Front end episodic noise and clunking - Rubicon Owners Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-11-2019, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Front end episodic noise and clunking

I need help diagnosing some issues I am having in the front end of my Jeep.

Issue: Front end binding and clunking noise that is coming from the front end. It sounds like its in the drive train... maybe axel u-joints. The noise goes away after I drive it forward and repeatedly press the brakes.

Conditions: The condition happens after the Jeep has been allowed to sit a few days. I am usually able to resolve the issue by pressing on the brakes and it eventually goes away (its taking me longer and longer each time to get it go to away).

Steering does not appear to be a factor - steering does not cause the noise or help resolve the issue. The noise is manifested regardless of if I take off straight or turn the wheels. It also does not help resolve the issue if I turn the wheels.

Transfer case is not a factor - The position of the transfer case 4hi or 4low do not cause or help resolve the issue.

I think the issue maybe in the front axel it self, however, that doesn’t explain why pressing the brakes get it to go away. I have completed a visual inspection of the front end, U-joints, Hubs, etc. and nothing obvious sticks out.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-12-2019, 02:44 AM
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Glad to have you in the forum.

My buddy had front end clunking. We had just finished a trail and were in a parking lot trying to cause “this” to figure “that.” His seemed torque related. Finally I grabbed the u-joint where the front driveshaft connects to the transfer case and man handled it. I could feel the slop and actually produced a clunk. That was indeed his problem. It’s probably one of the few times we felt like winners discovering a problem.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-12-2019, 08:33 AM
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Unfortunately sometimes with issues like this it is hard to pin point and even harder to make the noise yourself by grabbing and shaking or twisting etc.... Many times if you can do that and get things to make the noise you have to really give it hell like Norminator alluded to. In my case with some front end issues, I had to remove and inspect parts piece by piece. I had a noise once and it wasn't until I had the axle out of the front on one side that I could easily tell it was a ball joint. Depending on the amount of miles on the jeep, sometimes doing things like that provides a good opportunity for some general maintenance "since you are in there anyway".
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-12-2019, 09:26 AM
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Another vote for a bad axle u-joint. And welcome to ROF!
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the input. I have done some more testings and think it is something in the front diff. I lifted the jeep off the ground and put it in 4WD to see if I could replicate the noise and I did. I also check the diff fluid and it is coming out of the eyelet so no issues there.

The drivers front driveshaft is making the clanking noise as the drivers front wheel moves. When I stop the drivers front wheel (by hand) to allow the passenger tire to spin freely the noise goes away. What could this be?

Linked is a video to me spinning the passenger wheel by hand and the associated noise. I think this is the point I probably take the Jeep into the shop. I can replace a wheel hub and u-joint…but I feel opening the diff and trying to figure that out. Is that probably the best route?

Link to video:
https://youtu.be/mmXrZm6u6EQ
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 02:50 AM
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As rapid as that clicking sound is, I would guess it is the wheel bearing.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 04:02 AM
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Wow, that’s quite a noise and worth looking at the hub. Maybe your hub gets squirrelly, and when you brake, the pads on the rotor makes the hub behave again. You’ll learn quite a bit if you remove that hub for inspection.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norminator View Post
Wow, that’s quite a noise and worth looking at the hub. Maybe your hub gets squirrelly, and when you brake, the pads on the rotor makes the hub behave again. You’ll learn quite a bit if you remove that hub for inspection.

After inspecting the hub, if you don't see anything, I'd pull the diff cover, or maybe do it first, gear oil is cheap. Have an assistant turn the wheel as you did in your video while you look and hear.

It's 0400 so time for me to get on the bike.

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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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Alrighty,

I think I have discovered the cause of the noise. I removed both front hubs and axels and the hubs and u-joints are not the culprit. They operate just fine. Afterwards I opened up the front differential and can now see where the noise is coming from. Side note, upon draining the differential I found a decent amount of material on the magnetic plug at the bottom of the axel. I found the noise in the axel housing (I think this is what it is called). The metal looks a bit deteriorated. This is where the noise is coming from. Maybe it is the spider gears? I am not too familiar with working on differentials. Is it best just to replace the whole housing unit? Or should I try to take apart the whole assembly? Hitting the pause button on this until I can figure out how to tear this thing down and move forward. Any advice moving forward?
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 06:05 PM
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I’m like you with differentials. At least you’ll be able to be an informed customer if you take it somewhere. Looking forward to the feedback you get here.

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