Dezzie

Noisy rear diff

20 posts in this topic

Hi everyone.

Had my 2 ltr Diesel (L series) Freelander (year 2000) serviced recently. It's a good pal of mine who does it for me, and I know he's OK. He told me that the rear diff was noisy. To be honest, I could hear 'something', and I thought it was a wheel bearing. He told me the wheel bearings were checked and are fine.

Where do I go from here ? My mechanic mate says that it's not something he does, and I'd need a specialist. Do I need the rear diff replaced totally ? Or do they remove and repair the old one ? I thought it was just a series of bearings ? Can they not just replace those ? To be honest, I don't know much about diffs etc.

Is it a big job ? Any idea how much I'm looking at paying ? I'm keeping the motor, so am not looking to bodge and sell.

Any help or info' on this would be very gratefully received.

Thanks for any help .................. Matt.

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You've got two choices - buy a reconditioned differential complete (Bell Engineering are advertising them at £350, which seems reasonable) or you could buy a bearing and seal kit (£68 on eBay) and attempt the job youself. However, I think you need special equipment to set the thing up so I'm not sure how practical that is.

It's actually quite easy to remove the differential, so not an expensive job if you pay someone to do it.

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If you don't know much about diffs I'd suggest a read up in the technical archive about (re)building diffs to see if you fancy it - there are settings up & shims and things involved, it's not just bolt-together.

First though, I would confirm it actually IS the diff that's noisy, if your mechanic mate isn't "specialist" enough to do the really-quite-easy job of swapping a diff then I'd want a 2nd opinion. VCU support bearings can go rumbly, or prop UJ's, both of which are less expense than a diff.

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The problem with DIY diff repairs is that you need to preload the pinion bearing and also make sure the crown wheel and pinion is meshing correctly, if you get either of these tasks incorrect the life of your diff will be very short. I used to recon diffs many years ago when I worked for a HGV garage and would advise that you go for a recon diff, Bell's are very good.

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Thanks for all the replies boys, things are a bit clearer in my head now.

I'm not confident enough to attempt the job by myself. I use the vehicle everyday for work too, so if I knacker it up, I've got no transport. There is a specialist over in Birmingham called Central Axle Services. I phoned him and he said that 'I'd' be able to get one from Land Rover directly, at a cost of £295.00 ? ? ? <_< To be honest, I wasn't convinced, sounded like he didn't want the job. Unless that was plus V.A.T ? Even so, sounds too cheap.

He also said, that it might not be the Diff, and may be tyre / road noise. He did say to take the Freelander over to him, and he'd have a listen. To be honest, the noise isn't apparent until about 35mph, then goes away again about 50mph. Not sure what that indicates.

The story continues ...... will keep you posted !

Cheers for the help. .................. Matt.

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I'm a bit of a worrier myself about these sorts of noises, and have convinced myself that something at the back of mine is whining/moaning at certain speeds. The difficulty is there are several things that could be causing it - wheel bearings, driveshaft output bearings, differential input bearing or vcu bearings - quite part from the innards of the diff itself.

Since I can only hear this noise when the back of the car is empty (and the seats are out) I think the only sensible option is to do nothing, and wait for it to get worse. Otherwise I could spend thousands chasing it. OK, there is a risk that whatever it is will give way when I'm 200 miles from home, but that's what the AA is for, surely?

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When I had one I thought the rear diff was rumbling, but turned out it was the VCU/bearings - took the unit off and all was silent.. may be worth checking that first.

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Thanks for all the replies.

I think I'm going to have to take it down to him and get him to have a listen whilst I drive. We're off to Wales in October, so want it fully fit for then !

Cheers. ......... Matt.

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Also worth swapping the tyres around to help with diagnostics... Uneven tyre wear can cause rumbling/drone from the rear, only to disappear or change to the front when you've changed the wheels around.

Cheers

Blippie

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I have a similar noise on mine, hard to pinpoint where its coming from, but it comes and goes depending on the road surface so maybe down to road/tyre noise. The car drives spot on though so i think i may have to let it develop...Keep us posted with your findings

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It doesn't seem typical of a diff problem to me - if the bearings are worn, then they tend to make a noise all the time. Early diffs were quite weak and failure of the pinion bearings was the most common problem. Later models have a stronger diff, and replacement units from Ashcrofts are the later type (they are interchangeable). I have replaced one where the inner pinion bearing cage and rollers had totally come away into the bottom of the diff pan and it still drove ok - if a little noisy.I suggest you disconnect the rear prop from the diff flange and check for play in it. If you jack both rear wheels off the ground and spin one of them - you'll hear bearing noise from the diff if there's any problem with it. You could drain the oil to see if there's any oil in the diff, but there's no drain plug, so you have to undo the bolts that holds the cover on the back of the diff to do that (it's held on with rtv sealant as well).

Les

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Right then ;-

Been to a Land Rover specialist today, to see if I can get some answers about this problem. They guy I spoke to seemed really nice, and obviously very knowledgeable. :D

I explained that my Freelander was "humming" from the rear. He told me.....

"It could be as simple as a wheel bearing. However, it could be the rear diff, as they are known for that. Alternatively, it could be the 'I.R.D' (I think it stands for Intermediate Reduction Drive - or something like that). If the I.R.D is at fault, this in turn will make the rear diff fail. If you replace the diff and not the I.R.D, the diff will last probably 12 months, before it needs doing again. If the I.R.D does need replacement, then the bill could be up to £1200.00.

However, we'd really need to see and listen to / drive the vehicle before we made a diagnosis."

I'm going to book the car in with them for them to have a look at. If the car does need £1200.00 worth of work, is it really worth spending it on an 11 year old Freelander, which is probably worth £1700.00 as it stands ?

Oh dear .... not sure what to do now ! :(

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Or it could be £50 of VCU support bearings...

Have you tried any of the suggestions above? If you can operate a spanner you can unbolt & remove the propshaft & VCU and that will immediately show you if they were at fault or not.

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Haven't actually got around to getting it done yet. Been really busy, working odd days, so difficult to book it in. Must get it done before the bad weather sets in, but will keep you posted.

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I have the same thing with my wife's Freelander (2005 TD4), and had a good poke around yesterday. I jacked each rear wheel off the ground and could turn them both, with a bit of resistance. I also got a mate to turn them whilst I was under the car, and could see the VCU slipping to allow the rear prop to turn but not the front one. The IRD oil came out red and clean. The front tyres are both bald on the inside (I hadn't realised they were that bad!). The gearbox oil came out clean. The rear diff (why is it called a final drive on a Freelander?) had about 0.2 litres of black sludge in it. When my mate turned the rear wheels, the diff visibly bounced up and down. The diff mounts seem very loose. The VCU bearings are starting to crack (the rubber) but seem reasonably firm still and as if they have some life left yet. I don't think they are exactly 90 degrees to the drive-train though.

So, I have replaced all the oils and I am getting the tyres, balance and tracking done tomorrow. Next week I am going to do all of the brakes, and I'll have a look at the bearings whilst I am in there. IF the noise (comes at ~50MPH) doesn't go away with all of that, what should I do next? Remove the VCU to discount that? Replace the diff mounts that look (to my very untrained eye) like they need doing?

Also, there is a lot of play in the front wheels when I try to turn them by hand. The play seems to be at the joint to the gearbox....is that normal?

Thanks everyone.

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Hi all.

Finally got round to taking my Freelander into a specialist today. Just to 're-cap'....... Rear Diff started to 'hum' and whine quite loudly a few weeks ago, and had loads of differing views on what it could be. So, this morning, I eventually got round to taking the vehicle in to be looked at.

So, the verdict is ..... To start with, as I thought ....it needs a new rear Diff. They could find me a good very servicable low mileage 2nd hand one, which will cost me £200. :mellow:

Also, the VCU (Viscous Coupling Unit) was in pretty bad shape and desperately needed replacing. This apparently, was the cause of the damage to the Diff. So, new VCU .... £400. :o

Also, the mountings for the VCU need replacing at £70 each. (x2)

Then there's the labour......

Total bill for the job to be done will be £900 + V.A.T.

OUCH ! ! ! :( I guess it's cheaper than buying a newer Freelander. :blush:

I've told them to go ahead, and I've got to collect the motor middle of next week.

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If you're worried: A recon VCU is £250 from Bell Engineering, non-genuine bearings are £35 from Brit-car (or Britpart ones are £12), Bell will supply the VCU with new bearings fitted for not much extra. Rear diff and VCU are easy enough DIY jobs.

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I have a 2008 Freelander with a huming rear diff and when I got round to getting it checked out it was 5 weeks over the guarantee period but guess what Land Rover said sorry we can do nothing for you even though my wife died 3 months before and the Freelander was the last thing on my mind they still said no

Surely when a Diff is gone surely it does not go overnight and the problem started long before the guarantee was up but still they said no

I will NOT be buying another Land Rover

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