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LDO

What would make a rear axle cause vibration at highway speed?

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I'm having a nightmare with my 2002 Toyota 4Runner.  It had a vibration that started at around 60mph. I took it to a local shop, part of a nationwide chain. The said I needed new u-joints. Ok, let's do it. $425 later and it still vibrates. Then they said I needed new front tires. The tread was very low, so let's do that too. $298 later, it still vibrates. This time the guy locked my swing-out spare tire carrier down because the long bolt used as a safety lock vibrates. 

So I took it somewhere else. They said my tires are out of balance. All 4 of them. Wow. Ok. Let's get them balanced. $67.80 later, it still vibrates. So I took it back and they said the u-joints have too much play. I took it back to the first shop and the first thing they checked was the tires. They did their super-duper dynamic balance (for free) and test drove it. To 55mph. They also said the u-joints are good. Yeah, it still vibrates. Now it starts at around 65mph, but it does still vibrate. I told the guy that if new u-joints didn't solve the problem, it sounds to me like I spent $425 I didn't need to spend. They kept it another day and told me the problem is likely in the rear axle. 

So...can a rear axle "go bad"? If so, what about it is causing this? It's 2WD and never goes off road. I'm at wit's end, and considering small claims court for that $425.

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Universal joints would be the first thing to look at. ASSUMING the first shop did the joint replacement CORRECTLY (it IS possible to fubar a joint during replacement), the next thing on the 2WD 4-Runner to look at, if I remember correctly, is an integral rubber "isolator" inside  the driveshaft.

If it fails, which is fairly common on these, the shaft will run out-of-true at speed, essentially whipping around a little, and create a vibration. In that case it needs to be replaced or reworked by a VERY competent driveline shop. The isolator is not designed to be replaced, and is bonded between the inner and outer sections of the shaft (again, if I remember correctly).

OR...it's just barely possible the shaft could have slung a balance weight, or it could have been bent somehow. High-centering, even relatively gently, can bend a shaft enough to cause a mild vibration.

There's a SLIM possibility that the slip-joint at the rear of the gearbox where the driveshaft is splined to the trans output shaft is worn, but it's HIGHLY unlikely, and would usually be accompanied by a leaking seal.

Rear ends don't "go bad". When they wear significantly (and rear ends usually last hundreds of thousands of miles), vibration usually is NOT a symptom. Bearing failures announce themselves with a grinding roar that gets worse over time, and are also often accompanied by leaking seals. A bent axle or wheel CAN manifest itself as a vibration, however.

A REALLY bad pinion bearing could conceivably cause a driveline vibration (this happened to my own Chevy truck at about 250,000 miles), but will almost certainly be accompanied by a wet nose on the pumpkin, where the seal is leaking.

I'd suggest you find a COMPETENT driveline shop and get their input, and/or research some of the Toyo forums online.

 

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Thank you. I had no idea about the driveshaft issue.

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31 minutes ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

A REALLY bad pinion bearing could conceivably cause a driveline vibration (this happened to my own Chevy truck at about 250,000 miles), but will almost certainly be accompanied by a wet nose on the pumpkin, where the seal is leaking.

^THIS. Get under check for leakage, and it wouldn't hurt to check the fluid level, either, though if the pinion bearings and seal are bad enough to be a bit loose and cause vibration, the fluid level is the least of your worries. This sounds familiar to your issue:

 

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21 minutes ago, Casey said:

^THIS. Get under check for leakage, and it wouldn't hurt to check the fluid level, either, though if the pinion bearings and seal are bad enough to be a bit loose and cause vibration, the fluid level is the least of your worries. This sounds familiar to your issue:

 

Don't believe everything every jackleg on youtube says. Driveshafts don't just "get out of balance". That's pure idiocy. It takes physical damage, or shitting a weight, or incorrect assembly by shop morons.

Speaking of morons...this one is letting a perfectly good vehicle "total out" because it has some tailgate damage. The guy's an idiot, has no clue, and says an out of balance driveshaft can screw your engine bearings. Yup, idiot.

AND...the 4WD and the 2WD driveshafts are TOTALLY DIFFERENT DESIGNS AND HAVE DIFFERENT FAILURE MODES. Most likely, the wizard who did the seal on this one put the shaft back together with the UJs out of phase or a roller either missing or trapped under a cap, and then blamed a mystery vibration AFTERWARDS on a "balance" problem instead of his own incompetence.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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This vibration seems to be a common problem...  There is enough out there that a lot pops up on Google 2002 fourrunner vibration. things that worked, and things that didn't work...

might take a look at the driveline slip joint .  The driveline has a slip joint rather than a yoke that moves in the transfer case. The slip joint may be worn or need to be lubed.. or too much lube can also bind the slip joint by preventing the slip in the driveline from compressing.

just 2 cents 

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2 minutes ago, Muncie said:

This vibration seems to be a common problem...  There is enough out there that a lot pops up on Google 2002 fourrunner vibration. things that worked, and things that didn't work...

might take a look at the driveline slip joint .  The driveline has a slip joint rather than a yoke that moves in the transfer case. The slip joint may be worn or need to be lubed.. or too much lube can also bind the slip joint by preventing the slip in the driveline from compressing.

just 2 cents 

The OP has a 2WD vehicle. The splined slip joint in the driveshaft is on the 4WD, if I'm not mistaken.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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1 minute ago, Ace-Garageguy said:

The OP has a 2WD vehicle. The splined slip joint in the driveshaft is on the 4WD, if I'm not mistaken.

never mind... might be useful for somebody else... and it' possible the bushing in the end of the trans is worn.... I still wouldn't totally discredit the internet for information - there are a lot of these vehicles out there so a lot of good information is available.  I don't own one, never worked on one - just trying to help.  like I said, 2 cents

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1 hour ago, Muncie said:

... I still wouldn't totally discredit the internet for information - there are a lot of these vehicles out there so a lot of good information is available...

I agree there's a LOT of useful information on the web, but to determine what's good and what's crapp usually takes significant prior knowledge of the subject, or something very closely related.

The dwerb in the above video makes statements that tell me he's a know-nothing wannabe, maybe owned one, so thinks he's an expert. He's not.

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Do it have a solid rear axle as jeeps and trucks do have or does it have independent suspension?
If it is a solid axle check the trackbar that goes from the frame down to the axle.
If the bushings in the trackbar is bad the axle can move frome side to side by itself and it will vibrate like crazy.
You can use a crowbar or large screwdriver to check for any play if yu can get it behind the trackbar and its mount on the body and axle.

Also check the controlarms if there is any play in them, they can also cause a vibration if they bushings are worn out.
You can check them the same way you check the trackbar
If they have never been touched since 02 then they probably will be worn out by now.

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BIll hit what I would of thought, loosing the balance weight on a driveshaft although most are tack welded into place!! Also check the bearing play in the end of the housing... Is there any noise when the vibration starts like a loud thumping noise?? You had new tires put on or another thought could of been a broken belt in the tire... Could also be the carrier bearing where the yoke and driveshaft bolt to the rear axle.. If it lost the bearing there it would cause it to jump around a little bit and may not be enough to cause noise...

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1 hour ago, PierreR89 said:

Do it have a solid rear axle as jeeps and trucks do have or does it have independent suspension?
If it is a solid axle check the trackbar that goes from the frame down to the axle.
If the bushings in the trackbar is bad the axle can move frome side to side by itself and it will vibrate like crazy.
You can use a crowbar or large screwdriver to check for any play if yu can get it behind the trackbar and its mount on the body and axle.

Also check the controlarms if there is any play in them, they can also cause a vibration if they bushings are worn out.
You can check them the same way you check the trackbar
If they have never been touched since 02 then they probably will be worn out by now.

Pretty sure its a live/solid axle under there!!!

Edited by DrKerry

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This is the most relevant response I've found so far on one of the Toyo forums...http://www.toyota-4runner.org/3rd-gen-t4rs/71980-vibration-please-help.html

I had a similar vibration issue on an 02 2 wheel drive. The problem started with worn out u-joints. This is my daughters car and she is away at school. I had a local shop there replace the u-joints and the problem was better but still there. I then sent the truck to the local Toyota dealer and they replaced the joints again with no improvement. I had her bring the car home and gave her my 09 4 runner to drive. The truck had a substantial vibration between 60 and 70 MPH. It was a drive train vibration so I pulled the drivshaft and took it to Drive Line Service of Atlanta. They told me that Toyota shafts are known for this issue. They had to replace the joints and they used select fit clips to properly tension the joints and rebalance the shaft. They told me they do all the Toyota driveshafts for the local dealers there. This took out 90% of the vibration. I then replaced the rear trans mount I thought it felt soft. I also rebalanced the tires on a late model precision balancer a friend of mine had. This fixed the issue. I have replaced many u-joints in the past and not had any issues. The Toyota shaft is a 2 piece unit bonded together with rubber one shaft inside the other. That makes it a fairly heavy shaft and it is critical it runs on true center. The driveshaft boys knew what they were talking about and got it running smooth.

 

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Just a bit of an update; I just got back from picking up. I told the manager that I wanted I wanted a refund on the u-joints. To my complete surprise, he didn't argue. He put a $425.25 refund on my Visa.

I also called a driveshaft shop. The said they will balance it for $65. They want me to just bring in the driveshaft. That's cool with me because it's about 50 miles down I-35 with a couple of 75mph sections. Would prefer not to go that fast with this problem.

Edited by LDO
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8 minutes ago, LDO said:

Just a bit of an update; I just got back from picking up. I told the manager that I wanted I wanted a refund on the u-joints. To my complete surprise, he didn't argue. He put a $425.25 refund on my Visa.

I also called a driveshaft shop. The said they will balance it for $65. They want me to just bring in the driveshaft. That's cool with me because it's about 50 miles down I-35 with a couple of 75mph sections. Would prefer not to go that fast with this problem.

Glad they were honest enough to refund money for a "fix" that didn't fix anything. Good to know there are folks out there who do the right thing.

A competent driveline shop will also check to insure the LAST guys who worked on the shaft assembled it correctly.

If the parts aren't marked and reassembled in the original relationship to each other, even though the new UJs fix the ORIGINAL problem, a vibration can remain from a repair-shop-induced out-of-balance condition. I see this stuff ALL THE TIME...which accounts for my constant carping about incompetence in the car "repair" biz.

Here's another relevant thread. Be sure to notice the part about the internal rubber isolator.

http://www.toyota-4runner.org/3rd-gen-t4rs/71742-2001-133k-vibration-55-a.html

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I am a member at T4R.org. It never occurred to me to ask. That's where I got a used, custom made swing-out spare tire carrier.

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29 minutes ago, Earl Marischal said:

Is it fixed now?

Yeah, I'd also really like to know how the theory stacked up to the actual repair required.

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<ahem> No. It gets very few miles on it. I drive a company van for work, and take it home. The last few weeks have been really hectic, including a vacation that was planned almost a year ago. (My sister's family and I took Mom on a cruise to the Caribbean for her birthday). It might not slow down for another month or so. Just a lot of things at home that take priority for now. The car is ok to drive around town.

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I drive a 2012 Chevy 2500 Silverado. It has about 80K on her and has been fantastic since I got it. I have tires that have a very aggressive tread and full studs just for plowing snow in the winter. Last spring, when I took them off, my summer tires were worn beyond safe, so the tire shop had a set of used summer treads of the same size that he gave me a great deal on. I had them installed, and once I got to 63 MPH, a couple days later, the truck started shaking. So, back to the tire shop I went. He rebalanced them, and I tried it again. Yup, still a shake. So, back again, and he did it again, with the same results. He told me that it must be a problem with the CV joints, or the driveshaft that was masked by the aggressive tires. OK, could be, so I put her up on my lift and went through the whole drivetrain inspecting everything, and nothing was wrong. Mind you, by this time, I am at about wit's end. This whole thing has taken about 2 months by now, and it kept shaking the dickens out of me at about 59-63 MPH. So, I went back to the tire shop to have him take the summers off and put my winters back on.............the heck with the studs, even if it was June, as I live in Vermont, and studs can be on anytime. He took the tires off the wheels, and found about 1/2 to 1 full cup of water in three of the four tires, which is impossible to balance out, and would raise havoc at highway speeds. I had those tires put on in early April, and apparently, there was a bit of ice inside each one, as they had been outside. When it melted, it caused all KINDS of balance and vibration problems. The winter tires were not put back on, the summers were redone, DRY this time on the inside, and it ran fine! Little things......................!

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