Working on My Back

Several months ago I got “volunteered” or more commonly, “voluntold” for a job. One of my wife’s friends from church as an older SUV with major problems.

Started out with Wife asking me to “Fix her front fender/fender liner”. Friend had bumped something and it was making noise. So said SUV visited. Fender was damaged behind the front tire, like it had been backed at an angle into a pole of some kind. So I put some sheet metal screws through the fender liner into the fender to keep it off the tire, and keep it from flapping. Thought I was done…

No, I wasn’t. That didn’t fix the noise. So I was “voluntold” to find the noise. Pulled the left front tire off. Nothing wrong there other than a cable that wasn’t mounted right. That didn’t fix the noise either. Nope, nothing wrong with the brakes, ball joints and tie rods seem tight. SUV is one of those with All Wheel Drive (AWD). Hmmmm. Grabbed the left front axle where it joined the front frame-mounted differential and shook it. Lots of movement there, Very Bad Thing. And lots of oil and collected gunk around the big end of the front diff. Hmmmm.

Said SUV model’s front diff had a habit of eating the seal on the driver’s side, losing most of the oil, grinding up the bearing on that side, and finishing off by destroying the ring and pinion gears for a finale. This diff was at Phase III for certain: sloppy bearings.

Next, I was “voluntold” to find out what part needed to be replaced. Then it developed that I was going to obtain said replacement part. Which culminated in me being “voluntold” without my assent that I was going to do the R-and-R of the bad part for the newly-obtained junkyard piece. Yeah, right. News to me. I did feel bad for the SUB owners, the are truly destitute and need this vehicle operational.

My got put down. Fortunately, there were no dog or cat turds nearby when I did that. The center stall would be cleared completely of Wife’s six-year accumulation that was gaining kudzu-like growth properties. And believe it or not, I WON!!! Center bay of the garage only looked this clean when we moved into the house.

IMG_2163(Note mud-covered Zombie Truck on left and BMW on the right)

I kept to my word, as soon as the bay was empty, the SUV was pulled in (this last Thursday). The front diff was pulled out and the replacement installed. It was a real B!tch of a job too. 70 lbs of off-center mass that had to be twisted into position from below. Floor jack helped a lot once I figured out the procedure, including steering the wheels left and right at times. Though after the 2nd (or was it 3rd) attempt, I almost rolled the damn thing out of the garage, down the driveway into the ditch in frustration. But it’s done, and works very nice. BTW, the old diff had reached Phase IV: the ring and pinion are trashed by the sounds it makes when turned by hand.

IMG_2164(Junkyard new diff in foreground, just-removed junk diff in background)

Note to all: SUV owners with AWD must keep all tire pressures the same to avoid rotational differences between the axles and side-to-side. And if you’ve got a GM SUV with AWD (think Yukon Denali), watch for tell-tale leaks.

That is all.