Read this transfer case front output shaft seal replacement guide and learn how it’s performed. How much does it cost? And how to tell if a transfer case seal needs replacement?
How long should a transfer case seal last?
Transfer cases may last quite a long but transfer case seals are prone to wear out based on your driving style and terrain conditions. Therefore, it’s good to check your transfer case seal regularly.
Can you drive with a leaking transmission seal?
Yes, driving your vehicle with a leaking transmission seal is possible but if you won’t fix the issue soon, you’ll start noticing severe problems while driving the vehicle. All in all, driving with a leaking transmission seal is safe but it could lead you to expensive repairs.
How often should shaft seals be replaced?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-word answer to this question but a shaft seal needs to be replaced after every eight to ten years.
An oil leak, which seems like a minor problem from the outside, can lead to terrible damage. That’s the very reason why manufacturers pay that much attention to the quality and durability of transfer case front output shaft seals.
This seal ensures that not even a single drop of oil leaks from the front output shaft otherwise the oil leakage could not only ruin the transfer case but various other internal damages may occur due to a low level of fluid.
So if you have some questions in your mind regarding transfer case front output shaft seal replacement like how it’s changed, how to figure out that a replacement is needed, etc. we’ve got you covered!
What is the transfer case front output shaft seal?
Nowadays, Modern vehicles are coming with a luxurious feature with which you can switch from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive high and low in a breath. In some vehicles, this feature is operated manually whereas, in some other high-end automobiles, the task of switching between driving modes is done automatically.
It is done automatically when the computer senses low wheel traction due to either unfavorable road or weather conditions. The main component which activates this action is called the transfer case. On the other hand, the part which delivers power and torque to the drive axle is called the output shaft.
To connect both of these components firmly and securely together, a seal is located in between them. As your car ages, this seal can wear out, break, or dry up. When that happens, the seal needs to be replaced immediately so the fluid from either side won’t leak or mix up.
Where a transfer case output shaft seal is located?
As the name implies, the transfer case output shaft seal is located on the four-wheel drive’s transfer case. Inside this transfer case, plenty of chain drives and gear reductions work together which collectively contribute to offering you the feature of switching from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, low mode, and high mode.
Do You Need Replacement?
Here are some obvious tell-tale signs that your transfer case front output shaft needs an immediate replacement;
Problem in shifting gears
As mentioned before, the transfer case seal keeps the fluid inside the transmission and transfer case system. This fluid enables you to shift smoothly and properly between driving modes. Whenever the seal breaks, the fluid escapes, leading to a reduction in its volume. Resultantly, you face difficulty shifting transmission gears.
So if you feel like your transmission gears are not shifting between modes smoothly, you should bring your car to the repair shop as soon as possible. Sometimes, the early diagnosis saves you from hefty replacement expenses.
Jumping in and out of modes
Due to low fluid levels, your vehicle may jump in and out of driving modes automatically. This may happen even when you don’t activate the switch. However, this problem might also appear due to other broken components of the transfer case but most of the time, it happens due to broken or leaked seals.
To confirm your doubt about the leaked seal, all you need to do is to spot the oil leakage. Fluid generally leaks out of your vehicle when it’s being driven so if you notice any transmission fluid on your driveway or under the vehicle, consider replacing the seal.
Unusual Grinding Noises
When there’s not enough fluid circulating through the transmission system, the metallic parts will grind more harshly with each other which in turn causes unusual grinding noises. So, if such noises come out of the transfer case, it’s time to bring your vehicle for a quick repair service.
How to Replace?
Before we move to answer our main query, let us first notice that the task of replacing the transfer case front output shaft seal requires expert intervention and advanced tools. So, work on this project yourself only when you’re confident that you’ve all the right expertise and equipment.
Collect the materials
First of all, you need to gather some essentials before starting to work on the project so you won’t have to face any setbacks down the road.
The materials required for replacing the front output shaft seal are an extension set, breaker bar, grease pencil, hydraulic jack, medium-sized hammer, extension set, jack stands, large pipe wrench, seal puller, large socket, puller kit, socket set, towels or rags, wheel chocks, and a torque wrench.
Jack up your vehicle from the front
After gathering all the essentials, you need to lift your vehicle’s front and set the jack stand as per the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions. Make sure to position the jack stand correctly so you can access the required area easily.
Remember that you should always set the jack stand on a solid surface. Otherwise, you might have suffered from insane injuries. Likewise, always put the car’s weight on the jack stand and not on the jack.
Position wheel chocks
After lifting the front of your vehicle on the jack stand, place wheel chocks behind both rear wheels. This, in turn, will reduce the chances of your vehicle rolling backward or forward or slipping off the jack stand.
Remove bolts to remove the yoke and driveshaft
On opening the transfer case, you’ll notice that there are so many connectors to connect transmission and drivelines. The main connectors are the yoke, driveshaft, and flange. So before you remove the bolts to unmount these connectors, memorize their original positions so you won’t have to face any problems while reinstalling them. It’s better to mark their position.
Once done, remove the driveshaft and flange respectively but make sure not to remove the bearing caps. Otherwise, these caps might fall out and get damaged. Lastly, remove the yoke by unmounting its nuts with the pipe wrench, socket, and drive bearer. In the end, pull out the yoke with a puller.
Remove the seal and clean the area
eal, you’ll need to get an oil seal puller. However, remember not to pull it too aggressively. Just pull little by little so you won’t damage the surrounding area. Once removed the seal, clean the shaft area where the seal was attached. For this purpose, you can use any commonly used solvents like acetone, alcohol, brake clean, etc.
Whatever sealing cleaner you are using, make sure that it stays only on the outside and doesn’t seep into the transfer case. Otherwise, this solvent can mix with the system fluid and this contamination can damage your car’s internal parts.
Install the new seal
Once clean the shaft surface, install the new seal on the same area. Be careful with the placement and stick it to the exact point. Once installed, wait for a few minutes until the seal sticks firmly to the shaft.
Once it holds itself in its place, get the hammer and tap it gently on the seal in a criss-cross manner.
Reinstall the unmounted parts
Start with reinstalling the yoke. For this, lubricate the yoke and yoke area thoroughly with grease. Then install the yoke on the marked area. Once installed, tighten up the bolts to their corresponding specification with a pipe wrench. Likewise, reinstall the driveshaft on the marked area and make the bolts tight as per their specification.
After replacing your worn-out seal with a new one and reinstalling all the parts in the right place, check the fluid level in the transmission system. Chances are the fluid level would be lower than the standard level due to leakage. If that’s the case, refill the lubricant.
In the end, put your vehicle down to the jack stand and remove the wheel chocks and you are good to resume your daily road hustles.
Transfer case front output shaft seal replacement cost
The cost of replacing a transfer case front output shaft seal may vary based on your location, car model & category, and repair shop from where you are getting services. However, the average replacement cost is $225-$270.
For example, the shaft seal replacement cost for the 2011 Ford Expedition is $445 whereas that for a 2007 jeep liberty is $192. Since the parts don’t cost that much (as they are priced somewhere between $50-$60) you can save much by doing the project yourself.
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