Troubleshooting issues with a Jeep rear differential may involve checking fluid levels and performing a visual inspection of the differential to ensure it is not cracked or leaking. Being able to identify and diagnose different noises or vibrations that may be emanating from the differential can also help.
Strange sounds, vibrations and erratic driving characteristics can all provide information needed to diagnose problems and issues that may be affecting the rear differential. Common symptoms may include a whirring noise during deceleration caused by bad pinion bearings or a loose pinion bearing preload, a howl or wine during acceleration caused by worn ring or pinion gears as well as a rumbling sound at speeds above 20 mph, which is typically caused by worn carrier bearings. Worn carrier bearings may also cause noise when the vehicle is turning.
Other issues may include clunking and banging noises when taking corners caused by insufficient posi-traction lubrication. Broken spider gears can also immobilize a differential and create loud crunching sounds as they succumb to wear. Clunking sounds that occur every few feet often indicate a broken ring gear. A missing gear tooth also produces sounds very similar to the those made by a broken gear but only during acceleration or deceleration.