2001 XJ front end issues after Deer (lots of words) - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 2 Old 09-23-2017, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Albany
Posts: 287
2001 XJ front end issues after Deer (lots of words)


I have been posting about this for the past 2 or 3 weeks in my massive thread "New Jeep, lots of Issues...."

I have decided to make a new post for it because I am friggin' stumped, and hope to get some more input from all of you guys.

Anyway, I hit a deer about 3 weeks ago and basically wrecked the front end of my XJ. Fast forward, I have replaced all of the damaged body parts and gotten it into good running order.

HOWEVER, there is a persistent thumping noise that is coming from the front end. Please allow me to explain in detail:

When accelerating from a stop, a noticeable thumping noise can be heard and also felt coming from somewhere in the front end. It is NOT an intermittent noise, it is consistent and it speeds up/slows down with the speed of the wheels. It is most noticeable at slow speeds, such as driving through a parking lot, and it fades away after 40mph. At high speeds, there is a lot of vibration from the front end, and braking causes a severe wobble which can escalate into a full-on death wobble if not treated accordingly. While slowing to a stop, the thumping is VERY noticeable, and the Jeep lurches/chugs in rhythm with the noise, as though the braking power is fluctuating. It is bad enough that loose items inside of the Jeep move back and forth.

Also, for a few days after the crash, the passenger side axle seal began to leak gear oil; it splattered inside of the wheel well and also along the rocker panels. This lead me to believe that the axle was bent.

I have changed many parts and tried many things while trying to figure out the source of this issue. Below is a list:

Replaced on Front Passenger Side --
Drive axle
U joint
Brake pads
Wheel bearing

Actions taken --
- Swapped rims around to make sure it is not a bent rim.

- Put the front end on jack stands, switched into 4WD and watched the front wheels for any wobble. I also removed both front wheels, calipers and rotors so that I could inspect the movement of the hubs.

- Removed the front drive shaft to verify that it is not coming from the transfer case.

None of these things have been the cause of the issue. Even with all of the new parts, the thumping noise and sensation is still present and the Jeep still has wobbling issues at highway speeds.

Something I noticed --
When the front end was on jack stands, I placed a mallet under the passenger wheel so that the driver side would spin. I noticed that the passenger side wheel was kind of thumping/kicking while the driver side wheel spun. Every time the driver side wheel made a complete revolution, the passenger wheel would "kick" and the mallet under the tire would move a little. It makes me think that something is messed up with the front differential, like it is out of balance or something is bent inside of the diff carrier.


I can fix anything. Usually because I've broken it before.
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post #2 of 2 Old 09-24-2017, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Albany
Posts: 287
Ok. Thanks for the input guys, it helped a lot

As a last ditch effort, I decided to completely remove the braking system from the equation, thinking that it may be a sticky caliper or something with one of the rotors. So, I removed both of the front calipers, hung them from the lower control arms and zip tied them into place. Then I reinstalled the rotors and front wheels. I took the Jeep for a spin around the block, staying under 40mph and using the E-brake to stop.

Much to my chagrin, the thumping is still persistent in the front end.

Therefore, when combined with the leaking axle seal, I am left to conclude that something is indeed wrong with the front diff, and the axle housing is probably bent. The real question is whether or not it is worth it to pull the whole thing apart when I am still 400 miles away from home on a business trip, or if I should just try to live with it until I can get back to my place and deal with it the right way. There is a pick-n-pull down the road with a 2000 in the yard, I have already taken lots of parts from it. I could probably pull the axle tube off of that sucker and swap it in. I would only need a furniture dolly to do it.

My real fear is that the front end is going to just snap and give out suddenly while I am on the highway. I foresee the front wheels locking up and then the Jeep rolling over. For that reason, I think it may be wise to simply remove the front drive axles from the diff, then separate the hubs from their U-joints and reinstall them behind the bearings. It would effectively make the Jeep 2WD, but it would also prevent the front diff from spinning anymore while I drive it, thus preventing any further wear and tear, and also - hopefully - removing the possibility of a catastrophic failure.

I can fix anything. Usually because I've broken it before.
Domengo is offline  

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