Tech / Tech Articles

Quick Guide to Diagnosing Differential & Driveline Noises

 

We don’t know which sounds worse—car guys singing show tunes in the shower or a howling differential. While there is no help for our singing, we can help you diagnose the sounds coming from a differential gone bad.

A clunk, whine, or howl can signal a worn-out pinion gear, bad bearings, or a faulty gear installation. Sometimes, the noise is not differential-related, but is caused by other driveline or axle components. This guide will help you match up the noise you’re hearing with the differential or axle component making it, or at least get you in the ballpark.

Noise: Howl while decelerating (gears previously quiet)
Cause: Loose pinion bearing preload

Noise: Howl with whir or rumble while accelerating at any speed (gears previously quiet)
Cause: Worn rear pinion bearing or worn gear set

Noise: Howl without whir or rumble while accelerating at any speed (gears previously quiet)
Cause: Worn gear set due to lack of lubrication or overloading

Noise: Howling while accelerating over a small speed range (gears previously quiet)
Cause: Worn gear set due to lack of lubrication or overloading

Noise: Howling after gear set installation
Cause: Faulty gears or improper installation

Noise: Low-pitch rumble at all speeds over 20 miles per hour
Cause: Worn carrier bearings

Noise: Whirring during acceleration/deceleration at about 10 miles per hour
Cause: Worn pinion bearings


See Also:
Ask Away! with Jeff Smith: How to Fix Driveline Vibrations by Adjusting Pinion Angle
Monday Mailbag: Solving Recurring Driveline Vibration

 

Noise: Banging or clunking while making a turn, backing up, or rapid deceleration (like on a freeway off-ramp). Noise gets worse in warmer weather
Cause: Posi chatter due to improper lubrication; worn clutches or spider gears; improper assembly

Noise: Banging, crunching, or popping while making a turn. Noise not affected by temperature
Cause: Badly worn or broken spider gears

 

Noise: Banging or heavy clicking every two to three feet during acceleration and deceleration
Cause: Damaged or broken pinion gear tooth or teeth



Noise: Banging or heavy clicking every two to three feet during acceleration or deceleration, but not both
Cause: High spot or heavy chip on pinion gear tooth

Noise: Banging or heavy clicking every eight feet during acceleration and deceleration
Cause: Damaged or broken ring gear tooth or teeth

Noise: Banging or heavy clicking every eight feet during acceleration or deceleration, but not both
Cause: High spot or heavy chip on ring gear tooth

Noise: Clicking while decelerating from 20 miles per hour to a complete stop
Cause: Worn carrier case-side gear bores

Noise: Rumble or clicking that gets worse during hard turns
Cause: Bad wheel bearings

Noise: Driveline squeaking or grinding at any speed
Cause: Worn or damaged U-joints

Noise: Clunking when depressing the throttle pedal (takeoff)
Cause: Worn U-joints; worn spider gears; worn axle splines; excessive gear backlash; loose yoke splines; worn slip yoke splines

Noise: Clunk immediately after taking off from a stop
Cause: Worn slip yoke splines

Noise: Steady vibration that increases with speed
Cause: Worn U-joint or out-of-balance driveshaft

Noise: Cyclic vibration that varies in intensity. Intensity increases at a specific speed range, worsens during deceleration
Cause: Pinion angle too low (not parallel with front yoke on driveshaft)

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93 Comments

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  3. Nice write up,
    I would like to include the (TC) transfer case to this board
    I experienced a sudden breakage when a loud burring grinding noise came from TC while accelerating thru first 2-3 gears under light load, avoidable by creeping slowly up to speed
    Engagement of 4WD eliminated the noise, except sometimes in reverse
    My 1997 K1500 had blown its TCs rear retainer snap ring on its NP243 (NP241) new proscess transfer case

    It is accessable by removing rear driveshaft (4 bolts at U-joint 12mm) and then removing rear cover of transfer case (four 15mm bolts) while still in vehicle

    You may want to empty TC fluid first to check fluid for metal shavings, or just expect a small amount to come out of back housing

    You should see remainder of snap ring in there, stock replacement at GM runs 8 dollars or beefy upgrade part (“TC Saver”) around 50 online ( I have broken two stock rings…)

    You may need snap ring reverse pliers to install stock option but not needed for TC saver

    Good time to clean and lubricate driveshaft and bearings. I believe a sticky spline on driveshaft contributes to this common breakage

    • Devin Neal Boas says:

      I’m having the exact same thing happening to my 1998 Silverado just replaced ujoints thought they were the problem the clicking/knocking has only gotten worse and I now have a vibration I never had before when I had it all took apart everything looked like new no shavings no wear or anything I’m stumped on what it may be the clicking/knocking is only at very low rate of speeds or idling in gear

  4. Major Flewellyn says:

    I believe I have a “Worn gear set due to lack of lubrication or overloading” issue. Do you think me checking for low differential oil, and if low, then draining fluid and replacing with new fluid will fix this problem? Or would I still have to take apart the differential and possibly replace parts?

    Thanks, Any information is appreciated.

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Checking & changing the fluid is a great idea. Also, while you have the rear cover off you can inspect the gear set for discoloration due to low fluid and any abnormal wear patterns. If this exists, an overhaul is suggested before it lets you down. If there is no noise and no signs of wear or discoloration, fix the leak and refill with fresh gear oil.

    • DENNIS BACHTEL says:

      Hey bud i have a question maybe you can help me.. Seeing if your still on this forum..

  5. I have a 94 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4 liter 4 by 4, when I start accelerating my truck is fine but as I level out in speed around 30 to 40 miles an hour I get a humming whine from the floorboard that doesn’t go away until I come to a complete stop. Then when I accelerate it again it’s gone until I level out or hit roughly 30 or 40 miles an hour and then it starts humming again? Any help thank you

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Noises are truly one of the more difficult things to diagnose on a vehicle. There are just so many moving parts and rubber bushings that by this time in the vehicles life (20 yrs) could be relaxed allowing things to rub the body; that it’s hard to know where to start. One suggestion would be to check worn motor and transmission mounts. If the noise is not there under power, but when you are cruising, these mounts could be allowing the motor to lay over to one side putting pressure on shifter levers, exhaust pipes, fuel lines or cables forcing them to rub on the body of the vehicle. Happy hunting!!

  6. Dear Mr David, I had a FJ40 year 1980, cluncking/cyclic sound heard when the vehicle in movement with any gear speed (1/2/3/4) and this sound pitch was not correlated with rpm, but the clunking noise was gone if I depressed the clutch OR let the vehicle in moving on the road without the gear in (no load to drive line)
    I had tried so many things, replacing all bearings in transfer case, gearbox, rear differential, new propeler shaft, new clutch…..but the clunking noise still happened.
    (the noise was at the rear side)
    I had replaced the pinion gears, side gears, shims, adjusting spacers, but the only parts that not yet been replaced was the ring gear and the drive pinion in the rear differential, it’s seem both were in good condition.
    Kindly give your comment on this problem.
    many thanks and best regards
    Jimmy

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Backlash is something you haven’t mentioned. On an older, high mileage vehicle the backlash will open up. This wider space between the ring and the pinion gear will allow a clunking type sound like you describe. A new gear set targets .006 – .010” of back lash. An older set such as yours would be acceptable at approximately .010 – .015”. Anything more than that may be a clunker!

    • i have a 1998 jeep wrangle that is doing the same thing. A very loud metal to metal sounding bang-bang-bang coming from right under my seat
      (transfer case area) in any gear, any speed, dose not increase with rmp
      goes away with clutch depressed, still there with front drive shaft removed or with back drive shaft removed

      • hey had that same problem on my 99 dodge ram and its a very common problem the chain inside the transfer case gets worn and stretches and jumps the teeth on the gear and makes a loud bang noise my truck only had 90k when i had to replace mine it mostly did it when i was giving it throttle

        • also when they are stretched the chain will actually scrap along the bottom of the housing causeing a metal on metal scraping noise

      • I also have a 98 jeep wrangler doing exactly the same thing you are describing. What did you have to do to get the noisy, whinning sound to stop

  7. Dear Mr David,
    many thanks for your fast response………could you send me the picture/photo of that ring gear and pinion gear? and How to measure the backlash?
    best regards
    Jimmy

  8. I have a 96 chevy z71. I hear a grinding/whirring noise when i 1st take off from a cold start. It only happens when the truck is cold and its cold outside. When i turn it gets louder. It only happenes when the transmission is pulling it when im not giving it gas and when i do it goes away

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      When you turn the steering wheel a higher load is being applied to the power steering pump. With age, miles and cold weather it is completely possible that your power steering pump is in early stages of failure. You could try to flush the system with some fresh fluid but, by the time the noise starts it is generally too late!

  9. catherine simmons says:

    I bought our 2011 2LT RS Camaro brand new (74 miles), back in 2011, have had this vehicle checked numerous times due to loud clunk noise made only when going from park to reverse, at take off…, feels and sounds like universal joint problems (a lot of play), can you help me out with this one, cause the chevy dealership can’t find anything wrong, but it’s a loud bang noise, so it sounds like something’s wrong…
    Sincerely,
    Catherine Simmons

    • I bet it’s the but on your axles many of them had this . The fix is to add a washer on the end at rear hubs and torque to specs

      • The nut holding the axle to the hubs . Only happens when going into reverse mostly . Add a washer on the end and replace the nut and retorque

  10. Pete Alkema says:

    I have an interesting issue. I have a 1990 Dodge dakota convertible that very recently had all of the bearings replaced in the rear end. My mechanic said it was a carrier bearing that was making the noise I was hearing at low speed. The pinion bearings were replaced as well since the seal was leaking. So now all is almost well, except when I make a right hand turn with my foot off the throttle. It sounds like a gear mesh issue to me. My mechanic now says he thinks it’s a rear axle that might be causing this new noise. Is this possible?

  11. Hi, I have a 96 Jeep Grand Cherokee, permanent 4 x4. The rear wheel bearings were a little noisy so I set about changing them and whilst I was there I also changed the rear shocks and brake pads. All easy stuff and things I have done many times before. However, once back together it makes the most horrible of noises when turning at low speed and the inside the rear wheel judders. At first I thought it was a loose shock as it sounded like a rubber rubbing sound, so I tightened them, no use, I swapped back to the old ones, that did not work. I removed the hand brake shoes and all components as it sounded like the springs twanging, It made no difference, I have just opened up the diff again and removed the half shafts and changed the bearings back to the old ones, there is no unusual wear in the diff all looks fine nothing seems to have moved so I bolted it all back together and it has made no difference at all. I have never experienced this before.
    Does anyone have any ideas?
    Thanks in hope of a solution
    Pete

  12. I have. 2007 Dodge Charger and when I’m at a stop than take off I hear a bump bump bump coming from the back and the car sometimes shakes as well during this happening. I would ask my be but he’s too grouchy please if anyone could let me know if it’s major ? Thanks

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Because that car has what is known as “IRS” (independent rear suspension), there are a multitude of bushings and links employed to keep the rear wheels tracking straight down the road. Any one of these components could be loose/worn to the point you are experiencing excess movement under load causing the bumping you hear. Seek out a qualified technician to inspect and repair any one of these ailing parts.

  13. This was a huge help…. I had a whine while slowing down only…. took a video of the diff just to be sure thats where it was coming from! Check it out here https://youtu.be/CvmZ1xNTzAE

    Just as in this article it was the pinion preload that had loosened up!

  14. Hi I have a ln106 hilux and have a noise in the rear diff click/knock at idle in first gear about every 3 feet but only when going up a slight incline and goes when accelerate, drained oil no metal a little bit of black sludgy stuff on bung, it’s a lsd when I jacked back end up by turning one wheel other one turns the same way. Any ideas would be great
    Thanks Nigel

  15. Good day,
    2000 JGC, 4X4 4.0L, Here is the “clunking” noise I hear>

    1) If I am driving up hill, and want to speed up, I punch the gas and get a big clunk almost as if the entire underneath is “loose”

    2) I will be at a stop in say heavy traffic, let off brake, little or no acceleration and hard “clunk” upon first shift?

    I have replaced all rear end suspension parts, rebuilt trans, syn lube in diff

    Thanks!!

  16. No clunking noise but I do get a very annoying lurch , lurch at low speeds almost like the car hops till I push the clutch in or gas it hard

  17. 1998 gmc half ton 4×4 started making a vibrating noise increasing with speed then upon deceleration made a clanking noise that is now much worse. The drive shaft had play and now has none what so ever. U-joints don’t look bad but going to install new ones anyway. Seems like the problem is in the rear end but what in the rear end could it be. It’s a ten bolt rear end.

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  19. ryan wilson says:

    heres one that no can figure out yet. i have a 2005 ford e-150 econoline van. everything is fine when i first start driving but after it gets to temperature i get a hard rubbing noise. it only happens from a stop while turning and accelerating. if im going straight no noise.it doesnt matter right or left. it only does it when i hit the gas and turn.. if we turn the wheel and push it there is no noise.

  20. Hi,
    I have a 2003 2wd Chevy Avalanche. It has begun making an intermittent clunk/chatter noise at all speeds, the steering/speed is not effected but it sort of sounds like the chatter from an ABS system kicking on. Sometimes one “clunk” sometimes chatter. It sounds like it’s coming from any given quarter of the vehicle. Sometimes it can be felt on the passenger or driver floor board. Took it to a local garage and they reported everything underneath as “tight and clean”. They lubed it all. Still clunking. It seems to be more frequent the warmer the weather. Just prior to spring we downsized tire size. The problem did not start at that point. Any advice?

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      From your description, look into replacement of the U-joints and/or the transmission mount. The original U joints are a non-greaseable design from the factory and often times wear the needle bearing without any outward signs. Also, the transmission mount over time has most likely relaxed and may be contributing to the driveline angle being off. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  21. Jesus im sorry you had to deal with that !!!! I’d demand them replace it. You shouldn’t have any noises if they did it properly. I like an idiot …. Accidentally threw my truck in reverse at 65mph… Breaking my left side spider gears in my diff… I went to the store bought a new set from ford plus fluid and a clutch pack (8.8 3;55 LSD) for a total of $450 replaced it in 45 mins and was on my way with no noises from the rear and after proper break in time I started cutting through tight turns from dead stops fast turns etc and not a single noise. Someone somewhere did something wrong in your rear end, best opinion have them break it open on your existing rear end and look for damaged parts, not just get a used or pulled one because now you started with your problem and adding someone else’s junk to yours so whatever was wrong in their rear end too… Also could just be an axle bearing so id recommend they take it apart and figure it out.

  22. Vehicle model and differential type would help more. If its limited slip there’s a chance they didn’t use the proper shim for the spider gear on the left side.

  23. ’89 F150 302, 4WD, automatic – Howl and vibration at all speeds but only with light throttle (as if just to maintain speed on a level road). Goes away on acceleration and goes away on deceleration. Any ideas?

  24. Have 2001 gmc 2500 hd have clunk noise in 4/4 high when acelerateing in drive new main ujoints and new aculator in front end noise sounds like it’s in the front sounds like drivers side got any ideas

  25. I really like your article. However I did not see my specific problem listed. I have a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 with quadra trak II. The only time I hear a repetitive clunk, banging, slipping noise (can’t think of a better word) is when going 45 MPH or faster while accelerating. It sounds like it is coming from the front end. Looking at your article I am suspecting pinion or ring gear. However it appears to be RPM related versus speed related. When I put vehicle in 4wd LOW the sound appears around 25 MPH. Could this still be in the front differential or is it more likely a transmission or transfer case issue with the sound appearing to transmit towards the front of vehicle? Thank you for any advise you have.

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      From what you’ve described, it sounds as though it may be a transmission/torque converter noise. This would make the most sense since the noise is apparent in both high and low range operation.

  26. Hi everyone I really hope someone can help me out I have a 1999 dodge ram 1500 sport 4×4 it has 90k the truck is all stock I recently went to the store about a mile from home the truck was running fine no problems at all and when I left the store as soon as i got to 25mph I had a severe vibration I pulled over thinking I had a flat tire and they were all good and fairly new so I head back home and it was still there it gets worse the faster you go and when you leave from a stop it makes a clunk from the rear end I could only do 40mph and even then it felt like the truck was going to loose a wheel or break something it is horrible I jacked it off the ground and ran it in drive to 20mph and the whole truck shakes pretty violently and you can see the drive shaft appears to be bouncing at the yoke where it enters the t case you can hear a low rumble from the rear end and the whole bed of the truck shakes a lil more than the rest and when you let off the gas there is a high pitch bearing noise that only lasts for a second and goes away it sounds like its coming from the rear end and it only does it for a second when you let off the gas like a bearing is dragging so to narrow it down i removed the wheels no change I removed the drive shaft all the u joints are still good they are fairly new also I used a stethoscope and listened to the t case and transmission smooth and quiet I even took the housing off the t case to check the output shaft bearing it is still good and tight i grabbed the output shaft with both hands and shook it as hard as i could no play at all and the transmission mounts and motor mounts all good I did the same on the rear pinion no play at all I even removed the rear diff cover to inspect it and the fluid was clean and everything was tight and looked fine and the rear wheels spin pretty freely by hand and with the diff cover off and spinning the rear wheels the diff is quiet and everything seems to be okay but you can hear a slight rumble from the driver side wheel my first thought was a bad wheel bearing but the wheel does not move at all not matter how hard i shake it I can’t see a bad wheel bearing making my truck shake so violently and I checked and non of the weights came off the drive shaft and i cant imagine it getting bent or thrown off balance from idling throw a grocery store parking lot I have been working on cars for years and I have never came across anything like this any help I sure would appreciate I suppose a bad carrier bearing isnt out of question I just don’t want to tear anything apart that I don’t need to with it being so cold outside

  27. I have a Camaro, 355/turbo400/10bolt posi.
    At speeds 50 to 65 there is a slight hum that comes and goes, up then down about every 20 seconds. Very slight but a can detect it.

    I am going to relocate driveshaft 180 degrees or so and see if there is any deviation…what are tour thoughts. Sincerely
    Tom

  28. I have a 1992 Jeep Cherokee Sport: 4 door, 4.0L I-6, AW4 Transmission, NP242 transfer case, Dana 30 front axle, Chrysler 8.25″ Rear axle and a 3″ Rough Country suspension lift. All suspension components are new (within 6 months/6k miles), vehicle aligned within the week, All fluids replaced.

    Beginning at 55-60mph there is this grinding/growling/humming sound that seems to be coming from the front end. The sound increases in severity as speed increases-so much so that I am not comfortable bringing the vehicle up to 70mph for fear of catastrophic failure.

    The noise began after all if the tie rod ends and their respective adjustment sleeves, track bar and upper control arm bushings-at the axle-we’re replaced and the vehicle was aligned. Nearly everything underneath the vehicle is new so I’m lost as to what could be causing this.

  29. Good day,
    hopefully someone can help me with my Ford issue.
    I have a 2011 F150 3,7 Ltr 6 cylinder (not ecoboost).
    At around 86,000 kms my IWE solenoid blew while towing a small trailer on the highway with a 4 wheeler on it.
    Power train was under warranty therefore I brought it to Ford where they replaced the IWE that controls the 4 wheel drive.
    After completion I left the garage and found that while in 4×4 the truck would emit a low humming sound so I brought it back and after several days they tell me it’s “normal”. So I let this go.
    Come late fall (cold here in Ontario), my Ford starts making this awful type of rotational grinding/humming at first start up when I am driving. I can feel a vibration under my feet and it seems like to sound is coming from directly underneath me. No matter the speed, it does this weird sound for a few seconds, stops then restarts. when I’m at a complete stop there is no noise, but once I start driving it continues and goes faster the faster I drive.
    After a few minutes that this happens it seems to cease, seeing that the truck is warmed up by this time.
    **Note: I have also tried twice to shift in 4×4 while driving and this sounds stops. When I go to put it back into 2 wheel drive it doesn’t seem to come back.
    This is now 2 trips to Ford and they say they can’t “put their finger on it” because it doesn’t lasts long. Today was 3 degrees Celcius and it still did the noise as I drove away from Ford…go figure.
    I’m at 98,000 kms and my powertrain is about to expire so any help would be greatly appreciated so I can bring it back….furthermore what should I tell Ford to make them pinpoint this problem as they never seem to take the “I have a noise” line very seriously.
    Thanks to all, much appreciated for any help.

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      After some research on the web, it appears that this problem has a lot of Ford dealers scratching their butts & heads at the same time. Most likely a drive shaft runout issue but, maybe a local driveline shop will do a better job for you than Ford!!

  30. Del Howery, Jr. says:

    On a 2003 Dodge Durango AWD (133,000ish miles) recently developed a low pitch growl at speeds above 10 mph. It does seem to be related to driveshaft speed. I’ve recently changed the L/H front CV axle and the front driveshaft CV joint. The noise started well after those repairs were initiated.

    I have also developed a similar noise on my 1996 Dodge 1500 (228,000mi). That one just started and got my attention when it did. Same type of activity.

    I read above that it might be carrier bearing, but I wasn’t sure the Durango had one. Depending on what the weather does today, I might slide under it and see what the scoop is.

  31. I have just had a replacement transmission installed in my 2007 gmc rear wheel drive 6.0 liter pickup it now makes a chain rubbing noise of and on I have only drove it 300 miles what did they do that could cause this new problem it never made this noise till I had trans replaced

  32. Bill Halberstadt says:

    I have a 94 Grand Cherokee Limited automatic, Quadra-Trac, with 5.2 L V8. I hear a whine from either the front diff or transfer case. The note varies with speed, as does the volume. Starts to be noticeable at about 45 MPH, and is very loud by 65 MPH. No whine in coast, loud whine with any throttle at all, little if any on deceleration. Fluid level OK in diff and transfer case. Not sure whether to start with the diff or the xfr case.

  33. I put a tremec 5spd behind a slightly warmed-up rebuilt 289 in a 65 mustang. It required shortening the driveshaft, which I had done at a shop which does work mainly on big truck driveshafts. Now, when I accelerate over 75mph, I get a loud rumble and a strong vibration from the rear of the vehicle. I assume that the driveshaft was rebalanced. Rear end is a 8 inch with 3.80 gear.

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      Usually when a shop changes the length of a driveshaft they will automatically re-balance the shaft. But we wouldn’t assume. We’d suggest you check to see if there are any weights welded onto the shaft; check your receipt or maybe even call them back and ask.

  34. can i retourque pionion gear bearing in 1996 3/4 ton dana 80

  35. Loved the information! I Have a 2003 Chevy Suburban 4 wheel drive. There is a howling noise constantly at all speeds. It gets louder at higher speeds and when i accelerate. If i turn the wheel to the right the noise goes away for just a moment. I know its most likely coming from my rear end but just wanted to see if I could get a specific area? (Pinion bearing, Axel Bearing, Whole rear diff) I was hoping i could avoid a whole rear end if possible….. The rear pan had a leak and was low on gear oil. I changed it, inspected it, and did not find anything major. No,big metal chunks, Just small tiny specs grouped on the magnet and the gears looked brand new. I filled it up and the noise remains. If you have an idea on what or where you would inspect / fix next it would be greatly appreciated. I really don’t want to spend 2k to have someone else do it but its exhausting with so many possibilities…. Any information would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks,

  36. Brian Hedke says:

    I have a 2012 Silverado 4WD. I just bought the truck in January with 30,000 miles on it. Within a week the torque converter needed to be replaced. Chevy replaced and another 12 days later had to repair again due to a bad seal in the converter. I am now hearing a whining noise coming from where the transfer case is, right next to my shifter on the floor. The noise will not start happening until the truck is warmed up and moving for 20-30 minutes. The noise is faint, at first I thought it was wind noise until I realized where it was coming from. The quicker I go, the quicker the noise, as I slow down it slows down and is non-existent at 20mph and below. Had it at the dealer 2x and they found nothing wrong. I asked about loose heat shield or something rubbing against the wheel or drive train issue and they say no. It only happens when the truck is moving and at a speed of 40 or more t really hear it. It goes away when I accelerate and is there only when I let off the gas. It will not make the sound in park or neutral. And if I drive the truck for an hour around town at 30mph I will 9 times out of 10 hear nothing, has to be driven at a higher speed for a bit for the noise to begin. This is driving me insane. I know how sounds travel through a vehicle so pinpointing is very difficult. Any suggestions?

  37. Larry Gronmeyer says:

    Hi everyone,
    I think this is a diff problem, but I don’t have experience in that area so I’m looking for suggestions. 1998 Jeep Wrangler (235k miles). Rebuilt the engine (4cyl), the AX-5 tranny and the transfer case. Replaced all u-joints on both shafts. Replaced rear wheel axle seals and bearings. When driving thru 1-3, everything is normal. At top end of 3rd and thru 4th and 5th, I get an incredibly loud howl/whine that seems to be coming from the rear end. Hard to tell tho. When I let of the gas, it’s quiet. When I accelerate, it comes back. Also, if I put it in 4WD, the drive train is very quiet.

    Does this sound like a rear pinion bearing? TIA.

    LarryG

  38. Did you ever get this resolved? Just bought an ’07 Tacoma and after 1st long drive I get a driveline drone at certain highway speeds and can increase or make disappear by applying more acceleration or lessening. Hills seem to bring it on to like when driveline is under more load.

  39. That’s amazing that an experienced driveline technician can identify so many different problems from sound alone. It sounds like if you hear any kind of howling, it can be a sign that there is damage or an improper installation. I’ll have to try and remember these sounds and their causes so I know if I need to get my driveline repaired or rebuilt. Thanks for the very informative article.

  40. I have a 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland with ~75,000 miles. It has been used 3 summer seasons to tow our 26′ Travel Trailer throughout the SouthWest, PacWest and the Rockies. The vehicle runs awesome, shifts flawlessly, and in every other way acts fine. But I’ve noticed that when running at 75mph, as soon as I add a touch of gas, or the ACC (adaptive cruise control) does so automatically, I hear a “turbine-like” whine from the rear undercarriage. The rear passengers can definitely hear it the most however. As soon as the pressure is off the gas, it goes away. It’s not super annoying or anything (actually for a while it sounded cool), but I’m wondering if something is about to go wrong? I have always kept up with changing the transfer case, differential(s), trans fluids after each TT tow trip season-end. And upon each visual inspection the mechanic stated everything looked fine or that the fluid change wasn’t even necessary (although it was changed anyway). So what do you think of an occasional whine only at 75mph (or similiar high speeds) that comes and goes based on further acceleration, but disappears once it’s just having to maintain speed? (Like if on cruise control you would not hear it until climbing or recovering top speed after someone slow in front of you moves over and the ACC kicks back in to get up to the set speed). Any thoughts?

  41. Would metal shavings and light wear be signs of a bad front differential?

    • OnAllCylinders says:

      If you are doing a simple oil change on a high mileage axle and there has been no issues; a little glitter in the old oil can be expected and considered normal. Now, if you have actual shavings and some noises like whirring or grinding, its there’s a problem that requires further investigation!

  42. I have a 1999 grand Cherokee after you drive it for a hour it makes a rubbing noise for the passenger side of vehicle.what could this be??

  43. I have a 2007 Jeep Commander 4.7 4X4 that has a significant howling noise/low vibration once it hits 30-35 mph and then goes away at 55-60 (or the road noise drowns it out). I feel it in the driver side floorboard at its worst. It was under warranty and they replaced the front differential and axles(3 times!), transmission and transaxle as they assured me this is where the noise was coming from. Noise is still there. Any ideas?

  44. What about this one: Toyota 75 series with lsd: a kind of not too loud, medium pitched bearing (?) noise that occurs after about 15 minutes on the road (when car is warmed up), in second gear and up. Comes from rear, stops when foot is on the clutch. Sounds like metal bits whirling around in/on metal, turning, like a loose pulley noise… Does not increase in pitch or intensity. Rear diff also tends to get rather hot. U joints all greased and no play. Had pinion seal replaced about 6 months ago. No oil leaks, axle oil consistency looks normal I think: translucent greenish, with ever so slight greyish tinge. Breather was blocked before but unblocked it recently.

  45. Vehicle in in question: 1994 Grand Cherokee limited Awd, V8, automatic.

    2inch lift, 31’s.

    Senario 1:During acceleration through first gear no howling/roaring sound, like a wheel bearing. After gear change into secound sound appears and stays no matter what speed, unless under 15 mph.

    Senario 2: During hard acceleration no noise. Once up to speed and off full throttle noise appears.

    Truck has new, bearings and races in the front differential, new wheel bearings, and new front axles (I broke the previous ones). Also had this noise previous to me destroing the transmission, as well as after new transmission.
    I first bought the truck with this issue. I took apart the front differential to find no wearing signs on any of the bearings except the inner pinion bearing and race. I replaced all the bearings and races while I was in there. No sound. A week passes and sound comes back. Took apart again, this time no wear on any of the bearings or races. I am at a loss.

  46. kenk@hughes.net says:

    I have a clicking sound in the center area, sounds like coming from the u-joint areaof my 2002 Chevy silverado 1500?

  47. I have a 99 two door tahoe makes a clicking and rubbing noise like if its cuming from the brakes changed the brakes its only makes the nosie when u back up and turn also changed the pin yoke.and axle bearings still makes it what chold it be

  48. L. R. Earnest says:

    Howdy. I just left the tire shop (had a flat replaced on my driver’s side rear wheel) and I noticed when leaving the parking lot when I make a right turn, I hear a “clunk, clunk, clunk” sound from that side, rear of vehicle. I never heard that noise before, so I am at a loss as to what it might be. Also, prior to this tire repair, the noise was not present. It’s a 1969 Camaro, 3:73, non-posi rear end, 10 bolt, 8.2″. Many thanks if you can help…

  49. I have a 2009 Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5L engine. Its making a rumbling noise in the front passenger side. The noise sounds like the rumbling you get when you are about to pull over on the shoulder on a highway (best I can describe the noise). Was told it was wheel bearing so I replaced it and it is still doing it. The noise happens at any speed when I am driving straight and gets slightly louder as I turn to the left. When I turn right the noise stops and as soon as I straighten out the noise is back. it gets louder as my speed increases also. Any ideas on what it can be.

    • Sorry correction it makes the noise on the front driver side not passenger side.

      • OnAllCylinders says:

        Apologies for the delayed response, Luis. We’d recommend a call to the Summit tech line at 1-800-230-3030 as there will likely be some follow up questions.

  50. Matthew Thompson says:

    2006 chevy 2500 HD work truck 2wd 6.0 gas. Loud whinning noise after about 40 mph but only on acceleration. As soon as I let of the gas the noise goes completely away. Any help in this matter will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  51. Christopher Craig says:

    I have a 2002 dodge ram 1500 slt 5.9l 2wd and i just now started hearing a loud ckicking sound when i switch gears into reverse and drive. It sounds like it’s coming from the rear.
    Any help would be very apprecoated.
    Thanks!!

  52. 2000 GMC Yukon XL 1500.
    Fresh Fluid and Gasket in the Rear Differential. When cover was off, no shavings were indicated. At very low idling speeds (forward or reverse, and this happened before the fluid change also) there is a sound similar to an exhaust dragging. I can feel it in the floor boards. There isn’t any play in the driveshaft and everything seems tight. I don’t know what could cause this. But any help would be appreciated.

  53. KIMBERLY KING says:

    2007 Ford Edge, bought used for in home buisness, but then was hardly driven. Now when I need to its making a loud howling noise, bangs when you drive forward and when going in reverse. Prior to this issue & last time driven it felt like it was about to stall out when stopped and taking off from a stop. I had the oil & brakes changed, parked it for 4 months. Went to drive it the other day & now this.

  54. I just had my both front CV axles on Jeep Cherokee today but it still makes a clicking sound when turning right and left and when I go down a hill, I’m the three car back than slowly roll forward than starts clicking in center under middle of Jeep under radio. Could the center u joint be causing this? What else could it be?

  55. I need some help.. I have a 2012 jeep patriot latitude.. When im pulling out no noise until i hit about 5 mph and only continues until i hit 20mph in front end then goes away.. Does this when i slow down and start to accelerate but just between those speeds.. Its a rubbing vibrating type noise.. Checked for play in front wheels and nothing.. Does anyone have any idea what this could be.. Pulled tire off and replaced with my spare just to see if it wss tire.. Couldnt get that lucky and checked and made sure all tires had same amount of air.. Any help please?!?

    • OnAllCylinders Staff says:

      If you’ve eliminated tires, did you check your break pads? It’s quite possible that your disk brake pads have gotten stuck in the retaining channel thanks to gunk build-up. That prevents them from fully retracting with the caliper piston and, especially with floating-type calipers, can keep them in contact with the rotor.

      You said you’ve checked for wheel play, but your wheel bearing could still be the issue. Does the noise go away when you turn (slightly) to the left or right? If so, it may be the bearing on the opposite wheel.

      We assume you’ve done a thorough investigation of the wheel and chassis, checking for things like loose splash shields and bent brake shrouds. Since it seems related to vehicle speed and not engine RPM, the options listed above are some likely culprits.

  56. I have a 2013 Camaro. I get a loud clunk when stationary switching between park and reverse. It also clunks while gently accelerating and decelerating. Generally this only happens at lower speeds – I’ve never driven the car hard either. If I stop, I get a clunk just before stationary, unless I flick to neutral and stop that way. When I come out of neutral, the noise goes again.
    There is some play in the differential. With the car jacked, if I wiggle the rear wheel, the wheel clicks as does the differential.
    Any ideas?

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