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ARB Air Locker Solenoid Leaking Gear Oil

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by kmorgan3, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. Oct 2, 2021 at 12:34 PM
    #1
    kmorgan3

    kmorgan3 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hey folks,

    I've been arguing back and forth with ARB and I'm at the point where I just hired a law firm to go after them for breach of contract. Figured I'd post my story and see if anyone has had similar problems:

    Has anyone had issues with the air locker solenoid leaking gear oil? ARB had this issue chronically back in the day, but they claimed that my locker should not be leaking gear oil out of the solenoid since they made a manufacturing change back in 2016. They are denying a warranty claim because they think the manufacturing change makes them immune to manufacturing defects I guess? Yet my locker has already been warrantied as the seals failed as part of their recent manufacturing issues. The oil leaking issue was so widespread back in the day that they made a purge valve for these things:
    https://eastcoastgearsupply.com/i-23993706-arb-purge-valve-170110.html

    The solenoid leaks fluid after I drive the truck and it sits overnight (thermal expansion occurs). I checked the fluid level and we are about at the point where I need to squirt more in there -- it's been going on for 3 months.
    IMG_4948.HEIC.jpg
    IMG_4947.HEIC.jpg
    IMG_4946.HEIC.jpg

    The issue started after I had the seals repaired. They are claiming it is cause-effect and my installer must have marred the journal when re-installing. This is false as I was sitting there during the entire repair. My thoughts are that the locker unit had an air leak before the repair and thus could not reach pressure enough to force fluid up the air line. Now that the locker is air tight after we replaced the seals, fluid can now find its way up the airline instead of venting out of the bummed seal (i.e. the repair exposed another manufacturing defect). They are refusing to entertain a reimbursement for shop time when I have my guy investigate the issue and confirm that the journal face doesn't have nicks on it. They will not replace the unit, they will not cover repair costs, and they are working on a pure speculative theory that when we repaired their initial mistake we must have caused the second... So any advice or other stories we can gather will be greatly appreciated.

    The only thing ARB and I could mutually agree on was the possibility that my diff breather was clogged. I replaced it with an OE Toyota diff breather and we still have the issue.

    Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
     
  2. Oct 2, 2021 at 12:37 PM
    #2
    elmontemike

    elmontemike Well-Known Member

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  3. Oct 2, 2021 at 12:51 PM
    #3
    JoeCOVA

    JoeCOVA IG @MightyJoeFlannel

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    Sounds like the installer
     
  4. Oct 2, 2021 at 1:05 PM
    #4
    kmorgan3

    kmorgan3 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    How? They claim it’s from marring the inside of the journal cap… which wasn’t removed. You only need to remove it to replace the internal bonded seal whereas we replaced the H-types on the outside of it. Only other thing I could think of was the adjuster nut touching the seal housing, but we explicitly bent the adjuster to avoid contact with the seal housing per the directions. It’s written in bold.
     
  5. Oct 2, 2021 at 4:58 PM
    #5
    kmorgan3

    kmorgan3 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Temporary fix:

    I unscrewed the fitting that plugs into the bulkhead
    C0C65C24-868A-4E3D-9E42-FD194C898518.jpg

    Then luckily I saved the little plug that came with my air compressor (it dams the solenoid hole if you don’t have lockers). It’s the exact same pipe thread that’s on the inside of the bulkhead. Even has a gasket on it. I put some Teflon on it and screwed it in.
    B10CB0A1-641F-4CCB-B534-8F3FC4FBEB1E.jpg
    CF63042D-72A6-47B1-BE28-3271CBE9FFE3.jpg

    Zip-tied the air line out of the way. I’ll track down a little cap to put over it so it doesn’t get contaminated with dust.
    384D9D78-F6A0-4B8B-9883-87EEB2E7F39B.jpg

    If I want to use the air locker I just need to undo my little plug and put the quick-release fitting back onto the bulkhead. Then take the air line and push it in. Overall takes about 3 minutes to switch back and forth. This way I don’t have any fluid leaking out while I’m driving / sitting overnight + can still use the locker for short spurts while I wait for a remedy. I anticipate it’s going to take a while to get this shit sorted out.
     
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  6. Oct 2, 2021 at 5:02 PM
    #6
    the.sight.picture

    the.sight.picture Wishes he was in the woods.

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  7. Oct 2, 2021 at 5:04 PM
    #7
    Speedfreak

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    You could leave the line connected and install a 1/4 turn ball valve to block the oil until this is resolved. Easier than climbing under to reconnect anytime you want to use it.
     
  8. Oct 2, 2021 at 5:04 PM
    #8
    Skydvrr

    Skydvrr IG: @kalopsianick

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    Ace hardware has mini rubber stopper / plugs that might fit in that airline
     
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  9. Oct 2, 2021 at 5:06 PM
    #9
    kmorgan3

    kmorgan3 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    This is genius! I’ll look for one that’s 1/8 bsp.

    Edit: this one will work perfectly. I’ll just put the quick release fitting on the female end.
    Good call — I’ll head over there in a bit.
     
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  10. Oct 14, 2021 at 2:18 AM
    #10
    Freeheelbillie

    Freeheelbillie Well-Known Member

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    FRONT END King Stage 3 3” RR Coil Overs SPC UCA’s REAR END King Stage 3 BAMF Shock Relocation Rear AAL Heavy ARB Universal Diff Breather Kit TIRES & RIMS 16” Method Bronze BFG K02 (315/75/R16) ARMOR Demello Off Road Baja Hoop Front Bumper Main Line Overland Rock Sliders w/ Top Plate ¼” Aluminum RCI Fuel Tank Skid RCI Fuel Tank Straps RCI Rear Diff Skid RCI A-Arm Skids RCI – Front, Transmission, and rear Transfer Case Skid DRIVE LINE Re Geared w/ Nitro 4.56 Package Front ARB Air Locker Rear ARB Air Locker 8” Reverse Clamshell 3.73 & Down Carrier RECOVERY ComeUp Seal Gen2 9.5RS Winch, Synthetic Line ComeUp Seal Hawse Fairlead ARB On Board Twin Air Compressor LIGHTING Squadron-R Pro Amber Fogs (Wide Cornering) Baja Designs Rock Lights Squadron Sport Fogs (qty 4) Baja Designs Bed Light Kit SPODS, HD 8 Circuit Switch Panel
    Sub'd!
    I am having the same issue, unfortunately.
    Mine could be coming from the Front or the Rear...ironically I have the ABR rear diff breather too.
    What can I do to aid in making ARB aware that I have the same issue??
    Do you have a contact that you've already started the process with you can share?
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021 at 2:37 AM
  11. Oct 14, 2021 at 6:14 AM
    #11
    Blueberry.Taco

    Blueberry.Taco Well-Known Member

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    usually the diff cools after you park it which is typically more described as thermal contraction rather than expansion.
    with the diff vent not clogged (have you confirmed this? if you blow into the vent hole with no ARB or OEM filter/cap, what happens?) I don't see how the oil goes uphill as it cools. If anything i'd expect it to either go up the tube as it heats up, or depending on the failure mode, as you are driving and oil pressure from the spinning forces oil upwards.
     
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  12. Oct 14, 2021 at 6:23 AM
    #12
    plurpimpin

    plurpimpin Well-Known Member

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    Realistically is a lawyer gonna be any cheaper than cutting your losses on a $1k locker? I have a hard time believing it will.

    I’m also sure ARB’s litigation budget is much larger than yours.

    I know you’re accounting for labor too but even if they honored the warranty parts suppliers rarely cover labor under warranty. You’d just get a new locker.

    Labor warranties are usually offered by installers -i.e. a gear shop warrantying an install is correct. Not the part manufacturer.

    Edit: also not trying to be a dick, just realistic. Super sucks you’re having issues with the locker and ARB as a company.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021 at 6:38 AM
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  13. Oct 14, 2021 at 6:44 AM
    #13
    SR-71A

    SR-71A Define "Well-Known Member"

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    Thats what I was thinking. Having a hard time following OP's logic, but I also dont have an air locker so I dont have a good grasp on all the components involved
     
  14. Oct 14, 2021 at 6:56 AM
    #14
    AtomAnt

    AtomAnt Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I’m missing some details, but if I were ARB, I wouldn’t warranty a product that had been previously worked on by a third party. At this point there’s just no way to prove who’s at fault. Your likely fighting a losing battle.
     
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  15. Oct 14, 2021 at 7:08 AM
    #15
    SpyGoat

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    nothing yet!
    Out of curiosity, were any of you with this issue aware of their history of leaking before you purchased their product?
     
  16. Oct 14, 2021 at 7:18 AM
    #16
    Hook78

    Hook78 Well-Known Member

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    Tough situation. As others have said, the fact that a third party worked on the locker really muddies the waters. Many product warranties specifically state that if work is done by you or anyone else on the product, the warranty is invalidated. Don’t know if that’s the case here. This is also a highly technical issue as far as what OP has described. Very difficult to prove whether or not the third party work had any impact.

    Sort of surprised an attorney was willing to take this up. No big deal if it’s a contingency contract, but otherwise likely money flushed down the drain.

    What does the attorney say as far as the strength of the case? Maybe ARB will just fold to avoid litigation and replace the locker, hope it works out.
     
  17. Oct 14, 2021 at 7:52 AM
    #17
    kmorgan3

    kmorgan3 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Alright let me try to answer some questions all at once:

    • The process of thermal expansion is what would start the issue. Hot oil and increased pressure in the housing is what caused ARBs issues in the past (per ARB). It pushes small amounts of oil past the seals, but understand the diff breather is functioning so it’s not a blow off valve as you might expect it would if the thing was just wide open. What causes the oil to leak up the tube at night is thermal contraction — the diff and all of the components are cooling, surface area is reducing, and that oil that was trapped past the seals will wick upward toward the solenoid. The path back into the housing is dammed.
    • Some legal stuff: before going into a suit you can check to see if there’s an arbitration clause. ARB has one. This drastically reduces your legal fees as there’s no chance to go to trial; rather the most you’d see is a retired judge that will make your ruling.
    • You can put your attorney on a retainer, a contingency, etc. to ensure it doesn’t go much higher than the overall cost of a new unit. However, you better believe we are asking for fees, my time, shop time, etc.
    • ARB has a list of “trusted shops” (like Nitro does for gear installs) to perform warranty claims, installs, etc. My shop was approved by them ahead of the warranty repair
    • I had the same shop take apart the diff at no charge as my installer is fucking livid. We looked at the journal cap, seals, adjuster toe, etc. (everything they said it was), documented everything, and found no damage. The issue still persists. Go figure.
    • A new diff breather was installed from the first phone call I made to ARB. Issue still persists.
    • Given the work we’ve done to track down any issues our case is very strong.
     
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  18. Oct 14, 2021 at 7:56 AM
    #18
    Hook78

    Hook78 Well-Known Member

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    Ah, the shop being approved by ARB is a game changer. So is the arbitration clause.

    Would be interested to hear how it turns out. Good luck!
     

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