Dana 44 Axle Seals

Preventative maintenance is important on anything you own. As an elevator mechanic by trade, I know the importance of preventative maintenance to ensure the public are safe when using the elevators I work on. After gearing and locking my axles, I noticed the original axle seals needed to be changed. Some may be ok with putting some RTV on the old seals and sliding the axles back in the tube; s ince everything in the center section is new (spool, ring gear, pinion, bearings and seals), I wasn’t going to cheap out on the axle shaft seals and bearings.

I ordered two bearing sets from Yukon that came with new seals, Timken bearings and safety collars. There were cheaper kits, but I wanted American made bearings and the Yukon kit provided that with their USA made Timken bearings. Some of the reviews on Amazon stated the kit was wrong for their vehicle, but they worked perfectly on my shafts. The bearings that came with the kit were the same part numbers that were on my original bearings.

To start the job, I pulled my old drums from the axle. While replacing the axle seals I was also going to replace the rear shoes and drums so I just tossed the drums into the scrap pile.

I didn’t want to remove the driveshaft from the rear, so I put the front end on jack stands and put the transfer case into neutral. This allowed me to use the front tires to rotate the rear shafts so I could remove the nuts from the shaft retainer plate. With the nuts off the retainer plate, the shaft simply slid out of the housing with ease.

I was lucky this time since the outer bearing race could be slid out of the axle housing with little force. With the outer race out, it was time to cut the safety collar and bearings off the axle shaft. There’s debate on how to remove the old bearings from the shafts, but I find using a drimel tool is the best and quickest way to do it without damaging the actual shaft. When I cut the safety collar, I usually cut down 90% of the way through the collar and use a hardened chisel to crack the rest of the way through the collar.

Once the safety collar is removed, I repeated the same process with the bearing. I cut the bearing cage all the way through, then peeled the cage off the inner bearing. Once the bearings and cage were removed, I cut the inner race 90% of the way through and chiseled the race until it cracked the rest of the way. Once I got the inner race off, the seal and retainer plate slid right off.

With the bearing and safety collar off, I wanted to clean off the mating surfaces for the new bearings; I used some 250 grit Emory cloth and sanded around the bearing contact surface.

With the mating surfaces cleaned up, I put a light film of grease where the new seal will sit and slid the retainer plate and the new seal on. Next, I oriented the bearing in the proper position and dropped it on along with the new safety collar. With everything stacked in the proper order, I stuck the shaft, with everything else, in the press and pressed the bearings on until they came to a full stop on the shaft.

Before sliding the axle shaft back into the axle tube, I used a little Loctite 515 sealant on the outside edge of the seal. This gives a little insurance that no gear oil will leak on the outside of the seal.

With the sealant on, I slid the shaft into the axle tube and rotated the shaft until I could feel the splines on the shaft line up with the splines on the spool in the center section. Once the bearing was in the housing, I used the retainer plate to push the new seal into the axle tube. To do this without damaging the seal, I started the 4 nuts that hold the retainer plate and tighten them in a cross pattern, a little at a time, until I could fully torque them down. To finish the job, I replaced the shoes and drums.

I won’t go into detail on how to do drum brakes, but if you need help doing them, ChrisFix on YouTube has a very detailed video on how to do it. Once the brakes were adjusted properly, I repeated everything on the passenger side. Before bolting the wheels back on, I let the sealant dry for 24 hours. After 24 hours I put the tires back on and went for a long test drive. I let the Jeep sit overnight and checked in the morning for any signs of gear oil leaking out.