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Rear axle question


Well-Known Member
June 8, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
Central Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
1986 Corvette
Rear axle shaft - do I need a new one? repair bearings?

I'm still trying to get rid of some annoying noises on my 98 X.

I just pulled the diff cover (everything looks good inside, no chips or missing teeth) and one axle shaft.

There seems to be a lot of wear (pitting) where the axle shaft rides on the rear bearing - is this normal, or could it cause a persistent growl/whine/woob noise?

Has anybody used one of those "repair kits" successfully, or should I start looking for new axle shafts?


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Well, I decided to try the cheap way first, and re-used the axle shafts. I bought a set of Timken repair bearings and installed them on both sides. The axle shaft on the other side (not shown above) looked about the same.

I'll report back on how well the work in a few days - gotta finish cleaning up the diff cover and button everything up.

I'm also switching to Lucas 85w140 gear oil in the rear, mixed 2/1 with Lucas oil stabilizer. Hopefully between the new bearings and heavier oil, the rear will shut up for a while.

That axle shaft is junk and needs to be replaced. It has been worn through the hard surface. If money is tight, then you may have a temporary alternative. You can look to see if National/BCA, Chicago Rawhide, etc offer a "problem solver" bearing. What this does is relocate where the bearing rides on the axle to a spot that's not worn. This can extend the life of the axle significantly, but I have always felt it a temporary repair.

Just putting new bearings on that axle in the same location won't last long...if at all. The noise will be back very soon.

Be very careful about replacing with used axles. You really don't know what you are getting and they must always go back in the same side they were removed from.

You mentioned you were getting some rear end noise. There is a very simple way to determine if it is bearing noise from an axle. While driving and hearing the noise, swerve the car to the left. If the noise stays the same or gets worse, then you have a right axle bearing problem. If the noise gets less noticable or goes away while turning, then you have a left axle bearing problem. Now, accelerate, then let off the gas and coast. Is there noise one way and not the other? What kind of noise is it? Ring and pinion noises produce a distinct whine. They are normally only on the load or the coast side. Rarely both at the same time unless you've let it get so far it's really bad. Bearing noises sound like bearing noises and are different than ring and pinion whines. If you get a bearing noise while accelerating the vehicle, but it goes away when you coast, you have a carrier bearings going out. It's normal to lose the one first that takes most the load while accelerating. If you have a bearing noise that doesn't seem to change no matter what you do, that is normally a pinion bearing. Many times a bad pinion bearing will be accompanied with a leaking pinion seal as the pinion may be moving around a bit more than it should. This must be repaired asap as it will destroy your ring and pinion.

None of these tests are set in stone. But they are tried and proven. As always, the best diagnosis is a complete inspection. I hope this helps.

Here's a pic of the ring gear - looks okay to my untrained eye. No missing teeth or chips.

The new bearings are offset - they stick out of the axle housing about 1/4", and hopefully will ride on an unworn part of the axle shaft.

The noises I was getting were loud, constant, and really annoying - coasting, under load, braking, turning or not turning, even with the transmission in neutral. Replacing the pinion bearing looks like it's way beyond my skill level. If the new bearings and heavy oil don't help, I guess I'll start looking for someone to rebuild the rear.

Thanks for the advice!


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It don't go, might as well chrome it!

Metallic Rustolem works wonders...


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chances are that the worn axle shaft your showed in the picture isn't making your noise, yes it does look worn at the bearing spot, you can try to solow this by pinning it out, but unless you have vertical play in your axle at the wheel, it shouldn't be an issue, most likely your whining noise is coming from your main gear not fully contacting with the plantery gear, this can be solved by adding shims to make the teeth fit tighter, a little whine from the rear under load isn't unusal don't forget this isn't a luxary car like a towncar or grand marquis which has tons of sound insulation and a much softer suspension, the explorer shares the same basic design as a ranger or f150, as far as sheet metal construction goes

Well, I put it back together, refilled with Lucas 85w140 and Lucas Oil Stabilizer (60/40). It's quieter, but still making noise at all speeds and conditions (under load or not).

Anybody in Central FL good at rebuilding rears (or know where to get it done cheap)?

You can get New Chromally Axle shafts from Summit Racing for $95 a piece....What Im going to get to replace the shafts in mine....

x2 -- i doubt its the shafts.

Anyways, have you checked for pinion play? If the pinion is good, I would get some gear marking compound and check for gear-contact pattern.