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I want to thank this thread. I just replaced both my passenger rear and driver rear seals along with the cv axels. My breather was rusted shut, I took it off and grinded it flat to prep for tapping. The rust and gunk was plugging the whole length of the breather piece.

Also of note, I only removed the suspension braces to allow the cv axels to come down. Along with removing the big bolt on the back of the diff and the 4 on the front that hold the diff to the braces. Check out my time lapse of removing the differential. https://www.youtube.com/embed/L5F1L86IjvY

Nissan Titans have be same breather and problem. I found that many of them were tapping fittings instead to run a hose to a high place on the vehicle. That is what I did. Just waiting to buy a check valve, it's to keep a vacuum in the diff while allowing pressure out.

TIPS

- If tapping or drilling, use a few strong magnets to keep the metal shavings from falling in.
I even drilled and tapped my differential upside down.

Enjoy the pics.
 

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Canibe, that is what Toyota should have done in the first place by putting the breather cap some place else that will not rust and plug up. Great idea relocating the breather valve and tapping it.
 

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My '05 at 145,000 miles is leaking on the right side rear differential (axle?)

1) can I top off the fluid in the meantime while finding time to get it repaired? If so, what fluid? and can I overfill?

2) If only the right seal needs to be done, should i only request a mechanic does the right, and the breather, or all the seals?

I don't have the time to tackle the project myself and I'm new to AWD and drivetrain work!
 

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Rear Diff Axle Seals and Breather valve

I am about to tackle this project and need some additional advice from the good folks on this forum:

1. Access to the CV Axles and seals look decent. The exhaust and two frame and suspension cross-braces looks like they need to be dropped/removed. But does the driveshaft really need to go down?

2. Relocating the diff breather is a great idea for two reasons. (1) Prevents water incursion into the diff during unintended high water crossings or even splash. (2) reduce the chance for extreme rust/corrosion resulting in blockage of the air vent, which in turn, causes expansion in the diff and high likelihood of axle seal corruption. I've already relocated my diff breather on my Tacoma. My question: Is the current breather screwed in or press fit into the differential? The post above leads me to believe it is press-fit because @canibe had to tap the diff.

Thanks in advance for your replies
 

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My '05 at 145,000 miles is leaking on the right side rear differential (axle?)

1) can I top off the fluid in the meantime while finding time to get it repaired? If so, what fluid? and can I overfill?

2) If only the right seal needs to be done, should i only request a mechanic does the right, and the breather, or all the seals?

I don't have the time to tackle the project myself and I'm new to AWD and drivetrain work!
1) Sure you can. Check the level of fluid by unscrewing the top fill plug on the diff. It is a metric hex. Be prepared for it to strip. Once off, it should be filled to level with the bottom of the hole. (Just dripping out) You can find what fluid to use in the back of your owners manual.

2) I would get them both done but that might be over kill. The breather HAS to be fixed, or you will just blow the seals again. The breather is pressed in so you may be able to pull it out. I recommend a check vavle on the breather line, because there is a vacuum hose attached to the diff.
 

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I am about to tackle this project and need some additional advice from the good folks on this forum:

1. Access to the CV Axles and seals look ...

2. Relocating the diff breather is a great ...

Thanks in advance for your replies
1) I think you would appreciate at least having the diff side of the shaft disconnected. Gives you more wiggle room.

2) After inspecting my plug that was removed, it appears to be pressed in. The replacement breather from Toyota also looks like a pressed in type. You probably could pry it out.

Glad to hear my post has been helping some fellow RAV4 owners.
 

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Hi. New user here and I was looking into this post on Changing Rear Differential Axle Seals/Removing Rear Differential Guide. It looks like a great guide to complete a job that I need to do on my '07, but I cannot see the images. The images just appear with a message to "update your account to enable 3rd party hosting." Anyone know what I need to do here? Thanks the help :)
 

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Just curious to see if anyone has removed and install a new vent cap while the rear differential is still mounted? So according to canibe the vent cap is pressed in but the top of the rear differential does seem to have a limited amount of space to work with.

So far I found procedures removing the vent cap but it does not answer my question whether the rear differential need to be lowered.
 

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haha @DL175
Have fun getting your hand in there, let alone see or use a tool up there. The very reason your changing your breather (rust, corrosion) will have most definitely seized the press-in breather to the differential.

Maybe you could unbold everything and let I hang from the CV axles and do the work, but I would just remove the whole thing. Plus, your seals are probably leaking too? Changing them under the car would be a pain.
 

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haha @DL175
Have fun getting your hand in there, let alone see or use a tool up there. The very reason your changing your breather (rust, corrosion) will have most definitely seized the press-in breather to the differential.

Maybe you could unbold everything and let I hang from the CV axles and do the work, but I would just remove the whole thing. Plus, your seals are probably leaking too? Changing them under the car would be a pain.
Nothing leaking but wondering since how anyone can check since you can't stick your head and actually see it. So not going to try and take the vent cap off if it is that difficult. Will check next year when the weather is warmer if I can even reach up there to feel if it feels rusted.

So when putting the vent cap on do you hammer it on or just shove it in without any force?
 

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Just curious to see if anyone has removed and install a new vent cap while the rear differential is still mounted? So according to canibe the vent cap is pressed in but the top of the rear differential does seem to have a limited amount of space to work with.

So far I found procedures removing the vent cap but it does not answer my question whether the rear differential need to be lowered.
I just did mine a month ago with a friend toyota mechanic in my garage.. The diff does have to be lowered but not removed. You then take a sharp chisel or screwdriver and get under the lip to lift it out. On install , use a socket large enough to rest on the breather lip only and pry it down back into the hole. You must support the diff to do this.
My seals weren't shot yet,but I decided to check on this breather vent after meeting this guy ,who once I told him what I drove , he immediately said "did you have to change your seals yet" ? :) Very common I guess. My vent was seized solid too.....
 

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I just did mine a month ago with a friend toyota mechanic in my garage.. The diff does have to be lowered but not removed. You then take a sharp chisel or screwdriver and get under the lip to lift it out. On install , use a socket large enough to rest on the breather lip only and pry it down back into the hole. You must support the diff to do this.
My seals weren't shot yet,but I decided to check on this breather vent after meeting this guy ,who once I told him what I drove , he immediately said "did you have to change your seals yet" ? :) Very common I guess. My vent was seized solid too.....
How did you put it on ? Did you hammer it down or just twist on or what? How can you tell if the vent was seized solid? Lastly how hard is it to lower the differential ... a few bolts ?
 

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I have no idea of how would press it in. I wouldn’t hammer the vent cap, but maybe find a socket that could go around the cap and on top the base. I imagine you would have to press it in straight or else you’d run into trouble.
 

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How did you put it on ? Did you hammer it down or just twist on or what? How can you tell if the vent was seized solid? Lastly how hard is it to lower the differential ... a few bolts ?
We used a socket big enough to press on the lip of the vent. By supporting the diff you can then use a large pry bar on the socket and pres it in. It goes in fairly tight. Use some WD40 on it to help it slide in.

If you can't turn the top part, it's seized. Try the new one and you will see.

Remove the 4 large bolts that support the diff and lower it a little to access the vent. It's way in the back. After you remove the drive shaft first of course. (loosen the center driveshaft support, loosen the 4 bolts holding the shaft on , then lower it out of the way.
 

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I want to thank this thread. I just replaced both my passenger rear and driver rear seals along with the cv axels. My breather was rusted shut, I took it off and grinded it flat to prep for tapping. The rust and gunk was plugging the whole length of the breather piece.

- If tapping or drilling, use a few strong magnets to keep the metal shavings from falling in.
I even drilled and tapped my differential upside down.
Canibe: Thanks for telling us about your breather modification. A few questions:

1. Is that a brass elbow threaded in to the top of the diff?
2. What size did you use? And what size hose? (I live way out in the boondocks, so I need to order everything before starting).
3. Where did you locate the top of the breather hose?
4. Did you put the check valve in the top of the hose, or keep it close to the diff? What kind of check valve? If the check valve isn't at the top of the hose, what did you put at the top?
5. Also ... are you sure you want to create a vacuum in the differential? Most factory vent caps aren't one-way ... just splash guards that aren't air-tight.

Anything else you can share would be much appreciated.
 

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Canibe: Thanks for telling us about your breather modification. A few questions:

1. Is that a brass elbow threaded in to the top of the diff?
2. What size did you use? And what size hose? (I live way out in the boondocks, so I need to order everything before starting).
3. Where did you locate the top of the breather hose?
4. Did you put the check valve in the top of the hose, or keep it close to the diff? What kind of check valve? If the check valve isn't at the top of the hose, what did you put at the top?
5. Also ... are you sure you want to create a vacuum in the differential? Most factory vent caps aren't one-way ... just splash guards that aren't air-tight.

Anything else you can share would be much appreciated.
1. It was a threaded elbow with a hose nipple adapter.
2. Just looked back at my receipts and found it!!!!! 5/16 ID x 1/8 Male Pipe (Napa part number 339-5A)
3. I replaced the original breather cap with this elbow, and positioned the elbow output towards the rear of the vehicle.
4. I put a check valve at the end of the hose allowing pressure to escape, but nothing to come in. The check valve was just a 1/8 check valve for fuel and I placed the end of the hose with the check valve in the drivers rear taillight cavity.
5. I believe there is a vacuum line already running into the diff, but the check valve was just my OCD and not wanting anything to get in the dif. (lol not like I would submerge the rear end up to the tail light)

A strong magnet on the shaft of the tap helps shavings not to fall into the diff.
 

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Ok so my rear differential axle seals were leaking and in reading here this seems common enough of an issue but there was a surprising lack of information on how to do the work so I figured I would write up a guide as there are some tricks a guy can use to make the job much easier. First of all I am going to say I am not a mechanic and I know I didn't do everything 100% correctly but hopefully this will be enough information to help some people considering doing the work. Doing this work saved me $650 on labour so was well worth it imo.
Just wanted to say thanks for posting this, it was a big help and provided a lot of very good information. 6 years later, and still there is a surprising lack of information on how to do the work!

I'm going to add some of my own tips, and a few pics as well. I have a 2011 rav4 4 cylinder.
Rear diff = rear differential

I had same issue as you did for the "official" mounting bolts for the rear diff. The one near the gas tank will end up hitting the gas tank, it is physically impossible to remove that bolt. Believe me I tried. So yes you have to remove the 2 bolts that connect that support directly to the rear diff.

Back/Rear differential bolt: A 6 point, 3/8 drive 17mm shallow socket works great (with a 3/8 drive breaker bar and hammer) I ended up buying one at advanced auto. I have a half inch breaker bar with a 17mm impact short socket, but there just wasn't enough room to fit it up in there. Unless you drill a hole like mentioned above.

On loosening up the, what toyota calls "drive shaft". cv axle, whatever you want to call them, sticking in on the sides of the rear diff. And leaking.

149480


To take the picture I had to use my hand to hold things in place. But when I popped each side free, no hand was there. I used a tire iron (harbor freight, under $10) with a scrap of wood . Then I put tension on the tire iron with one hand, and hit the tire iron with a 3 lb hammer, about 1/3 of way up from the tip there. Hit about as hard as if you were nailing in a nail on a 2x4, and probably 20 hits or so it worked right out and popped free.

It's a little confusing because those joints actually have some movement, and you may be unsure if they are loose like I was. Trust me, once you pop one loose you will have zero doubts. Here is a pick of one that has been loosened, and how you know:
149481


I am underneath looking up. The tire is on the left. What I have circled in red is the edge of the "dust cap" part of the shaft. Normally when installed it's on the right side of what I circled in green. So if you see the cap still on the right, keep trying. Do not hit the dust cap edge when trying. In my pic above, with my hand and block of wood see where the tire iron edge is? Also that one is already popped free if you look closely. Also, once it's popped free it will probably leak some gear oil, as mine is above.

Once you have them loosened, then you can start lowering the rear diff. I did this job myself by the way, and used a car jack to raise and lower it.

The electrical connector and vacuum line I found to be a pain, it's very hard to see up there and you don't want to break anything. You almost have to do this by feel! As mentioned, the electrical connector has to be unplugged, and then also disconnected from the mounting bracket on the rear diff.

To unplug the connector, the release is on top, push down on it with your finger, and you should be able to pull the plug out. Here is the connector part of the rear diff. That is the top, the part I circled in red is where you push down. The connector that unplugs is male.
149482


Now, to get the connector out of the bracket, I used a couple of screwdrivers to squeeze in the bottom sides, where the red arrows are. Then it just pops up and out:
149488


The vacuum tube "just" pulls off. It took quite of bit of twisting in my case, and I even used a screwdriver to push it off while pulling. Here is a what it looks like after you pull it off:
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Disconnected electrical and vacuum lines:
149491


Like was mentioned, you need to lower the diff some to get access to these. I almost lowered mine too much, I didn't realize the electrical connector had to be unplugged from the bracket as well.

So this was procedure so far:
  • loosen rear diff bolts
  • loosed drive axles
  • remove rear diff bolts
  • lower rear diff until access to electrical connectors/vacuum and unplug
Now you can lower the rear diff even more, to give you enough room to disconnect the drive axles. Here is a shot of a drive axle completely out to give you an idea of what you are dealing with:
149492


You'll probably do what I did, lower some, try and remove, lower some, try and remove.

Ok, here is a shot of my rusted up breather valve:
149493


I actually swiped it a couple of time with a wire brush and then remembered that I wanted to get a pic. Look at all the crud! Western NY, rustbelt and snowbelt does that to you. Plus 9 year old vehicle. I took one look at that rusted on breather valve and had a panic moment, was worried that thing was never coming off! It came right off though, I used a metal chisel below and really just tapped my way around until I could get a pry bar or even the chisel itself to pry it up and out. (after cleaning with wire brush first). Much easier than expected.
149494


I know the op just cleaned his, but it's a cheap part and what I found when removed it was half full of crud anyway, so I'm glad I removed it. By the way the seals I had actually looked ok, even though leaking from both sides, but I replaced them anyway. I used a pry bar just like OP to remove mine, worked fine.

Ok I have to continue this in the next thread, I ran out of picture room.
 

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