How to Change the Axle Seal on a 2003 Jeep Liberty

by Eric Grosso

The axle seal holds the differential fluid within the axle and differential. It provides a seal at the end of the axle shaft, allowing the shaft to turn with lubrication from the fluid. The seals can wear over time, allowing fluid to leak out of the ends of the axle, near the wheels. Most novice mechanics can change the axle seal on a 2003 Jeep Liberty themselves, avoiding a costly trip to a service center or dealership.

Step 1

Raise the rear of the vehicle with a a hydraulic vehicle jack. Slide jack stands under the frame rail on each side of the vehicle to support it while changing the axle seal. Loosen and remove the lug nuts with a socket wrench and pull the tire from the lug nut studs.

Step 2

Unscrew the brake caliper mounting bolts and hang the brake caliper with a wire hanger, not allowing the brake hose to support the brake caliper. Unplug the ABS speed sensor. Pull the brake disc from the shaft.

Step 3

Place an engine fluid container under the differential cover. Unscrew the retaining bolts holding the differential cover in place and remove the cover. Allow the fluid to drain into the container and remove the container when the fluid has finished draining.

Step 4

Remove the lock bolt that secures the differential pinion mate shaft in place with a socket wrench.

Step 5

Pull the pinion mate shaft from the differential.

Step 6

Pull the C-lock from the inner end of the shaft with needle-nose pliers, then pull the axle shaft from the end of the axle.

Step 7

Pull the axle seal from the recess using a seal removal tool.

Step 8

Lubricate the axle seal recess with high-temperature grease.

Step 9

Insert the new seal into the recess. Tap the seal into the recess, using a large socket matching the diameter of the seal. The face of the oil seal should be even with the end of the axle housing.

Step 10

Lubricate the end of the seal and axle housing with differential lubricant.

Step 11

Push the axle shaft back into the axle. Install the c-lock onto the inner end of the shaft with needle-nose pliers.

Step 12

Insert the pinion mate shaft into the differential. Lubricate the lock bolt with non-hardening thread locking compound. Install the lock bolt holding the pinion shaft in place with a torque wrench, tightening it to 96 inch-pounds.

Step 13

Scrape the old gasket material from the differential cover and mating surface on the axle with a gasket scraper. Apply a coat of RTV sealant to the differential cover. Place the cover over the differential and install the retaining bolts with a torque wrench. Tighten each bolt to 30 foot-pounds.

Step 14

Remove the check and fill plug on the differential. Add differential lubricant through the hole using a oil syringe. The fluid should be just at the bottom of the check hole at the correct level. Install the check and fill plug when finished adding lubricant.

Step 15

Slide the brake disc back onto the shaft. Plug in the ABS speed sensor. Remove the brake caliper from the wire hanger and place it over the brake disc. Install the caliper mounting bolts with a torque wrench to 18 foot-pounds.

Step 16

Place the tire onto the lug nut studs and install the lug nuts with a torque wrench. Tighten each lug nut to 105 foot-pounds.

Step 17

Remove the jack stands from under the vehicle and lower it with the hydraulic jack.

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