Need to Diagnose Differential Noises (sound clip) -

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post #1 of 6 Old 08-16-2013, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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1996 ZJ 
Join Date: Jun 2013
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Need to Diagnose Differential Noises (sound clip)

Hey, I have a constant differential whir that I think is common in the ZJ but mine keeps getting louder, and now there is a kind of grinding sound that variates frequency-with-speed. It seems to get a louder with braking. My ZJ is a 5.2 at 207k miles.

I have a link to the sound it is making below. You can't really hear the constant whir, but it's there but you can definitely hear the grinding. In the clip I was going from 40 to 35 and to a stop in the end.

Thanks for any help!

Sound clip:

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post #2 of 6 Old 08-17-2013, 07:59 PM
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post #3 of 6 Old 08-17-2013, 09:35 PM
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Is it coming from the front diff or the back? I can't really tell from the audio, but maybe it's a pinion bearing? Or wheel bearing? idk about the grinding though that could be something in the gears possibly.

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post #4 of 6 Old 08-17-2013, 10:27 PM
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All your fluids at the correct levels in the axles/transfer case? After driving it put your hand on the outside of the wheel/hub and typically a bad outer axle/wheel bearing will be much hotter than the rest.

Below is some info on gear/bearing noise. On my pinion bearing which is worn/on the way out I get a high-pitch whine at freeway speeds. Not really hearing that in yours but you're going fairly slow. More of a grumbling noise but also sounds like metal-on-metal scraping, instead of grease/fluid in-between, somewhere.
Attached Thumbnails
Gear and Bearing noise (Med size). p.3-3.jpg  
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-19-2013, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the replies!!! Sorry to get back so late. I'll answer in order.

ZeeJay1997: "do you have 4wd? is it front or rear?"
Yes, full-time 4x4. The sound is coming from the rear, but I can feel the grinding all the way on the front floorboard.

Myusernam1674: "maybe it's a pinion bearing? Or wheel bearing?"
Yeah, that was my thought. I was hoping the sound would be more conclusive toward something else though, because it seems like most people with a pinion bearing problem have more of a whine than a whir and scraping noise.

Uniblurb: "All your fluids at the correct levels in the axles/transfer case?"
Yes, my fluids are all good. I have been feeling my differential after trips. It seems like it is in the normal temp range too. I just drove from Florida to Colorado though, and I don't think I really had the sounds on the trip, but they may have just been subtly getting louder.
Thanks for the extra info. Based on that it would seem like it is the front pinion bearing, but my front differential isn't making the noise. I know also that usually the drive shaft feels loose to the touch when the bearings are going bad, and mine feels very solid, and no fluid is leaking.

Thanks again for the answers! If you have anymore ideas, please share!
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-20-2013, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Based on a second opinion, I believe it is my differential carrier bearings meaning an expensive repair because I don't have all the tools to do it myself.
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differential , grand cherokee zj , noise , pinion bearing , whining noise

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