contantly leaking for seals, what am i doing wrong? 2004 wr450f

hey guys,

maybe someone on here with more experience can give me some pointers. I am highly frustrated with the constantly leaking forks on my 2004 wr450f! I put a little over 1000 miles on it this year (first dirtbike) in the single track and in that time I have put three sets of seals in there.

The issue that has me over the top this time, is I did the right (non brake fork) just before an enduro and by the end of the enduro it was already leaking!

I am using brand new OEM fork seals each time, however, i do not replace the bushings or the dust seals. About every 2-3 rides, i pull down the dust seals and clean out the grease/dirt/grit and pack new grease in the dust seal and go about my business....it just seems like my forks are always a battle to keep from oozing fork oil, anyone else have this issue or have some tricks to keep this down somewhat? it doesn't seem like my other riding buddies are struggling with this issue like i am (non-yamaha bikes)

THANKS!

Edited by KGSloan

I'm sure others will chime in, but one possibility is hard water deposits left on the fork tubes will rip the seals.

Check very closely for nicks/scratches on the tube. I had the same problem with my Kawi 450 and since I put the sealsavers on I have gone 3 years. The tire grabs little rocks and flings them into the forks putting little dings and scratches.

Your problem is in the bushings man. Just replacing the oil seals, when the bushings are shot, will only get you a couple rides before the problem comes back again.

Your preventative maintenance with greasing the dust seals sounds perfect though. Replace those bushings, put new oil seals in there, and you should be good to go.

Water deposits wont tear up seals. However, nicks and dings in the lower fork legs will eat up your seals. So, while you have her apart, take a close look at your sliders and look for any damage.

Your problem is in the bushings man. Just replacing the oil seals, when the bushings are shot, will only get you a couple rides before the problem comes back again.

Your preventative maintenance with greasing the dust seals sounds perfect though. Replace those bushings, put new oil seals in there, and you should be good to go.

Water deposits wont tear up seals. However, nicks and dings in the lower fork legs will eat up your seals. So, while you have her apart, take a close look at your sliders and look for any damage.

Perfectly said

I always replace the bushings when replacing the fork seals. Also, It could be possible that you aren't reinstalling the front wheel assembly correctly. On my yami's I have to take the bike off the stand compress the front suspension up and down 15+ times then tighten pinch bolts and axle nut. If I don't I risk the forks not being alined correctly, causing seal failure. It's in the factory manual. It happened to me one time. The rotor side fork got pulled slightly inwards during tightening and caused a leaky mess.

Also check your lower fork tubes for nicks or burrs.

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Here's a link on TT with more info.

http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1024982&highlight=

i will put in a new set of bushings and really give the lower fork legs a once over....though they look perfectly smooth each time I do the work.

how do i know if my bushings are shot from a visual inspection? they look fine to me, and the bike LITERALLY has 1000 miles on it only (i bought the bike with 40 miles from a friend last november) so it seems like that is pretty quick to wear out a set of bushings (but i am a newb). I have been learning dirt this year, so that has meant a lot of wrecks and a lot of front wheels sitting crooked in the forks after a wreck. perhaps that has something to do with it as well.

I do also notice when I put the whole wheel together that the fork legs "pull" in a little as I torque the axle bolt (maybe .25"-.50") if that means anything.

thanks for the advice so far guys, appreciate the help :busted:

mikewrf18, i will check the manual and really follow the procedure for torque the front wheel down. thanks for the tip, i had not been doing that.

I do also notice when I put the whole wheel together that the fork legs "pull" in a little as I torque the axle bolt (maybe .25"-.50") if that means anything.

thanks for the advice so far guys, appreciate the help :busted:

I would bet this ^^^^ is your problem. It might not be too late. Remove the wheel again and follow the factory manual when reinstalling the wheel. You might get a little more life out of those seals.

After hand tightening the axle nut, I compress the suspension up and down 15+ times while the bike is on the ground, I then tighten the pinch bolts, then torque the axle nut. Tightening the pinch bolts first, will keep the lower fork tubes aligned and keep the tubes from being pulled inwards when torquing the axle nut.

Edited by mikewrf18

no need to pack grease in the dust seal - this is not helping

The grease is attracting dirt and I bet your problem is dirt then getting under the seal causing them to leak

clean them up, using a feeler gauge stuck up between the seal and fork tube to get any dirt out, then just push the dust seal back up into place.

no need to pack grease in the dust seal - this is not helping

The grease is attracting dirt and I bet your problem is dirt then getting under the seal causing them to leak

clean them up, using a feeler gauge stuck up between the seal and fork tube to get any dirt out, then just push the dust seal back up into place.

I always use lithium soap based grease in between the fork seal and wiper. I pull the wiper down, spray the grease on the lower fork tube in between the wiper and seal, then push the wiper back up into place. It's in the factory manual, so it must be true! :busted: A piece of 35mm film strip will do, if you don't have a feeler gauge. I like to use the film strip because it is more flexible and forgiving on the seal then metal. Just my humble Opinion.

Follow the advice above and you will be golden.

- Always inspect your tubes with a fresh razor blade, like you are giving the tubes a shave, to look for burr's and hard water deposits, before replacing your seals. If you find a burr that is minor, sand it down with 400>600 wetdry sand paper.

- If you have not been properly torquing down the front axle clamps, you need to replace BOTH bushings right away. You should also check for damage to the chroming on the tube from being mis-aligned

- Clean your wipers and seals with a thin piece of bendable plastic. Pull you wipers, and get that plastic up inside there, forming it to the shape of the tube, and go around the seal 360 degrees, while shooting air or WD-40 up there.

- IMHO, NEVER use seal-savers. They trap dirt and sand.

I had trouble with my RH fork keept leaking

Put two new seals in it but still it persited

I then took the zip-ty off, which I had fitted to see how much travel the forks were using

It hasn't leaked since

I think the zip-ty was push dirt & grit up under the dust seal and into the oil seal at full compression

thanks everyone for all the help.

it seems clear i wasn't using the correct procedure for torquing the axle and pinch bolts, i will be sure the get that right this time around and really follow the manual step by step. I have new bushings/seals/etc on the way and will report back in a few weeks if this solves my issue.

thanks sincerely for the advice and help

-kit

thanks everyone for all the help.

it seems clear i wasn't using the correct procedure for torquing the axle and pinch bolts, i will be sure the get that right this time around and really follow the manual step by step. I have new bushings/seals/etc on the way and will report back in a few weeks if this solves my issue.

thanks sincerely for the advice and help

-kit

Kit, did you happen to try removing and reinstalling the wheel again per manual? You may get a few more rides out of the seals if you haven't ridden it with the fork tubes pulled inward yet. Worth a shot anyways! Might as well practice installing your wheel correctly, before replacing with new seals again anyways! You should at least notice the leak slow down substantually.

Mike,

i had not had the chance. I will re-install the wheel and get some riding in over the thanksgiving holiday with my step daughter and see what happens. I have all the new parts coming for an entire fork rebuild and will do that after the first of the year (having knee surgery so will be out of riding for a month). I am right now looking at the appropriate springs to put in the forks so i can open them up and get it all done at once (will start another thread).

thanks again, I'll be sure to update the thread as I implement the suggestions.

-kit

I had trouble with my RH fork keept leaking

Put two new seals in it but still it persited

I then took the zip-ty off, which I had fitted to see how much travel the forks were using

It hasn't leaked since

I think the zip-ty was push dirt & grit up under the dust seal and into the oil seal at full compression

I had this very thing happen on a street bike. I used a zip tie and just left it on there. Everynow and then I'd push it up and see what it was doing on a street ride, spirited ride, etc. All at once the fork started leaking, when I went to replace the seals between the area dust and oil seals was packed with dirt while the other side was spotless! Now if I want to check I clean the area first, use the zip tie and cut it off as soon as I'm satisfied.

just an update to this if anyone is ever searching and finds the thread....

after replacing the bushings, i stopped having to fight leaking seals. no an issue since - so, while no noticeable wear to the bushings, it was the cause of my constant seal upkeep.

also, i noticed the forks had a lot of sticktion, and this came from not being able to get the lug on the non brake fork to loosen enough to let everything settle alright. bought a new axle, jammed a flat tip screwdriver in the lug to open it up (by the pinch bolts) and bounced the suspension. it's like butter now

just an update to this if anyone is ever searching and finds the thread....

after replacing the bushings, i stopped having to fight leaking seals. no an issue since - so, while no noticeable wear to the bushings, it was the cause of my constant seal upkeep.

also, i noticed the forks had a lot of sticktion, and this came from not being able to get the lug on the non brake fork to loosen enough to let everything settle alright. bought a new axle, jammed a flat tip screwdriver in the lug to open it up (by the pinch bolts) and bounced the suspension. it's like butter now

Thanks for the update. I was wondering if you ever got it figured out. Glad to hear your issues were resolved.

Thanks for the update. I was wondering if you ever got it figured out. Glad to hear your issues were resolved.

thanks for your help in the matter, mike. thanks also to the others for their suggestions - i would have never figured out what was going on without the help. I'm a bit of a newb (to dirtbikes) and am learning a lot about things you can really take for granted on most street bikes.

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