Toyota Tacoma: How to Change Rear Axle Seals and Differential Fluid
Learn how to replace your axle seals and flush your differential fluid now!
This article applies to the Toyota Tacoma (1996-2015).
The seals in your Toyota Tacoma's axles play a vital role in your truck's performance, as they make sure all moving parts are lubricated just enough, without causing extra friction or allowing fluid to escape. On the other hand, the differential fluid keeps things lubricated and helps the differential keep a low operating temperature, which is crucial for proper performance. Learn how to replace the axle seals and flush your differential's fluid with the help of this article.
- Floor jack and jack stands
- Lug nut wrench
- Ratchet wrench
- 15/16, 12mm, 14mm socket
- Needle nosed pliers
- 10mm open wrench
- Drip pan and shop towels
Step 1 – Jack up the vehicle
First, use the lug nut wrench to partially loosen the rear wheel's lug nuts. Then, make sure to locate the appropriate jacking spots for the rear of your Tacoma, and lift up using a jack. Once it's up in the air, support the vehicle with jack stands.
Step 2 – Prep differential
In order to work smarter and not harder, allow the differential fluid to drain while working to access the axle seals. Follow these steps:
- Use a 15/16 socket and ratchet wrench to undo the differential plug.
- Allow fluid to drain while performing the following steps.
- Use the lug nut wrench to finish taking of the lug nuts, then remove the tires, and lastly the brake drums.
- Use the 12mm socket and ratchet wrench to remove the parking brake inner bolts.
- Use the needle nosed pliers to pop out the parking brake spring.
- Use the 10mm open wrench to remove the brake line in the back of the drum brake.
- Use the 14mm socket and ratchet to remove four bolts that hold the rear brake drum assembly.
- Gently slide out the assembly and shaft in one piece. Set down gently.
Step 3 – Replace axle seals
With the rear brake drum assembly out of the way and the drive shaft out, it's time to replace bearing seals. Follow these steps:
- Locate the bearings and seals.
- Use your hand or needle nosed pliers to pop off the old parts.
- Drain and clean the rest of the leftover fluid.
- Insert new seals (and bearings if included in kit).
- Lastly, once everything is sealed up. Refill with the appropriate differential fluid.
Step 4 – Wrap up
Once the new parts are installed, perform the same steps but in exact reverse order. Follow these steps:
- Remount shaft and brake drum assembly.
- Reinstall hand brake line.
- Slide brake drum components back in.
- Remount brake drum.
- Mount tires and tighten lug nuts by hand.
- Lower vehicle to the ground.
- Torque wheel lug nuts.