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1968-2013 Full Size Vans Econolines. E150, E250, E350, E450 and E550

Pinion seal and Diff cover leak

 
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Old 05-09-2019, 01:10 PM
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Pinion seal and Diff cover leak

While completing other repairs on my van, I noticed the differential cover has oil oozing out of the seams. It's not a fast leak as no oil is on the ground. The axel going into the front of the differential has oil leaking on the shaft. I am not sure where the leak is coming from. I will check the fluid level tonight and take a photograph of the driveline going into the pinion gear.

If I do this repair at home, what kind of puller works to remove the pinion seal flange? Can the nut holding the flange be removed with a breaker bar?

I found a local shop that will install seals on both sides for $200. Need to find out if that includes the fluid. He said it's a 45-minute repair.

 
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Old 05-10-2019, 04:03 AM
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If that $200 covers parts, fluid and labor and you trust the shop I'd let them do it. While they're at it have them check the complete axle housing for any other service that might be needed.

This could be one of those super simple jobs and easy for a DIY but it could also run into other issues too. The quoted cost seems fair if only to avoid problems that might have the van down a few days or longer.
 
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by JWA View Post
If that $200 covers parts, fluid and labor and you trust the shop I'd let them do it. While they're at it have them check the complete axle housing for any other service that might be needed.

This could be one of those super simple jobs and easy for a DIY but it could also run into other issues too. The quoted cost seems fair if only to avoid problems that might have the van down a few days or longer.
The shop I called specializes in rear ends. Price includes everything. Considering that I was paying $150 for every DIY oil change, this is a bargain.

However, it's a task that I would like to learn how to do. Have you pulled the pinion seal flange? If so, what tool did you use?

I sent the photo to my engineer buddy who owns 2 E350s and he said as long as the leak is slow and there is plenty of fluid inside the differential, there is no need for immediate action. I pulled the fill plug off last night and it's down about 3/4'-1". There is no fluid dripping on the ground. I will spray with brake cleaner and wipe the oil off.
 
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by coolfeet View Post
The shop I called specializes in rear ends. Price includes everything. Considering that I was paying $150 for every DIY oil change, this is a bargain.

However, it's a task that I would like to learn how to do. Have you pulled the pinion seal flange? If so, what tool did you use?
That does seem to be a fair price. I've never done this but anytime the pinion gear, the nut or seals are involved I'm not prone to DIY. Throw in what has to be a rather large puller and I'm completely out!


I'd clean and wipe the housing clean,see what develops over the next few weeks.

Do let us know what you do if this becomes a DIY job--TIA.
 
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:40 AM
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I watched several YouTube videos on this procedure. Once the driveline is removed from the equation, the pinion seal and flange is quite small. I am not talking about a full rebuild.

I will wipe down the driveline to pinion gear area as well as the diff cover and see how much leaks over the summer. If I were to spend my time plugging every small leak, I would never get the van out of park!
 
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:03 PM
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Doesn't removing the flange on the pinion (to change the seal) remove the preload from the pinion?
If so, how does it get reset properly?
Is this an issue on the Dana 60?
I can't recall if the cans use the crushable tube to set pinion preload or not.

Does this make sense or am I confused again?
 
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:15 PM
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All the videos that I have watched preload the pinion bearing nut by counting the threads and feeling the wiggle. This includes FordTechMakuloco. Does not sound scientific.

 
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Old 05-11-2019, 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by coolfeet View Post
All the videos that I have watched preload the pinion bearing nut by counting the threads and feeling the wiggle. This includes FordTechMakuloco. Does not sound scientific.
From what I've always been told pinion preload is far more complex than counting threads and wiggiing bits---that just can NOT be all that accurate. It requires measuring clearances, sometimes painting the ring and pinion gear so the contact pattern can be established. I'm a bit shocked FordTechMakuloco would suggest the count and wiggle thing. Could be he knows something I don't (not a shock given his expertise ) and whatever method he suggests does work perfectly.

I've not yet watched the video so maybe he goes into more depth than I imagine---could be 100% logical and useful.

So I just watched the video and I'm still skeptical the count n' wiggle idea is wise. Proper pinion pre-load is a bit too important if longevity is the goal. I love this guys videos most times, this one not so much, Just my humble opinion mind you---YMMV.
 
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:03 AM
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I recall having the pinion on my Dodge Ram 3500.
I dread ever having to do it myself as I too think it is quite involved.
That being said, the person who replaced the seal n my Dodge is in my opinion and others, the most experienced Dodge mech they had.
He replaced the seal never taking any measurements other than torque on the impact gun.
NEVER an issue afterwards.
I chalk it up to years of experience.
 
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:46 AM
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The gentlemen doing the repair on my van specializes in rear ends. It's like doing an oil change for him. Of course, it helps when you have a lift and all the tools.
 
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:20 PM
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I wish I had a speacialest aroundhere. I'd have them install the TracLok I have sitting here.
 
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:00 PM
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I had the pinion seal and differential seal replaced today for $200. It was worth having it done as the guy had all the special tools. in and out in 45 minutes.
 
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Old 05-18-2019, 07:07 AM
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Excellent!
 
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Old Yesterday, 05:41 AM
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I hope this little anecdote speaks to pinion seal pre-loading........

I ran this process of counting threads past a trusted and very experience on-road service mechanic who tends a large fleet of potato chip delivery vans (mostly all E-Series chassis) along with a few big trucks: Peterbilt, Freightliner etc etc. Initially he said that's a well known and mostly accepted practice--it NEVER fails when done correctly.

His son changed a pinion seal, used the thread counting method only to have the differential fail within the next 1K miles. My friend warrantied repaired the damage at his expense knowing what had caused the failure. IMHO while thread counting might be acceptable when done correctly---that's the key phrase---establishing the pinion pre-load isn't something I want left to chance.

That's just me mind you and if the installer has enough experience using that method AND its a warrantied repair including towing back to his shop that's great. If not I'd pay a bit more to have to done to manufacturer's specs.

Glad things worked out and you're back on the road CoolFeet!
 
 


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