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Front differential issues


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I've been having some random noises coming from the front of my truck for about three weeks. I've had the truck a couple of months and ever since I bought it there has been a little howl coming off throttle. I've read that is pretty common. The other noise is a rubbing/scuffing sound that would just happen sometimes. It's to the point now that left turns can cause the noise at will. I first thought it was one of the hubs but now I'm not so sure. Today I got the front jacked up and pulled the wheels to begin inspecting everything. Both side hubs feel smooth, no grinding or rubbing sounds at all. Brakes looks good to. Both CV axles seemed tight, driveshaft was tight. What I did find was a fair amount of movement at the driver side axle flanges (right at the differential). The passenger side had no movement, but the driver side could be moved a mm or two. I'm guessing this is my issue. Can this bearing be replaced easily or does the whole differential need to be torn down? I've always done all my mechanic work and feel like I can handle just about anything but I've never been into a differential before.

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The rubbing / scuffing noise sounds like a hub to me. You will probably get better test results by testing with the wheel and tire on the hub. (More leverage that way when you jerk things around to check for play).

 

As far as I know all of the diff / axle bearings will have to be accessed through the inside of the case. I do a lot of my own wrenching but had a pro do my front diff. (Cost around $1,100.00 remove, rebuild, and replace with a warranty).

 

The front diff on these trucks has caused a lot of folks trouble. I read once that it is recommended to replace the fluid at 500 miles and that often wasn't done subsequently causing premature failure.

 

I suggest that you drain your front diff fluid and check out the fluid and the magnetic drain plug for metal fragments. You can refill with full synthetic, (I use Mobil 1). When I did that it reduced the noise coming from the diff but only delayed the rebuild by a short while. For the most part the fluid change verified my thought that that is where the noise was coming from.

 

I think that NoMoreSS's advice is good on that one.

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I checked everything with the wheels on as well. I was really hoping to hear/see/feel something in the hub but they felt solid, no play or weird sounds at all. The stub axle was the only unusual movement I found anywhere.

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I recently had the same issue, tore my front diff apart and replaced the carrier bearings. month later noise returned that increased as speed increased (almost sounds like an out of balance wheel) Going to save up and just let the pros have at it.

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Had mine differential rebuilt. Cost a grand, well over 2,000 miles since and rolling fine! I tried changing the fluid first, but that only helped quiet it down for about 2 miles. The noise got bad quick, ended up causing more damage, which led to half of the case needing replaced.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Update: I started getting a random growl when I turn right in addition to the noise when turning left. I went ahead and bought 2 hubs, thinking that had to be it even though I couldn't get any movement out of them. Today I jacked the truck up to start replacing the right side hub. I noticed that I could rotate the right wheel a fair amount before the left wheel moved. How much play should there be there? When I say fair amount, it is very noticeable, maybe 1/4" or more rotation. I would have thought the gears would have been tighter than that, but have nothing to compare to.

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I didn't change them. I didn't want to put them on if they weren't the problem. When I noticed the movement from wheel to wheel I thought that might be the issue not the hubs. I guess I'll drain the differential and see what comes out.

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The hubs feel fine, no movement at all and no noises when turning them by hand. The strange thing is the noises only happen when turning or coming off throttle. If I'm driving a constant speed in a straight line it's completely quiet. Let off the gas and it sounds like the differential is whining. Turn left and there is a slight chirping sound (every time). Turn right and sometimes there is a slight roar/rumble, but not every time. Might just put the hubs on and see if anything changes.

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