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Old 01-16-2012, 01:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Loud, constant, clunk noise! '03 Jeep TJ; PICS!! Where is it coming from???

Ok, so I bought this '03 TJ with a 4.0, auto tranny, 231 transfer case and d30/d35 axles. It has 7.5" of lift with a Rubicon Express 5.5 and 2" spacers. It has 37x12.5 tires and I was told by the dealer that it had lockers and 4.56 gears.

When I test drove it, it had a very slight vibration that seemed odd to me, but the salesman eased my concerns with the suggestion that it must be the knobby tires... As I drove it more it seemed to get a little more pronounced, so I went ahead and rotated the tires to see if it would move. It didn't. About a month after I bought it, I was driving to a Football game with my son and it started to vibrate much worse. I didn't want to miss the game, so we kept going. I babied it home, but by the time we got back it had gone from a vibration to a "clunk" "clunk" "clunk"... that changed with the speed. My first thought was U-joint. I pulled the rear drive shaft and all the joints were good, but there was play when it was installed. This concerned me, so I went ahead and pulled the rear diff cover. This is when I found that there was NO rear locker. Also, the gears were not 4.56, but 4.88. On top of that, the ring gear was missing more than half it's teeth and there were no remains of the teeth in the case... So I pulled the front diff cover and found basically the same thing, but it was the pinion that was missing most of it's teeth.

At this point I was pretty upset and went after the dealer, but that is another story...

Soooooo, I figured I had found the cause of the noise and vibrations and ordered a built up 8.8 from ECGS. After installing it, the vibration was still there. Not wanting to wait for a new front diff. (I'm going to upgrade to a D44...) I decided to pull the ring gear out of the front as I figured it must have been the culprit the whole time, but now that it is out NOTHING has changed!!! I inspected the front drive shaft and all seems well with it... Now I am getting very worried that either the transfer case or tranny is gone...!?!?!?! Could a loose chain make that loud "clunk" noise?

Any input you may have would be very helpful. I'll go ahead and take it in to a shop because I'm still fighting the dealer over this and want all the issues documented. However, I'd really like to figure this thing out before I take it to someone else.

Thanks!
Richard

Last edited by BURLEIGH; 01-18-2012 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Does it happen at certain speeds, say on the highway or street? Also with the lift, did the rig come with SYE kit or is the transfer case lowered to accomodate the large amount of lift?
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It does have an SYE kit on it. The noise is a slow clunk..........clunk..clunk.......clunk..clunk.... at a crawl and increases with speed to a violent clunking shaking monster at around 15mph. It is worse under load and much less coasting down a hill especially if i shift the tranny to nuetral. ( I took it to a shop about 2 mi away on saturday.... They were idiots though and tried to tell me that the driveshaft u-joint ears were hitting and causing the noise! They only have very slight "nicks" on the ears from spinning while the jeep was off the ground though...)

Anyway, any thought???

Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd be looking at transfercase outputs as well. How about the front driveshaft CV assembly? If the centering stud is broken you could be getting some noise from that. I have heard of a stretched T-case chain slapping the inside of the case and making a clunking/scratching sound.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I pulled the belly pan last night before company came over and will drop the t-case when I get home. I'll check the chain first. I gues I'll look for any evidence that it has been slapping the inside of the case. If that's not it, I'll tear into the rest of the case. Anything specific I should look for???

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Old 01-16-2012, 02:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'd be looking at transfercase outputs as well. How about the front driveshaft CV assembly? If the centering stud is broken you could be getting some noise from that. I have heard of a stretched T-case chain slapping the inside of the case and making a clunking/scratching sound.
I have the front ring gear out and the drive shaft seems pretty tight... It makes the noise in 2H when nothing should be moving in the front end at all... This makes me think it is not up front.

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Old 01-16-2012, 07:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have the front ring gear out and the drive shaft seems pretty tight... It makes the noise in 2H when nothing should be moving in the front end at all... This makes me think it is not up front.

Thanks!
Your ft. axles will still be turning.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Your ft. axles will still be turning.
yea unless you removed your axle shafts also when you removed your ring gear your axleshafts will still be spinning. unless someone put manual locking hubs on it. check your front axleshaft u joints also. Dose kind of sound like its still a gear problem. mayby planetary gear in the transfer case or something transmission wise.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Your ft. axles will still be turning.
This. Pull the front drive shaft out and test drive it. If the clunk and vibes are still there, put the front shaft back in, pull the rear driveshaft and test it again in 4-hi.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yes, you're right, the front axles are still moving...

I really don't believe it has anything to do with the front end though. The axles were in great shape when I pulled them to remove the ring gear as were the wheel bearings. Nothing seemed out of place with the carier either. This noise/vibration is pretty severe and I think would be coming through the steering wheel much more pronounced than it is if it was up front. It really seemed to be coming from right under my seat...

I pulled the transfer case and tore into it. Nothing really seemed out of place with it either. There is no evidence of the chain slapping on anything and all or skipping teeth. The planetary gears looked decent and spun well. I didn't pull the chain off though. I just visually inspected it with a flashlight.

I did grab ahold of the tranny output shaft though and it seemed a bit on the wobbly side... How much play should there be in the output shaft???

Thanks again for your input.

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Old 01-17-2012, 12:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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With that amount of lift all spring lift no body lift you are going to have issues without a wheel base stretch. The nicks you are seeing while it is on a lift is the reverse opposite of it being under any kind of load moving forward. It comes down to your drive shaft is in a bind. How you fix the issue is up to you.
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:08 AM   #12 (permalink)
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With that amount of lift all spring lift no body lift you are going to have issues without a wheel base stretch. The nicks you are seeing while it is on a lift is the reverse opposite of it being under any kind of load moving forward. It comes down to your drive shaft is in a bind. How you fix the issue is up to you.

Ok, I guess I just don't understand how it would be fine for so long and then all of a sudden it goes from fine to a rolling dirt compactor in a matter of a couple of miles? Also, if the driveshaft is the issue, why isn't there more evidence on the driveshaft itself of what feels like someone taking a small sledge hammer to And beating it while driving?

Trust me, I would LOVE for the drive shaft to be the issue, but at this point I just can't see it... I guess I will just have to put everything back together, including the ring gear in the front, and try running it without the rear drive shaft to see...

So, if it is the drive shaft, what are some of my options at this point???

Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:13 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Also, why would it only do it when under load??? If it were the drive shaft, wouldnt it do it all the time?
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:04 AM   #14 (permalink)
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So, as a general rule of thumb, what is the most angle acceptable on a double cardigan drive shaft???

Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:01 PM   #15 (permalink)
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General rule of thumb is to have the pinion and t-case output parallel to each other. If you adjustable rear control arms try rotating the pinion up a degree or 2 and see if that helps out. I would also recommend making sure all of the joint are still good. As for driving it around for months and all of sudden bam who knows. Also another thing you may want to look at is to make sure all of the joint on the suspension are in good shape anything that attaches the axle to the frame. I know that rubber gets old and brittle and will just fall apart over time. Might be as simple as a control arm bushing failed or even a loose bolt. Crawl under the bastard make sure everything is tight with weight on it then put it on jack stand from the frame and make sure everything is tight that way too. Best of luck hope my random post helps out.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:50 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Ok, so I put the transfer case back together and bolted everything back up. I also extended the rear control arms out as far as I felt comfortable and set the pinion at what seemed to me to be the best angle. (I have no experience with this though and am only going by what I’ve read…) The clunk is still there and is unchanged…

Here are a few pics of the driveline. Feel free to comment/criticize. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!













Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:21 AM   #17 (permalink)
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General rule of thumb is to have the pinion and t-case output parallel to each other. If you adjustable rear control arms try rotating the pinion up a degree or 2 and see if that helps out. I would also recommend making sure all of the joint are still good. As for driving it around for months and all of sudden bam who knows. Also another thing you may want to look at is to make sure all of the joint on the suspension are in good shape anything that attaches the axle to the frame. I know that rubber gets old and brittle and will just fall apart over time. Might be as simple as a control arm bushing failed or even a loose bolt. Crawl under the bastard make sure everything is tight with weight on it then put it on jack stand from the frame and make sure everything is tight that way too. Best of luck hope my random post helps out.
It is my understanding that with a double cardigan drive shaft you want the pinion pretty close to parallel with the drive shaft not the transfercase...???

Yes, all my suspension mounts are in good shape too. I recently checked/tighted/greased all of them and they are good...

Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:50 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I threw one of the above pics into autoCAD and did a quick check on my angle... I know it's not 100% accurate, but it looks like I'm really close to about 21 degrees of angle from the transfer case...



What do you think?

Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-18-2012, 01:53 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Yes with a CV driveshaft you want the pinion on the axle pointing at the output of the tcase.
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Old 01-19-2012, 05:07 AM   #20 (permalink)
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The angle doesn't look that bad too me. A "Clunk" noise can be a broken transmission/t-case mount but it is not a constant clunk. Since it doesn't cost anything to check and I guess there is a first time for everything, I would check that. Jack up the back of the t-case to see if the mount is split and broken. You usually can't tell just by looking at it as it sits.
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Old 01-19-2012, 12:09 PM   #21 (permalink)
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think we have found the issue...

The u-joints on the double cardan joint are nearly new and in great shape, buuuuuuuuttttt it appears that the pin on the yoke between the u-joints may be a little worn. There is a very slight amount of play when it is bolted to the TC and combined with the steep angle, the guy I took it too thinks that my be the issue. :highfive: Hopefully that is all it is and I can get this thing back on the road SOON!

Thanks for all the input guys! I'll update as soon as I get that driveshaft rebuilt...
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:52 PM   #22 (permalink)
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what was the outcome of this??
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