Another Close Call

Tom n N

Advanced Member
Nov 11, 2022
Los Osos, CA
Well, it appears ski3pin is not the only one to recently dodge a bullet.

Yesterday I was installing my offroad tires in preparation for a trip to Utah next week. The first sign of trouble was some oil spots on my garage floor. Even though it has over 350K hard miles on it, in typical Toyota fashion, my truck does not leak a drop. On closer inspection my rear diff housing had been drenched in some kind of fluid. Looked like a badly leaking brake line or one of my brand new rear shocks had already blown out. This was definitely new because after our April Death Valley/Mojave trip I not only swapped out the tires, but also replaced both rear shocks, as one had self destructed on the trip. I definitely would have noticed the oil leak at that time. Since then, other than a quick road trip up to the Bay Area, and an afternoon drive on a local mild trail, the truck hasn’t left the garage.

Further inspection revealed it to be gear oil, not a good sign! All the usual leak points were dry as a bone. My local gear guru said it appears the housing is cracked at the spring pad weld. Says he’s seen it happen a few times, but never on a Toyota. Sure glad I found it at home, not sure what a couple weeks of bouncing around the Utah back country would have done to it. Gear guy shares shop space with a good welder, so between the two of them hopefully it can get fixed before our planned departure date.

Always kind of expected my overloaded trips on bad roads would eventually bite me (literally) in the rear, but never would have guessed this.

Anyone ever heard of anything like this? How about good long term preventative fixes (other than staying on better roads or carrying less beer, which ain't going to happen!)



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I've never had a housing crack. Plenty of seals leaking. In fact I've had the seals replaced three times on my truck by three different shops and it still leaks. Still debating on whether to try again or just live with it. I do know that is not an easy thing to weld. I hope your guy is very skilled. Might want to price a new housing.
Wow, glad you caught this also! I've not seen a cracked rear end but it makes sense occurring at the spring mount. Lots of pounding goes on there. How are your shocks?
Well, the damage is worse than I expected. Drivers side is cracked at the weld, but passenger side is not only cracked all the way through (and leaking) but the tube is crushed. Housing is now junk.

Could just replace with another, but of course if it happened once… If I’m going through the trouble of fixing something, I like to also improve it.

My ultimate dream would be a full floating axe, ideally Toyota, but not many choices there. 90’s Land cruiser maybe, but lots of fiddling to make it work.

Trail Gear makes an uprated housing that would accept all my existing internals. Still have to weld on all the external stuff. Spring perches should be straightforward, but not sure about all the brackets for the brakes. Also of course would not get full float upgrade.

Funny, always expected the semi float axes to be the weak link. Never would have expected this. Those of you with overloaded rigs might want to crawl under the back and take a peek.

What do you all think, any options I have missed. I would welcome any and all suggestions.



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"Those of you with overloaded rigs might want to crawl under the back and take a peek." Best advice regarding loading up our trucks I have heard in a long while.... :sneaky: Be safe folks!
350,000 hard miles on it. It has earned its keep. So a simpler remove and replace with an identical rear axle would get you another 350,000 miles. When I look at our truck with 270,000 miles and I think about replacing items as needed, the thought starts coming up, "How much longer am I going to live?

But. I'm like you. I'd want to beef things up if possible.
You should shop for a low mileage used rear end to install as a replacement. There are a number of recyclers of Toyota parts only. I believe there is one in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento. Most items are sold with a warranty. I would not buy new for a vehicle with 350K. I have seen a few Toyota housings crack at the spring mounts in my years at a Toyota Store in service department.
Thanks for the replies.
First thing to state is any fix is going to be long term. Replacing this truck is NOT an option. Unfortunately, nothing out there to match its size, simplicity and reliability. Plus 30 years of modifications both large and small means this truck fits me like a good pair of broken in boots. I’ve got lots more miles of dirt to explore with it.

With that out of the way, the sane choice would probably be to replace with another used housing. I think what scares me the most about an aftermarket housing (strong as they are) is trying to fab all the brake hardware mounts. Spring pads are easy, but the other stuff not so much. Especially as I would want to pay a pro so it gets done right the first time and doesn’t turn into a long term project (got plenty already).

As stated previously, I have a hard time replacing anything without making some kind of improvement. Any ideas how to improve a factory housing? Interesting to hear fish more has seen this before, did you just R&R with new, or try anything different?

A good low mileage factory housing might be better made then some aftermarket one .Unless you get a factory OEM one,that's it Toyota still makes a replacement.
An aftermarket one is likely to be from China/India.
Know what you mean about keeping your truck.
You know all the quirks and new ones are out of site price wise.
Good hunting.
If you get a recycled one you still need to strip it down and clean it.If your ring and pinion are still good you can take all your guts and reassemble. Replace parts as necessary.

There is no guarantee that the housing is not damaged from a accident.

Look up truss. A proper designed truss can help protect the axles and tube's from the added weight.

Different paths to go, and of course money is a issue sometimes. The last factory assembly lasted a long time and many miles for you. A same replacement should last the same.
Well, lots of options for long term solutions, so am going to do more research and then take my time building it up right.

In the meantime I’m going to listen to the advice most of you gave and find a good used stock housing to put all my very good condition parts back into (just replaced all bearings less than a year ago, and the TruTrac is less than 10 years old)

Ironically the stock housing is turning out to be harder to find than I would have expected. I’ve been calling all over the state trying to find one (including the previously mentioned wrecking yard capital of California, Rancho Cordova). Funny how these trucks were common as rocks, with all the junkyards full of them…until they weren’t. I remember when the same thing happened several decades ago with my beloved 60’s Chevy trucks, oh well, history does repeat itself.

The search continues though, as I’ve got some important exploring to do this summer. Any leads would be greatly appreciated!

An update:

Finally found a good stock replacement housing. A HUGE thanks to Dylan at Yotamasters in Southern California. They have become my go to for both OEM and aftermarket Toyota parts and advice, and I swear the parts are on my doorstep before I even hang up the phone.

Upon further investigation it appears that while overloaded off-roading did not help matters, the real culprit in all this was a VERY botched installation of a set of Super Springs by a local shop. They tried to install the wrong kit, as apparently there isn’t one made for my application. A long ugly story ( to their credit, the Super Spring company tech department was very helpful and the product appears very well built, it just doesn’t work on my model truck). While removing the springs I had to use a 1/2” drive breaker bar with a 3’ cheater pipe and all my strength to loosen the U bolt nuts. The tech that tightened them must have turned his big impact gun up to 11! (Factory torque spec is 90#). Must have deformed the tube at the spring perch welds and a couple weeks of hard off roading the next month made the housing crack all the way through.

While my newly acquired housing should be fine as is, I’m going to have a local off road fab shop do some minor reinforcement to the spring perches just to be on the safe side. Dropping it off to them today, so hopefully I’ll be on (and off) the road soon.
I used Superspriongs on my06 Ranger when I had my ATC Bobcat built.
They work well but when I changer trucks to a 02 Tundra AC cab Supersprings didn't make
make a setup for that truck. I went with Firestone air bags and like how they work.
That's interesting about over tightening the spring U bolts.I can see where that could cause the axle tube to be deformed. Glad all is working out.

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