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Old 10-01-2010, 02:32 PM   #1
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Dealership says I could have a cracked flex plate.....

Been trying to diagnose a tick for quite a while that has stumped anyone who listened to it (actual mechanics included). Think we were all thrown off as I expected an engine problem. Dropped it by the dealership to see if they could figure it out, and they think the noise is coming from a cracked flexplate. They want $950+ to fix it , so I'm going to do it myself (after I do a bit of diagnostic work to see if it's actually cracked)

Looks like I'll have to drop the T-case and transmission and I'm wondering if there is any maintenance I should have done to them while they're off. 2001 4.0 with 32RH Transmission and NP231 T-Case (~80,000 miles on the jeep)

I want to seal up the transmission vent hole and add an external hose to avoid any water problems if I ever have to drive in deep stuff. Just wondering if there are any other things that should be done (IE get transmission flushed, change seals, any maintenance for the T-case?). It's an annoying enough job, that I want to get everything out of it that I can. Maybe I'll order some type of SYE and put that in at the same time.

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Old 10-01-2010, 02:43 PM   #2
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To put in your SYE you will have to separate the trans from the transfer case and dismantle your T-case to install it.

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Old 10-01-2010, 04:13 PM   #3
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It could be possible a Torque Converter bolt(s) backed out and is hitting somthing. I have heard of that happeneing before. Never worked on a 32RH before unfortunately so I don't know if you can access the bolts w/o removing the tranny.
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Old 10-01-2010, 04:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MCE Mike View Post
It could be possible a Torque Converter bolt(s) backed out and is hitting somthing. I have heard of that happeneing before. Never worked on a 32RH before unfortunately so I don't know if you can access the bolts w/o removing the tranny.
That is a possibility, and I think I can get to the bolts - just havn't had a chance to check it out yet. I intend to make sure that it is in fact cracked, or that there might be loose bolts, before I go to the trouble of dropping the transmission.
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Old 10-01-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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They want 950 to fix something that they are not even sure is the problem!?
What happens when they take it all apart and find out they may have been wrong...

Your better off doing it yourself if you have some auto knowledge.
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Old 10-01-2010, 05:01 PM   #6
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They want 950 to fix something that they are not even sure is the problem!?
What happens when they take it all apart and find out they may have been wrong...

Your better off doing it yourself if you have some auto knowledge.
Exactly, and I plan on doing it all myself. The dealership actually offered to remove the inspection plate and move the torque convertor so they could get a better idea if it was cracked or not, but that was going to cost $250. So I told them no more touching it.
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:47 PM   #7
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To put in your SYE you will have to separate the trans from the transfer case and dismantle your T-case to install it.
A SYE can be installed without removing the t-case from the transmission. That's how I did mine.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:00 AM   #8
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The only flex-plate I've seen that was cracked, made more of a sqeeking rattle noise.
Not the tick you describe.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:26 AM   #9
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Well to answer your first question. I recommend putting in a tranny temp gauged when you have it out. I'd even do two and put one in your tcase for the he'll of it. I run an auto too and being able to keep and eye on the temp on the trail might just save your tranny someday. It has to be installed into the pan so you can do it drun a flush too.
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Old 10-02-2010, 12:04 PM   #10
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It has to be installed into the pan so you can do it drun a flush too.
The sender can be installed into the pan or one of the lines via a T-adapter. I had both in my last TJ so I could switch my temp gauge between the pan's temp vs. the ATF temp leaving the cooler.
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:26 PM   #11
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The only flex-plate I've seen that was cracked, made more of a sqeeking rattle noise.
Not the tick you describe.
I think it all depends on how cracked the plate is. I've done a bit of searching around and have found a few others with the same tick. Even heard a few on youtube that sounded similar, though most are as you describe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fofo
Well to answer your first question. I recommend putting in a tranny temp gauged when you have it out. I'd even do two and put one in your tcase for the he'll of it. I run an auto too and being able to keep and eye on the temp on the trail might just save your tranny someday. It has to be installed into the pan so you can do it drun a flush too.
That is a very good idea - I've been thinking it might not be a bad idea to add an external cooler as well - it can reach 110 around here sometimes, and with the AC on, the engine temp can climb above 210.

Jerry - any reason you went with two sensors, or do you have an opinion on weather it would be good enough to just have the inline gauge?

Flushing won't be a problem as I'll probably have to do it anyway when I add the alternate vent hole. Seems most people reccomend that you dissassemble part of the transmission so you can catch any metal shavings.
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:49 PM   #12
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Cracked flex plates sound like a tick, squeek, rattle - they all sound similar but different.
But - check for an exhaust leak - they can sound the same.

Once the inspection cover is off use a hunk of heater hose like a stethoscope - that should help locate it.

And look closely at the converter to flexplate bolts or studs and nuts - a loose one can make that sound too.

At best, it's still an educated guess.

Checking for an exhaust leak - dark garage, strong pencil beam flashlight. Have someone dribble a little light oil or kerosene (WD-40) down the throat while you look underneath with the light. The pencil beam helps locate it better than a flood light.
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Old 10-02-2010, 02:11 PM   #13
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Cracked flex plates sound like a tick, squeek, rattle - they all sound similar but different.
But - check for an exhaust leak - they can sound the same.

Once the inspection cover is off use a hunk of heater hose like a stethoscope - that should help locate it.

And look closely at the converter to flexplate bolts or studs and nuts - a loose one can make that sound too.

At best, it's still an educated guess.

Checking for an exhaust leak - dark garage, strong pencil beam flashlight. Have someone dribble a little light oil or kerosene (WD-40) down the throat while you look underneath with the light. The pencil beam helps locate it better than a flood light.
Might have to give the pencil light thing a try just for kicks. The mechanics all assured me that it definitely wasn't an exhaust leak (especially since the tick goes away (or it can't be heard above the engine) at higher RPM's. I have a mechanics stethoscope, the problem was that the ticking is all throughout the engine, not really any louder in any one spot. Which is kinda what threw everyone off - dealership was the only ones that thought to check something other than the engine. Hopefully I'll have a chance tonight to check everything out.
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Old 10-02-2010, 05:44 PM   #14
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I think the hose to the ear would work better for locating it once the inspection cover is off, but try both.

A cracked flex plate often gets quieter at speed (and so can an exhaust leak) - centrifugal force stops the vibration. You may even be able to see it wobble a bit with the plate off - change speed a little - if it's just on crooked or warped it'll still wobble the same amount. If it's a crack, then often the wobble changes or goes away.

The crack almost always is in the center right around the crankshaft bolts - you can't see it till the trans and converter is unbolted and pulled back.

But, no matter what, it's still just an educated guess - I've been right most of the time, but have been wrong too. At our shop we'd get probably 2 or 3 a month - I've even tried using a strobe - still a "best guess."

When it cracks all the way you'll know it - it won't move on it's own as well as "waking the dead" with the noise.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:14 PM   #15
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I'm having the same exact sound myself. I plan on removing the inspection plate and checking the bolts on the torque converter. If they are all tight is it safe to assume the flex plate is cracked? I still have a warranty from the dealer I bought the Jeep used from and want to find any issues before the warranty runs out. They are 2 hours away so I want to make sure it's not something simple like a loose bolt before driving it down there and having to drop it off.
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:27 PM   #16
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I removed the inspection cover today and the noise is coming from that area. I checked the torque on a 4 bolts and they were tight. I did notice what might be cracks in 3 places on the flexplate. Take a look at these photos and let me know if you think these are cracks or just normal marks from where the "flywheel" was machined.





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Old 10-03-2010, 04:42 PM   #17
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Look like cracks to me.
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Old 10-03-2010, 04:46 PM   #18
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Cracked....at least you didnt pay 950, lol.

Now get those wrneches out and drop that tranny. Might as well buy a LUK clutch kit and replace all that while your down there.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:22 PM   #19
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Yup - cracked!
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Old 10-03-2010, 11:07 PM   #20
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So what are the risks of running the flexplate with these cracks? Is is just the 4 bolts holding the plate to the torque converter? How are these small cracks causing the noise? Are there any other bolts behind the plate that could be loose?

Sorry for hijacking the thread but I figured that since localfiend and I seem to have the same issue these pics might help.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:10 PM   #21
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The noise is caused by the edges of the crack scraping against each other as it flexes. It constantly flexes slightly on each rotation of the crankshaft. It takes up any runout or slight misalignment between the engine and auto tranny.
Hmmm, could it be why the call it a flex plate?

The cracks will only get worse until it breaks completely. When it breaks completely the torque converter is no longer suspended, it will wobble and try to fly around. It will tear up the converter and transmission seals, the front pump, and may even destroy the input shaft, as well as the converter itself. Worst case it could even break the aluminum housing on the trans. In any case, a transmission rebuild or maybe a total replacement may be in order, depending on what happens.

Right now it's fairly simple - the flex plate should be replaced - much much cheaper and easier than the above.


Plus wherever you are when it happens you'll be stuck there.

Best not to put it off for long.

One thing I've noticed that contributes to early failure - dirt or something caught between the engine and tranny mounting surfaces, loose bolts on the same, or when someone installed the transmission they did not "neutralize" the bolts, they just used the bolts to draw them together while it was still supported fully on the trans jack.

If it's never been apart before, attribute it to - "Dumb Luck."
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:27 PM   #22
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I've got my jeep sitting at my shop at work (we have an inspection camera) and plan on taking a look at lunch. Anyone know what torque specs the bolts are supposed to be at? If anythings loose, I want to make sure I don't over/under tighten anything.
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:49 PM   #23
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Try this, make note of the different torque settings that depend on the bolt's location.
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:51 PM   #24
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I wouldn't run it for long....I blew the center out of one a few years ago and it took out the bell housing too
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:49 PM   #25
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I ran by a local transmission shop during lunch and they told me it would cost around $400~$450 to get it fixed (parts and labor). Now I have to figure out if i want to tackle it myself, take a it the dealer 2 hours away and leave it for a week to have it fixed under warranty, or take to the local guy and have it fixed in 1 day and pay the amount above.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:51 PM   #26
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I ran by a local transmission shop during lunch and they told me it would cost around $400~$450 to get it fixed (parts and labor). Now I have to figure out if i want to tackle it myself, take a it the dealer 2 hours away and leave it for a week to have it fixed under warranty, or take to the local guy and have it fixed in 1 day and pay the amount above.

Wish I had your problem. Just took off the inspection plate on mine and don't see a crack anywhere and all 4 bolts on the flexplate are tight. I can see the whole thing just fine - so unless it's cracked on the side I can't see it might be something else. Gonna have to look around for a piece of hose and do some more listening tonight.
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Old 10-04-2010, 05:00 PM   #27
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Cracks can occur anywhere - they usually are right around where the flex plate bolts to the crankshaft, but sometimes farther out than that. Sometimes they'll crack at the thin webs where the big holes in the plate are.
Sometimes until you actually take it out they aren't visible - even then they are hard to see.
If you cannot see any from underneath, you might try spraying a mist of water up in there on a humid night. Hopefully it'll rust a little, then when you drive it and it scrapes the rust off, it's easier to see the thin orange line.

It's still an educated guess.
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Old 10-04-2010, 05:09 PM   #28
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The guys at the transmission shop knew exactly what my problem was just hearing the sound when I pulled up in the parking lot, they said that's pretty much the only thing it could be. He told me that alot of times you can't see the cracks but when they remove the flexplate the center is completely separated from the outer part. He also mentioned the rust around the cracks like rrich was talking about above.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:10 PM   #29
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Cracks can occur anywhere - they usually are right around where the flex plate bolts to the crankshaft, but sometimes farther out than that. Sometimes they'll crack at the thin webs where the big holes in the plate are.
Sometimes until you actually take it out they aren't visible - even then they are hard to see.
If you cannot see any from underneath, you might try spraying a mist of water up in there on a humid night. Hopefully it'll rust a little, then when you drive it and it scrapes the rust off, it's easier to see the thin orange line.

It's still an educated guess.
Yah, I just got out the stethoscope and I really think that the tick is loudest on the bellhousing. The plate is already a bit rusted, and I don't see any cracks - but I suppose it could still be cracked in the center whrer it's covered. Think the trans may have a slow leak somewhere anyway, so I'll probably be dropping it.
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:47 PM   #30
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In the process of dropping the transmission I ran into this:





Fluid was a bit burned but the transmission has been working perfectly. Should I be worried about this much metal in the bottom of the pan? It's all super fine goop, no large pieces at all.

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