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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Those two or three of you who have been following the saga of the aches and pains of Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Jeep Wrangler may be interested to know that I took her into the shop this morning, reporting to the fellahs there that I thought there was a problem in the front end because of jittery steering and a howling noise I thought was coming from the right front wheel.

Whelp, this afternoon, the shop gave me a call:  Nope, they said, nothing wrong with the front end.  They’d taken La Wrangler out for a spin themselves, listened intently to the noise, and diagnosed that a bearing was going, in fact, in the rear differential.  Bottom line? Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

In the immortal words of Tom and Ray, “Aw, Jeez!” **

This evening, I came across this article about rear differential noises.  From my own observations, it seems to fit the case here, at least to the point where I figure the service wallahs aren’t trying to rip me off:

There are various situations which can create rear differential noise. For example, howling of gears is a sure sign of wearing. If you notice that the howling noise only occurs during deceleration, then it is a good indicator that the pinion-bearing preload has loosened.

Howling under acceleration at various speeds, however, indicates that the gears are already worn out or are out of alignment or depth with each other. If rear differential noise occurs while accelerating the car only at a certain speed, it is likely because the gears have become worn due to overloading and lubrication failure. If your gears are newly installed and still create a howling noise, double-check its preload  and make sure that the teeth are properly aligned.

Rumbling and whirring noises at speed over 20 mph, moreover, can be the result of worn carrier bearings. For vehicles with C-clip axles, the rear differential noise may change at different turns. Generally, worn out pinion bearings can create whirring noises at various speeds, be it may during deceleration and/or acceleration. If the pinion bearings are the problem, they create more of a whirring noise than a rumble because it turns several times faster than the carrier assembly. Regular clunking every few feet can also be an indicator of a broken pinion gear and/or chipped and damaged ring gear.

Overly worn out bearings tend to make a howling noise when they do not properly support the gears. Rumbling while turning, on the other hand, is a sign of bad wheel bearings. Clunking and banging noises on the corners can be due to lack of sufficient posi-traction lubrication, broken spider gears, or worn posi-traction or limited-slip clutches.  Broken spider gears, moreover, can also immobilize the differential and create a loud, crunching sound during final departure. If the rear differential noise is characterized by clunking every two or three feet, then there is a great chance that a broken ring gear is the problem with the section with the broken teeth banging or grinding as it tries to engage the pinion.

(Emphasis added.)

It really doesn’t bother me that my own initial suspicion was completely wrong.  (I quizzed the fellah on the front end and, as I say, he insisted everything there was fine.)  After all, Ol’ Robbo has never pretended to have the slightest savvy when it comes to auto mechanics, and besides, noise can be a tricky thing to pin down.

No, what I worry about is that the old girl seems to be starting to have multiple issues all at once.  If she carries on this way and becomes a perpetual money-pit, I fear that Mrs. Robbo is going to demand that I give her up and get a new car.  And here’s the thing: Mrs. R has always hated La Wrangler.  For years now, my sole effective defense of her has been that she’s long paid off, so whatever Mrs. R thinks of her in terms of comfort and, eh, panache, at least she serves the Port Swiller Manor exchequer in a positive way.  Were I to go for another, that shield would collapse completely.

We shall see.

** Ol’ Robbo used to listen to the Tappet Brothers every Saturday morning in the very late 80’s up through the 90’s, frequently spewing coffee through his nose at their wit and wisdom.  Alas, I still remember the point where they got on the anti-SUV “GloBull Warmening is gonna kill us all!!!” bandwagon.  If I recall correctly, their response to families (like my own) who argued that they needed to drive SUV’s because nothing smaller could hold multiple children, their gub’mint mandated car seats, and all their other paraphernalia, was basically, “So don’t have so many children.”  Whelp, have this, boys!

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