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Diagnosing front-end growl on 2010 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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I have a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7L V8 4x4 with quadra-drive II: It's full-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case. There is a growling/grinding noise and vibration that sounds like it's from the front-end when I have my foot on the accelerator, especially at steady speeds or when accelerating gently from around 30mph. It does not worsen when turning. I have confirmed that the passenger CV axle has excessive play at the inner CV joint, and I hear clacking from the joint when I wiggle it.

In a failure of sanity, I let this problem go for a few thousand miles of driving, and only checked it out once it started getting louder. Judge me, I deserve it.  The front struts sound "crunchy" and the front end feels like it's on a pogo stick when I go over bumps or around corners. My local mechanic suggested replacing the CV axles and struts, but they did not check the front differential or other drive-train components. I'm concerned about how much damage/wear has been done by letting the problem go.

What would you suggest I check before making a decision about repairs? In your experience, what are the chances that other drive-train components will be shot or on their way out given that I have driven 3k - 5k miles with this worsening condition? Which components are most-likely to be affected from secondary wear, other than the differential and CV axles? How can I check those? After watching your youtube channel, I plan to  try to isolate the vibration using a chassis-ear connected to the front differential, transmission, and transfer case. I also plan to have my mechanic clean, inspect, and change the lubricant in the differentials and transfer case, before doing any other work.

Additional information: My coolant level falls from maximum to minimum 3-4 times per year, which seems to be too frequent. However, I live in the high-desert in new mexico at 4k feet altitude, so I wonder if evaporation and heat contributes to the loss. I plan to check for engine-block leaks using the test-fluid method. I would appreciate any advice, thoughts, or comments you have.

 

Thanks,

Stetson

2 Answers
3

A growling or grinding noise is very commonly caused by worn-out wheel bearings.

2

If you haven't changed the gear oil in the transfer case and differentials in 12 years, it might help.

I bought it used in 2020 with 90k miles (now, 120k) , so I don't know if the gear-oil has been changed. That's my next step. Thanks!

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