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1997 4Runner - Bent Axle?

1997 Toyota 4Runner

170,000 miles

2x4, 4 Cylinder

One day, after snowboarding at Lake Tahoe, I arrived at my 4Runner and noticed that fluid had pooled up at my left rear tire. I figured it was just snow that had melted and drove it 150 miles back home to Sacramento. The next day I walked into my garage and noticed more fluid had pooled at my left rear tires! Afraid it was brake fluid leaking; I decided not to drive it until I had it checked out.

After work, a friend and I decided to check it out. We checked the master cylinder and the brake fluid level was normal. We then suspected it was gear oil leaking. So I called my mechanic and told him my situation. The mechanic suspected that the axle seal is leaking and suggested to have the seal, bearings, and brake shoes replaced. The few days later, I brought my 4Runner in and a couple hours later I got a call from the mechanic saying that my axle is bent? He told me to come in and check it out. On my lunch break I stopped at the shop and he spun the wheel for me. The tire was wobbling a bit. Then, he tugged, pushed and tried shaking the tire to show me that the bearing has no give. I asked my mechanic, ?How is my axle bent? ? and explained to him that I don?t go off roading or do anything crazy with my 4Runner. It plainly stays on paved roads and hasn?t gotten into any major accidents.

My questions are: Is my axle really bent? And if so, does it really bend on normal wear & tear use? Also, my friend noticed that my left rear tire was wobbling when he followed me to the mechanic shop.

Thoughts suggestions, and/or opinions?

Swap the rear wheels and drive to see if the problem moves to the other side. If the problem stays on the same side, you probably do have a bent axle. If the wobble goes to the other side, you have a bent wheel. Then you have to fix the leak and replace the wheel. Two jobs are sometimes better than one, you hope. Nobody knows why the axle is bent. There are many mistakes that can happen when metal is formed, machined or made.