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Twisted Axle Shaft, or just bad bearings?

11290 Views 22 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  DJAlsip
Alright, here goes. When I bought my car I took it to a mechanics and had it checked out, he said there were some rust on the rotors and that the chirping/squealing sound it made would go away after a few weeks. This is on my right-rear wheel. Now, two months later, it's still here, just worse. I took it for my first "long" trip today, about two and a half hours on the highway. I have only used it to and from school and when hanging out with friends locally before. My mom got really worried about it since it got louder and louder over the past few days, so she made me and my dad take it to a local ford dealership to have it checked out today. They got it on the lift and had a look at it. We came to the conclusion that the chirping sound is caused by bad bearings, which is an easy and cheap fix; however, we also noticed that the wheel doesn't even spin right, it wobbles, kind of. We discovered this after having another mechanic sit in the car while up on the lift to put it in gear and run the motor. The chirping is usually just present at speeds above 10mph, and goes away during braking. Our conclusion for the day was that the bearing has gone bad and we also think the axle shaft has somehow been twisted.

I want to hear other peoples opinions on this as I really do not have any money at all to spend, except for about a thousand dollars in an emergency account I have, which is money I would prefer not to use for this even though I have to get my car fixed asap.

Ford said we could come back on Monday and they would take my rear end apart to correctly diagnose my problem for 95 dollars, which also means I will get new differential fluid at the same time (something I would have to get soon anyways). There is a good side and a bad side about this. The good side is that if it is nothing more than a bad bearing, then I'll get that fixed at the same time, and it won't cost me too much. Also, if it turns out to be something more serious than the axle shaft and/or bearing, I will get to know. The down side about this, would be that I could save money on just buying the fluid my self and a new axle shaft and put it in. This would be no problem for me and my dad to do in our garage, although it would suck if it turns out that was not the only problem because we decided to go the cheaper route and fix it ourselves. This is why I ask all you guys about what you think my problem might be, what might be the best solution, and what I should decide to put my money in.

Thank you all in advance! I will appreciate any response. I am a poor live-at-home college kid with no job and I am dependent upon my car to get me from A to B in a safe manner.
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seems odd that it wobbles with no vibration.

I would almost take a step back and look at it from a few possibility's.

1. Wheel appears to wobble, most wheels can be balanced out to take car of vibration from a warped rim. It may have 4 lbs of weight in it but they can be balanced out.

(so, warped wheel is still a contender for the wobble that you see and in an effect...can be rubbing something to make this mysterious chirping sound.

2. Your axles are leaking. This could be the result of a bad install. Bearings could have been damaged when they were pressed on to the shafts. May not be in the right location on the shaft. A lot of things could have happened here to cause that problem.......If, you would have had no previous symptomless before and you had only changed the bearings because of bad bearings and then they started leaking. However, that's not the case...but, I still wouldn't rule it out.

3. twisted shafts or bad shafts. This very well could still be the problem. Good way to find out is to take the shaft out and and use a straight edge to check and see if the axle is bent. I would also remove the wheel, rotors and brake calipers from the axles while the car is on jackstand's and see if you notice "run out" on the hub.

4. Bad axel housing. Only way I know to check this is with a bore gauge. If you don’t know what Micrometers and a bore gauge is…best to skip trying to check it.

5. My next one I haven't seen in some time is a real contender for what may be the issue.

Your bearings could have been going bad on the axle shaft. Caused wear on the axle shaft bearing surface. That wear (missing material) on the axle shaft allowed the old bearing to get in a "bind". Effectively "cocking" the bearing in the bearing race....not allowing it to leak out of the ends of your axle housing. Would also account for a low speed chirp.

You replaced the old bearings with new ones. Effectively...allowing the bearing to run true again...thus allowing the gear oil to leak out of the ends.

I haven't seen two axles do this at the same time. Usually just one or the other. Also, if the axle shaft had wear on it in the area that the bearing rides....someone should have caught that when the new bearing was pressed on...Unless your dad pressed them on, he may not have known what to look for. Also, did your dad have them pressed on or did he give the "ol' heev ohh on the bench vise"

Everyone that has looked at your car is right. Bent axles will cause a lot of drivetrain vibration because it is causing the wheel to "run out" and no amount of tire balance can compensate for that. Bad axle bearings usually don't cause too much vibration because at a high enough speed where you would feel it....its pretty much just forced to spin and the axel runs true. Same case with an axle that has worn down where the bearing is. At low speed it will skip along and chirp. At high speed its pretty much forced to spin…either in the bearing or its going to spin on the shaft. One of the two will happen. Usually can't tell from vibration alone for either unless it has gotten really sever and your about to have axles shot out the side of your car.

My advice is to back up. Start over and look at everything as being an independent problem. Then put the clues together and see if it adds up to one diagnostic. But first….I would resolve the leak. This may have nothing to do with your previous issue and could be something that you had induced to the problem.

Check run out of the hub without a wheel of rotor and calipers on it. After that, I would pull the axles back out. Take them to a driveline shop. One that may specialize in driveshaft’s balancing and axles to have them checked for run out and let the use Micrometers to check the diameter of the bearing surface.

Have new bearings pressed on. I would not recommend doing this at home!

Or….suck it up and order a set of new axles from strange or moser that already has bearings pressed on them……also can just replace with a set of OEM spec…Junkyard…so forth and so on.
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