Last updated:  2003.01.27

   Text and Photo: Frode H. Haaland

Axles & Diffs

Swivel house leakage

Do you find a small pond of stinking oil inside your front wheels? Learn how to fix it!

Restoring swivel housing

Rebuilding a swivel housing, including complete renewal of swivel pins & bearings, wheel bearings, oil seals, etc.

Wheel bearings

Learn how to replace wheel bearings - or just to repack them - part of the maintenance schedule of Defenders (but not Discovery...)

Pinion oil seal

A dripping from the diffnose is pretty common. Usually the axle breather is blocked, but you might also be into renewing the pinion oilseal. 

Swivel Pin Preload

Steering a bit loose? Check the preload and adjust it with the help of this article

More help  

There's always more help somewhere on the net. An annotated list of links on this pages subjects!


Swivel House Leakage

The chrome ball is particularly prone to leakages. For details on repairing this leak splitting between swivel housing and axle, check this page. An even easier way, is the Teri-Anns Hub Seal Fix, explaining how to change swivel seal removing only 8 bolts... = split seal solution. Supposedly nothing as durable, but maybe worthwhile when on expedition.

The magnificent site Internet Landroverclub has these pictures to show you how to diagnose swivel leaks:

 Leaking_chrome_ball.jpg (10098 bytes)     Oil_leak2.jpg (28311 bytes)

Good advice 1: Stop the leak early - before it stains oil on brakes etc.

Good advice 2: If it still does not leak - drain oil and use special Land Rover Grease, and it will never leak anymore!

Simple procedure: Procedure for splitting axle flange/complete swivel housing.

Involved procedure: Dismantling from hub inwards through swivel housing


Rebuilding a Swivel housing

There were this leak on the RH side swivel housing - but it's filled with grease... This indicates more problems than the seal only. But what?

Mailing Angus at , gave me some hints for what to look for: Lifting the wheel showed a bit of play in the wheel: Holding 12 and 6 o'clock, and rocking showed some play. This indicates worn wheel bearings. Trying to push/pull wheel showed no play (which should indicate swivel pin/bearings). Rocking 3 and 9 o'clock also showed no play. Tie rod ends OK. I bet on wheel bearings, and not lower swivel pin.

So I ordered new wheel bearings only from , as I had all the relevant seals (and a few more...) already. Angus advised me to renew swivel pins and bearings as well, since I will already be there and it wouldn't need any attention for another 10-15 years. As these are pretty expensive and the diagnostics didn't show any swivel pin/bearing problems, I disregarded his advise. But when pulling the axle, I changed my mind, and found I'd rebuild with new swivel pins and bearings anyway... Quite a few phonecalls and some swearing about not purchasing pins and bearings (as Angus advised) when ordering wheel bearings, and new parts were happily made available locally by a fellow enthusiast - and work could commence after just a few hours delay (piuuuhhhhh...). Angus had informed me he had everything in his shelves, and would post it right away if I needed them, but that would give me the delay of postal carriage for another day or two.Which you of course do not want when vehicle is in alligator mode... 

Description below are for a 1990 Discovery; later models and models fitted with ABS differ slightly in construction. This is a jpg from Spanish Trail Rovers from LR Manual - covering a 1990 Range Rover. It's sufficiently similar to be informative for any coilers. Difflock describe same job on this page, as does Dave G. At the D-90-resource - go here.

Restoring swivel housing can be seen as two interconnected jobs:

  1. Removing hub and repacking/replacing wheel bearings
  2. Removing and restoring swivel housing (renewing swivel pins & bearings, and a few oilseals)
  3. ...and then refitting everything

As doing the wheel bearings is a quite common job, it is described separately below. Repacking wheel bearings are not part of Discovery factory maintenance procedure, but it's part of Defender procedure at 40.000km intervals, so I guess it's a good thing to repack them from time to time on a Discovery as well - especially if you go wading or offroading in deep mud. Rebuilding swivel housings is a time when you have full access...


Wheel bearings

This particular job is covered in a very informative and knowledgeable way here at Spanish Trail Rovers.

First of all, you'll have to remove relevant roadwheel and steering linkages. 

Remove the two bolts securing top swivel pin (where the brake lines are attached. Remove the two bolts securing the brake caliper, and tie it away high up on the coilspring or smth. Loosely refit top swivel pin bolts to keep the parts attached.

Place a canister under axle flange to take any spillage (if axle is not overfilled, it will not flow, but expect some spillage). Remove the series of 5 bolts fitted to the axle flange, and pull the member off the hub. 

Bend back the locking tab using a chisel and a hammer. 

Use a 52mm hub nut box spanner and remove the hub locknut, then the lock washer (do not flatten it - you will probably be able to reuse it, and it's a convenient reference). Remove hub nut.

Next there's a thick spacer/washer - remove it. If you can't grab it - make sure you take it after it drops to the floor while pulling the hub/brake disc-assembly from the stub axle. Put it back side facing up on your work bench. 

At this point in the Haynes manual, they tell you to remove the brake disc (they always tell you to disassemble anything and everything in its component parts...). Couldn't find any reason to do so, so I just left it as it where. 

Remove oil seal, taking care not to score the hub while you do that. Once oil seal is off, the bearings will be loose, and can be removed. Turn hub around, and remove oil seal on other side, then removing bearings here as well. 

If you're only repacking bearings, not replacing them, you repack the bearings, reinstall them, and replace oilseals. 

If your're replacing bearings, you will have to remove the outer race (also called cone or ring) of the old bearings, which sits firmly in the hub. Find a drift and gently tap the races out, one at a time, taking care not to score the hub.

Now for a nice trick! Take one of the races, and cut a slice through the race. Take care to deburr it thoroughly! You will now have a drift for reinstalling the new races. If you didn't make this cut in your old race (guess how I know..), when installing the new race using the old as a drift, you'll suddenly have two races - and in need to drift out the one used as a drift, which now sits perfectly and secure along with the one you tried to install. A sliced drift will ( because of the slice) not sit firmly- you should be able to remove it using fingers only. 

Repacking bearings

To repack bearings, you take bearing grease in your left hand/palm, and the bearing in your right. Use the bearing to scrape grease from your hand, working the grease through the needle rollers until it reaches the inside. Then turn the bearing a bit, and start working grease into next part of the bearings. Grease the outside of the bearings, and smear grease on the bearing races. Seat the bearing on the race, and smear grease where the oil seal will be seated - and some on the outer and inner perimeter of the oil seal as well - it is especially important to fill between the sealing lips of the inner hub oil seal . For a more knowledgeable procedure of packing wheel bearings, read here

If you're rebuilding swivelhousing, leave hub at this point, and return no next section after doing that part of the job.

Installing the hub

The manual states installing inner bearings and inner oilseal on the workbench, and the outer bearing/oilseal after sliding the hub onto the stub axle. I put both bearings and seals onto the hub while on the bench. The oilseals are different from inner to outer side, and they are supposed to be seated a bit differently. One of my oilseals had text on it: 4mm seating depth, while the other (outer) should be at same depth as when dismantling (this is were you'll be sorry if you didn't write a note on the depth on a sheet of paper). The old bearing races are suitable for drifting the oilseals - the outer oil seal will prove a very tight fit.. 

Sliding the hub onto the stub axle proved a bit difficult - I just couldn't "slide" it soon as the inner bearing met the stub axle, it stopped. Desparately checking if the bearings were the wrong ones, looking for debris hindering the sliding...and all looked perfect. Except from the fact it didn't move in as it should have. So I lined the hub up squarely, taking care the inner bearings were squarely and fully seated in its race, I used a small hammer and started careful hammering on the outer hub...and suddenly it gave away and slid in easily just like that. If you come in a similar situation, it cannot be stressed strongly enough: take care the bearings are properly seated in its race, or you might hurt the bearings. If you haven't put on the outer bearings and oilseal already, this is the time to do it.

Turning the hub, a tiny scream-squeaky-scratching noise were apparent. Didn't I lubricate the bearings properly? The sound was just like bearings without any grease left. But just a tiny sound. Turn-turn: squeak-squeak! So I pulled the hub and put it on the bench again: There were plenty of grease. But I put on even more, taking care to put even more on the rear/inner oil seal and on the stub axle where the oil seal is supposed to seal. Back on the stub axle. Still that sound! Well, there is grease, so it must be a matter of grease still not covering everything properly or oil seal still a bit too dry -but as there's plenty of grease, it's only a matter of time. So I continued adjusting the hubnut and things - and I later found the reason for that sound: The mudshield bracket on the lower swivel pin were bent, and touched the brakedisc. I'm definetly an MCI: Mechanical Complete Idiot.

As of course you don't have any dial gauge, you do the adjustment this way.

First of all you will have to seat the bearings properly. With the hub in-situ, you put on the thick spacer, along with the hub nut. Turn the hub nut a quarter of a turn in, spin the hub a bit each direction, then tighten the hub nut another quarter of a turn. Continue this way until there is no more free play, and you can't move the hub more than half a turn around without resistance. 

Back off one half turn. Grab the hub and shake violently in any direction. There shouldn't be any play. Loosen hub nut a little bit. Shake more. Continue this loosening/shaking procedure until there is a tiny fraction of play. Then tighten a quarter of a turn until all play is gone - which is when bearings are properly adjusted, and you are ready for fitting the lockwasher.

Put on the lockwasher, using a chisel to bend it over the inner hubnut (if not reusing the old one, in which case it should fit perfect!). Put on the locknut (fingertight), and bend the lockwasher over the locknut to complete the locking.

Next and last step now is fitting the drivemember, putting threadlock on the bolts, and torqueing to its specified setting.

Then steering rods and wheel goes back on.


The swivel pins, bearings and seals in their housing

With the hub on the bench, you're ready to pull the swivel housing off the axle. 

There's a row of 12point 14mm bolts attaching the housing onto the axle flange. Use the closed end of a combination spanner to remove them. 

Pull the swivelhousing with the half shaft still attached out from the axle, supporting the halfshaft when it exits the axle. Put it on the workbench.

Remove upper and lower swivel pins - which will separate the two parts of the swivel housing, and bearings will fall out.

Remove CV-joint and pull halfshaft. Inspect for damage or scores. Improve shaft with soft emerald paper if only slightly scarred. Remove oil seal sealing beween the halfshaft and swivel housing/flange (seen at picture above)
Remove gasket from axle end of swivel housing. 

Remove big oilseal from the rear/axle end of the swivel housing.

The manual states the removal of stubaxle, and I tried to do it, but as it didn't split easily and the gasket were still sealing perfectly, I let it alone. 

Gently tap out the swivel pin bearing races (cones or ring) using a suitable drift. Inspect for damage just to be sure your diagnosis was correct. 

Slice a cut with an angle grinder in one of the races to use as a drift when reinstalling new bearing races. Take care to deburr it completely, or it could ruin your new races when they are drifted in. Clean the chrome ball and the swivel housing thoroughly, inspecting for damage. Use fine emarald paper to deburr small scars etc.

Tap in the new swivel pin bearing races, after using some grease on the races and its seating in the chrome ball. Keep the bearings scrupulously clean.

Also put grease on the new oilseal for the axle end of the chrome ball, and gently install it. 

The manuals state you should assemble everything on the workbench - creating a fairly heavy lump of metal to assemble in one piece onto the axle. I did it the way LRE described (march 2002), and installed piece by piece onto the axle:

Clean the axle flange, taking care to remove any residues of the old gasket.

Find your new gasket, putting threadlock on the bolts, and mount the chrome ball only onto the axle flange - and don't forget to slide on the oilseal and retaining ring, putting them the right way around before offering it up to the axle. Tighten bolts really good. There's a torque number in the manuals, but you won't be able to use any torque wrench here... Do not mount the oilseal and its ring, leave it hanging until preload is checked (see later).

Slide in the halfshaft, making sure it seats properly in diff end..

Put some clean paper onto the floor under the axle/swivel area - this is where you will place a lot of things in a minute.

Pack the new swivel bearings using wheel bearing grease. Put the top bearing onto it's race. Put the lower bearing onto the paper, close to the axle. 

Put some bearing grease into the CV-joint, and put it on the paper. 

Clean the swivel pin bolts, and put threadlock on the lower pin bolts. Place them next to their "personal" swivel pin.

Put the swivel pins onto the paper, checking they're properly greased. Put a load of shims on the top swivel pin.

Put gasket on the lower swivel pin, using a suitable sealant on either side of the gasket. Leave the mudshield bracket adjacent to the lower swivel pin.

Now you're ready for a bit of offering up...and this is the time where you'd like to have a few more hands... 

CV-joint onto halfshaft - making sure it enter correctly into the heavy lump of swivel housing...while you take care not to scratch anything, and put the lower swivel pin bearing into its race...and then "closing in" pushing the swivel housing in. Now it all rests in your hands and you feel you're gonna kill those bearings etc... I found it easier to put the lower swivel pin in first - because this is the one that holds the lower bearing (which will drop right out  if you move the lot too far out. The top bearings are resting, so doesn't pose a problem. Once the lower swivel pin is "in", push the top swivel pin in. Now you can breath more easily - everything is lined up and resting - nothing will easily fall out. 


Put in the bolts, remembering the mudshield for the lower swivel pin. Torque the lower swivel pin bolts to 25NM. The top swivel pin shall be torqued down to 78NM, but take care not to tighten too much (or too little) - you will have to use a torque wrench on this! 

The resistance for moving (swivel pin preload) should be set to 1,2 - 1,4 kg, and should not exceed this - which it will easily do if you haven't put more shims on the top than it had before. So carefully tighten a bit on each bolt, checking the felt resistance from turning the housing. Put more shims on the top or remove until you have the proper reading (see manual). The exact reading should be reached when the bolts are torqued down to the specified torque. My weightscale was 0-10kg, so an accurate reading 1,2 - 1,4kg were not possible, so when I found it to be at about that, I left it to be completed with the oil seal in situ (when it should read 6-7 kg).

Now put some grease on the rear big oilseal, mount it using the retainer ring. Use specified torque settings (11NM).

Fill swivel housing with one-shot swivel housing grease

You have now completed the rebuild of a swivel housing. Congratulations!

Installing the hub

Next step will now be putting the hub back onto the stub axle - see wheel bearings above. 

The final things for completion

Now for the last items to complete! 

Recheck and reshim the top swivel pin to get a reading of 12-16lbs or 5,5-7,3 kg resistance using a weight scale in the track rod hole. I had to play a bit around with the shims to reach a reading within this interval (and yes, you do have to use that torque wrench and the specified torque!) Then remove the swivel pin bolts...

Thoroughly clean the brakedisc with a good brakecleaning agent.

Mudshield back on, taking care to fit the big bolt/nut (steering stop) back to its former depth.

Caliper back on (use thread lock and torque down to specified torque), mounting the brakeline bracket under the top swivel pin bolts - again of course using torque wrench on the swivel pin bolts.

How long did it take? - Shut up!


These are the parts used to rebuild swivel housing and change wheel bearings on my 1990 tdi Discovery:

571752 Gasket axle shaft drive member
FRC8222 Seal assembly front/rear hub outer
FTC4785 Seal assembly front/rear hub inner
RTC3429 x 2 Bearing front/rear axle hub

Swivel housing

571718 Seal front driveshaft
FTC3401 Seal swivel pin housing 9mm
FTC3646 Gasket swivel pin bearing housing to axle casing
FTC3648 Gasket stub axle (not used because stub axle not split from swivel housing)
STC3435 One shot swivel grease

Swivel pins

571756 Upper swivel pin
571819 Lower swivel pin
571815 Gasket lower swivel pin
606666 x2 Swivel pin bearings x 2
571743, 571744, 571745, 571746 An assortment of shims - you'll need more shims than it had before your restoration. Listed right are the available shims, the first ones are thinner, later are thicker. The thinner ones are more useful, so better get more of those, and not order the thicker ones. They're cheap anyway. One of each will cost smth like 2


Pinion Oil Seal Leakage

The rear diffnose has been leaking for some time - but is still left unattended, and the front (which is not leaking) had a new oilseal put in due to the renewal of T-case front output shaft leak, so this was a good time for renewal. 

If the flange is badly scored, the new oil seal will not seal properly. Then you're in for a Speedi Sleeve job - an easy way to repair a scored flange. The proper Speedi-Sleeve part# for a Rover diff. pinion flange is reported to be CR 99174, but this is not confirmed. 

To stop that leak, obtain pinion oil seal (FRC8820, #11 in the drawing). Remove propshaft. Probably no need to drain diffhousing if it is not overfilled. Get rid of the split pin on the big castellated nut. Remove big nut. Withdraw flange. Remove oil seal. Smear oil on the seal/lips. Put it in squarely. Slide flange on. Big nut on. Tighten to specified torque. Split-pin in. Prop-shaft on. Use new Nyloc nuts for propshaft (3/8" UNF) - you'll be greatly helped with a 9/16" spanner removing propshaft. 





More help

These sites/pages might help you with axle & diff related problems:

Wheel wobble and imprecise steering from Internet LandroverClub (covering re-shimming swivel seals etc.)

LR Tech bulletin covering wheel wobble

Diagnosing Drive Train Noises

Randys ring & pinion Diagnostic help to strange noises from rear of vehicle. Tips on differentials. Also overhaul kits and lockers.

Great Basin Rovers (tech-advice on drivetrain modifications, diff.locks, etc.)

Renewing a CV-joint from

Renewing rear half shaft (in pdf-newsletter from Northern California Rover Club)

Renewing wheel bearings from

Renewing wheel bearings from Spanish Trail Rovers

Renewing wheel bearings from  refurbishes hub and swivel house on a 110 at this page.

Rebuilding Swivel housing from  go to this page. 

Learn about seals and how to detect why it leaks

Learn about Wheel hubs

Checklist to diagnose problems when opening a hub