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Old 09-23-2006, 01:24 PM   #1
Wrinkleboi
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Default How To: Axle Seal Replacement (on an STi)

Ok so I just spent quite a while figureing out how to do this myself, and wanted to share some photos and info with all of you in case you are ever in the position to change axle seals. Its really incredibly simple, but of course everything is easy as pie, the 2nd time around.

Lets start by showing a photo of the tools I needed but didnt have originally. I also could not have completed the job if I had not gone and picked these things up.
-2 foot prybar
-universal seal puller


It is important to note that you want to use the least aggressive end of the seal puller (the more curved side) if possible, but I will get into that later.

I also needed:
-7/32 punch
-rubber mallet

Here are the replacement seals:


First I jacked up the front of the car as high as it would go because I knew I was going to try to fit a large prybar underneath. Then I pulled the tranny fluid drain plug and allowed it to 'drain'. It didnt drain all of the fluid since the front of the car was sky high, but it was enough that when working with the axles none was going to splash out at me unexpectedly.

Then I removed my front wheels, and then removed the 2 lower strut bolts that hold my knuckle onto my suspension, and the abs line and brake line. This allowed the hub to pivot out far enough that I would have enough room to slide the axle out of the transmission.

(*Please not that this next step is proper for pulling axles out of an STi transmission and may not apply to other cars which use a different type of axle/transmission attachment.*)
Then I took said prybar and slid it between the transmission housing and the lip of the green cv joint case, and leaned on it pretty hard until the axle popped out of the transmission.

(*I could have detached the control arm or taken the axle out completely, but I chose not to which is why I had to do what I am about to explain. so this next step may not apply to you.*)
My specific axle has an axle stub (pictured below). Once I popped the axle stub out of the transmission, I took a 7/32nds punch and tapped the lock pin out of the joint right before the green cv joint case. This is what holds the female axle end onto the male axle stub. Once this pin is out I was able to slide the axle off of the axle stub and move it to the side. Then I was able to freely pull the axle stub out of the transmission, revealing the axle seal which needed to be removed.

Here is the original seal in place:



(My replacement seals were actually different than the original ones, but that was a complication between using a 2006 STi transmission, 2004 Axle Stubs, and 2003 WRX axles... I will go into those differences in post #2 for those interested, but here I will keep it to just axle seal replacement).

So, now that you have the axle seal exposed, you should get a light in there and reach a finger inside to see what you're working with. There's a very small lip on the seal inside that you need to hook and pull outward. Be careful not to hook the metal lip that is slightly deeper than that because obviously prying on that will get you nowhere.
Its nearly impossible to see what you're doing with the tool in place, but carefully slide the hook inside and feel your way around until you are confident you have it in place to hook the inside lip of the seal, and then use the tool to pry it out. With the tool it was actually quite simple to remove. Before I had the tool and was using a pick set and a flathead screwdriver, it was impossible. So, get the tool... it was only $7.
*It is also very important that you try not to score the inside of the transmission housing that the seal mates up to. For this reason, use the more curved side of your seal puller as it will be less likely to dig outward and damage that outer metal surface. I didn't know this for my first one, but I learned for the second. If you do score the surface, just make sure to put some permatex gasket sealant on the outer portion of your new seal and it should be fine. Be careful not to get any on the inner seal, the axle needs to rotate freely within it.*

Seal has been removed... the wide machines surface is what actually seals and it is important that this is not scored when removing the old seal.



After you have the old seal out, set the new seal in place by hand. I was able to get mine in a good amount of the way like that and it also allowed me to be careful to make sure it was going in straight. Then, use a 32mm socket, (seal press tool--basically the same idea) and a hammer to tap the new seal home. Be careful not to press it in too far, just make it so its flush with the housing and no farther.

New axle seal installed, flush with surface.


Then, I put some grease on the axle stub and carefully slid it past the new seal, into the diff, and tapped it back in with a rubber mallet. Giving it a slight twist as it passes through the seal might help get it past gently.

Axle stub back in transmission, sealing flush with new axle seal.


Then I lined up the hole for the lock pin on the stub and axle and slid them back onto each other, and tapped the pin back into place. Reattached my lower strut bolts, abs line, brake line, and put the wheel back on. Lower the car back down to a level surface, fill the transmission with fluid again, and you're done.

Last edited by Wrinkleboi; 08-22-2010 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 09-23-2006, 01:40 PM   #2
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made a separate thread listing the differences in seals between older and more recent model years... see that here: http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=1097352
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Old 09-23-2006, 01:55 PM   #3
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heh... i unintentionally found a really easy way to pop out the front axles on a 2005 sti.

was installing some springs... had the strut unbolted and pushed down on the hub/control arm piece to allow it to clear...

popped the axles out enough to allow the trans fluid to pour out as soon as i tried to drive it.

that was a fun experience. neighbor comes over.. "umm.. there is a huge puddle of green liquid under your car". me: eek! what?!?

pop axles back in, re-fill, ????, profit!

oh and in case you are wondering, the gear oil was green due to a scotty cocktail lol
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Old 09-23-2006, 07:40 PM   #4
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awsome write up..now i have to do a double take on my jdm 03 tranny, it looked like i had to spin the retainer plates off to get to the oil seals. If i can pull them from outside, that would be so much simpler and maintain the lashing
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Old 09-23-2006, 08:19 PM   #5
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confirmed..on an JDM 03 6sp..i have to pull the retainer plate off and push the oilseal out.. wish the wrinkleboi method would work here..but as always for me, its the complicated route
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastnoypi View Post
confirmed..on an JDM 03 6sp..i have to pull the retainer plate off and push the oilseal out.. wish the wrinkleboi method would work here..but as always for me, its the complicated route
Make sure to count the turns and mark the position of the plate. That's not a retainer plate, but also sets pinion lash and when improperly set can destroy a front differential.

Phil
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Old 07-21-2008, 05:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewtechAutomotive View Post
Make sure to count the turns and mark the position of the plate. That's not a retainer plate, but also sets pinion lash and when improperly set can destroy a front differential.

Phil

can you say whether 05 wrx's need to have this cover pulled to replace an axle seal? This would explain the dealer saying he needs a special tool.

ST 499787000 i think. Just a heads up, I dont know if anyone could use that tool, with the transmission in the car.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:32 PM   #8
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ok heres the question.... my axel stubs are already in the tranny... and that new seal is already in (too far) How do I get it out ???

are the axle stubs removable ??

Last edited by IllNastyImpreza; 10-23-2007 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:08 AM   #9
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yes, you can remove the stubs by sliding somthing like a long bolt in the stubshaft hole and knocking them out with a hammer by hitting the bolt surface. They are only held in by the tension of the circlips
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Old 10-24-2007, 09:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastnoypi View Post
yes, you can remove the stubs by sliding somthing like a long bolt in the stubshaft hole and knocking them out with a hammer by hitting the bolt surface. They are only held in by the tension of the circlips
ok awesome, I'll check this out, thanks !
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Old 10-24-2007, 01:30 AM   #11
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Could you please further explain the JDM process?
I have a Ver7 6speed with a leaking seal.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RallyBlue View Post
Could you please further explain the JDM process?
I have a Ver7 6speed with a leaking seal.
pretty simple, before spinning off the diff covers, mark your diff cover and a corresponding spot on the tranny with some paint. remove the bolt w/keyed plate that keeps the diff cover in place and count the number of turns the cover will spin around the marks until it comes off.
remove the diff cover, knock the seal out with a wooden dowel from the outside -> in. Then replace the seal. Spin the diff cover back on, hopefully the marks will line up and replace the locking bolt. Repeat for the other side.
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastnoypi View Post
pretty simple, before spinning off the diff covers, mark your diff cover and a corresponding spot on the tranny with some paint. remove the bolt w/keyed plate that keeps the diff cover in place and count the number of turns the cover will spin around the marks until it comes off.
remove the diff cover, knock the seal out with a wooden dowel from the outside -> in. Then replace the seal. Spin the diff cover back on, hopefully the marks will line up and replace the locking bolt. Repeat for the other side.
can you guys explain to me how your unscrewing these covers?
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SBW View Post
can you guys explain to me how your unscrewing these covers?
I didn't have to take it off. The 05 LGT tranny uses the seals that press on from the outside.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastnoypi View Post
pretty simple, before spinning off the diff covers, mark your diff cover and a corresponding spot on the tranny with some paint. remove the bolt w/keyed plate that keeps the diff cover in place and count the number of turns the cover will spin around the marks until it comes off.
remove the diff cover, knock the seal out with a wooden dowel from the outside -> in. Then replace the seal. Spin the diff cover back on, hopefully the marks will line up and replace the locking bolt. Repeat for the other side.
well for those who don't have the specialty tool to unscrew it, I used the same pry bar that I popped the axle and stub out with to get leverage against one of the teeth on the driver's side diff cover plate.

The only problem is, while screwing it back on, it could only get it to about 1 tooth space before the marks would align again. It wouldn't go anymore, not that I could muscle it anyway. I put the locking plate on and took it for a quick spin. Im nervous about the hypoid backlash like it says to check in the manual, but I'd rather not pull the transmission again just for this whole axle seal business.
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:56 AM   #16
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ok I just got back from talking with a master tech @ the dealer. And I believe the question I had was for those of us using the axle stubs, do I have to take out the bearing cup to install the new(different) seal ....( on the older style tranny WITH stubs sticking out...you actualy have to remove the bearing cup)

As far as I can tell , for the new style transmissions , with no stubs sticking out.... you can just simply slide in the new(smaller) seals(and the axle stubs w/ circlip) without having to remove any other part of the transmission.

Can anyone verify this ??

ok I still have what looks like the old seals on my 98 2.5rs axles... do I remove these, and install the new seals in the same direction ??



or does this seal mate up against the new seal in the tranny ??

Last edited by IllNastyImpreza; 10-24-2007 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 11-21-2007, 06:39 PM   #17
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in case anyone doesn't have a puller, I just pryed my seals out using one of the prongs of a box-end wrench. I pulled of the soft rubber/circle spring with needle-nose plyers so I could see what I was doing.
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Old 07-17-2008, 04:13 PM   #18
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Bump for question...

I'm replacing my 05 male axle with an earlier female one and 04 sti axle stubs. I've got the new seals but a tech at subaru told me i need a special tool to change the seal...can anyone confirm this on an 05 wrx?
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:46 PM   #19
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if the cup the seal fits into has a lip that prevents you from just pulling out the seal like wrinkleboi did, you'll have to unscrew the diff cover like I had to do and there's a specialty tool for that. That could be what he's referring too.
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:02 AM   #20
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Any idea where to get the special tool or is there an alternative?
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:30 AM   #21
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I dont believe any of the newer STi's require the diff cover to be removed.
The 'special tool' you probably need is the axle seal remover I listed above... with the detailed instructions on how to use it. Give it a shot...
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Old 07-21-2008, 12:48 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkleboi View Post
I dont believe any of the newer STi's require the diff cover to be removed.
The 'special tool' you probably need is the axle seal remover I listed above... with the detailed instructions on how to use it. Give it a shot...
Thanks but I have an 05 WRX not STi...I'll take a look later and if anybody knows for sure, let me know.
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:14 PM   #23
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Can you update your pics? I just ordered the clips/seals/stubs for my 06 tranny going into an 02 and would love to see the process!
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Old 04-13-2011, 11:45 PM   #24
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is this the same with the 2002 wrx models i also have a stub that stays in the transmission when the axls are removed
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:33 PM   #25
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I messed up my right-side seal when pulling out the axle. Thanks for the tips and tools for replacing these, I just bought everything today and should have it installed tomorrow. I love these helpful threads.
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