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Old 02-05-2014, 01:04 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2007
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abecker is on a distinguished road
Small trouble 70 miles from home

OK, bear with me - I'm not much of a mechanic, but here goes:

I have a 98 TJ, manual transmission, 2 inch lift, 33" a/t, offest balljoints, corrected driveshaft lengths, limited slip rear diff, 4:56.

Last winter I was screwing around in the snow (in 4wd) and got stuck for 2 seconds. To get out i just slammed it back and forth and got out. But when doing so i heard a not so friendly loud snap sound. Everything still felt fine while driving but I noticed a slight "squirrels on a wheel" sound (again bear with me, only description I can think of and it doesnt seem to qualify as angry sparrows). A few months later I asked teh lcoal mechanic about the sound and they couldn't even hear it (for perspective).

Fast forward a year, that noise has gotten a little louder, definitely a rotational sound even in 2wd. And it gets much worse in 4wd, and now less of a continuous frequency sound. As in the sound is always there, but not a constant rotational sound, possible description would have some hybrid pop/clunk sound. But everything still actually feels fine while driving. it justs sounds scary (to me that something is going to break and leave me stranded)and i don't want to ruin an axle by taking on these next 70 miles. I also smell a little oil burning after getting out of the rig/parking. But that could be unrelated, or could not be unrelated.

So, my thoughts are first to check that the gear oil levels are OK. After that disconnect front drive shaft and drive (in 2wd). I've checked the u-joint by twisting the driveshaft and I don't feel anything all that loose, but have to say I've never felt one that is loose and does require a new u-joint.

Other than that i'm guessing centering ball or cv joint problem.

Could this community please chime in with diagnosis ideas and suggestions to a better diagnosis timeline. I'm staring out the work window at 8+ inches of snow still coming down and 33F, dark will be coming soon and I really don't want to be out there longer than I have to be as this will be done in a coworker's driveway tonight.

good times,

and TIA,

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Old 02-05-2014, 01:18 PM   #2
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One easy thing to do if you have basic tools and you tube, you can pop off the differential covers and see if there are any chipped teeth in your differential gears.

I know you checked diff oil level but you could miss this problem. You would need a bucket, new diff oil, socket wrench, silicone gasket stuff, torque wrench, brake cleaner, and an hour of your time. You also need a jack to hold up the axle to rotate the wheel and see all the teeth.

Of course you could have a garage do the same if you don't have to tools. Cost shouldn't be terrible to have that checked. That's just a thought and something to rule out. If it's a chipped gear, it's not a DIY project, and can be expensive.

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Old 02-05-2014, 01:26 PM   #3
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Here's what I did, but it's not recommended for safety reasons, so decide at your own risk. When I had a rotational noise in my drive train, I jacked up my Jeep on a flat driveway and secured it with all 4 wheels in the air with 4 jackstands under the axle tubes. When I was totally sure that it wouldn't move or fall down under any curcumstances, I started it up and put it into gear and let the drivetrain spin as I rolled underneath on a creeper listening to where the noise came from. Of course you have to be really careful not to touch anything that is spinning, stay away from the tires, and also make sure that the whole thing doesn't come crashing down on you, but I was able to quickly isolate where the sound was coming from using this method. I'm sure it is an OSHA violation, but it worked for me. Proceed at your own risk. You may be able to hear the noise and isolate it without actually climbing under the vehicle.
2005 Rubicon LJ, 4.5 lift, 35's
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies!

...ljdave apparently has supersized huevos. Much bigger than mine.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:54 AM   #5
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This issue turned out to be a failed front drive shaft.

Due to the lack of time (home renovation and other vehicle that needs attention more immediately) to figure this out (gross inadequacy of knowledge to do so) I am having the local mechanic rebuild it.

Since i first posted i've come to realize that the best description is that in 2WD it sounds like a speedometer cable that needs lubrication, and 4WD that noise gets much more pronounced where you know its not a speedo cable issue. I'm offering this description to aid anyone else in the future because I was not able to comprehend "angry sparrows" as it didn't sound anything like that to me...

- Aaron
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