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96 EB 4wd - Front driver side wheel does not rotate freely?


Godzilla2y

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I finally got (almost) everything on my Explorer squared away. It reliably runs and drives now, so that's good news. But after putting it up on a lift, my FIL was concerned that the front driver-side wheel does not rotate freely.

We could rotate it about 30 degrees (approx) in either direction before the rotation hits a very sudden stop.

Putting it on the lift in drive and in 2wd, this wheel would not rotate with the rears.

Putting it in 4 LO and 4 Auto also did not cause this wheel to rotate.

My FIL believed this meant the front dif was toast, so we pulled the driver's side half-shaft as a temporary fix.

Is my front differential bad? Will I need to rebuild it?
 


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C420sailor

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So you jacked the entire vehicle, started it, put it in drive, and all wheels but the front left spun?

You’re going to want to reinstall that half shaft. The ~200ft*lbs of torque on the axle nut provides necessary bearing preload. Not having that is a recipe for wheel hub bearing failure.
 




masospaghetti

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I finally got (almost) everything on my Explorer squared away. It reliably runs and drives now, so that's good news. But after putting it up on a lift, my FIL was concerned that the front driver-side wheel does not rotate freely.

We could rotate it about 30 degrees (approx) in either direction before the rotation hits a very sudden stop.

When it hits the "sudden stop" does it stop rotating, or just encounter some additional resistance?

Putting it on the lift in drive and in 2wd, this wheel would not rotate with the rears.

Putting it in 4 LO and 4 Auto also did not cause this wheel to rotate.

My FIL believed this meant the front dif was toast, so we pulled the driver's side half-shaft as a temporary fix.

Is my front differential bad? Will I need to rebuild it?

The front differential is open, so with the axle up in the air, it's normal for only one wheel to spin (and the other to remain stationary).

I assume the "sudden stop" is what you feel after the slop is taken up in the gears, and the differential starts to rotate.

30 degrees sounds like a lot but it's about what I have in mine, and it's been that way since I bought it with no problems, I even did some light 4-wheeling without issue so I know the front axle is working.
 








96eb96

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So you jacked the entire vehicle, started it, put it in drive, and all wheels but the front left spun?

You’re going to want to reinstall that half shaft. The ~200ft*lbs of torque on the axle nut provides necessary bearing preload. Not having that is a recipe for wheel hub bearing failure.
if he wants to take this route, maybe cut the 1/2 shaft so a stub sits in the axle. 1/2 shafts are cheap. Or even get a used one for a few bucks and separate it.

DO NOT drive around with no 1/2 shaft in the hub. The wheel will separate.
 




410Fortune

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yes the wheel bearing will come apart within a block or two without the stub shaft in there and torqued to 200 ft lbs
 




Godzilla2y

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Thanks, everyone.

The wheel came to a full complete stop after that bit of rotation. We tried putting a bar in the wheel to see if maybe it was just resistance, but couldn't get it to budge.

Before taking it out, it felt a little sluggish. Definitely better afterwards.

And we disassembled the half shaft and put the end back through the bearing, don't worry.
 




C420sailor

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Phew.

If you’re really worried, pull the shafts and drop the diff. Take a peek inside. An afternoon job, soup to nuts.
 




Godzilla2y

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That's what I'll probably end up doing. What should I look for once I end up getting it apart?
 




RangerNutt

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Have you already indicated the rotor, or backed the pads away to see that it's not warped? There's a pulse feedback through the pedal on braking with warp, but sometimes not detectable if slight. A lot easier to check than getting into the diff (which you might have to do anyway, but...).
 




Turdle

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Reading the first post I think everything is actually ok, normal.

Some cv axles will not rotate fully at full droop, depending on how far the suspension components will drop down, and brand of cv axle.

Being a 3 bearing cv, you'll see about a 1/3 rotation.

With everything together and while on the lift try placing a jack under the control arm elbow extension to raise the wheel about an inch, then try rotating again.

or, leave one wheel on ground and raise the suspect wheel. I bet it rotates if the sway bar is under stress from the opposite side.
 




Godzilla2y

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Interesting, turdle, thanks. What causes it to bind up like that if it's normal?
 




C420sailor

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Sounds like the bearings in the CV joints, as mentioned. It’s interesting...I always assumed it was normal resistance in my diff.

Honestly, everything you’re say saying does sound pretty normal...except the ‘sluggishness’ that disappeared when you removed the halfshaft. That’s odd. Sure it isn’t placebo effect?
 




CDW6212R

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Reading the first post I think everything is actually ok, normal.

Some cv axles will not rotate fully at full droop, depending on how far the suspension components will drop down, and brand of cv axle.

Being a 3 bearing cv, you'll see about a 1/3 rotation.

With everything together and while on the lift try placing a jack under the control arm elbow extension to raise the wheel about an inch, then try rotating again.

or, leave one wheel on ground and raise the suspect wheel. I bet it rotates if the sway bar is under stress from the opposite side.


This sounds correct. The CV joints have a limited range of motion, if the angle due to the suspension hanging is too much for the CV joint, it can bind and not move. That's what the limit straps are for in the trucks out four wheeling seriously.
 




Turdle

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Interesting, turdle, thanks. What causes it to bind up like that if it's normal?
Sorry I am late to answer but the other guys pretty much summed it up. Any U joint or cv joint has a limited angle. You found your limit. I am pretty sure the only way you would encounter that limit and cause a problem would be when your truck lands from being completely airborne. The sway bar will limit the down travel 99.9% of the time.
 




Godzilla2y

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Finally had some time to ponder this some more. Odometer is broken, so I'm trying not to put too many more miles on it before I fix that (that'll be fixed next)

Anyways, if the issue was the bearings in that half shaft binding up, why would the passenger side rotate freely, but not the driver's side?
 




masospaghetti

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The differential is open, so the passenger wheel is free to rotate even if the driver's side is fixed. This is assuming the transfer case isn't locked.
 




Godzilla2y

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Yes, but the consensus at this point seems to be that it's not the differential causing the driver's side binding
 




masospaghetti

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Yes, but the consensus at this point seems to be that it's not the differential causing the driver's side binding

Correct, and if the driver's CV shaft is binding, it will not prevent the passenger axle from spinning freely. You could have the driver's side tire touching the ground and the passenger axle will still be able to rotate.
 


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Godzilla2y

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Why are the bearings in the passenger side axle not binding like the driver's side is?
 




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