View original topic: torque converter seal; orientation? leaking upon install Page: 1, 2  Next
MikeR42 Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:39 am

Can anyone describe which way the torque converter lip seal should be installed into the bore in the transmission? i.e. the lip towards or away from the transmission.

Bentley says to "install in as far as it will go", and installing the lip side of the seal towards the front (transmission) seems to alight the seal lip right at the very front of the race on the torque converter. This is the orientation the old seal was in. I did notice that the old seal was not pushed in all the way, it was flush with the outside of the bore on the transmission, thus giving more contact to the race on the converter.

Upon installing the converter and engine, as described above, I am now getting a good deal of ATF leakage, after rotating the engine by hand to bolt up the converter to the flexplate. It seemed that the converter installed nicely, so I'm somewhat confident the converter is installed all the way, but I've never done this before. I hope so, and that I did not damage the splines on the converter or trans.

This is an automatic 81 air cooled Vanagon.


GeeZ12 Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:41 am

Mike - install cup side toward tc internals - I install 2 piggy back seals and leave the last one flush. Just don't use a punch as it distorts the seal. Make sure you check the tc internal bushing and polish up the outside that rides on the seal. I usually replace the tc bushing since. Lubricate the seals and bushing with fluid and install the tc till it goes down twice. When you mate the trans to engine the tc should be slightly recessed, rotate easily to align the holes with the tc, and moved toward the engine ever so slightly. I like to use new tc bolts.


aeffertz Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:09 am

Hey Mike,
thanks for making this thread! I have a new torque converter seal on the way and this info will probably come in handy. We must have long lost twin vans or something. I'm also fixing an '81!

GeeZ12 Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:05 am

Mike - Sorry I just reread my reply and I explained the orientation incorrectly - Don't examine the sealing surface too much - just make sure the cup side of the seal is facing the transmission end and the flat side is flush with the edge of the transmission.

MikeR42 Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:09 am

Thanks Gary.

So, it sounds I had my seal in backwards to clarify....the open cup side to the TC?

Use two seals, huh? Clever. If you have good experience saying so, I'll do it. Anything to help prevent that ATF mess from the bell housing gunking everything in it's radial path.

MikeR42 Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:12 am

sorry, I think we both replied at the same time.

O.K. So I did have it right, I just pushed it in too far(why is Bently wrong?, is there a spacer missing or something?). By the way, the seal is not very tight in the bore. Maybe I should bond it with a little RTV?

GeeZ12 Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:14 am

Mike - No No No

The cup opening goes toward the transmission pump/shafts. The tc enters the flat side of the seals.

I wish I could take pics like Ben.


GeeZ12 Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:22 am

Mike - the seal outside fit to the pump housing should fit snugly - Are you sure it is a proper new seal? I have never seen a loose fitting seal at this location unless someone tried to reuse the seal. The spring inside forces the seal firmly against the tc so the seal to pump fit should not move or you will have a bad leak. I have been preaching about piggy backing seals for years but just recently in this forum. I have > 30 years experience with these transmissions.


MikeR42 Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:22 am

Gee12, Thank you for the help. I went ahead and put in two TC seals, both oriented with the cup opening inwards, towards the tranny. So far, it's great.

I am so pleased so far with my engine rebuild. First time I've done such a thing, and actually, one of the first times I've worked on this vehicle with good results the first time. Maybe I'm starting to get the 'zen' of this machine.....or I'm finally working most of the bugs out.

GeeZ12 Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:11 pm

Mike - np - You'll be glad you spent the extra $10 for the additional tc seal.


blee Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:51 pm

Old post, but I'm doing the same. Question on the double seal: At the base where the seal would sit if you pushed it down all the way, or used two, there are two ports that I assume are for trans fluid to flow. Wouldn't a double seal block those? Are they there to pass trans fluid to and from the torque converter?

djkeev Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:58 pm

There is an opinion that NAPA makes a superior seal for this application.

The number is in this forum somewhere, I can try to find it......


dgbeatty Sun Jul 12, 2020 4:24 pm

Regarding the insructions in Bentley "Install as far as it will go usung the installation tool". This is correct as the depth stop is a function of the tool and no other dimension is given. Thus without the "tool" it is very difficult to install the seal square and at the correct depth and is most probable the reason so many have trouble with the seal. Installing two seals provides a physical stop for the second seal and with luck aids in getting it installed squarely.

Why did they do it this way? Cost and speed. Much faster and simpler to machine a thru bore rather than a stopped bore. Also the tooling last much longer machining a thru bore. Remember this design is from the 60s before CNC was common.

kourt Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:01 pm

Napa part 550237.

It’s a wheel bearing seal, but it’s what GoWesty sells for this application. There is also a National brand seal—search the archives.


blee Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:02 pm

Thanks, I did get two metal clad “national” brand seals through rock auto. The one I took out was metal clad as well. Still curious about the ports in the bottom of the bore and if I block them by having a seal bottomed out, does it affect any function.

dgbeatty Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:03 am

You are correct to be concern about the drainage bores. BTW when using seals with bare metal exteriors a very thin film of Permatex #2 aids in assembly and a weepage free job.

blee Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:56 pm

looking closer at the two seal idea. When I take a seal and slide it on the torque converter, I can feel a slight ridge where the old seal was. I've taken 800 grit and polished it up, still slightly there. I have two national seals and one from the trans reseal kit I bought. The National brand seals are taller than the original. If I use two, they will be proud and stick out of the hub. If I use one of each it's closer, but would still be proud. Is this an issue? It would allow the seals to contact a different part of the TQ shaft, which would be great. I'm guessing enough trans fluid gets by the seals and into the TQ with both in?

mikemtnbike Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:16 pm

I'm not a super expert, far from it, but I think that it is not necessary to consider doubling up the seals when using the hard-sided TC seal. The double-up suggestion is for when using the soft seals, such as these.

I've had the NAPA version of the hard-sided seal in for about 30k now, no issues.

blee Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:32 pm

appreciate that info Mike, I'm likely thinking about it too much, but don't want to do all of this work and have it leak again. I do like the idea of having the seal in a different place on the shaft (avoid the groove). It is a thicker seal, so should sit differently if I install flush. I wish there was a way to inset it evenly without precision tools..

mikemtnbike Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:36 pm

I used my old seal as a press guide, if that makes sense. It worked very well.

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