Leaking Front Differential

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
Hello all,

I have been aware of a small leak on my front differential for a while now. It's on the drivers side output shaft, right behind the tripot so my guess is that it's only the seal. More recently it has been spewing out fluid, requiring it to be checked and added at least every week or so. Totally unacceptable to me, and now I have the time to replace it I have a few questions.

Based on the diagram I need the front drive axle inner shaft seal. I have failed to find the part number so that would be great if someone has that.

Other than that how does one remove the Tripot to get to the seal?

Is it pretty strait forward to remove it? Just use a simple seal puller and use a piece of wood and hammer to punch the new on back in?

Thanks

-Wahugg
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Seal part number is 19257296 (dealer only item, don't bother checking autozone or any of those places as they will sell you the wrong part).

You've got the gist of it. Pull axle, seal, drive new one in, put it all back together.

Some people bash the side of the tripot with a drift and a hefty hammer. I used a prybar between the tripot and the diff housing to pop it free as I didn't like the idea of bashing it (even though I was replacing the CV axle anyway). I used a small prybar to yank the old seal out, but if you have a seal puller that would probably be easier. Just don't damage the bearing behind it or you'll have to replace that too.

You'll need to disconnect the upper ball joint to swing the spindle out of the way I was replacing the hub bearing at the same time so I had removed all that, but even if you aren't going that far still remove all the brake hardware to make it easier. Also it helps to remove the shock/spring assembly as well, otherwise you're very, very limited on how much room you have to swing the hammer to drive the new seal in place. I used a large socket and a small sledge (3-4 pound) to drive the seal in place.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
That is the only thing to have ever gone wrong with any of three 360's I've owned three 360's ago. It was suprisingly cheap to have done. About $200 at the local mom & pop shop (that charges less than half the $120/hour dealer rate)who were the only one's besides the dealer that would touch it. Dropped it off in the A.M. and picked it up after work. I've seen many writeups on this including some that didn't go good and I was happy to pay to have it done.

Good luck
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
Make sure by wiggling the tripot joint that it's JUST the seal that's gone and not the bearing just behind it as well. Then you will need a bearing puller / slide hammer adapter. Another dealer part, IIRC.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
the roadie said:
. Then you will need a bearing puller / slide hammer adapter. Another dealer part, IIRC.

That's the issue I saw on these repairs previously. No access to the bearing puller/slike hammer adapter. The other site had a whole how to on this repair and several horror stories as well.
 

Wyle

Member
Dec 4, 2011
200
Noticed mine leaking a few months ago. Found the diff fill cap to be finger tight and thought that was leaking. Nope. Driver's axle seal.

Wyle said:
I did the driver's side seal of the differential a couple weeks ago. Seal is $15-17 at the dealer (only). Lots of previous reports of parts places offering a seal that doesn't fit. Part number is 19257296 (which replaced 12471618). Took me a little over 3 hours to do, but Tucson is a rust-free environment. Bought a $10 seal puller at Autozone which helped a lot. Also rented a seal install kit, which was basically a set of aluminum disks with a screw-on handle that you can beat on. You also need a 35mm (stock) or 36mm (aftermarket) socket to remove the axle nut. Also "rentable" at parts stores.

Regulator has a CV removal how-to :thumbsup: in the article section for the passenger side. Pretty much the same for the driver side. I did use allen wrenches to check the spacing between the CV tripot and the differential housing before I pulled it. Wanted to make sure I got it back in all the way. Mine was about 8mm.

There are threads here that discuss and link to YouTube videos about "normal" play in the bearing. More than I would have expected. I bought a bearing as well (GM #26053326 @ $11.50), but didn't replace it as the shaft and current bearing looked almost new.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
Thanks for all the replies everyone.

The part numbers are greatly appreciated, hopefully I can write an article to give back if I do this myself.

Now I am a little bit afraid or cautious to proceed with the bearing if it is bad beacuse I am told there are horror stories about changing them. Is there a reason why there is a high problem rate with pulling them? Shouldn't it come right on out with a bearing puller and a couple of good wacks on it?

Thanks so far for all the help.

-Wahugg
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
There is very little stress on that bearing really, so odds are it is fine. It doesn't look like it should be too hard to replace, just don't rotate the adjuster it is pressed into as that sets the front diff preload.
 

Wyle

Member
Dec 4, 2011
200
Sparky said:
There is very little stress on that bearing really, so odds are it is fine. It doesn't look like it should be too hard to replace, just don't rotate the adjuster it is pressed into as that sets the front diff preload.

and the seal has a series of metal tabs on the back that mesh with the adjuster to hold it in place.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Oh yeah, that's right, I remember that. Interestingly enough my original seal looked like it wasn't lined up as the tabs were all mashed completely flat :crazy: I tried to make sure to get mine lined up when I put my new seal in.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
Well all I went out and started the project.

I ended up taking off the axle nut, brake caliper, rotor, hub, and the upper control arm bolt/ bushing bolt (not sure of the proper terminology).

All I did was remove the CV shaft due to time restraints and I don't mind taking my time over two days. It only took me a hour and a half, start to finish removing just the shaft and this is my first time digging around this deep into the suspension. Amazingly easy and strait forward!!

But I did find something else while dealing with the blown seal. The packing grease in the upper boot is milky and white. I'm pretty sure it's from water invasion :frown: but I just want to make sure that the factory grease didn't come that way.

Also what kind of grease should I use when I re-install the shaft?

Thanks so far for all the help! A article will defiantly ensue once everything is done,and here are some pictures for you all to enjoy.

-Wahugg\

View attachment 19175
^All the components I needed removed for ample room. Only took 20min to remove everything, but keep in mind all but one of the the bolts I touched have been removed before so they were not to hard to break loose.

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View attachment 19176
^Shaft still in, but signs of the leak are very apparent.

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View attachment 19177
^Shaft removed, the seal was leaking right in front of my eyes. I also took this time to clean out the tripot.

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View attachment 19178
^Nasty fluid that has water contamination :no:

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View attachment 19179
^I stuffed a few paper towels in the tripot and ziptied a plastic bag around it to keep any debris out. But a friend and myself decided a condom would serve the purpose just as well, plus the benefits of finding a new use for one and getting a kick out of it! :thumbsup:
 

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Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Curious, why did you separate the CV shaft?

Anyway, i think CV grease is a light gray color.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
Sparky said:
Curious, why did you separate the CV shaft?

Anyway, i think CV grease is a light gray color.

I thought that was the proper way to remove it? Cv shaft first, then tripot. That's how it was shown in Regulators passenger CV shaft replacement article so I figured the same would carry over to the drivers side. Plus that's what I understood from all my research and reading.

But if not no big deal for me. I have the piece of mind knowing my front differential is still sealed and not moving at all without the fluid leaking out by keeping the tripot in. Plus I found out about the water invasion, and the potential of a CV shaft going bad in the future.

But thanks for all the help thus far. Tomorrow I am taking the actual seal out.

-Wahugg
 

MichEnvoyGuy

Member
Dec 3, 2011
522
I wouldnt panic too much over the color of the cv grease, thats what mine looks like too, even on the replacement halfshaft.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
MichEnvoyGuy said:
I wouldnt panic too much over the color of the cv grease, thats what mine looks like too, even on the replacement halfshaft.

That's reassuring to know. I did clean a good bit of the gunk out of the tripot thinking it was bad. What grease would you recommend to repack the tripot and boot with?

Thank you again!

-Wahugg\
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Ah I see. In his writeup it was busted off, that's why. I used a prybar behind the tripot to pull it out all in one piece. New CV axles come preassembled and grease packed. But it is no biggie, you can just repack it with grease, put a new clamp on it, and you're good to go.

They make grease specifically for CV joints. I don't know how much is needed for each tripot, but Autozone has 3 oz bags of it for 2 bucks each.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
Finally! I got it all done!

That tripot was the biggest PIA in the world! I spent over an hour banging on a pry bar to try to get it off and I even left a few score marks on the differential. But you know what got it off? A last effort tug with a 6in screw driver made it pop right off. :hissyfit: Urg, that really got me. Then when I went to put it back on, it just slid right in and locked into place with the littlest push. :crazy:

So anyway I did get the seal out :biggrin: View attachment 19239

Saved a $308 bucks from the quote from the local mom and pop shop.:thumbsup:

But I do have a question regarding the cv-boot. I snapped the CV clamp trying to put it back on, and all the stores were closed. I remembered I had another kind of clamp in stock in my shop. We use them on the CV boots for tractors and equipment. It's not your regular clamp. Its made of solid stainless steel, and there is no extra length of the band as it gets tucked under the band it's self. Also I did not use a screwdriver to tighten it. I used the 10mm ratchet to tighten it down all the way.

Thoughts on how it might hold up, or if this band is not recommended?

View attachment 19240

Thanks all!
-Wallace
 

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Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
lol I hate that. Spend all sorts of time and energy trying to get something apart and it won't budge, then you just smack it or pull at it a bit and it comes right apart leaving you thinking WHAT THE HECK! And almost angrier at it now that it came out so easily :crazy:
 

navigator

Member
Dec 3, 2011
504
I just did mine on Tuesday evening, I used about a 2.5 foot 2X2 with that was cut at an like a 60 degree angle on one end. The type that you use on porch railings if you know what I mean. I really hate pounding metal on metal so I figured I would try the 2X instead.

I pulled the oil pan "skid" , put that 2X in there so the angled part could get as deep as possible. I hit the 2X about 2-3 times with a 3lb drilling hammer and it came right off.

Hopefully it will come off on the disconnect side so easy. I want to pull the disconnect and re-grease and inspect the internals since there are so many failures.
 

tblazerdude

Member
Dec 4, 2011
321
When you were prying the tripot joint did your entire front differential move a bit? Like 1\4 inch? Mine was pretty easy to make move.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
tblazerdude said:
When you were prying the tripot joint did your entire front differential move a bit? Like 1\4 inch? Mine was pretty easy to make move.

Well the differential shouldn't move separate from the engine since they are bolted together, but it's normal if the engine and diff move together, as if the motor were torquing up if it were running. All that is happening is the motor is moving on its rubber motor mounts as you apply pressure to try to pop out the tripot.

Good luck!

-Wahugg
 

tblazerdude

Member
Dec 4, 2011
321
Could the excessive movement be a sign I need to replace motor mounts? I think it moves more than it should and easier then it should.
 

Wahugg

Original poster
Member
Dec 4, 2011
87
It could be, but I doubt it. I can move my engine by giving it some hefty pushes, equivalent of the force I needed to pop out the tripot. A good, and probably one of the only signs your motor mounts are going out is a 10hz rattle/ noise when your car is idling in drive with your foot on the brake.

Your mounts should be just fine. Now if it were moving inches, then you might have more of a problem :wink:

-Wahugg
 

anthonyl79

Member
Jul 15, 2012
127
Colorado
Wahugg said:
Finally! I got it all done!

That tripot was the biggest PIA in the world! I spent over an hour banging on a pry bar to try to get it off and I even left a few score marks on the differential. But you know what got it off? A last effort tug with a 6in screw driver made it pop right off. :hissyfit: Urg, that really got me. Then when I went to put it back on, it just slid right in and locked into place with the littlest push. :crazy:

Just a small tip when trying to remove the CV shaft try rotating slightly. You want to get the retainer ring so the cut is at the top. Same when installing the CV shaft, put the cut of the retainer in the up position. I have seen people get all Rambo on them with the slits down and end up banging on the CV shaft and bending the retainer ring.
 

conan77

Member
Jun 10, 2013
1
I am having the same problem. I have never dug that deep into repairs so I'm a bit apprehensive to do it. I have to start somewhere though! I initially thought it was an oil leak but looks like it's from behind the tripot at the same spot as the picture in this thread. This is going to show exactly how new I am but it's differencial fluid that's leaking right? My oil was a bit low too and I've never had any issues with low oil so it's got me puzzled. Can someone help a budding diy guy out!? Barney style!
 

turbo300d

Member
Jun 21, 2013
1
Did this job over the weekend on my 06 Envoy. Took me about 3 hours. Sparky's part number was correct at the dealer. about 16 bucks. I bought 2 quarts of Mobil 1 75W-90 synthetic gear lube from Advanced Auto for 20 bucks.

Tripot came out fairly easy with a prybar up through the bottom and a slight tap with a hammer. I unbolted the lower ball joint to move the spindle out of the way. Hardest part for me was getting the old seal out. Ended up using a pair of channel locks to pry it out.

I thought the diff holds 2 quarts of oil. mine only took a little over 1 after I drained it. I need to check it again after driving it to see if it went down.

Found it a little strange that this seal went bad as we never take the car off-road. It does have 120k on the clock....

Thanks for the help guys!
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
turbo300d said:
I thought the diff holds 2 quarts of oil. mine only took a little over 1 after I drained it.
Welcome. Just over 1 liter/quart is right. I think some early version of the Owner's Manual had the wrong number printed. The rear is 2 quarts.
Found it a little strange that this seal went bad as we never take the car off-road.
The CV shafts of this platform always spin, even in 2WD mode. So the seal is always in use. Offroad dust and sand can challenge them, but you should exercise the system regularly for the rare times you might need it.
 

Tofer76

Member
Dec 8, 2011
148
i will be tackling this before winter im sure . i just changed the oil and checked the front diff and it was wayyy low.
it leaks bad and sprays all back onto the frame on the drivers side.
took a half a qt to top off.

my question is when detaching the steering rack(?) do i pop the upper ball joint or somewhere else?
 

tblazerdude

Member
Dec 4, 2011
321
its tight, but removing just the upper control arm from the ball joint will allow the cv shaft to come out. try to put the ball joint back in the same place it was, as it effects your alignment.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
tblazerdude said:
...try to put the ball joint back in the same place it was, as it effects your alignment.
I'm not sure the shaft can go back in anything but the right position, because the shaft has a groove that the pinch bolt goes in and fixes the height. Am I missing something?
 

tblazerdude

Member
Dec 4, 2011
321
mine has ability to be a few mm higher or lower if i placed it there. I was just saying "make note of it" or be mindful of the upper control arms relation to the ball joint before disassembling.
 

Tofer76

Member
Dec 8, 2011
148
Sparky said:
Oh yeah, that's right, I remember that. Interestingly enough my original seal looked like it wasn't lined up as the tabs were all mashed completely flat :crazy: I tried to make sure to get mine lined up when I put my new seal in.

don't know if you noticed but when my old seal came out it too had all but 3 tabs bent over so I counted and there are more tabs on the seal than there is in the adjuster where they go ???
seal has 14 "fingers" adjuster has 12 slots!
kinda odd but I called the gm dealer and made sure I had the right seal and yep right one
so most of the tabs will get bent over when you put it in
dunno why they did that but ....

oh and I got my seal on ebay for 10 bucks and a qt of amsoil was 15
so a 25dollar and 4 hr fix :thumbsup:
 

Dannyv11

Member
Aug 26, 2013
2
I just finished this in my garage the other day... It was pretty easy after reading all the posts here. While I was at it, I finished a few 100k services: rear different fluid, coolant, and fuel cleaner. Now we're ready to go! Love my 04 EXT LT!
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Nice write up. :thumbsup: I noticed my LF seal leaking last month and now it's really dripping good, keeps the LCA nice and coated.

Seems pretty simple after the axle shaft comes out but what about the bearing, how much movement should it have? I may tackle this next weekend.
 

navigator

Member
Dec 3, 2011
504
Dannyv11 said:
I just finished this in my garage the other day... It was pretty easy after reading all the posts here. While I was at it, I finished a few 100k services: rear different fluid, coolant, and fuel cleaner. Now we're ready to go! Love my 04 EXT LT!

If you haven't shown your Xfercase any love in the last 50k, it is time as well.
 

Dannyv11

Member
Aug 26, 2013
2
navigator said:
If you haven't shown your Xfercase any love in the last 50k, it is time as well.

Oh she got lovin', a few months back. I just had a few leftovers to do this past week.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Tofer76 said:
don't know if you noticed but when my old seal came out it too had all but 3 tabs bent over so I counted and there are more tabs on the seal than there is in the adjuster where they go ???
seal has 14 "fingers" adjuster has 12 slots!
kinda odd but I called the gm dealer and made sure I had the right seal and yep right one
so most of the tabs will get bent over when you put it in
dunno why they did that but ....

I'm in the process of changing mine and found this in the manual......
 

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