Pulling rear axle bearings

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dkad260

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'12 XL Denali,

I need to replace an axle seal with 120K miles, just a light residue on the backing plate but want to change both sides.

My question/concern is, worst case, if the bearings are worn, does that also correlate to a worn axle shaft, especially if the seal is leaking? Can we replace bearings and not the axle if the axle surface is good?

Another concern was when I bought it, the rear pinion seal was weeping a little and I have since changed it. So I'm hoping the diff wasn't low at one point causing the seal to go bad from a worn axle race/surface.

The fluid was full when I bought it, and it was regularly maintained..no leaks that leave drips.

I have read the bearings can be pulled without damaging the ABS tone ring. I plan on picking up this puller since the axle bearing adapters work very well, I'm tired of renting them..lol.




I'm thinking if I'm in there, I may as well replace the tone ring also.

I dont have the special tool to remove it, but would the slide hammer do the trick?

Also, would a seal installer work to reseat the tone ring? I figure I would measure the depth before I pull it.

Thanks for any input.
 

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If you find that the bearing does indeed have play in it, then yes, the axle shaft(s) would likely have wear marks on them since the bearing rides directly on the shaft. Replacements aren't expensive, thankfully.

That said, bearings and axle shafts should be okay at that mileage. Lots of guys running around with 400K miles on them. Are you sure you want to go through the effort with only a light residue on the backing plate? Some light residue is common so I have learned not to sweat it. If it were mine, I'd let that ride and monitor it.

It's also possible that the vent line got clogged after playing in the mud by a PO, resulting in pressurization of the differential when it gets hot, hence the seepage. Might be worth getting a good look at that before you go to all the trouble.
 
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dkad260

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Are you sure you want to go through the effort with only a light residue on the backing plate?
Not really, I guess I could monitor it but it's a decent amount of residue size wise, but not wet-wise.
Replacements aren't expensive, thankfully.
That's good to know.
It's also possible that the vent line got clogged after playing in the mud by a PO
Nah...I doubt it, this was more or less a lightly driven garage queen, very clean underneath and was one of the things that made me more interested in purchasing.
 

swathdiver

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'12 XL Denali,

I need to replace an axle seal with 120K miles, just a light residue on the backing plate but want to change both sides.

My question/concern is, worst case, if the bearings are worn, does that also correlate to a worn axle shaft, especially if the seal is leaking? Can we replace bearings and not the axle if the axle surface is good?

Another concern was when I bought it, the rear pinion seal was weeping a little and I have since changed it. So I'm hoping the diff wasn't low at one point causing the seal to go bad from a worn axle race/surface.

The fluid was full when I bought it, and it was regularly maintained..no leaks that leave drips.

I have read the bearings can be pulled without damaging the ABS tone ring. I plan on picking up this puller since the axle bearing adapters work very well, I'm tired of renting them..lol.




I'm thinking if I'm in there, I may as well replace the tone ring also.

I dont have the special tool to remove it, but would the slide hammer do the trick?

Also, would a seal installer work to reseat the tone ring? I figure I would measure the depth before I pull it.

Thanks for any input.

That kit can be purchased from Harbor Freight for $99.


You need the slide hammer but the rest will not pull the bearing out correctly without destroying the bearing and tone ring. At least to my way of thinking.

I bought the correct GM tool for $200 and then someone showed me one on here, looks like the same thing for $50! Search the forum, I do not remember the brand. The GM tool is J-45857 and the bearing installation tool is J-23690. The seal driver is J-21128.

J-45857 is also designed to remove the VSES tone ring. The VSES installation tool is J-45860 and they are hard to come by at present. Paid a pretty penny for one recently.

If you have a bad bearing or wear on the axle shaft, GM sells a combination seal and bearing that moves it to a new part on the axle shaft so you don't have to replace it.
 
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dkad260

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Thanks, great info....I did look at that set from HF, but the pieces I haven't seen in some other sets other than the Powerbuilt are these flip-out adapters...

Screenshot_20230518-164221_Chrome.jpg

these make holding onto the bearing a bit easier. However iirc, I used them to try to pull a bearing from a TB SS axle which had the tone ring and don't think I could get them to flip over between the ring and the bearing...has been awhile.

That 22 piece set is currently avail for about $125 on Amazon right now which is tempting.

The tool you mentioned, the J45857 has than thin lip on the end and likely just barely fits between the two to not damage the ring like you stated. Does that Kent Moore tool attach to a slide hammer or more of a 3-jaw hub puller that anchors to the axle tube?
 
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dkad260

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The VSES installation tool is J-45860 and they are hard to come by at present

They are definitely pricey...lol.

How does this tool install the tone ring? Does the ring rest against the raised lip of the tool? If so, what sets the depth? Tool flush with axle tube or does the lip stop at where the bearing seats?

If I know the seating depth, I may be able to use a socket.
 

swathdiver

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The tool you mentioned, the J45857 has than thin lip on the end and likely just barely fits between the two to not damage the ring like you stated. Does that Kent Moore tool attach to a slide hammer or more of a 3-jaw hub puller that anchors to the axle tube?

I didn't catch that, cool! The Kent Moor tool attaches to a slide hammer.

They are definitely pricey...lol.

How does this tool install the tone ring? Does the ring rest against the raised lip of the tool? If so, what sets the depth? Tool flush with axle tube or does the lip stop at where the bearing seats?

If I know the seating depth, I may be able to use a socket.

It drives the tone ring in to a certain depth. There is a lip in the center of the tool that stops it at the axle tube. It appears that it was made for another application as well, so I would only be using one side to seat it to the proper depth.

If you want, send me a PM so that I'm reminded to get my phone and measure it for you. Will try to take a picture and upload it.
 
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dkad260

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If you find that the bearing does indeed have play in it, then yes, the axle shaft(s) would likely have wear marks on them since the bearing rides directly on the shaft. Replacements aren't expensive, thankfully.

What are the more trusted axle shafts other than OE? Prices do look good for most, safe bet all are decent but wanted to ask.
 

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