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Replacing Trans Final Drive Seals

From: Tom Young
Model/Type:  All Vanagons

Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 22:11:18 -0700
Sender: Vanagon Mailing List
From: Tom Young
Subject: Procedure: Replacing Trans Final Drive Seals

Since I just did this procedure today and it's fresh in my mind, I thought I'd write it up just to give someone a shot of finding it in the archives.

The "special" tools I used on this job, and that I'd advise you have before attempting it are:

  • External circlip pliers
  • 3" puller seal remover (that wicked-looking double-hooked tool)
  • a LARGE washer slightly bigger that the oil seal
  • an even LARGER washer, slightly smaller than the flange of the drive flange
  • a long 10mm x 1.5 bolt, and nut.

The drive flange oil seals live in the transmission, inboard of the drive flanges themselves. If you remove an inner CV joint and find its grease has obviously been contaminated with transmission oil, you're a candidate for this procedure.

The Clymer manual doesn't mention the R & R of the drive flange oil seals. The Haynes manual does cover this, but only as part of a complete disassembly / assembly of the transmission. Bentley covers the removal and installation of the seals in its usual laconic fashion.

I had the engine out and the drive shafts removed when I did this, and I shudder to think of doing the job with the engine in place and the drive shafts wired up out of the way. Of course I was lying under the car in the driveway and if you happen to have a hydraulic lift and can stand under the car, then be my guest.

When you look at the drive flange you should see a black / blue / whatever plastic or rubber covered metal cap in the center of the flange. You first need to remove this cap, which you can only do by destroying it, so put these caps on your shopping list. Gouge at it with a screwdriver or awl until it pops out of the flange.

Next, you have to remove a circlip that rides in a groove of the side gear (that's that little "axle" end you're looking at.) If you've always managed to remove these things with a pair of screwdrivers or something of that ilk, more power to you, but I found I had a tough enough time using my circlip pliers. The circlip's down in that grove so it's not exactly easy to get at and it's a STRONG circlip. I'd advise buying those circlip pliers.

After the circlip is out remove the spring washer which is sitting under the circlip.

You're now ready to remove the drive flange itself.

After all these years of not owning a puller and making do with pry bars and other makeshift items, I finally broke down and bought one of those $4.99 three inch pullers to remove the shaft. The plastic lock ring is right under the drive shaft, so I couldn't find a good place to pry where I wasn't in danger of damaging the lock ring.

Screw a short 10mm x 1.5 bolt into the end of the side gear, put the point of the puller on the head of the bolt, put the two arms of the puller on the drive shaft flange, and turn the bolt of the puller; the drive shaft should come right off.

Next, remove the two Phillips head screws that hold the plastic lock ring in place, and remove the lock ring.

The seal is now exposed, ready to be removed in the usual manner of these things, that is, one way or the other you destroy it to remove it. I know screwdrivers and other traditional levers are often used to remove oil seals off all sorts, and I suspect you can use these tools here, too. Lying on my back under the transmission I was glad I had my seal puller, and it was STILL a b*tch to get the seal out; it's in there TIGHT! The adjusting ring that you're prying on to get the seal out seems to be made of fairly soft material, and I noticed that the head of the seal puller made some small "dents" in the ring. Try and find little pieces of wood or something to put under the adjusting ring.

With the seal out, clean everything up and oil the new seal. The new seal can be tapped in place like most seals are, but since the end of the side gear will take a 10mm x 1.5 bolt I used a bolt, a nut, a LARGE washer and a pipe coupling to "press" the seal into place. Slick!!

Reassembly is, as they say, the reverse of assembly.

The drive flange needs to be pressed back on the side gear; I used the real large washer, a pipe coupling, the 10mm nut and the 10mm x 1.5 bolt screwed into the end of the side gear to get the flange back into place.

The spring washer prevents the circlip from fully seating into the grove in the end of the side gear, so use a screwdriver and hammer, a piece of pipe of the appropriate size, or some other tool to make sure the circlip is fully seated in the grove. I have a pair of needle nose vice grip pliers that I used to squeeze the circlip back into place.

Finally, put your new cap back into place in the end of the drive flange. If there's anything special about getting these plugs seated I wouldn't know, since my FLAPS gave me the wrong caps!! I'll go get the right ones tomorrow.
Tom Young

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