Brake/driveline noise identification? -
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post #1 of 4 Old 04-27-2011, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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1998 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Venice
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Brake/driveline noise identification?

Just picked up my '98 TJ a couple months ago. Was in solid shape overall, ended up needing a new clutch (existing master/slave set up proved to be okay) and brakes at all four corners. The brake job involved new rotors and pads up front, new drums and shoes in back.

For about a week after the brake job, all was a-okay. Then I began hearing a noise very similar to one I'd heard prior to the brake replacement: a sort of grinding/clacking noise, the frequency of which is directly proportional to the speed the Jeep's moving when I step on the brakes. In other words the time between instances of the noise is greater the slower the speed. Also, the noise occurs ONLY when I brake--no noise whatsoever when the brakes aren't engaged, regardless of whether I'm coasting in neutral or am in gear. On occasion, the noise disappears entirely for a while. Last time I noticed that was on a 20-mile trip on the highway, and once off the highway driving on secondary streets was surprised not to hear the noise at all. But the next day when I drove the Jeep, the noise had returned.

The guy who did the brake job put the Jeep on his lift and suggested that the noise is actually the result of a front differential that needs a rebuild. As evidence, he twisted the transaxle leading to the front diff and rotated it back and forth, pointing out that it had a slight amount of "play" and that that was the source of the noise. He also removed the filler plug and pointed out that there are some fine metal shavings stuck to it.

I'm fairly mechanically inclined but no pro, and I've only used this mechanic for the clutch- and brake jobs. He seems trustworthy, but one can never be sure. I know with certainty that the new brake components were installed, as I bought them at a Pep Boys with the mechanic right there, and saw all the old parts when the job was completed.

So I paid a visit to another mechanic who does a lot of work on Jeeps and he suggested that perhaps the guy who did the brake job didn't properly install the brake pads. Possibly not installing some type of retaining clip properly, which could result in the pad in question moving around a bit when braking, as opposed to being locked firmly into place. The second mechanic is happy to put the Jeep on a lift and check it out, for $75.

Now $75 isn't bad, but I don't know this second mechanic either, and it's possible he could suggest a repair that really isn't needed.

One other piece of info: thinking that if the problem actually is with the front differential, it might go away or sound different when in 4H, so just yesterday I drove a bit in 4H but the sound was exactly the same as when in 2WD (again, only when braking).

I think I've included all the relevant backstory. Pardon the length of the post, but I'd be grateful for some feedback.


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post #2 of 4 Old 04-28-2011, 12:07 AM
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1998 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: SanDago
Posts: 2,550
Brakes are not that difficult. Take off the rotor and look at it.
If you need help find a friend that can help.

If there is something rubbing or grinding you will see the spot
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-28-2011, 04:40 AM
Junky burp
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2003 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Ontario
Posts: 457
There is alot more to brakes than one might think. Little things like the guides that pads ride along having a divot worn in them. The pad is allowed more room to move when that happens.
I have also read here that some people will rebuild that area of the (???) with weld.
It makes me wonder if the pad isn't moving around more than it should.
Also, maybe you are (I hate to use the word) "warping" your rotors by your driving habits or conditions of how you need to brake when you are in traffic.
There's a ton of info floating around here on brakes, but some of it seems beyond the average person to make use of.
Brake pad material is definately a factor in my opinion.
The experience I had with the original equipment that was on mine steered me away from ever using ceramic pads on my TJ again.
Search here.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-10-2012, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Venice
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Late in coming but a follow-up on this situation. Turns out the clicking noise from the rear was due to brake drums being slightly out of round. I had initially replaced these through some local "backyard" mechanic who got the drums/shoes at PepBoys. So, probably not surprising that those went out of round within a couple weeks of installation.

I had them replaced by a trusted mechanic in Culver City, but almost immediately the same clicking noise returned. They told me it'd cost a couple hundred MORE bucks to troubleshoot, so I took it to a Brake Masters and these guys immediately diagnosed the problem: the brand new, name brand were out of round! The Brake Masters guys machined them back to round and problem solved!

Of course, a few months after the Brake Masters repair, the noise has returned intermittently. Could be the result of the 32" tires I'm running.
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brake noise , differential

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