Leaking Axle – Symptoms, Causes And Repair Cost


The axle is a crucial part of the car that often goes unnoticed until it leaks. If ignored, the leakage can cause extensive damage to the car, such as a slipping transmission. Because of that, it’s crucial to know the symptoms of a leaking axle so you can get it checked out as soon as possible. 

The symptoms of a leaking axle include leakage around the seal, oil on the ground, axle making noise, fluid behind the left wheel, and transmission slipping. The causes include damaged components and poor installation. Repairs typically cost $200-$400, although they increase with damage levels. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the symptoms of a leaking axle, what causes them, and the repair cost. Following that, I’ve also shared some helpful tips on how to prevent your axle from leaking.

What Are the Symptoms of a Leaking Axle?

Here’s a quick look at the major symptoms of a leaking axle:

  • Leakage around the seal.
  • Axle oil on the ground.
  • Noise coming from the axle.
  • The transmission is slipping.
  • Reddish-brown fluid behind the left wheel.

Let’s explore each of these signs in greater detail:

Leakage Around the Seal

If you see oil seeping out from around the seal, it’s a clear sign that the axle is leaking. This can happen due to worn-out seals, poor installation, or damage from an accident. If the seal is damaged, it needs to be replaced to stop the leakage.

Note: You can check the axle seal by removing the wheel and looking for oil on the axle shaft.

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Axle Oil on the Ground

A common symptom of a leaking axle is oil on the ground. If you see a puddle of oil near your car, your axle is likely the source of the leak. This usually happens due to a seal failure, which can be caused by several factors, primarily age-related wear and tear.

Therefore, if you see oil on the ground, it’s important to take your car in for a diagnosis as soon as possible to determine the root cause of the leak and to get it repaired.

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Noise Coming From the Axle

Leaking axle oil can also cause your car to make a noise. When the oil leaks, it often falls on the brake rotors, creating a squealing or grinding sound. If you’re hearing a noise that wasn’t there before, it could be an indicator of a leaking axle.

Here are some of the typical noises a leaking axle makes:

  • Clunking
  • Clanking
  • Clicking
  • Grinding
  • Screeching
  • Whining

If your car is making any of these noises, it’s important to take it in for a diagnostic to determine the source of the problem.

The Transmission Slipping

If your transmission is slipping, then the chances are that your axle is leaking. When the transmission slips, it means that it cannot properly transmit power from the engine to the wheels. This can result from several factors, but a leaking axle is one of the most common.

If you’re experiencing transmission slipping, take your car in for a diagnostic as soon as possible to determine the root cause.

Reddish-Brown Fluid Behind the Left Wheel

If you see a reddish-brown fluid behind the left wheel of your car, your axle is likely leaking. This fluid is most likely axle oil, and it’s a clear sign that something is wrong.

If you see this fluid, call a mechanic as soon as possible for a diagnosis. They will tell you what is causing the leak and how much it will cost to repair it.

Here’s a video primer on how to diagnose axle seal leaks on your vehicle:

What Causes a Leaking Axle?

Here are the common causes of leaking axles:

  • Worn-out seals.
  • The axle was poorly installed.
  • The axle got damaged in an accident.
  • Incorrect axle bearing adjustment.

I’ve explained each of these causes in further detail below.

Worn-Out Seals

One of the most common reasons for a leaking axle is worn-out seals. Over time, the seals can become brittle and cracked, allowing oil to escape. This is often the result of age, wear & tear, or exposure to the elements.

If your seals are worn out, you must replace them to stop the leak.

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The Axle Was Poorly Installed

If you did not install your axle correctly, it could cause the seals to leak. This can be due to a poor installation technique or incorrect alignment.

Additional signs of a poorly installed axle include axle noises and a slipping transmission. If you experience any of these problems, ensure you call a mechanic to help fix the problem.

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The Axle Got Damaged in an Accident

If your car has been in an accident, it can cause the axle seal to leak. This is often due to the force of the impact, which can damage the seal and cause it to start leaking.

If you’ve been in an accident, take your car in for a diagnostic to determine if the axle seal is damaged. If it is, you must replace it to prevent leakage.

Incorrect Axle Bearing Adjustment

If the bearings on your axle are not adjusted correctly, it can cause the seals to leak. This is due to the excess pressure put on the seals when the bearings are not aligned properly.

If you’re experiencing a leaking axle, take your car in for a diagnostic to determine if the bearings are misaligned. If they are, have a mechanic adjust them accordingly.

How Much Does It Cost To Repair a Leaking Axle?

To repair a leaking axle it can cost you between $200 and $400. However, this price can go up if there is extensive damage to the axle. Also, the mechanic’s rate, location, and taxes can all affect the final cost.

In addition, the following factors affect the repair cost:

  • The age of the vehicle: Older vehicles tend to require more expensive repairs.
  • The vehicle’s make and model: Some cars are more difficult to repair than others.
  • The severity of the leak: A small leak will cost less to fix than a large one.

How To Prevent Your Axle From Leaking in the Future?

You can prevent your axle from leaking in the future by following these precautionary measures:

  • Inspect your axle regularly.
  • Use quality parts.
  • Protect your axle from the elements.
  • Ensure your axle is properly lubricated.

To prevent your axle from leaking, you must ensure that the seals are in good condition and that the installation is correct. You can also take additional steps to protect your axle from damage, including the following:

Inspect Your Axle Regularly

It’s essential to inspect your axle regularly to ensure that there are no problems. This includes inspecting the seals for wear & tear and checking the bearings for proper alignment.

Suppose you spot any issues, take your car in for a diagnostic as soon as possible. This will help prevent the problem from worsening and costing more to repair.

Use Quality Parts

When you’re repairing your axle, it’s important to use quality parts. This will ensure that the repair is done correctly and lasts longer.

Poor quality parts may break or wear down quickly, resulting in another costly repair. Therefore, you should always use parts from a reputable supplier.

Protect Your Axle From the Elements

If you live in a climate with extreme weather conditions, it’s important to take steps to protect your axle from the elements.

To protect your axle from weather damage, follow these guidelines:

  • Ensure you park your car in a garage when it’s not in use. This will help protect the axle from rain, snow, and ice damage.
  • If you can’t garage your car, use a car cover to protect it from the elements. This iCarCover Premium Car Cover from Amazon.com may come in handy. It’s weatherproof, has a snug fit, and is made from heavy-duty materials.

Ensure Your Axle Is Properly Lubricated

If the axle is properly lubricated, it will be less likely to break and leak.

That said, make sure you use the correct type of oil. There are different types of oil for different types of axles. 

If you’re not sure, consult your car’s manual to find the right type of oil.

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Key Takeaways

Here’s a roundup of this article:

  • Axle seals can leak for various reasons, including worn-out seals, poor installation, damage caused by accident, and incorrect bearing adjustment.
  • The typical symptoms of a leaking axle include oil on the ground, a noise coming from the axle, a slipping transmission, and a reddish-brown fluid behind the left wheel.
  • Repairing a leaking axle typically costs between $200 and $400.
  • To prevent your axle from leaking in the future, you should inspect it regularly, use quality parts, protect it from the elements, and lubricate it.

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