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Twisted Axle Shaft, or just bad bearings?

11276 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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Are you sure the chirping is coming from a wheel bearing and not the pinion bearing or U-joint?
Yes, I am positive. A month ago when I took it to Firestone to get a brake flush they test drove it and thought it might be the U-joint or a pinion bearing, but they said I would have had more vibrations then. Plus the sound came from the rear right wheel area, not the center of the car. I am posting a small update in my next post.

Edit: The update turned out to not be so small after all.. Sorry about that! I have a tendency to include even the smallest details sometimes, which leads to me writing a longer post than planned.
After too many hours of work my car is finally on the ground again. We changed the bearings from axle-saver bearings to regular bearings with regular seals and we got new axle shafts put in on both sides. Both of them were purchased at a NAPA store, but my mom noticed they were produced in different countries. One of them had the wheel bolts already pressed on, and we had some problems getting them on on the other axle shaft. After a while we decided to let it be and just put everything together. My dad put the C-clips back in place on the axle shafts and remounted the differential cover while I were cleaning off the calipers and caliper brackets with brake cleaner. The spilled oil made them pretty greasy, but I got them clean enough and started putting everything back together. We ended up buying some Duralast Gold brake pads and a pair of Duralast brake rotors for the rear, since my old rotor and old pads were pretty greasy and not evenly worn due to my earlier problems. I did, of course, purchase anti-rattle clips and brake grease to put on the back side of the pads to prevent squealing. I also rented a caliper tool kit to compress the caliper piston for the new brakes. As it turns out, my right rear brake was turned a whole 360 degrees further out than the left one, which seems a little odd, but oh well, it's all fixed up now.

Before she came back on the ground and we mounted the wheels (the brakes were mounted though, and tightened up with a few bolts so they would stay in place) I pumped the brakes a few times to build up pressure before I turned on the engine. The brakes worked fine and we noticed no wobbling at all with the new axle shafts and new bearings. We put the wheels back on and got her back on the ground. We took her for a test drive and I could hear no more chirping and the car feels smoother even though it never gave off any noticeable vibrations in the first place. I will take the family car to school tomorrow and then me and my dad will take my Mustang for a longer test ride tomorrow just to be on the safe side. I will also check for oil leaks tomorrow, even though I doubt there will be any.

Speaking of oil leaks, when taking apart the rear end again today my dad noticed a small tear in the seal on the right side, which explains why it leaked so much oil on that side. The left (driver) side seal seemed undamaged but still leaked a little. We made sure to be as careful as possible avoiding touching the seal while putting in the new axle shafts this time and we inspected them visually before we put the C-clips back in.

I don't have much more to add. I will come back with an update in a few days about how the car runs, and I am still open to suggestions and information from anyone! Thank you all for your great help so far, it's good to have you fellow Mustang geeks around! I really appreciate it.
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So far so good! My brakes have a better initial grip and I have less of a nose dive when I brake now. No oil leaks, no chirping or squealing sound, and no rattle or vibrations. The entire car feels smoother now. I guess my next step will be to get new bushings for my rear springs, as they are all worn out and make metal-to-metal contact on the LCA's.
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