What is an axle seal leak? How can I detect a leak?

The axle seal connects the axle to the transmission and keeps the transmission fluid from leaking. Depending on the size of the leak, it may be okay to drive with a leaking axle seal but you probably won’t get very far.

The most common cause of a leaking axle seal is improper axle installation or removal but the axle seal can also wear out over time. If you’re concerned that your axle seal might be leaking, here are a few things to look out for:

Oil stains on your driveway.

Puddles of oil on your driveway are usually one of the earliest signs of an axle seal leak. As the seal tears and cracks, oil tends to seep through and leak out, pooling underneath your car. These stains will be particularly noticeable after you’ve been parked for a few hours, as the fluid has more time to drip down from your car and collect on the ground.

Strange fluid behind the wheel.

Drops of reddish-brown fluid behind the left front wheel, where the driveshaft connects to the transmission are another symptom. An axle seal leaks more during highway driving, so the oil drops on the driveway may not always be present. As more fluid is leaked out, the transmission fluid level drops and the transmission will start slipping. If not caught in time, the transmission may even get permanently damaged.

Getting under the car to check this out is a hassle but your mechanic might point it out when your car is up on the lift, or highlight it in the repair pictures they send you.

Dampness around the seal.

A slight axle seal leak may only appear as a damp area around the seal. Like the oil stains we mentioned earlier, as the leak gets more severe it’s more likely to cause fluid to leak onto the ground. Leaking fluid can also find its way onto the exhaust system, resulting in a burning smell when the exhaust is warm. The leak can also contaminate your brake shoes, causing funny noises and affecting your braking ability.

Transmission slipping as you are driving on the highway.

You might not see spots on your driveway, as the axle seal tends to leak more at high speeds. If the seal does not get fixed soon, you may cause permanent damage to the transmission.

At V&F

Our expert mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3-year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. If you need transmission maintenance or repair, call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.

 

Written by Nicole Palange

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