Jump to content

Had to be towed home - could it be the diff??


Healey3000
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi,

 

This morning, driving to work on roads freshly washed by yesterday's rain, I encountered what felt like wheelspin during mild acceleration on a straight stretch of road.  Revs jumped up, I felt the wheels spin but I was quick on the clutch and the car stayed on course.  I figured I'd hit a patch of oil brought up by the rain.  A few seconds later I entered the freeway on-ramp and right away, something felt wrong with the steering.  As I approached the bottom of the ramp, traveling at perhaps 25 MPH, I started to lose control of the car.  Fortunately, it drifted towards the inside of the curve so there was no risk of hitting anyone.  Needless to say, I pulled over and had it towed home.

 

I'm very thankful this didn't happen at speed; could have been disastrous otherwise.  While the car was up on the tow truck, I did a quick visual and nothing seemed out of order.  No missing parts, no leaks.  Half-shafts look fine, etc.

 

At this point, the only thing I can think of is that the diff has blown.  I have not checked the oil level since buying the car, unfortunately.  The car certainly felt like the rear wheels were steering, even while coasting in neutral.  Oddly enough, the car drove up onto the flatbed just fine and I was also able to back it up into my driveway, which required some amount of steering to get it into position.

 

Suggestions on a course of action for diagnosis of this event would be most appreciated.  It was what I'd call a sphincter-tightening moment.  Pretty scary, as if I was on a large patch of black ice.

 

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds to me like one of the swing arms came loose?  That's the only way you could get "rear steering" out of the situation.  It could have pulled one of the flanges out of the diff, hence the rising revs? 

 

As far as diagnosis, put it in the air and check EVERYTHING.  Subframe bolts, swing arm bolts/mounts (look for broken stuff, not just missing parts), etc. :)

Edited by robspeed
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, robspeed said:

Sounds to me like one of the swing arms came loose?  That's the only way you could get "rear steering" out of the situation.  It could have pulled one of the flanges out of the diff, hence the rising revs? 

 

As far as diagnosis, put it in the air and check EVERYTHING.  Subframe bolts, swing arm bolts/mounts (look for broken stuff, not just missing parts), etc. :)

Hi,

 

Yes, a visual inspection is step one.  I see a lot of crawling on my back in my future.  Thanks for the idea on the swing arms but the correlation between the wheel spin and this is curious.  Almost like the diff didn't like the shock load and gave up.  I hope it doesn't rain over the weekend so I can get a  good look at things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

'02 diffs are very long-lived, so long as you keep 'em full of oil and don't do stupid things with 'em.  Thus I'd look for other problems first--the inboard half-shaft bolts are notorious for backing themselves out (that's happened to me more than once) so don't just look at 'em, try tightening 'em with an allen wrench.  If they broke the heads can stay in place and you may not notice they're broken.  And if it's the driver's side, the shaft will rest on the exhaust pipe instead of dropping down into the street.

 

And you said--check everything--what happened to you is pretty scary--especially it it had happened a few seconds later when you were at speed on the expressway.  

 

Let us know what you found so we can react to a similar occurrence.

 

cheers

mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good thing I wore brown pants today.  It really was like driving on a sheet of ice; all I could think of was good thing there's nobody near me. Open diff, I believe, but never actually tested it.

 

Good to know the diffs are sturdy.  will definitely pass on what I learn from this.

 

Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Healey3000 said:

Good thing I wore brown pants today.  It really was like driving on a sheet of ice; all I could think of was good thing there's nobody near me. Open diff, I believe, but never actually tested it.

 

Good to know the diffs are sturdy.  will definitely pass on what I learn from this.

 

Thanks.

Open diff + one of the flanges pulled out via broken swing arm mount = rising revs and rear steering.  If it was just revs, and no steering it could be internal to the diff.   Add the steering thing and something has to be broken/loose in the swing-arm or subframe mount department/s. :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sure hate fixing broken metal parts since I don't know how to weld.  Dropping the diff and swapping would be so much easier (for me).

 

Will be an interesting post-mortem once I get under there.  The scary part is - what else is weakened and apt to go suddenly?  There isn't any rust on this car so it must be metal fatigue.  Not a comforting thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Look first, worry later. 

The 2002 diff is usually bolted, so only 76's or

an E21 swapped one will pop a flange. 

But the CV will come apart, if tugged on, now that I think about it.

 

Anyway, jack it up, see what you got...

like I said, it doesn't take much movement back there

to wave the brown flag...

 

t

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went under the rear of the car and inspected my brains out.  I see absolutely nothing wrong.  All bushings look good, all bolts are tight and if I grab the rear wheel and try to move it side to side there is no play.  Oil level in the diff was fine and the oil itself was pristine.  I even ran it through a sieve to look for particulates - nothing.  What oil do you recommend, brand-wise?

 

The behavior of the diff seems okay as well.  Turn one wheel and the other turns in the opposite direction.  Nice, smooth feel, no grinding, no roughness.

 

Am I perhaps not inspecting correctly?  Do I need to use a crowbar and try and move things?  I'll give the front end a checkup as well after I go get some gear oil for the diff.

 

Thanks.

Edited by Healey3000
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

The sequence of events was as follows:

 

Taking off from a red light, about five cars in front of me, I was accelerating gently.  I hit what felt like a typical slick spot on the road, when the rear wheels felt like they spun (verified by the tach jumping).  Interestingly, I was a passenger just the day before on that same road but a different lane and that car also spun its drive wheels.  SInce the 2002 stayed straight and I had reflexively pushed the clutch and dropped the revs, I didn't think too much of it.

 

Through the light and the on-ramp was about 100 feet ahead, a typical right hand loop.  As I started the turn, I thought the steering felt odd but I was able to control the car.  At the bottom of the ramp, which has a slight downhill drop, the car started to oversteer.  I shifted into neutral as I was going pretty slow and was able to pull over and tuck the car into the shoulder.

 

It was like driving on slicks so perhaps the tires picked up oil and lost traction.  That fits the observations.  Tires have plenty of tread but I don't know their age so they could have hardened.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

 reflexively pushed the clutch and dropped the revs

Ah, there's your problem- ya gotta keep your foot in it!

 

Having run through oil before, it does stay on the tires for a while.

(slicks have much HIGHER grip than street tires, so that's probably not what it felt like)

 

Try the crowbar, and if it doesn't show you anything,

go drive it!

 

t

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Upcoming Events

×
×
  • Create New...