Front diff: no oil! - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old May 8th, 2006, 02:39 AM
BarryO
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Barry O'Mahony
97 D-90 SW LE
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Front diff: no oil!

So I think I've found the cause of the gear whine I've been hearing when under load. I was under the truck this weekend; all the U-joints looked OK. I pulled the right-front hub to look at the bearings ('thought the noise might be coming from there), but they looked OK, too. I decided to check the oil level in the front diff, but couldn't feel any, so I pulled the drain plug to look at the oil: and none came out. Now of course things were still wet inside, but there was no substantial amount of oil in the diff housing.

Now I guess that would explain the gears whining under load, but did it do any permanent damage; i.e., will it be OK if I just fill it up again?

I did some looking around, and I noticed some RTV-type sealant on the outside where the diff housing meets the axle housing, like someone tried to "repair" a leak in the past. Since I'm the only owner of this rig, I'm at a loss to who would have done it. 'hard to believe a dealer service dep't would have done such a cheap fix.

If this does turn out to be a leak, what is involved with doing a "proper" fix? The manual I have is light on details. Is there some type of gasket here? Do I put hylomar or something else on it? I'me guessing the procedure is:

--pull wheels,
--brake calipers,
--pull hubs,
--pull axle stubs,
--pull half-shafts,
--remove front driveshaft,
--remove diff, clean off flange and install new gasket and/or sealant;
--put everything back together.

Any words of wisdom from more experienced souls would be most appreciated!
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  #2  
Old May 8th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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The factory actually uses RTV around the diff so that migth just be from new. TO remove the front diff, you basically sumed it up your self. Not very hard but just time consuming and a PITA
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  #3  
Old May 8th, 2006, 09:12 AM
Monkeyboy

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I've just un-bolted the entire hub assembly from the axle tube to slide axle, hub, rotor, etc out then pull the diff.

I'm confident that this isn't the accepted, according to the manual way to proceed, but it sure as heck is quicker than disassembling the caliper, rotor, hub, etc.

Of course, you'll need to support the hub assembly - not insignificant weight - and hold it away from the axle tube to get the diff assembly out.

Some nice bailing / mechanics wire will hold it up and a 2x4 scrap will hold it away from the axle tube just far enough to allow removal of the diff.

KAA
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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Its actually easier just to remove the caliper and hub. The bolts that hold the swivel onto the axle suck to remove and have to be done with an open end wrench.... YOu can have each side apart in about 15 min the other way.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryO
So I think I've found the cause of the gear whine I've been hearing when under load. I was under the truck this weekend; all the U-joints looked OK. I pulled the right-front hub to look at the bearings ('thought the noise might be coming from there), but they looked OK, too. I decided to check the oil level in the front diff, but couldn't feel any, so I pulled the drain plug to look at the oil: and none came out. Now of course things were still wet inside, but there was no substantial amount of oil in the diff housing.

Now I guess that would explain the gears whining under load, but did it do any permanent damage; i.e., will it be OK if I just fill it up again?

I did some looking around, and I noticed some RTV-type sealant on the outside where the diff housing meets the axle housing, like someone tried to "repair" a leak in the past. Since I'm the only owner of this rig, I'm at a loss to who would have done it. 'hard to believe a dealer service dep't would have done such a cheap fix.

If this does turn out to be a leak, what is involved with doing a "proper" fix? The manual I have is light on details. Is there some type of gasket here? Do I put hylomar or something else on it? I'me guessing the procedure is:

--pull wheels,
--brake calipers,
--pull hubs,
--pull axle stubs,
--pull half-shafts,
--remove front driveshaft,
--remove diff, clean off flange and install new gasket and/or sealant;
--put everything back together.

Any words of wisdom from more experienced souls would be most appreciated!
The other replies were right on. It is common to use some type of gasket maker to seal the diff.

This might sound getto, but I have done this with good results. Instead of pulling everything and taking the diff out, you can take all the bolts off of the 3rd member and pull it out about 1/2in. The shafts will stop it from going further out. You can then put a bit of right stuff in the gap and push it all back together. If you clean it as best you can, it does seal up, or at least worked well for me.

As to the gears, if there is damage, there is not much you can do about it now other than replacement. I would fill it up and drive around. If the whine eventually gets louder, replace. If not, your safe. Good luck.
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  #6  
Old May 15th, 2006, 04:35 PM
BarryO
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Barry O'Mahony
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Update:

I put fluid in the diff, and the whine seems to have gone; or at least it is drowned out by the other normal noises. I drained the fluid out and didn't see anything in it, although the drain plug may have had some metal dust on it (I forgot to check to see if the plug was magnetic).

I put some more gasket maker on the outside, but it still drips a drop every once in a while. Nothing that I can't stay on top of. I may try David's "getto" method this summer. Anyhting to avoid packing wheel bearings.
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