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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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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As rapid as that clicking sound is, I would guess it is the wheel bearing.
 

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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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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Discussion Starter #11
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.
From the little searching I have done... it looks like I need to get a whole new locker because the factory ones are not serviceable. I’m finding out you can’t just buy one of these new as they don’t make them anymore. Pending the advice I get on here I may look around at local junk yards for the part.
 

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From the little searching I have done... it looks like I need to get a whole new locker because the factory ones are not serviceable. I’m finding out you can’t just buy one of these new as they don’t make them anymore. Pending the advice I get on here I may look around at local junk yards for the part.
One thing I do know is ARB’s. If you can go that route, do it. I know I will when the time comes. I had them in my CJ.
 

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Strange that the front end would have issues, usually the problem is in the rear.
That said... several members have changed theirs out for different reasons, someone may have one collecting dust in the corner somewhere.
 

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You are correct in that the locker is not serviceable. And the front one is usually not the one that causes issues. From what I have seen, you can get a new front OEM locker, but the price is to the point that it makes no sense when you could go with ARB for the same or not much more. The only positive thing about using a new or even used oem locker is you MIGHT be able to swap it all over yourself and be fairly set and ready to go. VS a new setup where backlash and preload will have to be set. The Yukon lockers have a good reputation in my area also, but ARB is always king. Depending on what you decide... do not rule out simply buying a new axle assembly. It might be just as cheap or cheaper if you wish to stay OEM to find a whole front someone is selling and you can swap out.
 

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Depending on what you decide... do not rule out simply buying a new axle assembly. It might be just as cheap or cheaper if you wish to stay OEM to find a whole front someone is selling and you can swap out.
Good suggestion.
I might add to look close by due to shipping costs, but more importantly...
if you're in CA the sight of an axle from the NE might cause a myocardial infarction. :surprise:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Update

Thanks for the advice. I took the carrier out to inspect it this morning and found a pin slightly out that I could not put back in. I put the small drive shaft in the differential and spun it and feels like a lot of binding and resistance and noise. The bearings looked and felt good. There was noise and resistance coming from the locker acutuator as well but this was small compared to the rest of the carrier. There didnt appear to be anything obvious that I could fix. Anything else I should trouble shoot or try to fix on this? Looks like im in the market for either a used carrier/locker or a used axle. I may just leave the carrier out and put the jeep back together in the mean time. I prefer to use the OEM locker to keep it all stock.
 

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I posted an available locker on your other thread. Would need to know what current fair market value is for both seller and buyer.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Figured I would post an update. I ended up getting a used OEM locker. Just finished installing the locker. I figured I would make a day of it and replaced the ball joints, u-joints, and hubs as well. So far so good. Locker fully works. It does take a little while for both lockers to engage but that’s an issue for another day. Thanks all for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I spoke too soon. After letting it sit two days the Noise is back. I’m baffled at this point. Back to trouble shooting. Any ideas?
 
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