99 WJ, Axle seals leaking, keep adding gear oil or fix the problem?

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What would you do? 99 WJ Jeep GC 4.0. Both rear axle seals have been leaky for years but the rate seems to have increased to about a loss of 1 qt/year (10K miles). The oil stops at the diff-side back plate of the rotors but doesn't contaminate the rotors/brake pads. I don't mind putting in the time and work involved in the repair but overall cost of repair is a factor. This vehicle has about 250K, a salvage title from a collision, and a fair market value of about $800. To do the repair, I would need to cut off old wheel bearings and buy new bearings + seals and to use a shop press. I priced the parts from RA, using National brand parts. WJB budget parts are much cheaper. If I can find a shop that is willing to press the bearings for me for $20/bearing, cost would come out to about $100. If I buy my own shop press from HF, cost would be around $170. Or would you just keep adding gear oil yearly? It has 80W-90 right now. Would 85W-140 slow the leak? 4 quarts of Super Tech 80W90 or 85W140 costs about $14. Other than environmental, are there other downsides of just keep adding oil?
 
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Do you plan on keeping the Jeep? That is an excellent price. I would change the seals and have no worries. I like the older Jeeps. Good luck!
 
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You don't need a press to put the bearings on or remove them. A 100w incandescent bulb and a length of pipe the diameter of the inner race is all you need to install it and a whizz wheel and cold chisel to remove it.
 
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They're really easy to do. I've done hundreds working at a Jeep dealer. The only part is you need to be careful not to knock you're sealing surface of the axle shaft. You'd just need bearings seals and the retaining rings. They will eventually leak bad enough to saturate the brake pads, seen many that bad. I assume your park brake shoes are already soaked but that's not a huge concern and we typically just cleaned them up unless you're that worried about your parking brake shoe linings.
 
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If you don't have a slide hammer you can pop the axles out by turning rotor backwards on the axle, threading lug nuts on slightly and using them as a slide hammer.
 

ruhroh

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I plan to keep the vehicle but don't know how much longer it has left. I've had it for the past 16 years since 2003, and I plan to keep driving it until it's perma-dead. But am hesitant to spend much on it because of its low value and other issues that make me question the longevity: the trans has been iffy since the day it was bought (a particular Chevrolet dealer in GA, you guys suck for redlining the car to warm it up faster so that the trans would shift okay during my test drive and cover up the problem), and the engine overheated twice within the past year - once due to a cracked radiator and once due to faulty fan relay. I think the 4.0s of these years when overheated can cause eventual head failure. Plus, small parts of the car are just failing with increasing frequency, sometimes just falling off the car for seemingly no good reason. I'm concerned about the bearings too since they're the originals and still works fine; my experiences with aftermarket wheel bearings or hubs have not been great. I guess I will also worry about my brake pads that'll eventually create a safety issue. The parking brakes are indeed probably affected, but I adjusted them awhile ago and it still holds the car stationary on a flat surface under idle drive power. As long as it passes annual inspections, parking brake condition wouldn't bother me.
Originally Posted by Trav
You don't need a press to put the bearings on or remove them. A 100w incandescent bulb and a length of pipe the diameter of the inner race is all you need to install it and a whizz wheel and cold chisel to remove it.
I thought it was a joke but googling it turned up a few links, thanks. Thanks for all the comments, inputs and hints, everyone.
 

Nick1994

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Keep topping it off. I had mine replaced in my front diff as well as the bearings last summer. Was over $600.
 
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Originally Posted by ruhroh
Originally Posted by Trav
You don't need a press to put the bearings on or remove them. A 100w incandescent bulb and a length of pipe the diameter of the inner race is all you need to install it and a whizz wheel and cold chisel to remove it.
I thought it was a joke but googling it turned up a few links, thanks.
No joke, when I was young and most cars were RWD and had no press at home I did many of them this way, it works fine. Back in that time there were no cheap HF tools and equipment or most of the specialty tools we have today, you made do with what you had. Most specialty stuff was dealer Kent Moore, Klann or Hazet or over the top priced Snap On.
 
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If it is a slow leak, the brakes don't get oiled, I would just top off. There's always a chance you won't fix the leak or the axle shaft itself is grooved.
 
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A groove is no problem, redi sleeve. The problem with letting it go is if it worsens the diff may run dry, then its going to be more than a seal job.
 
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