rear end noise and axle end play; related?

rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby esc [OP] » August 14th 2016, 6:19pm

2003 Astro, 3.42 gears open differential

I have a quit noise coming out of what sounds like the right rear corner. It sounds like a quiet growl. It reminds me of the sounds rusty disk brakes make the first time you use them, while all the rust is being cleaned off. With front/rear ac and radio off you can just barely hear it while driving at a constant speed. It is slightly louder under light acceleration. Under moderate to heavy acceleration, the engine noise drowns it out (stock engine/exhaust/no leaks). It is too quiet to hear at highway speeds.

I'm inclined to think it sounds like a disk or bearing issue.

While investigating, I found that the rear wheels have about 1/8 to 1/4" of end play (in/out, toward and away from center of differential). There is no noticeable play in any other direction.

Does this sound like some sort of issue that is common on these vans? If so, what might be the cause?

BTW, what is ordinary end play on these rear axles?

My eventual plan is to either rebuild or replace the rear end in order to get some sort of posi/limited slip/locker, primarily for pulling boat trailers out of wet slippery boat ramps.
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby chevymaher » August 14th 2016, 6:36pm

It is a common complaint rear end noise on these vans. It sounds like it is fine. Axles do have end play.
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby paulo57509 » August 14th 2016, 7:42pm

Does the sound change when accelerating/decelerating?

Does the sound change when turning a corner?

What does the tread on the tires look like?
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby esc [OP] » August 14th 2016, 9:13pm

It is slightly less at steady state and decelerating than when accelerating. Steady state and decelerating, the noise is the same.
There is no noticeable difference when turning. All 4 tires have about 80%+ of tread, no uneven wear.
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby WoodButcher » August 15th 2016, 1:47am

That play is normal, in- out 1/4" ok, more than that and the axle should slide out.
Check your fluid level and look for signs of leakage.
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby esc [OP] » August 15th 2016, 3:18am

Checking the rear end fluid level is definitely on my "to do" list. I'll get to it as soon as it stops raining.
I didn't notice anything looking leaky when I had it jacked up today. I lifted the rear end a couple of inches to check the rear wheels for play and also to see if, by some miracle, it had a posi differential. No luck with that.

I did notice that the rear shocks have springs on them. That surprised me.

BTW, are the axles on these held in by "c" clips and a pin in the center?
What kind of differential do these come with anyway? Who makes them and what size gears do they have?

Thanks,
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby chevymaher » August 15th 2016, 3:58am

Since you have a posi it is a Eaton carrier. I believe the one wheel peel variety is a Saginaw.
Yes C clip and pin deal.
7.5-7.625 ring gear. Same exact thing it just got a 1/8 inch bigger ring gear. But they interchange. Same carrier and axle for both.
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby esc [OP] » August 15th 2016, 1:11pm

Very helpful information. Thank you.

Just to clarify: no posi. I do WANT one though!
So mine must be a Saginaw carrier.
I may open it up and check the C-Clips, just to see if they are worn. The end play doesn't seem alarming, but it does seem like it is greater that it should be. I'll feel better if I look at the clips before going cross country.

Would this by any chance be the same basic rear end that came in my 3rd gen Camaro?
Back in the day, the 3rd gens Camaro's had a 7.5" gear. I burned up 4 of those in one year (1989) before I got a Dana 44 for my Camaro. The ones I burned up were all junk yard pulls with posi and disk brakes.

If it is the same rear end, it isn't very strong. I've already heard some say that rear end problems are not uncommon with our vans. What would be the upgrade options?

Is there a truck (S-10 maybe?) that had a stronger rear end that is a bolt in upgrade?
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby chevymaher » August 15th 2016, 3:04pm

I wouldn't worry about the C Clips. They are not wearing out. They just got play. That is normal. Just change the fluid and call it good.

I have had mine apart several times. Mine is completely new inside and I have side play. It isn't going anywhere trust me. Spider gears are the wear item on factory carriers. If you feel froggy replace those. But if you getting a posi don't sweat it and just let it ride.

There isn't a single report of any axle falling out. On anything with a 7.5 rear. And people blow them up all the time grenade the spider gears. Either you break the axle in half with massive slicks take off or it isn't coming out.

If your all into it. Take the driveshaft off and check for pinion sideplay. They had ridiculously loose tolerance factory in search of .0001 MPG. So they do loosen up. And sing because of that. But nothing is wrong. It is the nature of the beast.
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Re: rear end noise and axle end play; related?

Postby esc [OP] » August 15th 2016, 4:23pm

chevymaher wrote: If you feel froggy replace those. But if you getting a posi don't sweat it and just let it ride.


I think I'll go with plan B. I have enough other stuff to do right now.

Thanks,

Eric
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