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Discussion Starter #1
While I was changing my rear brake shoes tonight, I inspected the front axle.
I found alot of oily grease coming from the driver's side knuckle. There was ALOT more than the other side.
It also appeared to be more like 90w oil rather than grease.
I pulled off the tire and looked more closely. There were no scratches on the smooth knuckle. The "hone-like" marks looked fresh from the factory.
I used a 14mm hex socket and pulled the plug (located on the rear side or the king pin assembly - sorry I don't know the name)
It was really weird. Along the surface of the plug, it was a thick grease. The rest seemed like old 90w oil. As I stuck my finger in, I also noticed a very small amount of metal particles in the oil.

What is supposed to be in there?
How can I change this oil or grease?
Is there a drain plug? (I didn’t see any other plugs, only the king pin bolts)
Is there a gasket for the knuckle?


Chuck

p.s. The last time I was at the Mercedes dealership, I told them to change ALL of the fluids. Front and rear axle, transfer case, transmission, and engine oil. I would think that this would be included as part of the front axle, but it looked pretty old and unchanged.
It is possible that I got water in there?
 

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I can only say for the 460.

"What is supposed to be in there?"

Grease – any oil that’s there would logically have to come from the diff – overfilling can lead to leaking seals – I seem to remember Dutch had a similar problem.
Could have been there some time – when was the last time you opened it up?

"Is there a drain plug?"

I don’t think so – its cleaned out during an axel service – otherwise the grease should just slowly seep out through the seals on the swivel, yes there is a gasket – which can go bad and allow more grease out and perhaps water in – that’s the reason for the grease in the swivel – to protect the CV if the boot fails. The swivel pin – kingpin is sealed and the grease in the swivel is not to lubricate it. If there is oil in there it will leak out faster than grease some more grease might be a good idea.

As for the metal in there – I would guess that it could be particles from the diff – other than that I think you would be aware of something more seriously wrong. If the CV boot failed and the CV was breaking up or a failing wheel bearing you should have other symptoms – but the only way to be certain would be to open it up and have a look.

I would check the level of the oil in the diff – of course by now it could be just right but its worth a try. Sorry not be of more help.
 

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1981 240GD+, Alfa Brera 3,2 V6 Q4 2006, Alfa GT 3,2 V6.
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My 5 cents worth!
Definitively Multipurpose grease has to be pumped in the Hubs.
There is a seal that has to be replaced.(see Picks)
The opening up of the wheel hub is necessary to inspect the inner works for damage or wear.
It does happen that the seal (o-ring) between the half shaft and the wheel hub is worn and need to be replaced (diff oil in hub).
The "lucky" way is to pump the hub with grease and hope that this will keep the leak at bay, but I would suggest to give both hubs a good overhaul.

Good luck, M.
 

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metal particles?
go to the car doctor asap!

could be that 90W came through the seal - no big deal, but the metal particles are very concerning.

There could be another reason for the "oil" - if the boot for the CV breaks open and the two greases mix (joint housing and boot contain different greases) the mix can break down and release oil. Grease is essentially oil suspended in a soapy carrier (base). If the two greases have different bases the will break down and release oil. If the bases are equal, the mix will retain its properties.

The only way to find out what's going on, is to disassemble the entire joint housing with bearings, half shaft and CV. Expensive!

Harald
 

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I agree with Harald, sounds like the swivel bearing and CV joint housing needs a close inspection along with the hub bearings axle housing seals and anti lash bearings, I bet five cents youll find water in there and a broken CV joint boot.
 

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Slightly off-topic, but how often are you supposed to change axle diff fluid?? MB is telling me every 50-60K miles.
 

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Fluid change

I don't know about "supposed", but I change all mine (not the swivel housing grease) once a year. Axle pumpkins, trans, t-box, & brake fluid. Takes nearly 2 hours, but it's cheap insurance. Throw it up on stands, rotate the ties, and do a general chassis inspection w. greasing of zerks, etc.

Once a year works out to about every 20,000 miles for me. I know they could go longer, especially given the Red Line lubes I use, but so far the magnets on the drain plugs come out dead clean every time, and that's how I'd like to keep it. [:)] At $60-$70 for a full change worth of fluids, it's not worth trying to get the last mile out of them. The once-a-year bit keeps me in the habbit of having everything fresh at the start of the spring season.

JMO,

-Dave
 

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RE: Fluid change

Hipine - 3/9/2005 4:04 PM
... but so far the magnets on the drain plugs come out dead clean every time ...

First time I read about this. Can you pls tell something more? Are they standard at the drain or do you mounted them afterwards? If you did, how?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is there any way to open and inspect the joint housing(or repack it with grease) without removing the axle from the truck?
How often do people have to overhaul the hubs?

Mine is right at 101,000 miles.

Thanks Again,
Chuck
 

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My experience with the 463's is that a front axle service needs to be done every 60-80k miles depending on usage. If it has never been done at 100k, which is very possible, it is time. I am talking about new front wheel bearings, seals and new boots for the CV's.

My somewhat educated guess is that you simply have a torn CV boot on one side. The grease in the CV is generally thinner, especially if it has been breaking down for 10 years and 100k miles. There will naturally be some metal in that grease, which is most likely grey colored. I wouldn't be terribly worried that something has actually failed unless you hear a telltale clunking from the front when accelerating in a slow speed turn. As mentioned the CV boot can fail and still live quite a while in the swivel ball grease bath.

Sounds like it is time for the front axle rebuild. Count on ~$600 in parts and 10 hrs labor time. I had both my 1990 and my 1995 done at Europa, in fact they did my 280 last year with new CV joints when I swapped gears. And NO, as mentioned, there is no short cut.

Good Luck,

Brent
 

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Braingears - 3/9/2005 10:30 AM

Is there any way to open and inspect the joint housing(or repack it with grease) without removing the axle from the truck?
How often do people have to overhaul the hubs?

Mine is right at 101,000 miles.

Thanks Again,
Chuck
You don't need to remove the axle from the truck, just need to remove the outer swivel housing from the ball by pulling the upper swivel pin and rear seals. A description of axle service found here:

http://www.clubgwagen.com/gtech.php?pageTitle=G-Tech Article&sid=item&tid=29

will pretty much apply to the 463 axles you have with only minor differences, AFAIK. But I'veonly done it on a 460, so I can't say for sure.

A full axle service every 100k is probably about right to keep everything functioning up to snuff. Again, you can let it go longer and get 150k or more out of them, but most people are seeing signs of wear by then (loose steering, leaks, etc). If you replace the wheel and swivel bearings every 100k it'll help other things like CV joints, axle shafts, hubs, etc last longer since it's the bearings that keep all those things running in the proper relationships to one another.

This one is not so trivial though. Probably $500 in parts alone (cut that to 350 if you source bearings outside MB), and easily 8 hours of labor by someone who knows what they're doing. Probably a $1200 job if you hire it done. But then, $1200 every 100k miles ain't so bad either to keep the truck driving like new all the time.

All the best,

-Dave G.
 

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RE: Fluid change

Jean - 3/9/2005 10:28 AM

Hipine - 3/9/2005 4:04 PM
... but so far the magnets on the drain plugs come out dead clean every time ...

First time I read about this. Can you pls tell something more? Are they standard at the drain or do you mounted them afterwards? If you did, how?

Thanks
If you don't have magnets on your drain plugs already, you can just get some of that soft magnetic stuff like businesses use to print their ad logos on for sticking on your fridge. It's soft and you can cut it with scissors. Cut a piece to fit the end of the drain plug and epxoxy it in place. (first clean the magnet and drain plug with brake cleaner, then rough up the mating faces of the magnet and drain plug with some 80 grit emory cloth before applying epoxy). The thing I like about that soft magnetic stuff is that iven if it DID come loose, it wouldn't damage gears in the differenetial. It might block oil passages in the transfer case though, so be sure you use good epoxy, do a good job cleaning things, and maybe put it in the fill plug hole of one of the diffs for a while where you can check it easily without having to drain the oil out.

The more expensive way is to buy magnetic drain plugs and put them in. Our firends in the "great white north" have a whole flippin' website for it!
http://www.magneticdrainplugs.com/

Last, and definitely least, I could pull up the transfer case drain plug part number from the EPC. I know the same one fits the axles, but you're left on your own for the transmission.

All the best,

-Dave G.
 

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Just a little tip. When I strip and overhaul swivel housings, I drill the housing tap it out and fit a right angle grease nipple, makes it easy then to keep the housing flled with grease in the fiture.
 

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filled with grease...

just to clarify "filled with grease", i think after driving to warm it up, and after settling, the grease level should be below the allen set screw that's used to fill it.

As i recall, someone had accidentally over-filled it, and the grease managed to make it's way past some seals and into the differential which is not ideal... so for those who don't know, "filled" with grease means filled to the proper level, not filled up to capacity.
 

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There is a seal and anti lash bearing in the axle housing between the diff and swivel housing if all is in good order no grease should go that far, 2nd point I have never yet seen a G that didnt let in water at the swivel bearing shim top and bottom which finds its way to the hub bearing and is the main cause of hub bearing failure, particularily if you off road wet,
There is no such thing as too much grease in this area, may recomendation is pack it full by hand before reassembly keep it full through a grease nipple and keep the water and dirt out.
 

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Filling the joint housing with a retrofitted grease nipple is not a good idea. Since the plug hole is not open you have no reference on how much grease is already in there and the pressure created will make grease move into areas where it has no business (axle housing). Besides, with the hole open and simply sticking your grease gun in there makes pumping faster and easier (no resistance).

The manual asks for 800 grams of grease, that about fills the entire housing when rebuilding or servicing the joint housing.
Even when some grease makes its way outside past the seals over time, and lets say it is down to 400 grams, water will still not reach the wheel bearings, firstly because enough grease is blocking access and secondly the inner seal, #223, will keep any contamination out.
http://4x4abc.com/G-Class/bearingss.html
http://4x4abc.com/G-Class/bearing.html

Too much grease is bad news! It is the #2 cause for drive shaft vibration (people overfilling the slip joint) - #1 is of course no service at all.

Harald
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My somewhat educated guess is that you simply have a torn CV boot on one side. The grease in the CV is generally thinner, especially if it has been breaking down for 10 years and 100k miles. There will naturally be some metal in that grease, which is most likely grey colored. Brent
That sounds like the case... I've changed enough CV joints, that I should have recognized the lighter weight grease. In this case, I did not know that the CV joint had a seperate rubber boot contained inside of the greased knuckle. I feel more comfortable about it not being 90wt oil in the joint housing, and the grey-metalic color too.

The manual asks for 800 grams of grease, that about fills the entire housing when rebuilding or servicing the joint housing. Harold
There is no way that I had that much grease in there. I will pick up more grease tomorrow and fill the joint housing. Hopefully that should hold me off enough to set aside the money for the parts and shop time.

In your opinion, is this something that I can do myself, or should I have a specialty shop do it? I know that I am going to need to get several specialty tools, but it's still worth it. When it comes to the G-Wagon, I figure I can do it better than most local mechanics (including the Mercedes Dealership).

Chuck
 

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Discussion Starter #18
After reading through Dave's and Harold's sites, I don't know if I can afford the specialty tools and manuals to do the job. OUCH! It might be cheaper to pay the dealership who are obligated to have that stuff on hand. Using the parts number listed on Harold's site, the claw wrench alone is over $100.
Does Snap-On make any of these tools?

I've read through my copy of WIS, which is used at the dealerships for the G500 & G55's. It's far more difficult to read than the simple stuff you guy's have managed to paste onto this forum.

Chuck
 

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Chuck, the job is something you can do yourself. It is time consuming but straightforward. Harald showed me how to take apart one side of my axle and helped me with the reassembly. I did the other side alone. A claw socket for the special axle nuts and a press or access to one are the special tool requirements. A torque wrench, drifts and punches and related tools are things you probably already own. Dave G has a fantastic step by step of the process on the clubgwagen tech site. The seals must be ordered through Mercedes (Europa) as well as some special caps etc. I would not substitute any generic seals. All of the bearings are available through bearing supply houses at about half of the MB prices and may yield higher quality bearings. Dave has a great list of the parts. I used a dial indicator as per the book for freeplay and after some exchange of ideas on this board I slightly tightened the final setting to no freeplay. Dave's suggestion about not torqueing the locknuts to the insane high value is also a good one and I used a lower but safe final torque setting. Look at the process on the website and see if it is for you. It was the one worry I had about working on the truck but it is an interesting job and empowering to do yourself.
There is an inner seal on the axle to keep gearoil from migrating to the swivel ball housing area that may have gone south on your rig. They are rather expensive viton seals. Best of luck,

-Dai
 

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Dai - 3/9/2005 11:51 PM

Chuck, the job is something you can do yourself. It is time consuming but straightforward. Harald showed me how to take apart one side of my axle and helped me with the reassembly.

-Dai
I would look very carefully before doing it on a 463 axle. They are not the same as the 460 axle; and the preload procedure is quite different.
 
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