Differential Symptoms (760) 741-7861


High operating temperatures reduce the gear lube's ability to lubricate, which can lead to axle and bearing failure leading to major differential repairs.

Differential service includes draining &filling with new gear lube. to avoid expensive repairs. Most manufacturers recommend differential service every 30.000 miles.

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Unrelated Noises Non Drivetrain Noise
Gear Noise Chuckle
Knock Clunk
Bearing Whine Bearing Rumble
Chatter On Turns Axle Shaft Noise


Some driveline trouble symptoms are also common to the engine, transmission, wheel bearings, tires, and other parts of the vehicle. Ensure cause of trouble actually is in the drive axle before adjusting, repairing, or replacing any of its parts.


A few conditions can sound just like drive axle noise and have to be considered in pre-diagnosis. The 4 most common noises are exhaust; tires, CV/universal joints and wheel trim rings. In certain conditions, the pitch of the exhaust gases may emit gear whine. At other times, it may be mistaken for a wheel-bearing rumble. Tires, especially radial and snow, can have a high-pitched tread whine or roar, similar to gear noise. Also, some non-standard tires with an unusual tread construction may emit a roar or whine. Defective CV/universal joints may cause clicking noises or excessive driveline play that can be improperly diagnosed as drive axle problems. Trim and moldings also can cause a whistling or whining noise. Ensure none of these components are causing the noise before disassembling the drive axle.


An improper gear pattern, gear damage, or improper bearing preload can cause a “howling” or “whining” noise from the ring and pinion gear. It can occur at various speeds and driving conditions, or it can be continuous. Before disassembling axle to diagnose and correct gear make sure that tires, exhaust, and vehicle trim have been checked as possible causes


This is a particular rattling noise that sounds like a stick against the spokes of a spinning bicycle wheel. It occurs while decelerating from 40 MPH and usually can be heard until vehicle comes to a complete stop. The frequency varies with the speed of the vehicle.

A chuckle that occurs on the driving phase is usually caused excessive clearance due to differential gear wear, or by a damaged tooth on the coast side of the pinion or ring gear. Even a very small tooth nick or a ridge on the edge of a gear tooth is enough the cause the noise. This condition can be corrected simply by cleaning the gear tooth nick or ridge with a small grinding wheel. If either gear is damaged or scored badly, the gear set must be replaced. If metal has broken loose, the carrier and housing must be cleaned to remove particles that could cause damage.


This is very similar to a chuckle, though it may be louder, and occur on acceleration or deceleration. A gear tooth that is damaged on the drive side of the ring and pinion gears can cause knock. Ring gear bolts that are hitting the carrier casting can cause knock. Knock can also be due to excessive endplay in the axle shafts.


Clunk is a metallic noise heard when an automatic transmission is engaged in Reverse or Drive, or when throttle is applied or released. It is caused by backlash somewhere in the driveline, but not necessarily in the axle. To determine whether the axle causes driveline clunk, check the total axle backlash as follows:

1. Raise vehicle on a frame or twin post hoist so that drive wheels are free. Clamp a bar between axle companion flange and a part of the frame or body so that flange cannot move.

2. On conventional drive axles, lock the left wheel to keep it from turning. On all models, turn the right wheel slowly until it is felt to be in Drive condition. Hold a chalk marker on side of tire about 12" from center of wheel. Turn wheel in the opposite direction until it is again felt to be in Drive condition.

3. Measure the length of the chalk mark, which is the total axle backlash. If backlash is one inch or less, drive axle is not the source of clunk noise.


Bearing whine is a high-pitched sound similar to a whistle. Malfunctioning pinion bearings usually causes it. Pinion bearings operate at drive shaft speed. Roller wheel bearings may whine in a similar manner if they run completely dry of lubricant. Bearing noise will occur at all driving speeds. This distinguishes it from gear whine, which usually comes and goes as speed changes.


Bearing rumble sounds like marbles being tumbled. A malfunctioning wheel bearing usually causes it. The lower pitch is because the wheel bearing turns at only about 1/3 of drive shaft spe


This is a condition where the entire front or rear of vehicle vibrates when vehicle is moving. The vibration is plainly felt as well as heard. Extra differential thrust washers installed during axle repair can cause a condition of partial lock-up that creates this chatter.


Axle shaft noise is similar to gear noise and pinion bearing whine. Axle shaft bearing noise will normally distinguish itself from gear noise by occurring in all driving modes (Drive, cruise, coast and float), and will persist with transmission in Neutral while vehicle is moving at problem speed. If vehicle displays this noise condition, remove suspect parts, replace wheel seals and install a new set of bearings. Re- evaluate vehicle for noise before removing any internal components. Vibration is a high frequency trembling, shaking or grinding condition (felt or heard) that may be constant or variable in level and can occur during the total operating speed range of the vehicle. The types of vibrations that can be felt in the vehicle can d into 3 main groups:

  • Vibrations of various unbalanced rotating parts of the vehicle.
  • Resonance vibrations of the body and frame structures caused by rotating of unbalanced parts.
  • Tip-in moans of resonance vibrations from stressed engine or exhaust system mounts or driveline flexing modes.