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1998 Subaru Forester - Front Driver Axle/Transmission Seal Replacement

How difficult is it to replace a front axel seal? I have a friend who is a mechanic who is gonig to replace it. When I called the local Subaru delearship up to buy the seal - they went on a rant about how I should bring the car into them to have it replaced because it’s super difficult and that most mechanics won’t replace an axle seal.

I’m mostly answering b/c no one else has and there are some folks very experienced w/ Subies who might come thru, so I’ll respond just to bump it.

I am basically just a DIY home mechanic. But I have replaced axles and seals and it is not super difficult to do. I have only done this on front wheel drive cars, however. So I am open to not being privy to any extra complications with 4 or all wheel drive.

Is it possible that they thought you were a non-mechanic who was going to try it yourself? For someone who doesn’t work on cars at all I would say it is difficult, including the necessity of certain kinds of specialized front end tools.

But if your friend is a professional mechanic (ASE certification would be nice)I see no reason not to trust him/her. If you’re worried just ask whether or not s/he’s done these before & have a look at the procedure as outlined in a repair manual.

It’s not that difficult in my opinion but there are several caveats.

  1. Many of these seals are directional; meaning there’s a left and right side. Make sure you have the correct one.

  2. You may notice in this pic what appears to be a toothed wheel on the transmission where the axle shaft attaches.

If this wheel is unscrewed to change the seal you MUST mark it and count the number of turns it takes to remove it and put it back in the same exact manner.
This wheel is what adjusts the differential side play and if this is not done correctly a can of worms will be opened. If at all possible try to remove the seal only.

  1. Check the gear oil, even if this is an automatic transmission. The hypoid oil is not the same as the ATF and hypoid oil is what will leak out from a faulty seal.

The rant is a part person. They typically are not mechanics so of course it would be difficult for them.

I would not worry much about them. I use a serious filter when listening to anything stated by a dealer or chain shop.

Thank you to everyone who responded. I’m going to pass that info onto my friend. Yeah - I’m wondering if they thought I was trying to do the work myself. My friend is an experienced mechanic - just got worried there was some secret Subaru method of replacing an axle seal after the guy went on a rant.