Tech Tips: Fork Seal Maintenance

Sick and tired of having leaky fork seals end your day at the track or in the hills? Check out some helpful tips from our friends at Race Tech on how-to properly service and maintain your fork seals for the best performance.

If you want to get your hands on some new seals, suspension tools, and other related parts; hit up

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Transcribed version:

"Michael Lindsay: Hey, this is Michael Lindsay from Vital MX, we're here at Chaparral Motorsports today. We've got Josh from Race Tech, and he's gonna give us a few tips on seal maintenance.

Race Tech Employee: I'm Josh from Race Tech, here to demonstrate suspension cleaning for seal maintenance. Couple tools you'll need for this will be a eight millimeter T-handle, a bottle of suspension cleaner, some grease, and a pick on your suspension cleaner, preferably alcohol-based suspension cleaner instead of acetone. Acetone's actually very hard on seals, it will puff them up if you leave it on there. All right, so the first step I'm gonna do will be removing the fork guard just so you have more room to get to your actual seal. You could do this anytime you're doing engine maintenance, and oil changes, or anything like that. This will actually help prevent fork seals from leaking and sometimes stop them from leaking if they already are. So we actually have a tool for this. Instead of using a screwdriver, ours has a little pin, it helps stuff from actually marking up your seal and your tube. So you wanna get in there...without damaging anything. Obviously without hitting your tube as well. 

So this is just our cleaner. Like I said, it's alcohol-based so it's really easy on seals to leave on. So you just need to clean up inside the seal. And all you're doing is trying to get as much of that dirt out as possible. You could use a air compressor too or air gun to blow it out if you have one, or just a shop towel. And then what you wanna do too is you're gonna wanna pump the fork to help get dirt out from the actual seal. You just wanna repeat the steps as many times as needed. What you're looking for is if it was leaking slightly, you wanna obviously stop seeing oil. If not, you just wanna make sure there's no dirt inside your actual seal. Because that's what's gonna happen, is it will eventually start building up on your oil seal and eventually find its way back into the fork. So depending what terrain you're really riding too, more dusty, sandy conditions, you're gonna wanna keep up on this, especially on newer bikes because the seals are actually looser than what they've been running for stiction. That's kind of the reasons why they're finding a lot more leaking problems.

So same thing, we're cleaning the dust seal as much as we can and the tube as well just to help get all this stuff off. Obviously we're gonna try to get all the dirt out as we can, as much as we can because it's going to be cavitated inside of here. So if you have air, best thing to do is air. Obviously wear eye protection whenever you're blowing air and dirt. The other thing too, because now you just dried out your dust seal, there is no lubrication onto it. So you wanna take a little bit of grease, preferably like suspension grease. And all you need is a little bit. So the reason why you're actually lubricating your dust seal is because it's sort of like a dry windshield wiper. It doesn't work well dry, but as soon as you get it moist with water, it works really good cleaning your windshields. Same thing with a dust seal. It's never gonna see lubrication because it never sees oil, so the grease will help keep everything lubricated, keep everything sleek, especially with air forks because that's a big problem with stiction. So that will help that, too. 

You'll know its sealed onto your actual tube when it's back...everything's back to flush so you have no gaps going around. If you have a seal driver, now would be a good time to use it if you needed to. Most seals are not a press fit so you could just kinda push them back into place. So now that you have your fork guard back on, this concludes preventative maintenance on your oil and dust seals, keeping the forks working as they should."

Credit: Joe Carlino
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