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Old 12-02-2013, 05:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Please help troubleshoot 4WD noise!

Ok, I have an 86 samurai that is making a grinding noise in 4wd. Everything is fine in 2wd, no noise. I can accelerate in 4 High with no noise but as soon as I coast it makes a very noticeable metal on metal/grinding noise that is relative to the speed. Clutch in or out, same noise. Trans in gear or neutral, same noise. If I step on the brakes I can get it to change or go away for a second. So far I've gotten under the truck and checked all driveshafts and U joints for play and all are seem tight and in good condition. I swapped transfer cases with a used one with no change. Changed fluid in trans, t-case and front and rear diffs. All looked good, no milky fluids or metal shavings. I am under the assumption that there is something bad in the front axles, differential, wheel bearings, birfield joints, or hubs? I am not familiar with working on solid axles at all and am not sure how to proceed at this point. If anyone has any ideas I would surely appreciate it!
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Old 12-03-2013, 12:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Check the (t-case) front output shaft for movement. A trashed front output housing and snapped output shaft can duplicate almost any break (noise) in the front of the drivetrain. It is hard to diagnose without seeing actual cracks or pulling the front off. Here are a few shots of my last output break:



The front housing can be removed without pulling the t-case out of the truck. Just drop the front drive shaft, drain it and then pull the shifter up into the cab and remove the 7 bolts. It takes 30 minutes, but it will save you many hours of yanking everything else apart if it truly is the culprit.
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Last edited by Billjohn; 12-03-2013 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 12-03-2013, 12:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Is it a pretty common issue Bill? I already swapped my T-case for another one with the same result but I guess it beats tearing the front end apart if I don't have to. Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it.
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Old 12-03-2013, 12:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKSamurai View Post
Is it a pretty common issue Bill? I already swapped my T-case for another one with the same result but I guess it beats tearing the front end apart if I don't have to. Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it.
The only noise problem that is more common is a worn out U-joint. Sometimes they feel tight until you actually remove the shaft from the vehicle. But the last few 'phantom noises' I have diagnosed turned out to be the output shaft. You can get a beefed up replacement (if that is what the problem is) from Low Range Offroad, Trail Tough or PetroWorks.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Check you're front pinion bearing for slack.
Had a rear pinion do the very same thing recently.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Excellent. Thanks for the pictures. I'll tear into it and report my findings. I do have grease fittings on my Ujoints so I'm going to grease them and see if it makes any difference in the noise. I played with them both on and off the truck and they pivot nicely and have no apparent slop.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxcar View Post
Check you're front pinion bearing for slack.
Had a rear pinion do the very same thing recently.
I will do that as well. Thanks for the reply!
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Old 12-03-2013, 12:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxcar View Post
Check you're front pinion bearing for slack.
Had a rear pinion do the very same thing recently.
I agree. Not recently, but I've had the same. Quiet on pull, horrible racket on coast. Nut backed off and let the gear drift when not loaded. Somebody replaced the pinion seal, without using a new crush sleeve, when they put it back together (Dana 60, I think).
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Old 12-03-2013, 03:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Ok, I tore into the wheel bearings and kingpin bearings and they are looking good. I packed the snot out of them with grease and back together for a test drive. I also found a grease fitting on the slip joint? on the front driveshaft and shot a ton of grease into that figuring if I regrease everything heavily the noise would at least change if the offending part was involved. No change. Myself and my passenger hung our heads out the window to try to isolate the sound then switched seats and it does sound like from the front center. So, is it worth it to go ahead and replace the ujoints on the front driveshaft even though they feel fine? No grease fittings on the actual ujoints on the front shaft but they are tight and they move freely with the driveshaft bolted in and while removed. I am going to check the output shaft in the transfer case this afternoon. I am leaning toward front diff noise, how do you get at the pinion bearing? Will I have to pull the axles out of the front and get the diff out of the housing? Please excuse my ignorance, I have never done any of this before so I'm learning as I go.
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Old 12-03-2013, 03:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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To pull the pumpkin out of the axle housing, yes, you have to pull the axle shafts first. But before you go through all that, take a look at the nut and drive shaft flange.



After removing the drive shaft, pull on the flange and twist it around. If you feel a lot of movement before the teeth engage, and/or you feel that the nut is not on tight and the whole pinion moves in and out, then you have a problem. Sometimes the nut doesn't get 'staked' after the person tightens it and it then vibrates loose...
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