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Old 12-23-2010, 09:56 AM   #1
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Default 2004 GC Limited, bad front end noise... HELP!

Hey guys... new to the forum, and relatively new Jeep owner. I've searched all over for any information regarding my problem with no luck. I would appreciate it if anyone had any advice for me on this, and apologize for being new here and immediately needing help

I have a 2004 Grand Cherokee Limited with Quadtrac. At first I thought I had a caliper stickin... sounded like brake noise, whining or grinding noise that appeared suddenly on the interstate, grew quite loud, and then went away just as suddenly as it came.

Then about two days later, it came back... and felt and smelled just like a brake draggin or hangin up. Stunk like brake or clutch smell... and felt rough as heck.
After changing front pads and freeing up a stuck slider on one caliper and jacking up the front end and removing the calipers and wheels about a dozen times attempting to troubleshoot a brake problem... it's still makin the noise! I consider myself a pretty capable mechanic, however I'm left scratching my head on this one.

Dropping it out of gear and rolling in Neutral, same noise. Taking it out of all wheel drive and putting it in 4-low, same noise. The only thing that sort of... SORT OF.... makes it go away is a sharp turn to the left..
I'm at a total loss here, and I'm starting to wonder if it's not my differential or transfer case. I'm not sure if that would still make it smell like that if those were to go out.. but at the moment I'm afraid to drive the thing, and do not want to shell out my transfer case if that were to be the culprit.

any and all suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated! thanks guys!
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Old 12-23-2010, 10:50 AM   #2
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Welcome to CF.
Since the noise "sort of" goes away on a sharp left turn- that's when the load is transferred to the right side and taken away from the left side- I'd check the front hub/wheel bearings. If one is bad replace both sides.
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:50 AM   #3
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hello, and thanks for the welcome. I'm not sure if I checked them correctly or not, but I may have eliminated the hubs already.

I have the front end suspended, calilpers off(to sort of eliminate the brake issue), wheels on, and then when I spin them, there is no noise or play from top to bottom or side to side. Is there a different way to check the hubs that I'm not aware of?
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:25 PM   #4
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I have seen lots of wheel bearings make noise and not be loose, plus you will never hear it when jacked up spinning by hand. The way we always diag it is to go on a test drive, if it gets quiter or disappears when you turn right, then it is the right wheel bearing, and visa versa when u steer left.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:45 AM   #5
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ok, thanks... Just figured it would have some play or looseness. Although I've had wheel bearings go out before.... and now that I think about it, what you say is totally true... I have never experienced such a rotten smell with that. I mean... even just sitting in a 3 car garage, it's got the whole area stunk up!
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:22 PM   #6
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Pretty sure my front differential is toast....

any ideas on sourcing a rebuild kit? How hard are those to replace? ... or should I try to source one from a boneyard?
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Christmas isn't lookin too good for me at this point.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:31 PM   #7
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Definitely a wheel bearing. Had the same problem on one of my customers Jeeps last month. change the front diff oil when you do the bearings.
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Old 12-25-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thundaluvin View Post
Definitely a wheel bearing. Had the same problem on one of my customers Jeeps last month. change the front diff oil when you do the bearings.
Man... I wish you were right. I would hate to do the bearings and then have to do the front diff. too. Or do the diff, and it be the bearings. Have to be able to eliminate one or the other somehow.
The only thing that makes me worry is, no play at all in the wheels what so ever....... And the front shaft moves from side to side where it goes into the differential.... and what about the smell??
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:40 AM   #9
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OK.... pulled my diff cover off today and found that there was about a 1/2 to 3/4 cup tops worth of oil in there.... Holy *****!!

upon further examination... the large gear that runs the same directions as the tires... (seems to be the largest gear in there) has a polished and chewed up area directly to the side of it towards the drivers side tire... Looks as if another gear of some sort on the backside near the driveshaft has been making contact with it causing my grinding noise....

I know nothing about these mechanisms, but it seems pretty stinkin complicated to me inside of there... I don't know if it would be smart for me to attempt a rebuild job on it or not!

Either way... after replacing my front brakes... ALMOST replacing my wheel bearings.... I finally pinpointed the noisy nasty culprit. Wish it was better news... but for now, the next step I guess, is to try to find the cheapest route to fix.

Merry kissmyass to me.....aaand a Happy New Year.
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:03 PM   #10
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by the time I get this thing on the road again.. I'm gonna be an expert in this subject....
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Old 12-29-2010, 01:37 PM   #11
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That large gear is the ring gear, and it is driven by the pinion gear, a smaller gear attached to the drive-shaft. It has a group of spider gears that distribute the force to one wheel or the other as traction permits, and allow slippage when going around corners.
Sounds as though you may need the ring and pinion replaced. Not a job for the novice.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:16 PM   #12
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its easy dont let people tell you otherwise just need a coulpe special tools witch include a vernier caliper,a brake rotor runout gauge/ball joint measuring tool to measure backlash,inch pound tourque wrench to measure pinion drag,a long punch to remove baring races,a race installer http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-26...ols-41630.aspx race installer http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-13...2-520-757.aspx ball joint tool http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-13...101-150-2.aspx vernier caliper now all you need is some sockets and a tourque wrench
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:37 PM   #13
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ok never mind i was just thinking how you would get the pinion out and trust me it would suck if your laying on your back trying to hold a punch and hitting your hand with a big hammer so you can save the spacer on the pinion yea bring it to a shop so if they mess up its their fault not yours
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:20 AM   #14
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ok... called to confirm a quote of $390.(labor) for the rebuild this morning...

Now they say... with parts at $100. on the master bearing kit, $173. for ring and pinion gears, fresh oil... the total could be on the low end $800. to rebuild.

Then he says the races could have spun out the mating surface on the carrier and housing, and the bearings inside the vari-lock could be "funny" or different than is in the master kit thusly running up the total some $45. a side.... so with requiring "funny" bearings... new housing and new carrier the total could be well over $1600.

WOW! Seems like everyone is trying to take me to the cleaners on this thing...

Junkyard axle assembly after core is $750.? How hard are those things to replace? Could I do that in the garage myself I'm wondering?
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:03 PM   #15
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I swapped mine out due to bent housing in about 2.5 hours (Note to self-Do not let wife race brother up sand dune). Only thing somewhat special you need are larger then normal jackstands for extra height; I think mine are 12 ton.
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