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Rear Hub Oil Seals And Bearings On 300TDi Defender 90

Rear Hub Oil Seals And Bearings On 300TDi Defender 90

Defenders have a breather pipe on the top of the longer half of the axle casing. If it is blocked, pressure might build up causing oil to be forced out past the seals, giving the same symptoms of a failed hub oil seal. Clearing the breather pipe is simpler than dismantling the hub so it is a good idea to check this first.

This article will deal with replacing the rear hub oil seals and wheel bearings on a 300tdi Defender 90, meaning disc brakes all round, and the drivemember which is part of the half shaft. Earlier Defenders with drum brakes at the rear can also follow this article. There are a few differences:

1.The drivemember is separate from the half shaft.
2.There is an oil seal at the outer bearing in addition to the one at the inner bearing.
3.There is no stub axle oil seal, so there's no need to undo the stub axle unless the gasket is leaking.

Here's the tell tale sign that something just isn't right! You can see the oil which leaked out from the hub onto the inside face of the tire.


Make sure the vehicle is safely jacked up and on axle stands. Jacks aren't safe enough. Remove the 5 drive member bolts. They're M10 (17mm) bolts and are often loctited so they might be very tight! Keep a container handy to keep all the bolts you remove as it is very easy to misplace them.


Withdraw the entire half shaft with the drivemember and discard the drivemember gasket. Inspection of the shaft here showed it to be still in perfect condition.


Remove the brake caliper from the disc and hang it to the coil spring. The caliper bolts are 12-point 13mm bolts and should be loctited, so once again, they might be very tight! You might have to lever open the brake pads using a screwdriver to get the caliper off. Take care not to damage the brake disc though. Once removed, wedge a bit of wood between the pads to eliminate the possibility of the pistons popping out of their bores. Also, take care not to move the caliper too much when hanging it or you might damage the brake pipe! Here's a shot of the caliper after having undone the 2 bolts.


Turn your attention back to the hub. There are 2 52mm nuts. The first nut is purely a lock nut. Its purpose is to ensure that the second 52mm nut, which sets the preload on the hub bearings, does not lose its setting.


Bend back the lock tab washer behind the first nut and undo the nut. Having a 52mm box spanner is a godsend and will make things much easier when reassembling too. If you don't have the tool, you could try the old hammer and chisel method. Discard the lock tab washer and undo and remove the second 52mm nut and the washer behind it. The outer bearing will probably drop out of the hub. Vehicles prior to the 300tdi will also have an oil seal here in which case you should prise it out and discard it. Carefully lift the hub off the stub axle. Note the caliper tied to the coil spring in roughly the same place it would be when assembled (to avoid damaging the brake pipes). Also notice the oil stained stub axle.


Turn your attention to the hub you just removed. Turn the hub face down (studs on the floor).


Prise out the oil seal using a screwdriver, and remove the inner bearing from the hub. Use a suitable hammer and drift (or a screwdriver if you like) to drift out both bearing tracks, turning the hub over to remove the other bearing track.


Back to the stub axle. Vehicles prior to the 300tdi do not have a stub axle oil seal, so there is no need to remove the stub axle if you have such a vehicle. 300tdi and later, read on. It is a good idea to make alignment marks to put the stub axle back on the way it came off. Removing the stub axle involves removing the 6 M10 (17mm) bolts. These are sometimes loctited and might be very tight. Remove the mudshield and then gently tap the stub axle off the axle casing using a chisel and hammer, and discard the stub axle gasket. Prise out the stub axle oil seal using a screwdriver and discard it.


You should now clean the parts as well as you can. You should thoroughly clean the bore in the hub where the new bearing tracks will go. Use a bit of sandpaper too, and WD40. This is a good idea since the bearing tracks are a very tight fit.

New parts, from left to right in the image: liquid gasket, loctite, bearings and oil seals, thrust washer, lock tab washer, 2 52mm nuts, drivemember gasket, stub axle gasket, and lithium based grease. There is also no stub axle seal in the image since I didn't have the seal. Luckily, the existing one was still in good condition and therefore did not need to be replaced. However since I already explained how to remove the oil seal I will continue explaining how to replace it too.


Lubricate the new seal using fresh EP90 oil and gently and squarely drift the new seal in until it is flush with the rear face of the stub axle. You can use a suitably sized socket as a drift, but remember to be gentle with the hammer. You don't want to damage the new seal.

The stub axle can now be refitted. Clean the mating surfaces of the stub axle and the axle casing. Make sure all traces of the old gasket are removed. I like using both liquid gasket and the actual paper gasket. Smear a thin layer of liquid gasket on the axle casing face, place the stub axle gasket onto the axle casing, smear another thin layer of liquid gasket on the stub axle face, then fit the stub axle to the axle casing. Don't forget to place the mudshield onto the stub axle before bolting it up! Torque the bolts up to 65Nm (48lbf/ft).


Back to the hub. Install the new bearing tracks into the hub. Make sure you drift in the bearing tracks squarely into the hub, and make sure they go all the way in. As mentioned earlier, they are a very tight fit! You can use the old bearing tracks as a drift, but make sure you are able to remove them once the new tracks are in place! Pack the inner bearing with grease, smear the bearing track with grease and pop the bearing into its track.


Now install the hub oil seal the same way the old one was installed (lip side leading). You should also smear some grease between the lips of the seal. Installing the seal once again means gently drifting it squarely until it is flush with the rear face of the hub.

Fit the hub back onto the stub axle. Pack the outer bearing with grease and smear its track with grease too. Place the bearing into its track. If you've got a pre-300tdi vehicle you will also need to drift in the outer hub oil seal at this point. This is best done before placing the hub back on the stub axle.

Pop on one of the washers. You could reuse the old one here since this one is not the lock tab washer. Fit one of the 52mm nuts. You should now set the preload on the bearings using this nut. Having a 52mm box spanner to which you can attach a torque wrench helps immensely. Failing that, you must tighten the nut such that the hub is free to rotate, though not extremely freely. Also, there must be NO bearing play whatsoever. If you have a suitable box spanner and torque wrench you can go by the book as follows:

"Tighten to 50 Nm (37lbf/ft). Ensure hub is free to rotate with no bearing play. Back off adjusting nut 90° and tighten to 10 Nm (7 lbf/ft)."


Fit a new lock tab washer, followed by the 52mm locknut. This locknut should be tightened to 50Nm (37lbf/ft). Bend the lock tab washer to secure both 52mm nuts. Bend one side of the washer inwards to lock the hub adjusting nut and one side outwards to lock the locknut.

Fit back the half shaft into the axle casing. Drive it in and twist, turn and push it until it meshes with the differential gears.


Clean the mating surfaces of the drivemember and hub. All traces of old gasket should be removed. Fit a new drivemember gasket (again, my preference here is to sandwich the paper gasket between 2 light coats of liquid gasket) and torque up the drivemember bolts to 65Nm (48lbf/ft).

Bolt up the caliper back to the hub. Loctite on the caliper bolts should be used. Apply a little loctite, and tighten to 82Nm (61lbf/ft).

Put the road wheel back on the hub, torque the wheel nuts to 100Nm (80lbf/ft) or 130Nm (96lbf/ft) for alloy wheels and you're good to go. The book also states to operate the footbrake to locate the brake pads before driving.

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