ABS harness along the upper control arm and place it in the retainers. Plug the harness connector together and place behind the fender. Push the connector retainers thru the fender.

34. Install the splash shield.

35. Remove the jack from under the lower control arm and ball joint. Install the tire/wheel and torque the wheel nuts to 100 ft lbs.

36. Remove the fill plug from the front differential cover and add synthetic 75W-90 gear lube until the fluid level reaches the bottom of the hole. Install the fill plug and torque to 15 ft lbs.

37. Lower the truck and test drive.


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Last edited by ssgjurista; 02-20-2010 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:15 PM   #2
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Nice How to as usual.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:20 PM   #3
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Very nice Scott!

And guys be gentle with your ABS sensor cable!
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:21 PM   #4
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

scott, that is a damn good how-to man, i know a lot of ppl have been waiting for it, i may actually pull mine again and try to fix the slow leak i have.
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:26 PM   #5
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtmsu_02 View Post
scott, that is a damn good how-to man, i know a lot of ppl have been waiting for it, i may actually pull mine again and try to fix the slow leak i have.
here we go again....again
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

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Old 02-20-2010, 10:28 PM   #7
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

This problem is common with the 4x4's. Great write-up!
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:34 PM   #8
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re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Awesome Scott!!
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Old 02-21-2010, 11:04 AM   #9
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

There is no dust shield between the inner cv joint and the seal so its real easy for dirt and grit to collect in that area. I thought maybe a piece of dirt had got sucked in between the shaft and the seal and tore up the sealing lip. But there wasn't any scoring on the shaft and I couldn't tell what made the seal give out.

But like James said, this is a common problem on the 4X4s and the topic comes up often.
Since I was replacing mine, I decide to make a How To for the benefit of others.
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Old 02-22-2010, 12:51 PM   #10
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Damn should have done this when Aaron and I changed mine out a few months ago! I can concur exactly to this "How to" though. Great Job man!
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:03 PM   #11
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

thansk for the write up scott!!!
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Old 04-16-2010, 10:48 PM   #12
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Thanks for the how to! I changed my oil a couple weeks ago and guess what? Passenger side axle seal is leaking on my o6 canyon! Only 44,000 miles on it. I am going to change out the axle seal tomorrow. After reading your post Im sure this will be a sucessful repair.
Thanks again
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:55 AM   #13
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

53k on mine. I have to replace the half shaft too, so I won't be removing mine in one piece.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:26 PM   #14
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

I noticed my '04 passenger side leaking also. I went to NAPA to get the part and they gave me cross ref part #15306. It didn't look right and with numbers not matching up I decided to go to the dealership and get the exact part.

Thanks for the "How To". I will starting the tear down on this tonight. I am not much of a mechanic but this write up has given me the confidence to try this repair.
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Old 07-06-2010, 09:32 PM   #15
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

OK, got it done! Thanks again for the great how to
Took exactly two hours. Got some help from neighbor pulling the assy out and putting it back in.
68,000 mi on my 2004 Colorado.
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Old 11-20-2010, 05:57 PM   #16
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Thanks you for this awesome write up. Everything was explained as they were.
2 things I want everyone to note:

1. Its a good idea to get the the axle shaft bearing as well (mine had dirt in it) its only like $10. More Information for SKF HK4012

2. You might have to use a couple of big chisels to get the shaft out. Mine was rusted and seized on there.
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:59 AM   #17
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

If I need to replace the half shaft (ripped boot), do I need to replace the seals also if they look ok and weren't leaking before?


EDIT: Could I just cut the straps on the old boot and install this? or should I replace the whole shaft for a ripped boot?



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Old 08-24-2011, 10:13 AM   #18
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Quote:
Originally Posted by HK_Titan View Post
If I need to replace the half shaft (ripped boot), do I need to replace the seals also if they look ok and weren't leaking before?


EDIT: Could I just cut the straps on the old boot and install this? or should I replace the whole shaft for a ripped boot?


If you have high mileage, I would while your in there anyways!
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Old 08-24-2011, 10:30 AM   #19
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

Thanks for the write up. I will have to do this at some point in the future.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:21 PM   #20
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Re: How-To: Replace Front Differential Seal

That bearing right behind the seal, I've gotta put a new one in.. Slide hammer? Or does it have to come out from the inside?
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