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ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:43 pm

Hey....been lurking on here awhile, but don't have an all-trac, so haven't had a lot to contribute. But there seem to be some very knowledgeable regulars on here, and from what I understand, the issue I'm having would be similar for an all-trac as well.....so I thought this would be the best place to post.

Car: '91 Celica GT convertible. 5MT, 5SFE. I bought it in rough shape a few months ago from a third party, so I don't know almost anything about the car before I bought it...but it was crazy cheap. I suspect he hit a curb on the driver's side, as it was small enough to not touch the bumper, but sturdy enough to break the wheel, brake rotor, caliper, knuckle, and bend the control arm and tie rod. It also pulled the axle shaft out of the transmission, and hyperextended the inner joint.

I had a rusted out '92 AT180 (was my DD for the last 4ish years) that I was parting out, so I used a lot of parts from it (knuckle, brakes, struts.....), a junkyard control arm with poly bushings, new ball joint, TREs, etc.

I also got a Cardone/Duralast reman CV axle for that corner (my AT180 was an auto trans...). When I replaced everything, I didn't pay much attention to the transmission/axle....everything seemed to go together great. Of course it leaked a lot of gear oil while sitting with the axle out, so I topped it off...but that's it.

A week or so of daily driving it, I notice that it's leaking gear oil from that driver's side axle seal. It occurs to me that that seal probably got trashed.....DOH. So I regularly top off that transmission until I have time to replace it.

A month or so ago, I replaced the seal. Everything went smoothly, rented a slide hammer and correct attachment to pop the shaft out of the transmission, carefully replaced the seal, filled the trans, perfect. But for whatever reason, I happen to grab the inner CV joint cup after putting it back together, and I notice there seems to be quite a bit of play. I can move the cup probably a good inch (not in/out, the snap ring seems to be holding it snug). Weird. Well....it's already put back together, it's seated in the transmission all the way, maybe it's in my head.....take it for a gentle test-drive. It drives great!

I've been driving it to work every day since then, it drives fantastic. I hit ~60mph every day, no vibrations, noises, etc. But it's still leaking from that seal, and I have made a habit of putting the car on ramps, and topping off the transmission every weekend.....YUCK (especially since I don't have a garage)

Cliff Notes: Driver's side axle seal in the transmission leaks, even after seal replaced. I believe due to excessive play within the transmission. Inner CV cup has an inch or so of lateral play even while seated fully in the transmission. But no vibrations, noises or any other symptoms of a problem.

Thoughts? I've never had a transverse FWD transmission apart, but I've seen pictures....it doesn't seem like this would be normal. I've certainly never seen it on any of the cars I've worked on (mostly Subarus....). Am I missing something? What would my best-bet be for a long term repair?
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Last edited by Numbchux on Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:48 pm

Are you sure that's the spot it's leaking from? If the impact was that severe the trans casing might have a small crack somewhere.

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:18 pm

yea, I'm pretty positive. Fresh gear oil can be seen dripping from right there. Also, the only connection from the wheel (where the energy from the impact was focused) to the transmission is the axle. Any force there would have been pulling out and back on the axle. I don't think the case would be the first thing to give, but I am worried about internal damage to the diff....

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sat Jan 03, 2015 11:01 pm

I was frustrated at my attempt to describe the play, so I decided to take a video of it while I was topping off today...


Once I watched the video, I am second-guessing my diagnosis that the axle was fully seated. It looks like it's pulled out a bit. But it does wiggle slightly in/out like a snapring seated comfortably in it's groove....the Timken seal did not have the "skirt" protruding out from it, so that might be why it looks like it's further out than before.

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sun Jan 04, 2015 12:40 am

there are different seals a few diff ones actually. you have the wrong size for the shaft. I had to use a 94 seal to get the right one. Measure your axle input shaft OD to match withthe seal ID. Rockauto has the sizes for reference

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:33 am

I test fitted the seal on the shaft before I put it together and it was a snug fit, but I'll do some measuring to make sure.

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:23 am

With that much radial play, I'd guess it's either not snapped in all the way, or something in the differential is damaged. If the snap ring is seated, you shouldn't be able to pull the axle out by hand. It should require a decent bit of prying to free. If you're concerned the seal isn't sealing properly, get the Toyota seal from the dealer. They're not terribly expensive if I remember correctly.

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:38 pm

Follow-up for anyone interested (now or later)....

Replaced the transmission this weekend. Wow what a difference! I have not had a chance to pull apart the old transmission, but with a "new" one to compare to, I realize now just how bad the old one was. The axle definitely was seated all the way in, and the shaft seal was definitely correct (I used the exact same one on both sides of the "new" transmission). That extra movement had torn up the old seal so badly, that any fluid above that level would leak out in a matter of minutes. I was putting a quart in right before going home from work twice a week just in an attempt to keep things lubricated. I cannot believe that there weren't any other symptoms!!

I used an S51 out of a '99 Camry. When I finished the project today, I put the summer wheels on (17x8 +48 Rota Torques, 15mm spacers in the rear, 215/45r17 Kumho Ecsta ASTs), gave it a bath, and went for a top down cruise/photo-op.

Re: ST184 axle play in transmission/gear oil leak

Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:25 am

congrats on getting her running. If you do a tear down of the tranny I'd love to know what was wrong in there.
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