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4wd Issue wd21


Macrow
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I've got a 1992 SE Auto Pathfinder it has Warn Premium Manual locking hubs on it currently. The issue I have been having is when I put it into 4wd it drives fine for the first 5-10 minutes. However after that is when it all of a sudden it will make a loud Thud type sound that you can feel as well. It does that every so often after that & doesn't matter if it's in 4-hi or 4-lo. From what I can tell it sounds as if it's coming from  maybe near the transfer case or the rear end of the Pathfinder. Also after taking. It back out if 4wd it drives fine again and if I put it in 4wd again later It still drives fine that first 5-10 minutes & then repeats the same as mentioned above.

 

Has anyone had this happen before or have any input on what it could be that I need to look into? I was thinking maybe something worn or slipping in the transfer case but didn't want to start tearing into that yet. Beings I'm not to sure what to look for there.as I've never had anything go wrong with 4wd on any of my previous Pathfinders up until this one started having issues. Any help & input would be appreciated. I tried looking through older posts when searching through the forums here but couldn't find anything that matched what was going on with mine. Thanks in advance.

Edited by Macrow
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Wouldnt think it would be the rear end since you're driving it around fine in 2wd. Have you tried putting it in 4wd and not locking the hubs yo see if it still makes the thud? That would rule out bad hubs and leave you with the transfer case and diff.

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Are you driving on hard surfaces while in 4wd? Even patchy surfaces will allow drivetrain bind to build up. 4wd is only to be used on slick/loose surfaces with our old trucks because unlike newer ones, we don't have a center differential to allow the front and rear to move at different speeds. Are your tires matched? all 4 being the same size and type( same make and model is preferred) and are the tire pressures the same. very small differences in the tires and pressure will add to drivetrain bind. Unless you are driving on low traction surfaces exclusively, pressure will build in the drivetrain until it gets high enough to overcome the grip of the tires to allow it to release. It will often make a bang like noise and a thud you will feel. That is all normal operation in the old 4wd systems our trucks use.

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On 12/23/2019 at 6:07 PM, Charlie_Brown said:

Wouldnt think it would be the rear end since you're driving it around fine in 2wd. Have you tried putting it in 4wd and not locking the hubs yo see if it still makes the thud? That would rule out bad hubs and leave you with the transfer case and diff.

No haven't tried doing that with it. 

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On 12/23/2019 at 6:10 PM, Charlie_Brown said:

If nothing else raise the truck on 4 jackstands, put it in 4wd (low of manual) and stick it in drive or 1st then get out and listen to hear where the sound is coming from exactly

Haven't tried this yet either but definitely may need to do so.

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On 12/23/2019 at 9:05 PM, Mr_Reverse said:

Are you driving on hard surfaces while in 4wd? Even patchy surfaces will allow drivetrain bind to build up. 4wd is only to be used on slick/loose surfaces with our old trucks because unlike newer ones, we don't have a center differential to allow the front and rear to move at different speeds. Are your tires matched? all 4 being the same size and type( same make and model is preferred) and are the tire pressures the same. very small differences in the tires and pressure will add to drivetrain bind. Unless you are driving on low traction surfaces exclusively, pressure will build in the drivetrain until it gets high enough to overcome the grip of the tires to allow it to release. It will often make a bang like noise and a thud you will feel. That is all normal operation in the old 4wd systems our trucks use.

No, the only time it's drove while in 4wd is off-road on the trails. Tires are all the same make & model. Tire pressure I check regularly & are always aired up to same psi. 

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What I'd do is drive in a slow tight circle, on dirt, in 4x. That should put some load on the front end. If everything's working right, the wheels should just scrub a little. If you get the thudding/banging noise instead, you could have a stretched/slipping transfer case chain, or maybe a CV joint popping. If that was the issue, though, I'd expect it to make the noise any time it was under load, not just a single thud after 5-10 minutes of wheeling, unless your trails are easy enough that you don't need to be in 4x to begin with.


If you can't make the drivetrain make the noise, maybe something's just loose. Check the U joints for play, make sure the trans mount is in good shape and bolted in properly (sounds stupid but the trans mount on my friend's van was just sitting on the crossmember when he got it). Might check the front diff mounts too, I think a couple of the R50 guys have had those go bad and let the diff flop around. Could even be a suspension issue, something loose that only acts up when the suspension's flexing off-road. Bricknose Ford trucks tend to have weird popping noises when the frame cracks near the steering box, never heard of one of these doing that though.

 

I read a story a while back about a car that had a clunk noise that nobody could track down. It only did it when it was freezing out. Brand new car. They replaced bushings, tore all kinds of stuff apart, couldn't find it. Later someone went to replace a smushed fender and found a condom full of water hanging behind it, with a note that said "how long did it take to find this?"

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Oh I know what you’re talking about. The center lock disengages if you sit for a long enough period of time. It will do the same thing if you shut the engine off and it doesn’t do it at all in 4lo.


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38 minutes ago, Slartibartfast said:

What I'd do is drive in a slow tight circle, on dirt, in 4x. That should put some load on the front end. If everything's working right, the wheels should just scrub a little. If you get the thudding/banging noise instead, you could have a stretched/slipping transfer case chain, or maybe a CV joint popping. If that was the issue, though, I'd expect it to make the noise any time it was under load, not just a single thud after 5-10 minutes of wheeling, unless your trails are easy enough that you don't need to be in 4x to begin with.

Sounds good thanks I'll give that a go & see what I come up with . So say it's the chain in the transfer case is that a fairly easy fix? I've never had the transfer case opened up before so just curious. 

38 minutes ago, Slartibartfast said:


If you can't make the drivetrain make the noise, maybe something's just loose. Check the U joints for play, make sure the trans mount is in good shape and bolted in properly (sounds stupid but the trans mount on my friend's van was just sitting on the crossmember when he got it). Might check the front diff mounts too, I think a couple of the R50 guys have had those go bad and let the diff flop around. Could even be a suspension issue, something loose that only acts up when the suspension's flexing off-road. Bricknose Ford trucks tend to have weird popping noises when the frame cracks near the steering box, never heard of one of these doing that though.

 

I read a story a while back about a car that had a clunk noise that nobody could track down. It only did it when it was freezing out. Brand new car. They replaced bushings, tore all kinds of stuff apart, couldn't find it. Later someone went to replace a smushed fender and found a condom full of water hanging behind it, with a note that said "how long did it take to find this?"

 

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I should probably read the whole OP before I reply.. I see you said it happens in 4lo and you have a different tcase than me.

When the thud appears, are you moving forward or sitting still? Has it happened when sitting still?

How often is it reappearing? Like every 5 minutes or more like every 5 seconds?

Do you notice it happening more often while traveling thru turns?


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12 minutes ago, onespiritbrain said:

I should probably read the whole OP before I reply.. I see you said it happens in 4lo and you have a different tcase than me.

 

It actually happens in both 4lo & 4hi

When the thud appears, are you moving forward or sitting still? Has it happened when sitting still?

 

It's never done it while sitting still Always has done it when moving forward. 

How often is it reappearing? Like every 5 minutes or more like every 5 seconds? 

 

   I can start driving when in 4wd & it usually won't do it until after 5 minutes or so of driving. Then after that it doesn't seem to have a pattern. Sometimes it will do it a few times In a row 10 to 15 seconds apart. Then it won't do it for a minute or two then few seconds and longer time frame in-between it's pretty sporadic.

   If after driving while it's been doing it I stop driving for a bit with engine shut off. When I got to start driving again in 4wd it won't do it til after that first 5-10 minutes of driving then it starts back up 

Do you notice it happening more often while traveling thru turns?

 

No I haven't really noticed it doing it more thru turns then any other time. It's definitely had me a bit confused with what it's doing. This is the first Pathfinder I've ever had any issues with 4wd too.


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On 12/31/2019 at 6:26 AM, Slartibartfast said:

The more you describe it, the less it sounds like anything drivetrain related. Can you get a video of the noise it's making? Might help for tracking it down. Any other known issues?

 I'm out of town for a couple days and don't have it with me & I leave town again on the 13th til the end of February for work. I'll try to get a video of the sound when I get back this weekend though. No other known issues with it. Everything else seems to be operating find & drives fine other then this issue. 

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