As I explained in my Land Rover 110 job list post the other week, one of the previous owners had broken the axle breathers and hadn't bothered to replace them.
The axles need to breathe because the diff oil warms up whilst in use, and the air has to escape somewhere. If the breathers weren't there, then you would regularly blow an oil seal.
The breathers are even more important when wading. As the oil and air is warm inside the axle, as soon as it's plunged into cold water the air contracts and and sucks in new air. If the breather was in water, it will suck in water too, and that's no good for your diff!
So maintaining your axles breathers is pretty important.
In my case, the breathers were well and truly broken, so read on to find out how to change them.
How to change the axle breathers on a Land Rover
Changing the axle breathers isn't a difficult job, and can be undertaken with the most basic tools.
To complete the job you will need:
- 14mm Spanner
- Wire Brush
- Cable ties
- Wire cutter for cutting the old cable ties
Series Land Rovers: Series Land Rovers have a small brass ball bearing valve which acts as a breather. They are notorious for getting clogged up and either sticking open or closed. For peace of mind it is better to fit the later plastic tube type breathers.
Note: You don't have to jack the vehicle up to change the axle breathers, but it is wise to chock the wheels and leave it in gear for added safety.
Have a look on the top of the axle tube of your Land Rover and you should see the screw in breather with the plastic tube coming out the side (mine's snapped off!)
2: Take your wire brush and clean the area around the breather. Wipe clean with rag. This is to stop any dirt falling into the hole once the breather is removed.
4: Once the breather is off the axle tube, you need to trace the old plastic tubing and remove it. Chances are it has been cable tied in place, so cut the ties with the wire cutters.
5: The new breather should look like the left photo below when you take it out the packet. Remove the protective plastic cover and screw the breather into the axle tube. Make sure you do it up tight enough to crush the copper washers.
A note on breather positioning: Generally you want the plastic tube to run along the top of the axle (so you can cable tie it on), but there are occasions when you can bring the breather tube off at a different angle to facilitate better routing to a high place on the Land Rover. This is what I did, as shown in the right hand photo above.
6: Now repeat the steps above on the other axle.
Routing the axle breather pipes
The axle breather pipes have to be routed carefully to a high point on the vehicle.
From the factory, Land Rover usually vent the front axle breather high in the engine bay attached to the bulkhead, and the rear breather vents above the maximum wading depth on the chassis.
On eBay you can buy extended breather kits which give you more tubing to route the breather to a very high point. Camel Trophy Land Rovers would have their axle breathers vent at the same height as the snorkel.
Care must be taken to make sure that there is enough slack in the breather tube so that the axle doesn't pull on the plastic tubing when it moves. Also take care not to route it between the axle and bump stops on the chassis!
I attached the tubing to a pipe on the engine with a cable tie. (see pic on the right) I left the cable ties just loose enough to allow the tubing to move freely with the axle.
8: Rear Axle: Route the rear axle breather to the highest point you can on the rear chassis/tub.
I routed the rear axle breather past the fuel tank, up under the rear wing, and then poked it through a hole in the rear tub so that the breather exits inside the car!
This way I know damn well that it will be out of the way of any water. If the water reaches this point, then the last thing I will be worried about is the axle breather.
The photos below show the routing of the rear breather.
As my axle breathers were broken, there's a chance that water/dirt has got in with diff oil. Now the breathers are sorted, I can add changing the diff oil to my job list.
So there you have it. It's a pretty simple job that should take about 10 minutes per axle, and you can rest safe in the knowledge that your axles are breathing properly.