Differential leaking on 1995 Ford Explorer

Hey y'all,
I have a 1995 Ford Explorer XLT (2x4) with 120,000 miles on it. I took it to the Ford service dept. to have it looked over.
They say that there is a leak in the differential gasket and want to charge $250 to replace the gasket.
My question was "how much is it leaking". The service tech didn't give me a straight answer. My question to you is, if it's a slow leak, can I just check the differential fluid level from time to time and top it off, or should I pay the $250 to have it fixed?
I don't want to put too much money into it because I'll only be keeping it another year or two.
How do I check the diffential fluid level? I assume there is just a bolt (plug) that I unscrew, and then what?
Thanks, Mike
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Where is it leaking on the differential?
There are four potential leak locations:
The rear cover, easy to fix, remove the cover, clean and seal with a tube of silicone, there is NO gasket.
The pinion seal, more difficult, the nut must be properly torqued and a puller is probably required to remove the yolk.
The axle seals, most difficult. The recover has to be removed to remove the axle retaining clips and an axle puller may be required.
The axle seals can contaminate the rear brakes, BAD!
There is a plug on the front of the center housing near the top, the fluid should come to the bottom of the hole with the plug removed.
Tim

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I have a 1997 Explorer, 4WD. I sent in for routine maintenance and the dealer told me about the front differential leak. They said the repair charge will be $331. Can someone briefly explain to me about the impact of this problem (such as it will damage the engine? or ???)? Is this a serious proble that has to be fixed right away? Thanks. $331 is not cheap. If it has to be done, I will get it done.
Thanks.
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There are several places that the front diff can leak from... Pinion seal, drive axle seals, case parting lines.... Therefore, I can't speak for the veracity of the repair quote. Left unattended, the unit could run dry..... Even without engaging 4WD, there can be significant damage from the lack of lube. There is a chance that the resulting cost may make engine replacement look like a walk in the park.
Cars are a lot like women... leave 'em hurtin' long enough and they get real mean.

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wrote:

If it's a small leak (like a couple drops every place you park for a day) there is no reason it needs to be fixed, just have the level checked at each oil change and add lube as needed. If it's a large leak then it would need to be fixed.
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Are we talking front or rear, here?
If it's the cover on the rear, charge should be somewhere close to .7 or an hour..... $4.50ish for a gasket and whatever for something less than three litres of oil....
I mostly wprk on SuperDuties so I'd have to refresh my memory on what it takes to do the front....
Jim Warman snipped-for-privacy@telsuplanet.net

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Hi Jim,
He said 2x4, so no front differential... Something tells me that his leak is not from the cover, but elsewhere: pinion or axle seals. Hard to imagine anybody asking $250 to reseal the cover.

an
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Thanx... I missed the 2WD part.... flat rate reading at it's best. There must be more to the tale.... pinion seal is just over an hour...... both axles seals 'bout 1.5 (includes the cover gasket).... our door rate is just shy of $80CA....
Jim Warman snipped-for-privacy@telusplanet.net

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On my 95 4wd, there WAS a gasket on the rear dif. I also used red silicone in addition to the gasket. I was starting to hear a little bit of noise from it, so I changed the fluid and added the limited slip additive. All quiet after the change, and limited slip works fine. Fluid level was fine, but a little dirty at 90k. Still fine at 110k now. I have the front diff, but it has no drain plugs, or means to change the fluid easily.
Ted

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Hey Ted,
Is the limited slip on 2x4 models, or only 4x4's? If it's on 2x4's how can I tell if mine is a limited slip?
Thanks, Mike

the
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What does it say under "Axle" on the driver's door sticker?
D1 - 3.27 limited slip D2 - 4.10 limited slip D4 - 3.73 limited slip
41 - 3.27 conventional 42 - 4.10 conventional 45 - 3.55 conventional 46 - 3.73 conventional
On Tue, 10 Feb 2004 00:17:34 GMT, "flakrat"

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I just picked up my Explorer from the dealership. The inspection report says "Pinion Seal", so is that a do it yourself repair, or a $250 dealership repair?

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If you are so inclined, you can fix this yourself, as it is easy. If I recall, on my 93 Explorer, there was no gasket on the differential cover. Instead, they now use silicone gasket sealer. No more paper or cork gaskets.!
Take off the several bolts holding on the differential cover. Use a pan to catch the lube. Discard the lube. Check the cover (it is thin sheet metal) for straightness, using a straight edge. Pound or beat on it with a hammer until it is straight, or get a straght one from a junk yard or buy a new one from the dealer. Place a good amount of silicone gasket sealer on both the axle housing and the differential cover and reassemble. Do not overtighten the diff cover, or it will warp and leak again. Allow the silicone gasket material to dry (a couple of hours) and refill the diff through the removable plug, until the lube just starts to run out of the differential access or inspection hole. Replace the plug and you are done.
I estimate an hour to an hour and a half for this job. $250 sounds high to me. $150 would be more reasonable, plus a new or used differential cover if needed (most can be straightened). Lube is another 20 dollars or so, at most.
If it is a small leak, you could ignore it as you suggest. Check and refill the diff as I mentioned above. Clean the diff assemble and put an old pizza box under the diff. You will soon know how fast the leak is.
Steve

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That's a good idea to clean it and watch for the leak to see how bad it is / where it's leaking.
Thanks, :)

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