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Front diff or Driveaxles BROKE?

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by mountaineer02, June 21, 2011.

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    1. mountaineer02

      mountaineer02 Member

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      Hey guys, Im in brokedownville and need help. On my way freeway driving with family home, I start to get a vibration (small at the time) I think in the front, but then goes away( im thinkin construction pavement on freeway?). THEN, it gets WAY WORSE, so i pull off to see if I can see anything noticable(and im worried with a 4 yr and 6mo and the lady in the truck), nothin. Do engine rpm test while driving for possible driveshaft, nope. Its a continuous rpm to wheel speed match, at this point the once very bad vibration is now a clinking and vibrating combo depending on wheel speed. Any Ideas Gentlemen? Anything helps, this IS the family car, need back up asap:(
       
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    3. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      I would suggest you take my Ex before the engine and transmission explode. Other than that its reliable. lol :p: I'm only 60 miles away, so we can swap. J/K

      Actually what I would suggest, if you can, jack the front end up and really search out that suspension and see if you can rotate the wheels and listen for the noise.
       
    4. mountaineer02

      mountaineer02 Member

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      Yah, thats what im thinkin aswell, tomorrow before the dentist the trucks going up and im going underneath it. I replaced the brakes and shocks not to long ago, but im very precise when it comes to the truck( since i carry precious cargo) and i drove all the way to cali and back and there wasnt any issues until the very last part coming back. Im going to drop the front driveshaft if i cant pin point it to the driveaxles. I assume by the way it sounded, whatever is wrong should be extremely loose? So if theres a huge amount of play in the front axles, I would find the prob? Then the hard part, do I fix it or pay somebody?
       
    5. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      If you need any help on the fix (if you do it yourself), I'm only 60 miles north and can lend you a hand if you need it.
       
    6. LukeOmalley

      LukeOmalley Member

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      Please keep us posted, and good luck!
       
    7. mountaineer02

      mountaineer02 Member

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      Thank you so much for the offer! OK, so heres what i got so far. I jacked it up, rotated drivers side tire and passenger side spun opposite like normal( no noticable click noise, a lil slop). Start the vehicle while raised and put in drive and let the wheels move, vibration and noise continue. Drop the front driveline, restart and put in drive while raised( no noise!!). Lower the vehicle, take on test drive, no noise or vibration while front drivline removed. My guess is the transfer case, anybody got any thoughts???
       
    8. alwayslost

      alwayslost New Member

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      Kind of sounds like a bad cv shaft
       
    9. mountaineer02

      mountaineer02 Member

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      kinda thought that at first too, but when i got under the truck while it was in drive with the wheels moving, (kids dont try that at home!!) the noise was coming from the transfer case, thats why i decided to try dropping the front driveline. And wouldnt the CV shaft still make the noise with the front driveline out, because its still turning? Im obviously not a mechanik thats why I ask.
       
    10. Pontisteve

      Pontisteve Active Member

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      Sounds more like the front differential to me. The way these things work, the hub is always connecting the front wheel to the front CV axles (not like older "manually locking hubs"). There is no locking or unlocking of hubs. The hubs are part of the front wheel bearing assembly.

      The wheel bearings, by the way, are notorious for being bad on these trucks. That's a good place to start looking. Driving down the road while swerving the steering wheel back and forth will shift the weight of the vehicle on and off the wheel bearings. When you shift the weight on the bearing, if the bearing gets noisier, then shift the weight off the bearing, and the bearing gets quieter, is an indication of a bad wheel bearing. Also spinning the wheel and wiggling the wheel up and down, in and out to see if there is excess movement. See the wheel bearing threads for more info there.

      So the hub connects the wheel to the CV axles, which are directly connected to the front differential. The diff is connected to the transfer case via a driveshaft that has one U-joint and one CV joint. The transfer case directly bolts to the transmission, so its powered all the time.

      With this type of torque on demand transfer case, the front axle is engaged in percentages, via a pulse width duty cycle from the 4wd module. The module constantly provides about a 5% duty cycle to partially engage the front axle all the time, and I presume this is to "preload" the front end, taking up the slack. When the vehicle speed sensors determine that the 4 wheel speeds are not even, it adds or subtracts duty cycle to try and maintain 4 even wheel speeds, by locking up the electromagnetic clutch in the transfer case.

      So there's plenty of places for failure here, but we can rule out a few quickly. The CV axles will only make noise when you're turning usually, so slow donuts in a parking lot can determine their condition. Chances are, if the boots are not torn, they're good. The wheel bearings are certainly suspect, so check them out. The front driveshaft is likely ok, since it generally is in a pretty straight line so the CV axle doesn't get worked very hard. And the u-joint is likely not the issue, but a quick wiggling of the front driveshaft can determine CV and U joint condition.

      The transfer case is a bit tougher to figure out, but they're not so bad. When they do go, they probably make lots of noise. They hold 2 quarts or less of ATF, so my recommendation there is to drain the transfer case, inspect the oil, and refill with 2 quarts of synthetic ATF until fluid is starting to dribble out the top fill hole. VERY EASY JOB, and you should change that once in a while anyway.

      If that fluid is good, then you're looking at front diff problems. Pop the cover off, drain and inspect the fluid, and brakleen all the front axle components inside and inspect. In mine, I found that the spider gears have excess play, and that was causing a serious clunk in my drivetrain when the torque converter was locked up (in overdrive cruising speeds), and when I would get on and off the pedal. The slack in the drivetrain drove me nuts. I found a cheap fix in just pulling the brown wire out of the 4wd module temporarily. That kills the entire duty cycle to the transfer case's electromagnetic clutch. It also kills all possibility of the front axle engaging permanently, until you plug that wire back in. Some guys put a switch in line to this brown wire (search "brown wire mod").

      In my case, I did it to diagnose what my clunk was. With the front axle not being connected via the transfer case clutch, the clunk went away and that helped me determine it was a problem in the front axle.

      By the way, be careful running the vehicle on jack stands. The computer can see the lack of front driveshaft speed as wheel slip, and trigger traction control and advance trac (the transfer case clutch) to try and compensate. You're not supposed to run the vehicle in the air.

      I can help you with the brown wire thing if you want to experiment with it. It's easy. Pull the glove box, find the connector on the module, and depin the brown wire with the correct depinning tool. When you're done playing with that, just plug the wire back into the harness.
       
    11. mountaineer02

      mountaineer02 Member

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      Well, turns out i now realize why im not a mechanic!! lol. The short and simple answer to this prob WAS the front driveline.. 250$ bucks and life is back on track until the next speedbump of life. Oh, just so everyone is clear- you can drive without the front driveline! It DOESNT help with gas mileage, actually made a lil worse, the TC kept having to adjust for slippage( felt very unsfe not having that instant grab) Hope this helps anyone!!
       
    12. Pontisteve

      Pontisteve Active Member

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      Exactly what part of your front end was broke?

      I disconnected my transfer case clutch (brown wire mod), and while it did cure my problem with feeling the driveline slack in the front differential, it did not seem to affect gas mileage any.

      I believe if you were to disconnect the front driveshaft, the transfer case clutch would freak out and try to engage. This could possibly damage the clutch.

      By disconnecting my brown wire, I eliminated the computers ability to engage the clutch, so I could do whatever I want with the front differential and it wouldn't matter or work.
       
    13. mountaineer02

      mountaineer02 Member

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      This is true on a explorer with 4wd. On a Mountaineer with AWD, the brown wire mod is not an option. AWD transfer case has the viscous couplings and reacts to the slippage and then diverts the power. It was interesting finding this out, luckily there wasnt any traffic when i gunned it, and it went practily no where!!
       

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