Squeaks gets a new driveshaft seal and axle bearing
I had been doing some maintenance on Val’s 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee the other day when I noticed a leaking rear axle seal on the passenger side. I had actually smelled gear lube after arriving in SD for thanksgiving, so I pretty much knew what I would find when I looked under the rear of the truck. Jeeps are pretty notorious for this issue, and I had replaced the driver’s side a couple of years ago.
The process is fairly straight forward, but does require a heavy duty press and a torch comes in handy as well. Remove the brake caliper and rotor. You can leave the parking brake shoes in place. Remove the 4 nuts holding the axle shaft in the housing. Once those are out, take a chisel and a hammer and hit the backside of the axle assembly hub outwards to drive the axle out of the housing. I remember the driver’s side being more of a pain to get out a couple of years ago, but this one came out with one whack of the hammer. (Note, the ZJ’s IIRC have a circlip inside the diff that you have to remove first).
You can see the retainer sleeve, bearing, and the edge of the wheel seal that needs to be replaced. The retainer needs to be cut off so the bearing can be removed and the wheel seal. A dremel will take care of the retainer quickly. You only need to cut about half way through the sleeve, and it will actually pop and break the rest of the way due to the pressure. Slide it off. The wheel bearing is just as easy to cut off, just be careful not to cut into the axle. Then you can slide the seal off.
Clean up the axle shaft good before reassembly.
The entire assembly almost back together. The retainer needs to be pushed on slightly further until it is next to the bearing. Here is the kicker…..it takes a big press to put on the wheel bearing and the retainer. Heat both with a torch slightly, then press everything back together. My 12 ton press struggled a little on this, lol. The new wheel seal and retaining plate are the only things that will go on easy. Make sure of the orientation of everything before putting it back on, or you will be buy new bearings, etc. At $160 for the 3 items, you don’t want to mess up, lol.
Make sure to clean up all the old gear lube with some brake clean before reassembly.
I pulled the rear diff cover to inspect everything, before putting it back together and filling with new gear lube.